Christopher LoperenaJan 9, 2023
The Ends of Paradise
Race, Extraction, and the Struggle for Black Life in Honduras
Stanford University Press 2022
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: Race, Extraction, and the Struggle for Black Life in Honduras (Stanford UP, 2022), 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.
Christopher A. Loperena is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. You can find the article discussed during this conversation, published in American Anthropologist, here.
Alize Arıcan is a Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Scholar at Boston University, focusing on urban anthropology, futurity, care, and migration. Her work has been featured in Current Anthropology, City & Society, JOTSA, Radical Housing Journal, and entanglements. You can find her on Twitter @alizearican