Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Beyond Sun and Sand

Beyond Sun and Sand: Caribbean Environmentalisms

Sherrie L. Baver
Barbara Deutsch Lynch
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Beyond Sun and Sand
    Book Description:

    Filtered through the lens of the North American and European media, the Caribbean appears to be a series of idyllic landscapes-sanctuaries designed for sailing, diving, and basking in the sun on endless white sandy beaches. Conservation literature paints a similarly enticing portrait, describing the region as a habitat for endangered coral reefs and their denizens, parrots, butterflies, turtles, snails, and a myriad of plant species.In both versions, the image of the exotic landscape overshadows the rich island cultures that are both linguistically and politically diverse, but trapped in a global economy that offers few options for development. Popular depictions also overlook the reality that the region is fraught with environmental problems, including water and air pollution, solid waste mismanagement, destruction of ecosystems, deforestation, and the transition from agriculture to ranching.Bringing together ten essays by social scientists and activists, Beyond Sun and Sand provides the most comprehensive exploration to date of the range of environmental issues facing the region and the social movements that have developed to deal with them. The authors consider the role that global and regional political economies play in this process and provide valuable insight into Caribbean environmentalism. Many of the essays by prominent Caribbean analysts are made available for the first time in English.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-3752-8
    Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Part I Issues and Movements

    • Chapter 1 The Political Ecology of Paradise
      (pp. 3-16)
      Sherrie L. Baver and Barbara Deutsch Lynch

      Filtered through the lens of the European and North American media, the Caribbean becomes a series of uniformly breezy landscapes of sun and sand designed for loafing, sailing, diving, and perhaps for gambling and sex. In the conservation literature, Caribbean landscapes are habitat for endangered coral reefs and their denizens, parrots, butterflies, caiman, snails and whales and myriad plant species. In either version, the idyllic island landscape is a screen that conceals worlds that are far richer culturally, but trapped in a global economy that offers few options for development. The islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles are linguistically...

    • Chapter 2 Environmental Movements in the Caribbean
      (pp. 17-32)
      Francine Jácome

      Environmental movements in the Caribbean region are extremely heterogeneous, primarily because of the large number of actors involved. The main actors are the international, inter-governmental organizations and agencies; the various domestic government agencies; regional, national, and local non-governmental organizations; and transnational organizations (Jácome and Sankatsing 1992). A second reason for this heterogeneity is the different theoretical approaches to environmental problems. In addition to the significant differences in the structures of these organizations, their activities and projects are guided by differing goals.

      The purpose of this chapter is to present a comparative study that will facilitate a diagnosis of environmental movements...

  5. Part II The Political Ecology of Sun and Sand

    • Chapter 3 Paradise Sold, Paradise Lost: Jamaica’s Environment and Culture in the Tourism Marketplace
      (pp. 35-43)
      Marian A. L. Miller

      Tourism is the leading trade sector for many Caribbean states, with several of them dependent on the industry for more than 50 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) (McElroy and Klaus 1991, 144). Although Jamaica has a more diversified economy than some of its Caribbean neighbors, tourism still accounts for about 25 percent of its GDP (McElroy and de Albuquerque 1991, 122).

      Jamaica’s tourism is based primarily on natural resources like sun, sand, and sea; however, over time, the tourism product has been modified to include cultural elements. These resources have been packaged and sold as “paradise.” In an...

    • Chapter 4 Historical Contentions and Future Trends in the Coastal Zones: The Environmental Movement in Puerto Rico
      (pp. 44-64)
      Manuel Valdés Pizzini

      A “new” space for leisure and a landscape of high aesthetic value, the coastal zone of Puerto Rico attracts numerous visitors and investors.¹ With commodification, coastal lands are attracting well-to-do home buyers who are displacing long-term local residents of rural coastal communities, fishing villages, and small harbors. Real estate development has focused on construction of condos, resorts, and houses, sold at prices that make them unaffordable for a local population suffering from unemployment and poverty. Having observed the growth of recreational activities and infrastructure on the coast (Valdés Pizzini, Chaparro, and Gutiérrez 1991), in 1992 my colleague Jaime Gutiérrez Sánchez...

    • Chapter 5 The Struggle for Sustainable Tourism in Martinique
      (pp. 65-72)
      Maurice Burac

      The development of tourism, and the use of land to support it, increasingly preoccupies public opinion in Martinique. The decline in agriculture, the rise of the service sector, and the willingness of the French state to follow a policy of economic diversification have all contributed to a boom in tourism and cruise-ship activities. The demand from private investors for the best coastal sites, environmental damage resulting from tourist uses, and the numerous contradictions in government policy have produced a population with a heightened sensitivity to environmental matters and have stimulated the growth of a number of ecological organizations.

