Diasporic Intimacies: Garinagu, Creoles, and the Multiplicity of Black Indigeneities in Caribbean Central America

Nicole D. Ramsey, University of Virginia, United States
Melanie Y. White, Georgetown University, United States

Within the last decade, there has been an effervescence of transnational scholarship on Afro-Indigeneity and the related concept of Black Indigeneity. In part a response to the widespread tendency to imagine Blackness and Indigeneity as discrete identities, several contemporary Black and Indigenous Studies scholars have reframed each identity and field of study as relational, mutually constitutive, and in many cases, overlapping. The intertwined history and present of Blackness and Indigeneity are perhaps nowhere more evident than on the Caribbean coast of Central America, where multiple populations of Black and non-Black Indigenous peoples have not only coexisted since the inception of modernity but have also engaged in sustained, interconnected struggles for social, cultural, and political autonomy. Anchored in conversation with recent interventions in Black and Indigenous Studies and in ethnographic research in Caribbean Central America, this collaborative essay reflects on the multiple, varied, and overlapping iterations of Black, Indigenous, and Black Indigenous identities along Central America’s Caribbean coast. Employing the experiences of Garinagu and Creoles in Belize and Caribbean Nicaragua as case studies, the essay makes the case for a regional conception of Black Indigeneity based not on primordial or biological conceptions of Indigenous identity but on a historically contingent process of social and political identification.

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