The 4th International Garifuna Conference – 2017

4th ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL GARIFUNA CONFERENCE “Celebrating Our Indigenous History, Heritage and Cultures – From Mainland to Islands and Return: Strengthening links, Forging networks, Claiming Ancestral space”

March 7 th – 9th, 2017 Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Garifuna are a hybrid of the Kalinago and African people, their histories and their cultures which emerged in the 17th Century on the island of St. Vincent known by the Kalinago as “Yurumein”. A unique culture, it captures the African as well as the Kalinago experience forged together through the crucible of colonial expansionism.

The Garifuna, who controlled the island of St. Vincent , resisted the incursion of British Colonialism into St. Vincent for over two hundred years until the majority subjected to forced Exile by the British from St. Vincent to Central America in 1797 after the Second Carib War. Despite this, they survived and thrived and today vibrant communities exist on Mainland Central & North America – Belize, Honduras, Guatemala , Nicaragua and the United States, practicing their Culture and in all cases contributing a significant cultural component to these countries’ national dynamics.

The influence of the Indigenous Kalinago culture and people continues to impact the Islands of the Caribbean, particularly Dominica, Trinidad and Martinique. This strand of the Garifuna Heritage represents a unique link with Mainland South America through the Orinoco Basin , now part of Venezuela, where the Kalinago people originated and where many of their communities still thrive. In addition, the mainland African component of the Garifuna culture has placed an indelible print on the manifestations of the Garifuna people in the practicing of their spirituality, music and dance.

The Garifuna Heritage and Culture has been recognized as one of the more important symbols of resistance in the Caribbean and was proclaimed by UNESCO in 2001 as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity. As Indigenous people the Garifuna are represented in and supported by the 2007 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and also form part of the Movement Celebrating People of African Descent.

The survival and continued existence of the Garifuna Heritage and Culture in the historical context of attempted genocide, emotional trauma and displacement continues to attract researchers. However , there is an urgent need for more research, dialogue, discussion, information and networking to inform creative decision-making grounded on the history and culture of resistance. The reverence still expressed by the descendants of those displaced for the Homeland “Yurumein” after over 200 years and the journey it symbolizes from homeland to Diaspora is one that has not been sufficiently confronted, analyzed and collectively brought to closure.

The Garifuna Heritage Foundation in collaboration with the University of the West Indies Open Campus – St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be hosting the Fourth Annual International Garifuna Conference in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines from March 7th – 9 th, 2017 .

The objective of this Conference is to continue to provide an opportunity for students, scholars, Researchers, activists and practitioners of the Garifuna Heritage and Culture to engage in the work of understanding, conceptualizing and creating policy dialogues in relation to the Garifuna Experience. Within this context it is hoped that the full range of the linkages between South America, Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and beyond will be explored. It is further hoped that this Conference will encourage the continuing Conversation regarding all aspects of the Garifuna History, Language, Heritage and Culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Regionally and Internationally.

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