Race and Development in Plural Societies: The Case of Guyana

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George K. Danns


Guyana is a racially an ethnically plural society comprising six race groups, the relations among whom colour societal outcomes. The race groups comprise Blacks, East Indians, Amerindians, Chinese, White/Portuguese and Mixed. Though ethnic groups often coincide with race groups in the society they are in fact more numerous. Within the East Indian race group for example, there are Hindus and Muslims each forming a distinct ethnic group. The nine Amerindian tribes in Guyana while comprising a single race group can be considered to be ethnically different. Among Blacks, Rastafarians have an ethnic character of their own. Ethnicity and race combine to provide the Guyana society with its essentially plural character. This plurality on the one hand has contributed to the richness and diversity of Guyanese culture and institutions. On the other hand it has been a source of tension and torment, particularly between the majority East Indians and Blacks, induced by mistrust, prejudice and discrimination with concomitant negative impacts on political, social and economic development of the nation. In this paper I focus on the relationships between race and development of the nation.

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