With unprecedented use of local and national sources, Lauria-Santiago presents a more complex portrait of El Salvador than has ever been ventured before. Using thoroughly researched regional case studies, Lauria-Santiago challenges the accepted vision of Central America in the nineteenth century and critiques the "liberal oligarchic hegemony" model of El Salvador. He reveals the existence of a diverse, commercially active peasantry that was deeply involved with local and national networks of power.
Over the past half-century, El Salvador has transformed dramatically. Historically reliant on primary exports like coffee and cotton, the country emerged from a brutal civil war in 1992 to find much of its national income now coming from a massive emigrant workforce—over a quarter of its population—that earns money in the United States and sends it home. In American Value, David Pedersen examines this new way of life as it extends across two places: Intipucá, a Salvadoran town infamous for its remittance wealth, and the Washington, DC, metro area, home to the second largest population of Salvadorans in the United States.
Pedersen charts El Salvador’s change alongside American deindustrialization, viewing the Salvadoran migrant work abilities used in new lowwage American service jobs as a kind of primary export, and shows how the latest social conditions linking both countries are part of a longer history of disparity across the Americas. Drawing on the work of Charles S. Peirce, he demonstrates how the defining value forms—migrant work capacity, services, and remittances—act as signs, building a moral world by communicating their exchangeability while hiding the violence and exploitation on which this story rests. Theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich, and compellingly written, American Value offers critical insights into practices that are increasingly common throughout the world.
During his lifetime, Archbishop Oscar Romero chose to live the Christian Gospel in a radical way, defending, supporting, and serving the poor, and confronting the oppressive and murderous violence of the Salvadoran dictatorship. As a result, in March 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in El Salvador, he was assassinated.
With Archbishop Oscar Romero, Damian Zynda offers a compelling examination of the bishop’s eventful life. Zynda delves into the psychological and spiritual depths of Romero’s faith, tracing its progression from age thirteen up to the episcopacy and his prophetic stand against the government.
Scientists have long speculated on the impact of extreme natural catastrophes on human societies. Archeology and Volcanism in Central America provides dramatic evidence of the effects of several volcanic disasters on a major civilization of the Western Hemisphere, that of the Maya. During the past 2,000 years, four volcanic eruptions have taken place in the Zapotitán Valley of southern El Salvador. One, the devastating eruption of Ilopango around A.D. 300, forced a major migration, pushing the Mayan people north to the Yucatán Peninsula. Although later eruptions did not have long-range implications for cultural change, one of the subsequent eruptions preserved the Cerén site—a Mesoamerican Pompeii where the bodies of the villagers, the palm-thatched roofs of their houses, the pots of food in their pantries, even the corn plants in their fields were preserved with remarkable fidelity. Throughout 1978, a multidisciplinary team of anthropologists, archeologists, geologists, biologists, and others sponsored by the University of Colorado's Protoclassic Project researched and excavated the results of volcanism in the Zapotitan Valley—a key Mesoamerican site that contemporary political strife has since rendered inaccessible. The result is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the impact of volcanic eruptions on early Mayan civilization. These investigations clearly demonstrate that the Maya inhabited this volcanically hazardous valley in order to reap the short-term benefits that the volcanic ash produced—fertile soil, fine clays, and obsidian deposits.
During the civil war that wracked El Salvador from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, the Salvadoran military tried to stamp out dissidence and insurgency through an aggressive campaign of crop-burning, kidnapping, rape, killing, torture, and gruesome bodily mutilations. Even as human rights violations drew world attention, repression and war displaced more than a quarter of El Salvador’s population, both inside the country and beyond its borders. Beyond Displacement examines how the peasant campesinos of war-torn northern El Salvador responded to violence by taking to the hills. Molly Todd demonstrates that their flight was not hasty and chaotic, but was a deliberate strategy that grew out of a longer history of collective organization, mobilization, and self-defense.
