edited by Julie Gibbings and Heather Vrana
University of Texas Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-1-4773-2085-3 | eISBN: 978-1-4773-2086-0
Library of Congress Classification F1466.5.O83 2020
Dewey Decimal Classification 972.81052


Guatemala’s “Ten Years of Spring” (1944–1954) began when citizens overthrew a military dictatorship and ushered in a remarkable period of social reform. This decade of progressive policies ended abruptly when a coup d’état, backed by the United States at the urging of the United Fruit Company, deposed a democratically elected president and set the stage for a period of systematic human rights abuses that endured for generations. Presenting the research of diverse anthropologists and historians, Out of the Shadow offers a new examination of this pivotal chapter in Latin American history.

Marshaling information on regions that have been neglected by other scholars, such as coastlines dominated by people of African descent, the contributors describe an era when Guatemalan peasants, Maya and non-Maya alike, embraced change, became landowners themselves, diversified agricultural production, and fully engaged in electoral democracy. Yet this volume also sheds light on the period’s atrocities, such as the US Public Health Service’s medical experimentation on Guatemalans between 1946 and 1948. Rethinking institutional memories of the Cold War, the book concludes by considering the process of translating memory into possibility among present-day urban activists.

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