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HomeSocial relations, racial relations in the three Guianas

Social relations, racial relations in the three Guianas

Relations sociales, relations raciales dans les trois Guyanes

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Published on Monday, January 15, 2018


Ce numéro des Cahiers des Amériques latines interroge l’articulation entre les clivages ethno-raciaux et les trajectoires sociales et politiques des trois Guyanes. Il vise à définir quand et comment les relations ethno-raciales constituent un enjeu pertinent de différenciation et de discriminations dans ces trois territoires. Sans nécessairement adopter une perspective comparée et même s’il ne porte que sur l’un de ces pays, les articles de ce dossier appréhenderont ces territoires comme un ensemble dynamique caractérisé par d’importantes circulations transfrontalières (des individus et populations, des marchandises mais aussi des mobilisations, des normes sociales et politiques…).


Stéphanie Guyon, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Picardie Jules Vernes

Marie-Hélène Sa Vilas Boas, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University Côte d’Azur


This issue questions the link between ethnoracial divisions and social, political and administrative relations in the three Guianas. It aims at defining when and how ethnoracial relations constitute a relevant stake of differentiation and discrimination in these three territories. Without necessarily adopting a comparative perspective and even if it studies only one of the countries, the articles of this issue will consider these territories as a dynamic area characterized by important cross-border circulations (of individuals and groups, goods but also mobilizations, social and political standards etc.)

Unequally known, the three Guianas, that is Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana, have essentially been analysed by synthesis works that underline their physical unity, their common pre-Colombian history, their colonization by non-Iberian empires and their multicultural population [Devèze, 1968, Giacottino, 1995]. Apart from the works of the 3G network[1], very few comparative studies propose more than a general panorama of these territories. The different trajectories of each Guiana partially explain that they have been studied separately: Guyana and Suriname obtained their independence, respectively from the United Kingdom in 1966 and the Netherlands in 1975 while French Guiana stayed under French sovereignty.

Yet, the Guianas distinguish themselves in Latin America by their anchoring in “Black America” [2] and the diversity of their population, sometimes called a “mosaic”[3]. Similar socio-political dynamics characterizes the Guianas. In Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana, whereas through different timing and processes, dominant groups, in particular the Creoles, gradually became a minority while preserving important political and administrative resources [Singh, 2008; Misir, 2007; Mam Lam Fouk, 2015]. Maroons and Amerindians in Surinam and French Guiana also share a similar minority position that leads to multiple discriminations but also to a process of ethnic politicization [Guyon, 2010, Price, 2012]. The question studied in this issue is to understand how social, political and administrative relations are redefined, renewed or on the contrary maintained with the numerical evolution of ethnoracial groups. More precisely, the articles will examine the representations linked to ethnoracial groups depending on the migratory dynamics, the social and political positions of their members and the ethnic politicization in each of the Guiana.

If this issue aims at questioning the link between ethnoracial divisions and socio-political relations, it also aims at challenging the analysis that consider ethnoracial divisions as the main explanatory factor of every social and political relations in these territories. This approach simplifies the analysis when it reproduces the ethnoracial categories used in the Guianas, without questioning them through the length of other social relations, such as gender, class or urban/rural division. Fred Constant’s works [1994] are illustrative. Based on the comparison between several Caribbean countries, among which Jamaica, Haiti and Puerto Rico, Constant’s work shows that whereas the populations is divided in ethnoracial groups, ethnicity does not necessarily have a political expression depending on the case considered. When it does not cross other social relations, such as socioeconomic or territorial inequalities, political entrepreneurs do not invest ethnoracial relations.

Contributors are, more specifically, invited to join one of these three axes:

Colonial legacies, ethnoracial categorizations and relations of power:

How do contemporary ethnoracial relations extend or recompose colonial hierarchies? What are the categorization dynamics at work in each of the Guianas and throughout the Guyana shelf? How ethno-racial categorization processes are transformed into discriminatory processes? The sociology, socio-linguistics and anthropology of different state institutions (school, hospital) in Guyana have highlighted the labeling process of patients and pupils from migrant groups or local minority groups and the discriminatory effects of these ethnic categorizations on the practices of public servants [Alby and Léglise, 2006; Carde, 2010; Léobal, 2017]. These researches have highlighted the importance of language practices, ethnoracial categorizations and designations of users in administrative domination. What about other institutions in Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana? How does the administrative space recompose social-racial distances in the Guianas? Do inequalities and discriminations have distinct contours according to the characteristics of dominant and dominated groups? Are there categorization processes without discriminatory practices? Contributors will be attentive to the complexity of power configurations according to social and political contexts and the interweaving of power relations.

Ethnoracial categories in practice:

How are ethnoracial categories mobilized daily in interpersonal, professional or neighborhood relations? What sense do individuals give to these categories, according to their social properties and the position they occupy in a given territorial area or in a specific professional context? Does the residential, professional or affective proximity between different groups redefines or conversely reinforce the representations of each other? Contributors will be attentive to the fluidity of the ethno-racial boundaries and identifications mobilized by the inhabitants of Guianas according to the contexts (in the city, in the forest) and situations. They will try to apprehend the way in which national identities fragment the ethnic groups or not in the practices of designation but also in different social practices (housing, unions and family circulations, working and economical practices, religious practices ...).

Ethnical mobilizations and regional circulations:

How are ethno-racial relations politicized? Are mobilizations claiming ethnical or cultural specificity structured or not at the level of the whole Guianas? What do we know about the circulation of militant know-how between the Guianas? This issue will be attentive to the practices of mobilization of social groups and the articulation of ethnic claims with other topics (language, redistribution of public resources etc.).

Comparative analyzes on two territories or on the circulation of individuals, practices and representations between the Guianas will be particularly appreciated.