During the 1980s war in El Salvador, Radio Venceremos was the main news outlet for the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), the guerrilla organization that challenged the government. The broadcast provided a vital link between combatants in the mountains and the outside world, as well as an alternative to mainstream media reporting. In this first-person account, “Santiago,” the legend behind Radio Venceremos, tells the story of the early years of that conflict, a rebellion of poor peasants against the Salvadoran government and its benefactor, the United States. Originally published as La Terquedad del Izote, this memoir also addresses the broader story of a nationwide rebellion and its international context, particularly the intensifying Cold War and heavy U.S. involvement in it under President Reagan. By the war’s end in 1992, more than 75,000 were dead and 350,000 wounded—in a country the size of Massachusetts. Although outnumbered and outfinanced, the rebels fought the Salvadoran Army to a draw and brought enough bargaining power to the negotiating table to achieve some of their key objectives, including democratic reforms and an overhaul of the security forces. Broadcasting the Civil War in El Salvador is a riveting account from the rebels’ point of view that lends immediacy to the Salvadoran conflict. It should appeal to all who are interested in historic memory and human rights, U.S. policy toward Central America, and the role the media can play in wartime.
El Salvador is widely considered one of the most successful United Nations peacebuilding efforts, but record homicide rates, political polarization, socioeconomic exclusion, and corruption have diminished the quality of peace for many of its citizens. In Captured Peace: Elites and Peacebuilding in El Salvador, Christine J. Wade adapts the concept of elite capture to expand on the idea of “captured peace,” explaining how local elites commandeered political, social, and economic affairs before war’s end and then used the peace accords to deepen their control in these spheres.
While much scholarship has focused on the role of gangs in Salvadoran unrest, Wade draws on an exhaustive range of sources to demonstrate how day-to-day violence is inextricable from the economic and political dimensions. In this in-depth analysis of postwar politics in El Salvador, she highlights the local actors’ primary role in peacebuilding and demonstrates the political advantage an incumbent party—in this case, the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA—has throughout the peace process and the consequences of this to the quality of peace that results.
This volume resulted from a collaborative research project into responses of Protestant and Catholic religious communities in the Americas to the challenges of globalization. Contributors from the fields of religion, anthropology, political science, and sociology draw on fieldwork in Peru, El Salvador, and the United States to show the interplay of economic globalization, migration, and growing religious pluralism in Latin America.
Organized around three central themes-family, youth, and community; democratization, citizenship, and political participation; and immigration and transnationalism-the book argues that, at the local level, religion helps people, especially women and youths, solidify their identities and confront the challenges of the modern world. Religious communities are seen as both peaceful venues for people to articulate their needs, and forums for building participatory democracies in the Americas. Finally, the contributors examine how religion enfranchises poor women, youths, and people displaced by war or economic change and, at the same time, drives social movements that seek to strengthen family and community bonds disrupted by migration and political violence.
The case of the six Jesuits and two women murdered at Central American University (UCA) in San Salvador on November 16, 1989, has come to signify, by extension, a class-action suit on behalf of the 70,000 people tortured and executed over the course of a decade by the Salvadoran Armed Forces, with the complicity of the government. The identification of all those responsible for the Jesuit murders—the intellectual authors as well as the triggermen—would provide a first step toward purging and reforming a system that has made these kinds of crimes possible. This report by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which served as legal counsel to the Jesuits since December 1989, documents the story of the Jesuit murders in the most comprehensive history and analysis to date.
Martha Doggett establishes the background leading up to the murders—the preceding years of human rights abuses and of political distortions promulgated about the Jesuits. She then sifts through the evidence of the crime, scrutinizes the subsequent efforts at cover-up, analyzes the process of the trial itself, and identifies the high-level officials thought to be ultimately responsible for ordering and concealing the truth about the murders. She concludes that a number ofcivilians as well as military paraticlipated and that the decision was made some time before the night of the actual murders. Drawing on primary and journalistic sources, investigative reports, U.S. and Salvadoran government documents, and interviews conducted by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and other organizations, Doggett traces the military's repeated obstruction of justice and the ambivalent responses by U.S. officials courting political expediency. She observes the effects of international protests (including the report by U.S. Congressman Joe Moakley) and outlines the limitations inherent in El Salvador's legal system.
Bringing the chronicle up to the present, this volume includes the first published English-language translation of the portion of the Truth Commission report dealing with the Jesuits' case, an analysis of the Truth Commission's conclusions, and reactions to the amnesty and release from prison of all persons convicted for the crime. Appendixes include chronologies of the case and of attacks on El Salvador's Jesuits; lists of the names of all the persons figuring in the case and profiles of the defendants; the report of the Lawyers Committee's trial observer; and a list of previous publications on the case by the Lawyers Committee and UCA, as well as reports of trial observers from other organizations.
