When simplicity becomes complexity: negotiations between a Mennonite enterprising community and the Government of Belize

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose
A central theme in the literature on entrepreneurship in remote communities – be they religious, indigenous, rural or migrant communities – is the balance between continuity and change or tradition and modernity and the role of entrepreneurship in maintaining or uprooting this balance. The purpose of this paper is to examine this dynamic in the context of Springfield, a small settlement of Old Order Mennonites in Belize, Central America.

Design/methodology/approach
This study draws on ethnographic research conducted in the Mennonite settlement of Springfield, Belize, between 2002 and 2019, as well as written correspondence with key stakeholders from Springfield.

Findings
This paper identifies three issues of contention between the Springfield Mennonites and the Belizean state: the agricultural census issue, the buying land issue and the cow tagging issue. Each of these revolves around state demands for assimilation into (digitalized) administrative systems and Mennonite resistance to these demands based on their religious-moral code. This study describes the negotiations around these issues.

Originality/value
The focus in most literature on entrepreneurship in remote communities is on how internal community dynamics shape the balance between continuity and change and, in extension, the space for entrepreneurship. The originality of the paper lies in shifting the focus to the relationship between the community and external stakeholders, especially the state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-340
JournalJournal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy
Volume16
Issue number2
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Rural entrepreneurship
  • Indigenous entrepreneurship
  • Ethnic minority entrepreneurship
  • Belize
  • Continuity and change
  • Entrepreneurship in remote communities
  • Old order Mennonites
  • Tradition and modernity
  • Religious entrepreneurship

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