Global Incorporation and Cultural Survival: The Surinamese Maroons at the Margins of the World-System

Aonghas St.-Hilaire

Abstract


The Maroons of Suriname enter the twenty-? rst century as the only surviving, culturally and politically autonomous Maroon communities in the Americas. The paper adopts a world-systems approach to explain the evolution of the Surinamese Maroon nations vis-à-vis the ever expanding Surinamese state and global political economy, with particular attention paid to the cultural survival of the Maroon nations. Prior to emancipation, limited colonial integration and mutual fear between the Maroons and Surinamese coastal society facilitated the development of the Maroon communities as relatively independent nations. Despite the best efforts of colonial authorities after emancipation, the weak economy and infrastructure of the Surinamese colony as well as continued mutual fear and distrust enabled the Maroons to guard their autonomy. However, after the Second World War, a period of global economic expansion, the rapid development of the Suriname as an integrated political, economic and cultural unit, and the depletion of and strain on natural resources in traditional Maroon territory dealt serious blows to Maroon autonomy. Maroon cultural survival depends on the ability of the Maroon nations to navigate the rapid changes currently affecting Maroon society, guarding political autonomy and cultivating the most treasured aspects of their cultural heritage, while participating, albeit peripherally, in modern global capitalism.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2000.232

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