The 1981 slaughter of more than a thousand civilians around El Mozote, El Salvador, by the country's U.S.-trained army was the largest massacre of the Salvadoran civil war. The story was covered—and soon forgotten—by the international news media. It was revived in 1993 only when the U.S. government was accused of covering up the incident.
Such reportage, argues anthropologist Leigh Binford, sustains the perception that the lives of Third World people are only newsworthy when some great tragedy strikes. He critiques the practices of journalists and human rights organizations for their dehumanizing studies of "subjects" and "victims." Binford suggests that such accounts objectify the people involved through statistical analyses and bureaucratic body counts while the news media sensationalize the motives and personalities of the perpetrators.
In relating the story of this tragic event, Binford restores a sense of history and social identity to the fallen people of this Salvadoran village. Drawing on interviews he conducted with El Mozote-area residents, he offers a rich ethnographic and personal account of their lives prior to the tragedy. He provides an overview of the history and culture of the area and tells how such a massacre could have happened, why it was covered up, and why it could happen again.
In 1981, more than a thousand civilians around El Mozote, El Salvador, were slaughtered by the country’s U.S.-trained army. The story was covered—and soon forgotten—by the international news media. In the first edition of The El Mozote Massacre, anthropologist Leigh Binford successfully restores a social identity to the massacre victims through his dissection of Third World human rights reporting and a rich ethnographic and personal account of El Mozote–area residents prior to the massacre.
Almost two decades later, the consequences of the massacre continue to reverberate through the country’s legal and socioeconomic systems. The El Mozote Massacre, 2nd Edition brings together new evidence to address reconstruction, historical memory, and human rights issues resulting from what may be the largest massacre in modern Latin American history.
With a multitude of additions, including three new chapters, an extended chronology, discussion of the hearing and ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012, and evidence gathered throughout half a dozen field trips made by the author, Binford presents a current perspective on the effects of this tragic moment in history. Thanks to geographically expanded fieldwork, Binford offers critical discussion of postwar social, economic, religious, and social justice in El Mozote, and adds important new regional, national, and global contexts.
The El Mozote Massacre, 2nd Edition maintains the crucial presence of the massacre in human rights discussions for El Salvador, Latin America, and the world.
Everyday Revolutionaries provides a longitudinal and rigorous analysis of the legacies of war in a community racked by political violence. By exploring political processes in one of El Salvador's former war zones-a region known for its peasant revolutionary participation-Irina Carlota Silber offers a searing portrait of the entangled aftermaths of confrontation and displacement, aftermaths that have produced continued deception and marginalization.
Silber provides one of the first rubrics for understanding and contextualizing postwar disillusionment, drawing on her ethnographic fieldwork and research on immigration to the United States by former insurgents. With an eye for gendered experiences, she unmasks how community members are asked, contradictorily and in different contexts, to relinquish their identities as "revolutionaries" and to develop a new sense of themselves as productive yet marginal postwar citizens via the same "participation" that fueled their revolutionary action. Beautifully written and offering rich stories of hope and despair, Everyday Revolutionaries contributes to important debates in public anthropology and the ethics of engaged research practices.
In Exiled Home, Susan Bibler Coutin recounts the experiences of Salvadoran children who migrated with their families to the United States during the 1980–1992 civil war. Because of their youth and the violence they left behind, as well as their uncertain legal status in the United States, many grew up with distant memories of El Salvador and a profound sense of disjuncture in their adopted homeland. Through interviews in both countries, Coutin examines how they sought to understand and overcome the trauma of war and displacement through such strategies as recording community histories, advocating for undocumented immigrants, forging new relationships with the Salvadoran state, and, for those deported from the United States, reconstructing their lives in El Salvador. In focusing on the case of Salvadoran youth, Coutin’s nuanced analysis shows how the violence associated with migration can be countered through practices that recuperate historical memory while also reclaiming national membership.
