Central Americans are one of the largest Latino population groups in the United States. Yet, Arturo Arias argues, the cultural production of Central Americans remains little known to North Americans.
In Taking Their Word, Arias complicates notions of the cultural production of Central America, from Mexico in the North to Panama in the South. He charts the literature of Central America’s liberation struggles of the 1970s and 1980s, its transformation after peace treaties were signed, the emergence of a new Maya literature that decenters Latin American literature written in Spanish, and the rise and fall of testimonio. Arias demonstrates that Central America and its literature are marked by an indigenousness that has never before been fully theorized or critically grasped. Never one to avoid controversy, Arias proffers his views of how the immigration of Central Americans to North America has changed the cultural topography of both zones.
With this groundbreaking work, Arias establishes the importance of Central American literature and provides a frame for future studies of the region’s culture.
Arturo Arias is director of Latin American studies at the University of Redlands. He is the author of six novels in Spanish and editor of The Rigoberta Menchú Controversy (Minnesota, 2001).
The Terminal Classic in the Maya Lowlands revisits one of the great problems in Mayan archaeology - the apparent collapse of Classic Maya civilization from roughly A.D. 830 to 950. During this period the Maya abandoned their power centers in the southern lowlands and rather abruptly ceased the distinctive cultural practices that marked their apogee in the Classic period. Archaeological fieldwork during the past three decades, however, has uncovered enormous regional variability in the ways the Maya experienced the shift from Classic to Postclassic society, revealing a period of cultural change more complex than acknowledged by traditional models.
Featuring an impressive roster of scholars, The Terminal Classic presents the most recent data and interpretations pertaining to this perplexing period of cultural transformation in the Maya lowlands. Although the research reveals clear interregional patterns, the contributors resist a single overarching explanation. Rather, this volume's diverse and nuanced interpretations provide a new, more properly grounded beginning for continued debate on the nature of lowland Terminal Classic Maya civilization.
The key to democratization lies within the experience of the popular movements. Those who engaged in the popular struggle in Guatemala have a deep understanding of substantive democratic behavior, and the experience of Guatemala's civil society should be the cornerstone for building a meaningful formal democracy.
In Terror in the Countryside Rachel May offers an in-depth examination of the relationship between political violence and civil society. Focusing on Guatemala, Professor May develops a theoretical scheme that calls into question the more conventional understandings of both violence and civil society.
By elaborating a cyclical model of violence, and suggesting a typology of rural (campesino) popular organizations, Terror in the Countryside provides both a history and an analysis of late-twentieth-century violence and of the role of campesino organizations during the worst years of conflict in Guatemala.
This history details the way ideologies, organizational structures, and mobilization strategies evolved in response to the climate of terror, emphasizing the courage and sacrifice of those who worked for justice and human rights.
This book argues that the peace accords can be considered only as a first step to eliminate a violence that has become deeply rooted in the political life of the country.
Even in the period following the electoral defeat of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1990, the revolution of 1979 continues to have a profound effect on the political economy of Nicaragua. Wright’s study, which is based on interviews with people from all walks of life—from government and party officials to academics and campesinos—as well as on the large volume of literature in both English and Spanish, focuses on the FSLN understanding of the relationships between the state, the party, and mass actors, and the nature of social classes. Wright considers the topics of agrarian reform, the development of mass organizations, the role of labor, and other aspects of the Nicaraguan political economy in order to assess their significance in theoretical as well as practical terms.
"The time of freedom" was the name that plantation workers—campesinos—gave to Guatemala’s national revolution of 1944–1954. Cindy Forster reveals the critical role played by the poor in organizing and sustaining this period of reform.
Through court records, labor and agrarian ministry archives, and oral histories, Forster demonstrates how labor conflict on the plantations prepared the ground for national reforms that are usually credited to urban politicians. She focuses on two plantation zones that generated exceptional momentum: the coffee belt in the highlands around San Marcos and the United Fruit Company’s banana groves near Tiquisate. Although these regions were unlike in size and complexity, language and race, popular culture and work patterns, both erupted with demands for workers’ rights and economic justice shortly after the fall of Castañeda in 1944.
A welcome balance to the standard "top-down" histories of the revolution, Forster’s sophisticated analysis demonstrates how campesinos changed the course of the urban revolution. By establishing the context of grassroots mobilization, she substantially alters the conventional view of the entire revolution, and particularly the reforms enacted under President Albenz.
Challenging the widely held belief that Nicaragua has been ethnically homogeneous since the nineteenth century, To Die in This Way reveals the continued existence and importance of an officially “forgotten” indigenous culture. Jeffrey L. Gould argues that mestizaje—a cultural homogeneity that has been hailed as a cornerstone of Nicaraguan national identity—involved a decades-long process of myth building.
Through interviews with indigenous peoples and records of the elite discourse that suppressed the expression of cultural differences and rationalized the destruction of Indian communities, Gould tells a story of cultural loss. Land expropriation and coerced labor led to cultural alienation that shamed the indigenous population into shedding their language, religion, and dress. Beginning with the 1870s, Gould historicizes the forces that prompted a collective movement away from a strong identification with indigenous cultural heritage to an “acceptance” of a national mixed-race identity.
By recovering a significant part of Nicaraguan history that has been excised from the national memory, To Die in This Way critiques the enterprise of third world nation-building and thus marks an important step in the study of Latin American culture and history that will also interest anthropologists and students of social and cultural historians.