Procedure for submission

Articles may be submitted in French, Spanish, or English. Article submissions must contain:

  • name, lastname;
  • university or research center;
  • short CV with e-mail adress;
  • title of the article;
  • 350 words abstract of the article.

Submission guidelines

They must be sent by February, 15th 2018

at the following e-mail addresses:

Authors will be informed within a month by the Editorial Committee of the Cahiers des Amériques Latines whether their abstract has been accepted.

Full articles (45.000 letters approximately, counting spaces, footnotes, bibliography, abstracts and keywords) are to be submitted by April, 15th 2018. All articles will be double-blind reviewed; final decision regarding acceptance lies with the Editorial Committee of the Cahiers des Amériques Latines.

Publication is expected in April 2019.


Alby Sophie, Léglise Isabelle, « L'enseignement en Guyane et les langues régionales : réflexions sociolinguistiques et didactiques », Marges Linguistiques, M.L.M.S. Publisher, 2006, pp. 245-261.

Carde Estelle, « Quand le dominant vient d'ailleurs et l'étranger d'ici : l'accès aux soins en Guyane au prisme de la double altérité », Autrepart, vol. 55, n°3, 2010.  

Constant Fred, « Religion, ethnicité et politique en Caraïbe », Revue française de science politique, 44ᵉ année, n°1, 1994. pp. 49-74.

Devèze Michel, Les Guyanes, Paris, PUF, coll. « Que sais-je ? », 1968

Giacottino Jean-Claude, Les Guyanes, Paris, PUF, coll « Que sais-je », 1995.

Guyon Stéphanie, « Politisation et hiérarchies coloniales : Amérindiens et Noirs-marrons à St-Paul (Guyane française, 1946-2000) », Critique internationale, vol. 50, n°1, 2011, pp. 21-37.

Guyon Stéphanie, « Du gouvernement colonial à la politique racialisée : Sociologie historique de la formation d'un espace politique local (1949-2008), St-Laurent du Maroni, Guyane », Thèse de science politique, Université Paris 1, 2010.

Jolivet Marie-José, « Modèle occidental et créolisation », L’Homme, n°207-208, 2013, pp. 113-134.

Jolivet Marie-José, « La créolisation en Guyane. Paradigme pour une anthropologie de la modernité créole », Cahiers d’études africaines, 148, XXXVII, n°4, 1997, pp. 813-837.

Léglise Isabelle, « Environnement graphique, pratiques et attitudes linguistiques à l’hôpital de Saint-Laurent du Maroni », in Léglise Isabelle, Migge Bettina dir., Pratiques et représentations linguistiques en Guyane : regards croisés, IRD Editions, 2007.

Léobal Clémence, ‘Osu’, ‘baraques’ et ‘batiman’ : redessiner les frontières de l’urbain à Soolan (Saint-Laurent du Maroni, Guyane), Thèse de doctorat en sociologie, Université Paris Descartes, 2017.

Lemercier Élise, Valelia Muni Toke, et Élise Palomares. « Les Outre-mer français. Regards ethnographiques sur une catégorie politique », Terrains & travaux, vol. 24, n°1, 2014, pp. 5-38.

Lézy Emmanuel, “ Au pays des « Mille eaux » : les littoraux guyanais”, in  Musset, Alain, et Violette Brustlein-Waniez. Les littoraux latino-américains : Terres à découvrir. Paris : Éditions de l’IHEAL, pp. 33-55, 1998. <>.

Lézy Emmanuel, Guyane, Guyanes. Une géographie sauvage de l’Orénoque à l’Amazonie, Paris, Belin, 2000.

Mam Lam Fouck Serge, La société guyanaise à l'épreuve des migrations 1965-2015, Matoury, Ibis Rouge, 2015.

Misir Prem, “The social construction of race-ethnic conflict in Guyana”, Grant Cedric H. and Kirton R. Mark, Governance, conflict analysis & conflict resolution, Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 2007, p. 214-230.

Pommerolle Marie-Emmanuelle, « L'administration des étrangers en Guyane française : les jeux autour de la légalité en situation postcoloniale », Droit et société, vol. 85, n° 3, 2013, pp. 693-713.

Price Richard, Peuple Saramaka contre Etat du Suriname. Combat pour la forêt et les droits de l'homme, Paris, Karthala / CIRESC Esclavages / IRD, coll. « Esclavages », 2012.

Saada Emmanuelle, « Un droit postcolonial », Plein droit, vol. 74, n°3, 2007, pp. 13-16.

Singh Chaitram, “Re-Democratization in Guyana and Suriname. Critical Comparisons”, Revista Europea De Estudios Latinoamericanos y Del Caribe / European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, n°84, 2008, pp. 71–85.


[1] The network 3 Guianas (3G) integrated to the Ecotones Program organized several comparative seminars on the three Guians among which « The Pan –Guyanese Highway, Cayenne Georgetown Paramaribo”, Amsterdam, 1-3 October 2015 and “Imagining the Guyanas / Ecologies of Memory & Movement- French Guyane, Guyana, and Suriname –“, 27-29 October 2016, University of London, School of Advanced Study, Senate House

[2] In the field of geography, we can mention the works of Emmanuel Lezy [2000].

[3] For a presentation of this word in the French Guiana case, cf. Marie-José Jolivet [1997]


  • Thursday, February 15, 2018


  • Guyane, relation ethnoraciale, discrimination, politisation


  • Marie-hélène Sa Vilas Boas
    courriel : msavilas [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Stéphanie Guyon
    courriel : stephanie_guyon [at] hotmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Marie-hélène Sa Vilas Boas
    courriel : msavilas [at] hotmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

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