Accepted paper:

Real roads and imaginary highways in southern Belize: freedom, fear and a potent proposal

Authors:

Sophie Haines (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Transport infrastructure in rural southern Belize distils many aspects of regional debates concerning environment, citizenship and development. Both tangible existing roads and less-tangible proposals play into this dynamic, the effects of which are experienced as emotive and sensorial as well as economic, ecological, political and social. This paper examines routes and mobility in local narratives and practices of 'community', morality and natural resource management in Mopan, Q'eqchi and mestizo villages in Toledo district, where debates over land use and security are urgent and volatile. It also explores tensions of hope and fear surrounding a proposed paved highway which would cross the contested border between Belize and Guatemala. The discussion challenges conventional views of roads as 'non-places', unilinear paths of power or unquestioned routes to 'progress', highlighting instead complex local, national and international negotiations of livelihoods, land (in)security, place-making, bodily experience, and political participation along and near these routes.

panel W064
Thinking about roads, movement, and environment