Mosaics of Maya Livelihoods: Navigating Through Global and Local Food Crises

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The particularities of how residents in Southern Belize encounter the vagaries of what is commonly referred to as a “global food crisis” (between 2006 and 2008) are explored in this paper. Belize, like many other nation states around the globe, has been structurally (and sequentially) “readjusted” by transnational lending institutions over the last several decades. Cyclical shifts in agricultural practices have taken place in many Maya communities in Southern Belize in the last decade, partly in response to migration, a severe hurricane, land tenure conflicts, and within the last year, skyrocketing staple prices and food scarcity. The costs of basic staples such as corn, wheat, and rice have nearly doubled, in parallel with much of the rest of the globe during the same time frame. Shifts in subsistence strategies have significant implications for the power and politics of land use, access, and mobility. Furthermore, they reflect centuries-old ways of adjusting to changing circumstances in global markets and colonial and postcolonial realities. I conclude by emphasizing the importance of incorporating political and historical ecologies of land use and food production when considering the local impacts of global food crises.

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NAPA Bulletin, v. 32, issue 1, p. 130-151