"Resilience" in Barbados: Bein' uh work in Progress

Goddard-Durant, Sadie.K.
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University of Guelph

"Resilience" has become a key term in conceptualising people's resourcefulness in the face of hardship. Rooted in Euro-American assumptions of normal development and the conditions of daily life, prevailing notions of "resilience" individualize the phenomenon and disqualify local, culturally and contextually appropriate practices which shape the phenomenon. Nowhere is this more potentially harmful than in indigenous communities or developing societies subject to neocolonial and neoliberal conditions of existence. Evidence suggests that the historical, social, political and economic context within which the lives of middle class Black Barbadians unfold, and how they live culturally may not be accounted for in the dominant conceptualization of "resilience" or by the prevailing methodologies used to study the phenomenon. Using a Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology, the objective of this study was to develop a locally relevant theory of Black Barbadian "resilience". I interviewed 20 middle class Black Barbadians who saw themselves as effectively dealing with difficulties in their daily lives; 10 persons who had supported them in doing so; and 5 individuals who were considered experts across the Caribbean region on themes which emerged as central to how participants were successfully navigating difficulties. I also reviewed policies, legislation, international and local status reports and other documents which reflected these themes. I engaged a number of strategies from the outset to insure that my analysis was credible and transferable. Bein' uh work in progress captures the ongoing, non-linear process of how middle class Black Barbadian participants effectively deal with significant difficulties in their everyday lives. The theory consists of three constructs: de ting dat get me, wha yuh's do, and work in progress. This theory helps to expand our understanding of the nature of "normal development", "adversity", effective responses to "adversity", and the overall process of "resilience" as shaped by local conditions and the ways in which people live culturally. The theory can also help us to conceptualize "resilience" as an ongoing process, with a collective dimension. Finally, the theory provides some considerations for designing policies and programs towards improving the lives of middle class Black Barbadians.

Resilience, Black Barbadians, Global South, Neoliberal, Neocolonial, Decolonizing methodologies, Grounded theory, Community, Spirituality, Mental Health