Overleven in een grensgebied. Veranderingsprocessen bij de Wayana in Suriname en Frans-Guayana
processes of change
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AbstractThe Wayana, who belong to the group of Caribbean speaking peoples, live dispersed over three countries: Brazil, French Guyana and Suriname. ‘Wayana’ is in fact a generic name for several ethnic groups which, probably in order to increase their chances of survival, have joined forces under one autonym since the end of the eighteenth century. For a long time outsiders have stood in wonderment and in awe at the spectacular rituals of the Wayana. Gradually they grew to be represented as the ‘exotic other’ and made into a curiosity. This way of thinking created a static picture of the Wayana. For a long time it was thought that changes among Indigenous peoples, like the Wayana, could only be brought about by outside influences. If that outside influence could be contained, such was the reasoning, Indigenous peoples could be ‘preserved’ and kept safe for the future. Present-day Wayana however, appear to be quite emancipated and self-confident people who manage to a certain extent, to shape things as they wish. They are not passive objects, but rather actors of social change, even if they might not always be able to foresee the consequences of their actions. Present-day anthropological studies of Amazonia indicate that the changes which the Indigenous communities are undergoing, should be ascribed to both local as well as global processes. Indigenous communities are not so much - and not only - determined by their natural surroundings, but even more by regional and historical dynamics as well as social interaction, and by political decision making. One of the main themes of this book is that this also applies to the Wayana. The key questions of this book are: Which local, regional, global, as well as ecological, historical and/or social factors in the past and in the present have influenced the ethnogenesis of the Wayana and which factors have been or are still responsible for changes within and around the Wayana group? Which actors have played and still play a role and why? What have been the interests, motives and considerations of the Wayana in this? How have they managed to safeguard their existence up till now? And then as regards the future: what are the present options for the Wayana to guarantee their continuance as an ethnic group? To answer these key questions this book describes the various local, regional, global as well as ecological, historical and social factors that have influenced the ethnogenesis of the Wayana and still do. The meeting of different cultures is not always benevolent or beneficial, it can also be devastating. The Wayana know that; they have learned from experience. Yet the present-day Wayana will continue to seek contacts with others, as well as innovation and change. They are convinced that the intermingling with other peoples and the joining of national, regional and international (interest) groups will enable them - as in the past – to forge alliances and to acquire skills and knowledge with which they can safeguard their future.