Michelle A. Ocasio, PhD
Valdosta State University
The web site does not pretend to know all the answers, instead, what is presented is carefully researched information supported by documentary evidence. Just because it is documented, does not make it the truth, so this is why any evidence must also be suspiciously scrutinized for bias and hidden. I accept full responsibility for typos, mistranslations and misinterpreted data.
I received my doctorate in Romance Languages and Literatures (concentration in Spanish and Linguistics) at the University of Missouri. My dissertation was a sociolinguistic history of the Garífuna language (from pre-history to present, including proposed plans for language revitalization). I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics (Wayne State University) and a Master’s of Arts in Bilingual/Bicultural Education with a concentration in Psycholinguistics (Eastern Michigan University).
Owing to a Fulbright grant, I spent one year in Guatemala gathering information to complete my dissertation. The first few months was spent between Zona 1 and Zona 14 in the capital, either at the National Archives or at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, where I taught Introducción a las culturas afro-descendientes del Caribe y Centroamérica. The remaining time was spent in Livingston conducting interviews in which the Garínagu told me their views on the present state and future of the Garífuna language. I especially thank Tomas Sanchez, my Garífuna language teacher and close friend who was there for me every day, 2pm at the “school” (the hut-in-progress pictured in the headings of this web site which was actually a lively dominoes bar) just 6 feet from the coastline, and the Garínagu of Livingston who knew I was studying the language and practiced with me every day in the street.
I am not Garífuna but rather a first-generation American of Jamaican parents, nevertheless, the Garínagu of Livingston treated me as a sister and a daughter. My research is dedicated to them.
I intend for this site to be one that changes and grows with the discovery of new information or the reconsideration of previous views.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or suggestions, in English, Spanish or Garífuna at GarifunaResearch@gmail.com