By Sarah England
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Extra resources for Afro-Central Americans in New York City: Garifuna Tales of Transnational Movements in Racialized Space
In many ways, patterns of Garifuna migration seem to more closely resemble those of the West Indians (Kasinitz 1992; Levine 1987; Palmer 1990; Patterson 1987; Richardson 1992) and Mexicans (Chavez 1998; Kearney and Stuart 1981; Massey, Alarcon, Burand, and Gonzalez 1990; Mines 1981)—always present, always economically motivated, but not driven by crisis. In contrast, larger patterns of Central American migration to the United States have been understood as a response to economic crisis and political turmoil that began in the 1970s and intensified in the 1980s.
They planned to set up an agricultural cooperative; build a school that would educate Garifuna children in farming, the Garifuna language, and history; and set up a political base for a pan-Garifuna social movement. Equipped with theoretical frameworks for viewing the relationship between ethnicity and nation-building, grassroots organizations and development, and the negotiation of identities in social movements, I set out to look at the history and political activities of this cooperative mainly in terms of what it could reveal about the relationship of the Garifuna as an ethnic group to the Honduran nation-state.
The next two chapters describe in detail the ways that the transnational community operates on a daily basis, underscoring the complexities of kinship and class in the construction of unity and diversity within the community. Chapter 3 focuses specifically on kinship, households, and community networks. I argue that the kinship system and domestic structure of “matrifocality” is one of the main organizing principles of the transnational community because it shapes the character of transnational households, patterns of remittances and investments, and community-level rituals of solidarity.