Phillip Vannini
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More than a body of water
Disentangling the affective meshwork of the Belize Barrier Reef
in Living with water
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In 2017 we travelled to Belize as part of a multi-site ethnographic project focusing on the meanings of wildness worldwide. What may have appeared as pristine and wild waters and atolls just a few years before, were now under the multiple threats of commercial and industrial development. But not all hope was lost. As our interviews revealed, many Belizeans were committed to fighting for the health of the Barrier Reef in as many ways as they could. Fishers, law enforcers, NGO executives, young students, heritage interpreters, and guides told us that without their barrier reef Belize simply could not exist. Their efforts were rewarded – in 2018 the Belize Barrier Reef was taken off the list of World Heritage sites in danger. In this chapter we examine what the barrier reef means to Belize and to the people we interviewed. Couching our arguments in the broader context of the significance of wildness, we argue that water runs through the bodies of coastal and island people, forming a deeply entangled meshwork of human and non-human lives.

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Living with water

Everyday encounters and liquid connections

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