ABSTRACT

On Caye Caulker, individuals value personal independence and self-sufficiency, and they respect these qualities in others. In the broadest sense, they translate these ideals into an unusual tolerance of a wide range of behavior and a community policy of non-interference in the lives of other islanders, non-islanders and even outsiders. In their relations with each other, and with the outside world, islanders espouse and defend their personal autonomy. At the same time, islanders combine this strong individualism with loyalty to kin. Loyalty to kin or family means to tolerate the behaviour of relatives at all times and to give financial assistance and personal support to family members. In turn, the individual draws support from kin networks for his endeavor to achieve economic self-sufficiency and personal independence. Consequently there is a congruence between, on the one hand, the goals of self-sufficiency, independence, and non-interference and, on the other hand, the ideals of family loyalty and the economic and social importance of being part of a family support network.