Unpicking a Feeling: Interrogating the role of heritage in indigenous collective identity formation on the Caribbean island of Bonaire

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This research attempts to understand how identity and heritage interface with each other in the colonial context of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean. By exploring common understandings of how identity and heritage interact, this work applies theories of Indianness, a felt identity based on the adaptation of indigenous populations to a dominant society. Through the critical analysis of interview data in the context of a heritage survey and a historical analysis, this paper finds that heritage and identity production and maintenance are intimately related to colonialism on Bonaire. While many participants designated heritage based on a feeling of Indianness, there was an opposing group of interviewees who instead contested indigenous heritage and searched for historical and scientific legitimization for their heritage and identities. The research concludes that bottom-up understandings of heritage and identity formation are necessary to effectively manage heritage in colonial contexts.

Sørensen, Marie Louise
DeMarrais, Elizabeth
Identity, Collective Identity, Caribbean, Heritage, Bonaire, Indianness, Indigenous Identity, Colonialism
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
I have received the generous support of the Dorothy Garrod Memorial Fund, the Hughes Hall Travel Grant, and the Division of Archaeology Department Funds.