Skip to main content

The Dugout Canoe Trade in Central America's Mosquitia: Approaching Rural Livelihoods Through Systems of Exchange

Buy Article:

$47.50 plus tax (Refund Policy)

For over 300 years, dugout canoes have been traded within and between ethnic groups in the Mosquitia region of Honduras and Nicaragua. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research, I describe the development and contemporary dynamics of the canoe trade in order to operationalize, in one particular landscape, recent calls by geographers and anthropologists for greater ethnographic engagement with rural livelihoods. For example, historical analysis of the Mosquitia's canoe trade reveals several unexpected insights into the relationship between remote rural peoples and international capital, including the interaction and co-constitution of local and international trade circuits through time, how rural producers could manipulate canoe production to take advantage of boom-time trade circuits, and how canoe trading took on added importance during recessionary periods. Analysis of contemporary canoe production among Honduras's Tawahka Sumu points, in turn, to the economic viability of canoe trading, especially in contrast to cash crop production. Individual producers, however, face a variety of constraints on their ability to benefit from the canoe commodity chain, with young, undercapitalized households facing the largest barriers to canoe production and sale. Reliance on canoe sales can speak to a household's undercapitalization or to its ability to invest in new opportunities, especially in the form of education for their children. Ultimately, the canoe case study demonstrates how attention to the trade in everyday materialities in remote rural regions can help to envision and operationalize a new form of rural development, in which endogenous projects and capabilities are foregrounded.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Honduras; Mosquitia; Nicaragua; Tawahka; canoes; exchange networks; livelihoods; rural development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, The Ohio State University

Publication date: 2004-09-01

  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more