Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology

Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology

Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology

Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology

Synopsis

The social history of Belize is marked by conflict between British settlers and the Maya, between masters and slaves, between capitalists and workers, and between the colonial administration and the Belizean people. Belize shares many features with other parts of the Caribbean Central America, including a long history of colonialism and slavery, a dependent economy in which the ownership of land is highly concentrated and the population is largely poor. In this collection of essays, Boland analyses the most important topics during three centuries of colonialism. Part 1 examines the early British settlement, the nature of slavery in Belize and the development of Creole culture in the nineteenth century. Part 2 analyses the relations of between the Maya and the British in the nineteenth century. Part 3 considers systems of labour control after emancipation and discusses the origins of modern politics in the labour movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Part 4 considers the complex issues of ethnicity and politics in the contemporary arena.

Excerpt

The historiography of the British Caribbean has always displayed an imbalance in the geographic coverage of the region, with Belize being one of the more under-researched areas. Since the 1970s, O. Nigel Bolland and others have worked consistently to redress this imbalance. It was within this context that Bolland's Colonialism and Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology was welcomed by the academy when it first appeared in 1988. The republication of this collection of his essays, with a revised last chapter which brings the collection up to date, will turn the spotlight once more on the study of what scholars have termed the "circum-Caribbean region".

In this revised collection, Bolland, combining his knowledge of history, sociology and cultural studies, in a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary strategy, explores the experiences of Belizeans in all their multidimensionality. The essays cover aspects of a colonial and post-colonial society in the centuries after the initial British settlement in the Bay of Honduras in the mid-17th century, up to and beyond independence from Britain in 1981. Over this long period, important themes in the social history of Belize are explored: the dispossession of the indigenous Maya, the colonial rivalry with Spain, the forced relocation and enslavement of Africans, the establishment of British economic and socio‐ political hegemony, the formation of the modern Belizean state and post‐ colonial economic and socio-political developments. In the process, Bolland weaves a story of contested terrain among rival parties: the British and Spanish, the British and Maya, the enslaved and their enslavers, the British settlers and their own metropolitan government, and finally the different ethnic groups in multi-ethnic, post-colonial society.

Although Bolland does not set out to write a strictly historical account, he does succeed in giving much-needed historical micro data on the social structure and social relations of the settlement in the Bay of Honduras in the 18th century; slavery in Belize, showing the impact of economic and cultural factors on the slave system; African continuities and Creole culture in Belize Town in the 19th century; the implications of the Maya presence in the history of Belize; British policy towards the Maya and Maya resistance to British domination. He . . .

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