Popular education played a vital role in the twelve-year guerrilla war against the Salvadoran government. Fighting to Learn is a study of its pedagogy and politics. Inspired by Paulo Freire's literacy work in Brazil in the 1950s, popular education brought literacy to poor rural communities abandoned by the official education system and to peasant combatants in the guerrilla army. Those who had little education taught those who had none. Popular education taught people skills, raised the morale that sustained them in unequal combat, and stimulated the creation of an organizational network to hold them together.
Hammond interviewed more than 100 Salvadoran students and teachers for this book. He recounts their experiences in their own words, vividly conveying how they coped with the hardships of war and organized civilian communities politically to support a guerrilla insurgency. Fighting to Learn tells how poorly educated peasants overcame their sense of inferiority to discover that they could teach each other and work together in a common struggle.
First examining the Christian base communities through which popular education came to El Salvador, Hammond then discusses how guerrilla combatants, political prisoners, and refugees learned. He shows that education was both a pedagogical and a political practice: he discusses the training of completely inexperienced teachers, the linking of basic literacy skills with politics, and the organizing of communities. Fighting to Learn offers both a detailed account of an historical moment and a broad theoretical discussion of the relationship between education, community organizing, and the political process.
In 1980 El Salvador was plunged into a bloody civil war, and Luis Campos, a peasant farmer, found himself drawn into a deadly political maelstrom of guerrilla fighting for twelve years. In this collection of fascinating and revealing oral histories, Gorkin and Pineda portray the personal and social lives of Luis and his family, who for the past eighteen years have been working to rebuild their lives in their new community beneath the Guazapa volcano.
Luis, his mother, his wife, his in-laws, his children, and some neighbors recall in a simple and often eloquent manner their experiences of everyday life before, during, and after the civil war. Nina Bonafacia, Luis’s mother, tells of the days before the war when two of her daughters were murdered and she fled with her family to a refugee camp. Julia, Luis’s wife, recounts her life as a guerrillera during which, incidentally, she gave birth to the first two of her eight children. Joaquin, a neighbor and comrade-in-arms, discusses how he and others took control of the land of Comunidad Guazapa and began rebuilding in those turbulent days and months right after the war. Margarita and Francisco, the two oldest children, with candor and insight discuss the trajectory of their lives and that of the postwar generation. And at the center of all these stories stands Luis, the guerrillero, farmer, neighbor, husband, father—and raconteur par excellence.
In sum, the multiple voices in From Beneath the Volcano combine to form a rich tapestry displaying a story of war, family, and community and provide a never-before-seen view of both the past and present El Salvador.
Incorporating investigative journalism and drawing on interviews with participants and leaders, Sandy Smith-Nonini examines the contested place of health and development in El Salvador over the last two decades. Healing the Body Politic recounts the dramatic story of radical health activism from its origins in liberation theology and guerrilla medicine during the third-world country's twelve-year civil war, through development of a remarkable "popular health system," administered by lay providers in a former war zone controlled by leftist rebels. This ethnography casts light on the conflicts between the conservative Ministry of Health and primary health advocates during the 1990s peace process--a time when the government sought to dismantle the effective peasant-run rural system. It offers a rare analysis of the White Marches of 2002û2003, when radicalized physicians rose to national leadership in a successful campaign against privatization of the social security health system. Healing the Body Politic contributes to the productive integration of medical and political anthropology by bringing the semiotics of health and the body to bear on cultural understandings of warfare, the state, and globalization.
During the 1980s, El Salvador's violent civil war captured the world's attention. In the years since, the country has undergone dramatic changes. Landscapes of Struggle offers a broad, interdisciplinary assessment of El Salvador from the late nineteenth century to the present, focusing on the ways local politics have shaped the development of the nation.
Proceeding chronologically, these essays-by historians, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists-explore the political, social, and cultural dynamics governing the Salvadoran experience, including the crucial roles of land, the military, and ethnicity; the effects of the civil war; and recent transformations, such as the growth of a large Salvadoran diaspora in the United States. Taken together, they provide a fully realized portrait of El Salvador's troublesome past, transformative present, and uncertain future.
