Inverse Consequences: How Social Structure Affects Attempts at Cross-Ethnic Solidarity in Guyana

Duane Edwards, Project Development Consultancy (PDC)

Guyana has recently recovered from an attempt by the then incumbent government to manipulate the outcome of the 2020 elections. Because of this attempt the election process was drawn out over a period of six months necessitating the involvement of the courts, regional bodies and international diplomatic pressure. All during this process, the two main ethnic groups in Guyana were largely supportive of the two main political parties associated with their respective group identity thus rolling back the cross-ethnic solidarity which manifested itself just five years earlier in the political sphere. This paper, employing the insights from historical sociology, seeks to account for this regression in ethnic solidarity. It identifies and reviews four historical events and demonstrates how social structure and agency interact within and leading to similarity of outcomes across those events. At the four historical junctures identified, the main ethnic groups in Guyana have exhibited relatively high degrees of ethnic solidarity which eventually dissipates leading back to a social equilibrium based on pro-ethnic voting pattern and political support. The paper posits, based on the historical review, the tenuous nature of cross ethnic solidarity without a favorable structural basis.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 191. Building the Ethnoracial Nation