Anna Schirrer

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 9772

Approve Date

October 25, 2018

Project Title

Schirrer, Anna K., Columbia U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'Reparative Reason: Redress and the Politics of Land Claims in Guyana,' supervised by Dr. David Scott

Preliminary abstract: This dissertation project focuses on contemporary claims for redress for historical injustices on the part of people of African descent in the Caribbean. In Guyana, the specific focus of my research, there are two sorts of claim at stake in the project of post-slavery reparations. One claim, articulated by the multi-state Caribbean Community organization CARICOM, is a state-driven and internationally oriented claim for redress for transatlantic slavery and native genocide addressed to former European colonizing powers. The other, articulated by citizen-subjects of African descent in Guyana, is a popular-national demand for ‘ancestral’ rights to land addressed to the Guyanese nation-state. These claims both converge on and diverge from each other. Through 12 months of ethnographic and historical research in Georgetown, Guyana, this project aims to explore two processes: First, the administrative-institutional processes by which CARICOM assembles the legal and political apparatus for constructing and advancing its Reparatory Justice Program; Second, it will examine the preoccupation of the Guyanese Reparations Committee with both the international claim for redress and the national claim for ancestral rights to land, a claim that questions the exclusive prerogative of indigenous rights to land. Similarly, this research will inquire into the bureaucratic and practical processes by which the newly established Commission of Inquiry of Land attempts to define ‘ancestrality’ as a legal concept in relation to indigeneity. Acknowledging the global turn to reparatory justice this dissertation aims to contribute to an analysis of contrasting idioms of repair and the novel forms of political and legal identities emerging in borderland zones between the logics of the state and international law.