Legalizing Moves analyzes the battle Salvadoran immigrants have fought for two decades to win legal permanent residency in the United States. Drawing on interviews with Salvadoran asylum applicants, observations of deportation hearings, and fieldwork within the Salvadoran community in Los Angeles, Susan Bibler Coutin illustrates the profound effects of increasingly restrictive immigration laws on the lives of undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
Susan Bibler Coutin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society, at the University of California, Irvine.
Little Red Riding Hood in the Red Light District is Manlio Argueta's most popular novel in El Salvador, translated into English for the first time by Edward Waters Hood. A kaleidoscopic tale of political romance, the story revolves around the relationship of two young lovers in a time of social upheaval, evoking characters and themes from the classic fairy tale within the wartime environment of El Salvador and its capital, San Salvador.
As bloody wars raged in Central America during the last third of the twentieth century, hundreds of North American groups “adopted” villages in war-torn Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Unlike government-based cold war–era Sister City programs, these pairings were formed by ordinary people, often inspired by individuals displaced by US-supported counterinsurgency operations.
Drawing on two decades of work with former refugees from El Salvador as well as unprecedented access to private archives and oral histories, Molly Todd’s compelling history provides the first in-depth look at “grassroots sistering.” This model of citizen diplomacy emerged in the mid-1980s out of relationships between a few repopulated villages in Chalatenango, El Salvador, and US cities.
Todd shows how the leadership of Salvadorans and left-leaning activists in the US concerned with the expansion of empire as well as the evolution of human rights–related discourses and practices created a complex dynamic of cross-border activism that continues today.
In 1992, at the end of a twelve-year civil war, El Salvador was poised for a transition to democracy. Yet, after longstanding dominance by a small oligarchy that continually used violence to repress popular resistance, El Salvador’s democracy has proven to be a fragile one, as social ills (poverty chief among them) have given rise to neighborhoods where gang activity now thrives. Mano Dura examines the ways in which the ruling ARENA party used gang violence to solidify political power in the hands of the elite—culminating in draconian “iron fist” antigang policies that undermine human rights while ultimately doing little to address the roots of gang membership. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and policy analysis, Mano Dura examines the activities of three nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that have advocated for more nuanced policies to eradicate gangs and the societal issues that are both a cause and an effect of gang proliferation. While other studies of street gangs have focused on relatively distant countries such as Colombia, Argentina, and Jamaica, Sonja Wolf’s research takes us to a country closer to the United States, where forced deportation has brought with it US gang culture. Charting the limited success of NGOs in influencing El Salvador’s security policies, the book brings to light key contextual aspects—including myopic media coverage and the ironic populist support for ARENA, despite the party’s protection of the elite at the expense of the greater society.
Thomas P. Anderson Northwestern University Press, 1971 Library of Congress F1487.5.A67 1992 | Dewey Decimal 972.8405
This authoritative account of the matanza narrates the circumstances leading up to the 1932 communist revolt in El Salvador, a pivotal event in Central American history. It investigates the proximate and underlying causes of the conflict and follows the progression of the rebellion and subsequent slaughter (matanza) of thousands of peasants, even those merely suspected of participating in the uprising. It provides a vivid, detailed chronicle of the revolt in various Salvadoran towns as well as the social aspects, battles, military engagements, and innumerable casualties.
In light of the scarcity of first-hand information and primary sources, Anderson makes remarkable use of interviews and oral histories to develop this invaluable and searing record of injustice.
Roque Dalton Northwestern University Press, 1982 Library of Congress HX148.8.M37A3 2010 | Dewey Decimal 324.272840750924
Miguel Mármol is the testimony of a revolutionary, as recorded by Salvadoran writer, Roque Dalton, which documents the historical and political events of El Salvador through the first decades of the 20th century. This Latin American classic describes the growth and development of the workers' movement and the communist party in El Salvador and Guatemala, and contains Mármol's impressions of post-revolutionary Russia in the twenties, describing in vivid detail the brutality and repression of the Martínez dictatorship and the reemergence of the workers' movement after Martínez was ousted. It also gives a broad and clear picture of the lives of the ordinary peasant and worker in Central America, their sufferings, their hopes and their struggles.
With the resignation of General Renee Emilio Ponce in March 1993, the Salvadorian army’s sixty-year domination of El Salvador came to an end. The country’s January 1992 peace accords stripped the military of the power it once enjoyed, placing many areas under civilian rule. Establishing civilian control during the transition to democracy was no easy task, especially for a country that had never experienced even a brief period of democracy in its history.
