Alyssa Adina Lori James
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationColumbia U.
Grant numberGr. 10313
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleJames, Alyssa (Columbia U.) "Cultivating Heritage: Interrogating the Revival of Coffee Production in Martinique"
ALYSSA JAMES, then a graduate student at Columbia University, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2022 to aid research on “Cultivating Heritage: Interrogating the Revival of Coffee Production in Martinique,” supervised by Dr. Paige West. This research investigates the progress made and challenges faced by stakeholders in Martinique’s ongoing initiative to revive the island’s coffee industry. How do discourses of possibility shape the coffee industry in Martinique and shed light on Martinicans’ perceptions of the past, present, and future? Through ethnographic research in various sites in Martinique, this research examines the commercial tactics, political interventions, scientific narratives, cultural performances, and desires that contribute to the transformation of Martinican history and coffee into cultural heritage, and the consequences of this ongoing process for Martinicans. Site visits to coffee farms, participation in harvest and processing activities, and interactions with various stakeholders enriched the understanding of the temporalities of coffee and the conflicts inherent in shaping the future. While recent work analyzes gastronomic revolutions and refashioning as a fait accompli, this research was conducted while such refashioning was in progress. This research ultimately demonstrates emerging strategies of approaching heritage in the non-sovereign Caribbean: it is not just the traces of the past in the present, rather, the past can hold the keys of possibility in an uncertain world.