Melissa A. Johnson’s Becoming Creole: Nature and Race in Belize was published by Rutgers University Press in November 2018.
Richard Wilk (distinguished professor emeritus, Indiana University) writes: “Timely and timeless, Johnson’s elegant writing carries us into the Belizean forest, literally and metaphorically. Showing how culture and nature are mutually constitutive, this intimate work is by far the best portrayal of the complexities of race in Belize, and sheds new light on the entire Atlantic world.”
Mimi Sheller (author of Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies) says: “Beyond the Belize known by outsiders for its beautiful coral reefs and jungle ecotourism, anthropologist Melissa Johnson immerses us in the rural Creole experience of human-environmental relations. Employing her skills as an ethnographer, combined with engaging family stories gathered over several decades, she reveals how local skills, knowledge, concepts, and lifeways of the interior villages are crucial to the ways that Belizeans creatively engage with the more-than-human agentic powers of this co-produced world. Becoming Creole is a close study of rural socio-natural entanglements and an important contribution to both rural studies and Caribbean studies.”
Description: Becoming Creole explores how people become who they are through their relationships with the natural world, and it shows how those relationships are also always embedded in processes of racialization that create blackness, brownness, and whiteness. Taking the reader into the lived experience of Afro-Caribbean people who call the watery lowlands of Belize home, Melissa A. Johnson traces Belizean Creole peoples’ relationships with the plants, animals, water, and soils around them, and analyzes how these relationships intersect with transnational racial assemblages. She provides a sustained analysis of how processes of racialization are always present in the entanglements between people and the non-human worlds in which they live.
For more information, see https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/becoming-creole/9780813596983