      In the...

  6. Part III Behind the Beach:: Productive Landscapes and Environmental Change

    • Chapter 6 Puerto Rico: Economic and Environmental Overview
      (pp. 75-85)
      Neftalí García-Martínez, Tania García-Ramos and Ana Rivera-Rivera

      Humans modify nature more than any other species. Their interaction with nature takes place within a social milieu that comprises scientific, technological, economic, political, ideological, and living and non-living nature-derived elements. The Puerto Rican economy and the social and natural components of its environment have been drastically transformed during the past century. In this chapter we offer an overview of these changes.

      Puerto Rico is a subtropical archipelago that includes a main island and the smaller islands of Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. Its total area is about 3,435 square miles. It is the easternmost island of the Greater Antilles. Military...

    • Chapter 7 Seeking Agricultural Sustainability: Cuban and Dominican Strategies
      (pp. 86-108)
      Barbara Deutsch Lynch

      Cubans and Dominicans have suffered from a perverse pattern of environmentally destructive export agriculture. This pattern, established during the colonial period, has been unstable because the land and water management practices associated with export production have exacerbated soil erosion, salinization, and pest problems, and because dedication of prime lands to export agriculture has driven domestic food production to forested, steeply–sloped, and fragile lands. In 1990 the prospects for an environmentally sensitive agriculture appeared bleak despite the proliferation of small sustainable-agriculture projects, but by 2003 a transition toward environmentally friendly food production appeared to be under way.

      In the past...

    • Chapter 8 “Ni Una Bomba Mas”: Reframing the Vieques Struggle
      (pp. 109-128)
      Katherine T. McCaffrey and Sherrie L. Baver

      For decades, residents of Vieques, Puerto Rico fought a David and Goliath battle against the U.S. Navy. Until 1999, however, few people in the United States had ever heard of Vieques and its problems. Vieques is a 51-square-mile island, roughly twice the size of Manhattan, where more than nine thousand people lived wedged between an ammunition depot and a live bombing range. Since the 1940s, when the Navy expropriated more than two thirds of the island, residents have struggled to make a life amid the thundering of bombs and the rumbling of weapons fire. The U.S. Navy contended that the...

  7. Part IV Risky Environments and the Caribbean Diaspora

    • Chapter 9 Environmental Justice for Puerto Ricans in the Northeast: A Participant-Observer’s Assessment
      (pp. 131-139)
      Ricardo Soto-Lopez

      In recent decades, Puerto Rican community activists in New York and the northeastern United States and environmentalists from Puerto Rico have entered into a dialogue on the quality of environmental protection afforded our geographically dispersed community. Community activism around environmental protection has a forty-year history in Puerto Rico (see, e.g., García-Martinez and Valdés-Pizzini, this volume). Activism in Puerto Rican communities in the northeast stems from the perception that environmentally undesirable facilities are disproportionately located in communities that have been predominantly Puerto Rican and now also have newer Latin American immigrants; at the same time, these communities have witnessed a decline...

    • Chapter 10 Environmental Risk and Childhood Disease in an Urban Working-Class Caribbean Neighborhood
      (pp. 140-157)
      Lorraine C. Minnite and Immanuel Ness

      The environmental justice movement of the last two decades has confronted dimensions of poverty and racism previously overlooked in movements for social justice: the socially and geographically inequitable distribution of the costs of environmental degradation and pollution accompanying industrialization (Freudenberg 1984; Bryant 1995; Novotny 2000; Rhodes 2003). The historically uneven pattern of this distribution reflects a class and racial bias tied to the position of poor and working-class whites and racial and ethnic minorities in the capitalist economy. Their residential segregation creates opportunities for spatially disaggregating the costs and benefits of industrial production and other polluting functions of the local...

  8. Conclusion: Toward a Creole Environmentalism
    (pp. 158-170)
    Barbara Deutsch Lynch

    The images of sun, sand, and sea that fuel the Caribbean tourist economy conceal more than they reveal about island environments. The environmental and societal side effects of these corporate constructions of secular paradise are carefully airbrushed away. As Sheller (2003, 64) observes, “It is the editing out of things that do not fit which enables this fantasy ‘torrid zone’ to be unceasingly packaged and sold for Northern consumers.” These consumers, the tourists who flock to the region’s beach resorts, seldom see the grittier activities that scar the islands of their dreams—military maneuvers, mining, manufacturing, toxic agriculture, and urban...

  9. References
    (pp. 171-190)
  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 191-194)
  11. Index
    (pp. 195-210)