Belize; Old Colony Mennonites; Entrepreneurship; Technology; Business; Social capital


Within the Old Colony Mennonite settlements of Belize, the relationship between religious and economic practices entails a constant navigation of the acceptable, where threats of worldliness come from technology and from contact with outsiders. This paper takes as its focus the business of a butcher in Shipyard settlement, whose daily work testifies to a navigation of both of these potential threats. This entrepreneur uses technologies of energy, transportation, and communication—operated in part by an outside worker—to extend the radius of his meat business. The tense environment of Shipyard’s religious diversity frames our discussion of these observations, leading us to reconsider our understanding of the Ordnung and its relation to business activity. To understand the entrepreneur’s skillful navigation of rules and opportunities, we use the term “social capital” (Bourdieu 1986; Portes 2010) to reflect on the paradoxical relationship between religious rules and entrepreneurial space—and to consider how the Ordnung can be seen as a spacious (rather than a constrictive) place for Mennonite entrepreneurs.


The authors would like to thank Peter Margesson for some corrections and insightful comments on an earlier draft.



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