Honorable Mention for the 2022 SLACA Book Prize, sponsored by the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (SLACA).
The future of Honduras begins and ends on the white sand beaches of Tela Bay on the country's northeastern coast where Garifuna, a Black Indigenous people, have resided for over two hundred years. In The Ends of Paradise, Christopher A. Loperena examines the Garifuna struggle for life and collective autonomy, and demonstrates how this struggle challenges concerted efforts by the state and multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank, to render both their lands and their culture into fungible tourism products. Using a combination of participant observation, courtroom ethnography, and archival research, Loperena reveals how purportedly inclusive tourism projects form part of a larger neoliberal, extractivist development regime, which remakes Black and Indigenous territories into frontiers of progress for the mestizo majority. The book offers a trenchant analysis of the ways Black dispossession and displacement are carried forth through the conferral of individual rights and freedoms, a prerequisite for resource exploitation under contemporary capitalism.
By demanding to be accounted for on their terms, Garifuna anchor Blackness to Central America—a place where Black peoples are presumed to be nonnative inhabitants—and to collective land rights. Steeped in Loperena's long-term activist engagement with Garifuna land defenders, this book is a testament to their struggle and to the promise of "another world" in which Black and Indigenous peoples thrive.
About the author
Christopher A. Loperena is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.
"In this careful and rich ethnography, Christopher Loperena offers an incisive study of the courageous activism by Garifuna land defenders aiming to enact alternative futures based on notions of mutuality, not appropriation."
—Juliet Hooker, Brown University
"The Ends of Paradise brilliantly analyzes the racial logics of on-going settler capitalist extractivism while showing the beauty and strength of the Garifuna struggle. Christopher Loperena provides a grounded look at the contemporary dilemmas facing Black and Indigenous peoples throughout much of the world."
—Shannon Speed, UCLA
"An illuminating analysis of Garifuna activism. Crucial for understanding how extraction, race, and activism are unfolding around the world, The Ends of Paradise is a must read."
—Lynn Stephen, University of Oregon
"Loperena provides a microhistory of individuals and organizations, sometimes in competition, navigating the pressures of land access and control, economic development, and cultural identity.... Recommended."
—J. M. Rosenthal, CHOICE
"The Ends of Paradise is a powerful history of the present, one that captures and participates in the struggle of a Black Indigenous people to maintain a degree of economic and cultural autonomy in the face of development projects that are marketed as sustainable ecotourism."
—Kevin Coleman, Hispanic American Historical Review