A Missing Link in Development Discourse: Examining the Psychosocial Geographies of Hope and Exclusion in Beetham Gardens, Port of Spain, Trinidad

Authors: Aleem Mahabir*, University of the West Indies - Mona
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Development
Keywords: Social Exclusion, Social Inequality, Social Justice, Urban Enclaves, Psychosocial Geographies, Geographies of Hope, Latin America and Caribbean, Caribbean, Trinidad
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 0, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

While structural factors represent appropriate pathways for understanding social exclusion, research has often failed to take into account the psychosocial drivers that are a core feature of these exclusionary processes. By adopting an approach that is more inclusive of objective reality and representative of the multidimensional nature of exclusion, this study involves the application of a blended methodology, in order to examine both the underlying psychosocial factors, and the structural mechanisms that have perpetuated enduring socio-spatial exclusion of residents living in the urban enclave of Beetham Gardens, Port of Spain, Trinidad. The role of innovation and human agency in the management of marginalization is also explored, extending understandings of how psychological capital and hope can be incorporated into existing frameworks to curtail marginalization. The innovative blending of methodologies provides critical insight into possible ways in which structural factors shape psychosocial outcomes and neighbourhood character. Preliminary results indicate that residents of this urban enclave experience a state of 'double exclusion', faced with stigmatization and ‘othering’ not only on a national scale via the expression of a collective consciousness that negatively stereotypes residents, but also, locally, as neighbouring enclaves vie for contested territory, excluding each other from free movement across their boundaries, resulting in problems accessing healthcare, transportation, jobs as well as social capital and extended networks. Analysis of residents’ psychosocial dispositions indicate that despite facing numerous structural challenges, most residents exhibit a great degree of resilience and potential for empowerment, which future community development initiatives should consider to optimize their success.

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