By Sarah England
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Additional resources for Afro-Central Americans in New York City: Garifuna Tales of Transnational Movements in Racialized Space
And finally, when I returned to Limón in the summer of 1996 for a final six months of research, I had my four-month old son in tow, creating a very different research experience than I had had on previous trips. This time I was much less mobile, unable to take off for meetings at the drop of a hat or participate in organizational activities with the freedom that I had had before. I found myself spending much more time “stuck” in the family compound worrying about feeding time and naps. And yet in the end, this also proved to be an invaluable experience because it provided the opportunity to spend more time talking with women about childrearing, differences between Limón and New York, relationships with husbands, and relationships with children.
Since the 1600s, colonial administrators, state functionaries, and multinational employers have at various historical moments discursively constructed Garifuna men and women as free blacks illegitimately usurping the lands of indigenous peoples (a construction that was used to justify their exile from St. Vincent), as “native” blacks who are “good labor” (thereby giving them access to jobs with the multinational fruit companies while discouraging entrepreneurship), and as Hispanic immigrants in the United States (shaping the job niches and residential conditions they find in New York City).
I show that while Garifuna migration has a cultural logic specific to Garifuna history and society, the paths and possibilities of this migration have been affected by a historically shifting racialized and gendered division of labor (both national and transnational) that in many ways determines what jobs are available for whom and where. Since the 1600s, colonial administrators, state functionaries, and multinational employers have at various historical moments discursively constructed Garifuna men and women as free blacks illegitimately usurping the lands of indigenous peoples (a construction that was used to justify their exile from St.
Afro-Central Americans in New York City: Garifuna Tales of Transnational Movements in Racialized Space by Sarah England