Phillip J. Williams and Knut Walter argue that prolonged military rule produced powerful obstacles that limited the possibilities for demilitarization in the wake of the peace accords. The failure of the accords to address several key aspects of the military’s political power had important implications for the democratic transition and for future civil-military relations.
Drawing on an impressive array of primary source materials and interviews, this book will be valuable to students, scholars, and policy makers concerned with civil-military relations, democratic transitions, and the peace process in Central America.
In the spring of 1983, a North American couple who were hoping to adopt a child internationally received word that if they acted quickly, they could become the parents of a boy in an orphanage in Honduras. Layers of red tape dissolved as the American Embassy there smoothed the way for the adoption. Within a few weeks, Margaret Ward and Thomas de Witt were the parents of a toddler they named Nelson—an adorable boy whose prior life seemed as mysterious as the fact that government officials in two countries had inexplicably expedited his adoption. In Missing Mila, Finding Family, Margaret Ward tells the poignant and compelling story of this international adoption and the astonishing revelations that emerged when Nelson’s birth family finally relocated him in 1997. After recounting their early years together, during which she and Tom welcomed the birth of a second son, Derek, and created a family with both boys, Ward vividly recalls the upheaval that occurred when members of Nelson’s birth family contacted them and sought a reunion with the boy they knew as Roberto. She describes how their sense of family expanded to include Nelson’s Central American relatives, who helped her piece together the lives of her son’s birth parents and their clandestine activities as guerrillas in El Salvador’s civil war. In particular, Ward develops an internal dialogue with Nelson’s deceased mother Mila, an elusive figure whose life and motivations she tries to understand.
In light of new proposals to control undocumented migrants in the United States, Parcels prioritizes rural Salvadoran remembering in an effort to combat the collective amnesia that supports the logic of these historically myopic strategies. Mike Anastario investigates the social memories of individuals from a town he refers to as “El Norteño,” a rural municipality in El Salvador that was heavily impacted by the Salvadoran Civil War, which in turn fueled a mass exodus to the United States. By working with two viajeros (travelers) who exchanged encomiendas (parcels containing food, medicine, documents, photographs and letters) between those in the U.S. and El Salvador, Anastario tells the story behind parcels and illuminates their larger cultural and structural significance. This narrative approach elucidates key arguments concerning the ways in which social memory permits and is shaped by structural violence, particularly the U.S. actions and policies that have resulted in the emotional and physical distress of so many Salvadorans. The book uses analyses of testimonies, statistics, memories of migration, the war and, of course, the many parcels sent over the border to create an innovative and necessary account of post-Civil War El Salvador.
On November 16, 1989, on the campus of El Salvador's University of Central America, six Jesuits and two women were murdered by members of the Salvadoran army, an army funded and trained by the United States. One of the murdered Jesuits was Ignacio Ellacuría, the university's Rector and a key, although controversial, figure in Salvadoran public life. From an opening account of this terrible crime, Paying the Price asks, Why were they killed and what have their deaths meant? Answers come through Teresa Whitfield's detailed examination of Ellacuría's life and work. His story is told in juxtaposition with the crucial role played by the unraveling investigation of the Jesuits' murders within El Salvador's peace process.
A complex and nuanced book, Paying the Price offers a history of the Church in El Salvador in recent decades, an analysis of Ellacuría's philosophy and theology, an introduction to liberation theology, and an account of the critical importance of the University of Central America. In the end, Whitfield's comprehensive picture of conditions in El Salvador suggest that the Jesuits' murders were almost inevitable. A crime that proved a turning point in El Salvador's civil war, the murders expressed the deep tragedy of the Salvadoran people beyond suffering the heartless cruelty, violence, and deceitfulness of a corrupt military and their patrons in the U.S. government.
Whitfield draws on her extensive research of Jesuit archives and private papers, Ellacuría's diaries, documents declassified by the U.S. government, and 200 interviews conducted with sources ranging from Jesuits to Salvadoran military officers, U.S. officials and congressmen to human rights campaigners.
