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Empowering a Peasantry in a Caribbean Context: The Case of Land Settlement Schemes in Guyana, 1865-1985 [Paperback]

By Carl B. Greenidge (Author)
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Item description for Empowering a Peasantry in a Caribbean Context: The Case of Land Settlement Schemes in Guyana, 1865-1985 by Carl B. Greenidge...

Land has always been a political commodity, and nowhere has this been more the case than in Guyana. This study of the land settlement schemes of Guyana over a 160-year period analyses the interrelationships among conflicting forces in the political economy of Guyana, which frustrated attempts at empowerment of the peasantry. The impact of these schemes on social differentiation and on the balance of political forces and racial power is also discussed.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University of the West Indies Press
Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.02" Width: 6.01" Height: 0.59"
Weight:   0.78 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   University of West Indies Press
ISBN  9766400687  
ISBN13  9789766400682  

Availability  0 units.

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Reviews - What do customers think about Empowering a Peasantry in a Caribbean Context: The Case of Land Settlement Schemes in Guyana, 1865-1985?

Dr Jan Carew's contribution to the book launching ceremony  Apr 28, 2006
Jan Carew, Professor Emeritus, University of Louisville - novelist, anti-colonial activist and thinker.

Carl Greenidge, in his meticulously-researched work, entitled, 'Empowering a Peasantry in a Caribbean context," follows in the tradition of Walter Rodney's "History of the Guyanese Working People." Greenidge brings into focus the land settlement schemes in Guyana between 1865 and 1985. One must bear in mind in looking at this seminal work, that the British controlled a world-wide empire and central to their manipulation of the 'divide and conquer' axiom, was the way in which land was distributed and controlled. For, along with the control of arable land went the control of irrigation systems. In short, the land 'empowered' those controlled it.

Greenidge has done the kind of detailed research that Rodney did not have time to do prior to his assassination and has, thus, opened new venues for meaningful academic studies. It is interesting that he uses quotes from novelists, like Janice Shinebourne and Pauline Melville, at the beginning of each of his chapters. This shows a certain prescience that some of the most profound insights into the history of the Caribbean and its people, can be found in novels and not in academic treatises.

It is to the credit of the University of the West Indies that they published this seminal work which provides us with new insights of the legacy of racial divisions that now plague the Guyanese body politic.
The case of land settlement schemes in Guyana, 1865-1985  Jun 14, 2001
This book makes very interesting reading for expert and layperson alike. It is a study that portrays Guyana as a set of physical and political contrasts and contradictions - contrasts between the beauty of the land and of its rewards, between coast and hinterland and, contradictions between pronouncement and intent, between opportunities and their exploitation. Among the many interesting pictures found in the book is that of the beautiful, but little-known, Chinakuruk Falls on the Essequibo. The falls have the appearance of a chimera or mirage - a theme of the book!

Carl Greenidge worked as a research and teaching economist in the UK, Africa and Guyana prior to taking up the post for which he is better remembered in the Caribbean - Minister of Finance and Planning of Guyana in the 1980s. The style of the book reflects that varied background, especially in teaching, and makes for easy reading. He writes about land settlement schemes but does so through the lens of the wider political, economic and social developments over the last 120 years.

Land settlement schemes were initially established for Chinese emigrants but they primarily benefited East Indians. Their objectives have changed over time, which means that in time they affected other ethnic groups also. They touched, and were a contrast to, early the village settlements. Subsequently, they too spawned villages. Initially, they served the sugar plantocracy, then the rice barons and the managers of `Cooperative Socialism' in different ways with many, often hidden, consequences for the politics and social life of Guyana. The stated objective of these schemes has been to establish a peasantry but life beyond settlement has always been precarious and the economic stability of small farming has never been assured. The story of this sector and of the attempts at its modernisation is told against a historical background but ironically the lessons remain pertinent today.

So, although the book is about agricultural policy, its triggers and its consequences, it is of much wider interest. It is about Guyana, its policies and economics, its struggles and ethnic tensions as well as its prospects. The book is meticulously footnoted, draws on a wide range of primary, as well as secondary sources and, contains an extremely extensive bibliography on Guyana. The latter alone would be welcome to many students due to the paucity of current, well-researched material on Guyana.

Mr Greenidge draws on the works of a number of well-known Guyanese novelists, current and past - Melville, Shinebourne and Mettleholzer, for example - to illustrate his theme of contradictions and mirages and of the link between the physical and social. An extensive foreword has been provided by Dr Professor Cedric Grant, head of the School of Caribbean and Political Studies at Clarke University. Grant positions the book in the setting or context of the current political debate on Guyana and highlights the significant academic importance of this contribution to the debate on public policy as well as ethnicity in the Caribbean.

This is highly recommended reading and a worthwhile purchase for both the expert and the intelligent observer of Guyana and Caribbean affairs!!



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