Johnathan Favini

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Virginia, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9769

Approve Date

October 25, 2018

Project Title

Favini, Jonathan P., U. of Virginia, Charlottesville,VA - To aid research on 'Diasporic Indigeneity: Jamaican Maroons and the Politics of Identity in the Contemporary Caribbean,'supervised by Dr. James Igoe

Preliminary abstract: My research addresses claims to indigenous status by Jamaican Maroons in the wake of attempts to mine for bauxite near their communities. Global discourse often equates indigenous identity with autochthony, or first residence in an ancestral homeland. In the Caribbean specifically, people tend to consider indigeneity a feature of ‘the Amerindian,’ positioning the Black majority as diasporic peoples who are fundamentally from elsewhere (namely Africa). In claiming indigenous status in Jamaica even as a Black, diasporic community, Maroons contradict both this dominant notion of indigeneity as autochthony and the prevailing racial ideologies of the Caribbean. My project explores the strategies Maroons employ to reconcile their Black, diasporic identity with indigeneity, one important example being their emerging collaboration with Jamaican conservationists. That collaboration, weaving together discourse concerning Maroon’s harmoniously relationship with nature and their globally distinctive cultural heritage, has generated some of the first moments of recognition as indigenous for Maroons. In attending to such acts of discursive creativity by Maroons and conservationists, my project sheds light on the adaptability of ‘indigenous’ as an identity and a political resource and offers insights on global social movements more broadly. I introduce the concept of ‘diasporic indigeneity’ as an invitation to think, alongside Maroons, of indigeneity and diaspora not as mutually exclusive categories of identity or experience, but as sometimes overlapping modes of reckoning belonging and building political solidarity.