The recent critical works that look at literature as a weapon of resistance have frequently neglected the genre of poetry, particularly the poetry of Third World women writers. A Poetics of Resistance is the first book-length examination of poetry written by woman of El Salvador, South Africa, and the United States and the ways it bears witness to political struggle and produces new kinds of knowledge.
Engaging the works of critics such as Chandra Mohanty, Barbara Harlow, Claribel Alegria, Albie Sachs, and Audre Lorde, among others, Mary DeShazer reconceptualizes traditional notions of resistance and literature and the relationship between them. She argues that women’s voices have been underrepresented in previous analyses of Third World resistance poetry, and that when examined collectively, their work reveals overtly gendered concerns that distinguish it from that of their male counterparts.
DeShazer defines resistance as an active quest for justice and a means of collective empowerment. She looks at the diasporic consciousness of exiled and dislocated women, examines the tensions between claims of identity and claims of difference, and explores the ways in which gender and struggle connect women across nationalities and historical imperatives. Her analysis of Salvadoran and South African women’s poetry reveal the ways in which poetic conventions can be seen as “political declarations of privilege,” casting a new light on women’s resistance poetry in the United States.
In 1932 security forces in El Salvador murdered 25,000 peasants and workers. Between 1978 and 1991 the Salvadoran government killed an additional 50,000 civilians. Death squads maimed and tortured their victims, who included labor organizers, priests, and teachers. By the later months of 1980, government forces were slaughtering 1,000 civilians a month. Most of those killed were poor or worked with the poor. In per capita terms Salvadoran state terror was among the worst in the hemisphere.
States have killed more people than have rebellions, but we know very little about what factors influence this genocide. Why do states kill? In this provocative and chilling book, William Stanley demonstrates that the Salvadoran military state was essentially a protection racket. It offered protection to the elites from civilian uprising and in return received a concession to govern. This protection took the form of wide-scale murder. As Stanley puts it, "State violence was a currency of relations between state and non-state elites."
There are valuable lessons in this book for all those concerned with state-sponsored terror. It indicts the United States for having strengthened the might of the Salvadoran military. It challenges conventional wisdom about governments and repression and shows state-sponsored violence as much more than just a response to opposition.
Reimagining National Belonging is the first sustained critical examination of post–civil war El Salvador. It describes how one nation, after an extended and divisive conflict, took up the challenge of generating social unity and shared meanings around ideas of the nation. In tracing state-led efforts to promote the concepts of national culture, history, and identity, Robin DeLugan highlights the sites and practices—as well as the complexities—of nation-building in the twenty-first century.
Examining events that unfolded between 1992 and 2011, DeLugan both illustrates the idiosyncrasies of state and society in El Salvador and opens a larger portal into conditions of constructing a state in the present day around the globe—particularly the process of democratization in an age of neoliberalism. She demonstrates how academics, culture experts, popular media, and the United Nations and other international agencies have all helped shape ideas about national belonging in El Salvador. She also reveals the efforts that have been made to include populations that might have been overlooked, including indigenous people and faraway citizens not living inside the country’s borders. And she describes how history and memory projects have begun to recall the nation’s violent past with the goal of creating a more just and equitable nation.
This illuminating case study fills a gap in the scholarship about culture and society in contemporary El Salvador, while offering an “ethnography of the state” that situates El Salvador in a global context.
What do women do for revolutions? And what do revolutions do for women? Julie Shayne explores the roles of women in revolutionary struggles and the relationship of these movements to the emergence of feminism. Focusing upon the three very different cases of El Salvador, Chile, and Cuba, Shayne documents the roles of women in armed and unarmed political activities. She argues that women contribute to and participate in revolutionary movements in ways quite distinct from men. Despite the fact that their political contributions tend to be seen as less important than those of their male comrades, the roles that women play are actually quite significant to the expansion of revolutionary movements. Shayne also explains how, given the convergence of political and ideological factors, feminism is often born in the wake of revolutionary movements. As a result, revolutionary feminism is a struggle that addresses larger structures of political and economic inequalities. Based on extensive in-depth interviews with activists in all three countries, The Revolution Question offers new insight into the complex gender relations underlying revolutionary social movements and enables us to re-assess both the ways that women affect political struggle and the ways in which political struggle affects women.
Ravaged by civil war throughout the 1980s and 1990s, El Salvador has now emerged as a study in contradictions. It is a country where urban call centers and shopping malls exist alongside rural poverty. It is a land now at peace but still grappling with a legacy of violence. It is a place marked by deep social divides, yet offering a surprising abundance of inclusive spaces. Above all, it is a nation without borders, as widespread emigration during the war has led Salvadorans to develop a truly transnational sense of identity.
In Salvadoran Imaginaries, Cecilia M. Rivas takes us on a journey through twenty-first century El Salvador and to the diverse range of sites where the nation’s postwar identity is being forged. Combining field ethnography with media research, Rivas deftly toggles between the physical spaces where the new El Salvador is starting to emerge and the virtual spaces where Salvadoran identity is being imagined, including newspapers, literature, and digital media. This interdisciplinary approach enables her to explore the multitude of ways that Salvadorans negotiate between reality and representation, between local neighborhoods and transnational imagined communities, between present conditions and dreams for the future.
Everyday life in El Salvador may seem like a simple matter, but Rivas digs deeper, across many different layers of society, revealing a wealth of complex feelings that the nation’s citizens have about power, opportunity, safety, migration, and community. Filled with first-hand interviews and unique archival research, Salvadoran Imaginaries offers a fresh take on an emerging nation and its people.
Driven by the pressures of poverty and civil strife at home, large numbers of Central Americans came to the Los Angeles area during the 1980's. Neither purely economic migrants, though they were in search of stable work, nor official refugees, although they carried the scars of war and persecution, Guatemalans and Salvadorans were even denied the aid given to refugees such as Cubans and Vietnamese. In addition, these immigrants sought refuge in a city undergoing massive economic and demographic shifts of its own. The result was -- and is -- a complex interaction that will help to reconceptualize the migration experience.
Based on twenty years of work with the Los Angeles Central American community and filled with facts, figures, and personal narratives, Seeking Community in a Global City presents this saga from many perspectives. The authors examine the forces in Central America that sent thousands of people streaming across international borders. They discuss economic, political, and demographic changes in the Los Angeles region and the difficulties the new immigrants faced in negotiating a new, urban environment. They look at family roles, networking, work strategies, and inter-ethnic relations. But they also consider policy issues and alliances, changing expectations, shifting priorities, and the reciprocal effect of the migrants and the city on each other.
From 400 BC to AD 250, the southern Maya region was one of the most remarkable civilizations of the ancient Americas. Filled with great cities linked by flourishing long-distance trade, shared elite ideologies, and a vibrant material culture, this region was pivotal not only for the Maya but for Mesoamerica as a whole. Although it has been of great interest to scholars, gaps in the knowledge have led to debate on the most vital questions about the southern region.
Recent research has provided a wealth of broadly based new data that have expanded the understanding of this region and its influence on greater Mesoamerica. In The Southern Maya in the Late Preclassic, prominent contributors debate whether the southern region was indeed "Maya" or instead a region of intense multiethnic interaction, with speakers of many languages and many sources of identity. The chapters address a host of advanced developments to which this area can lay claim--urbanism and city-states, the earliest Maya writing, and the origin of the Maya calendar--as well as additional issues including the construction of social and cultural identities, economic networks of early complex societies, relationships between the Maya and the Olmec, and a comprehensive discussion of the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu and its relationship to other cities in the region.
Space of Detention is a powerful ethnographic account and spatial analysis of the “transnational gang crisis” between the United States and El Salvador. Elana Zilberg seeks to understand how this phenomenon became an issue of central concern for national and regional security, and how La Mara Salvatrucha, a gang founded by Salvadoran immigrants in Los Angeles, came to symbolize the “gang crime–terrorism continuum.” She follows Salvadoran immigrants raised in Los Angeles, who identify as—or are alleged to be—gang members and who are deported back to El Salvador after their incarceration in the United States. Analyzing zero-tolerance gang-abatement strategies in both countries, Zilberg shows that these measures help to produce the very transnational violence and undocumented migration that they are intended to suppress. She argues that the contemporary fixation with Latino immigrant and Salvadoran street gangs, while in part a product of media hype, must also be understood in relation to the longer history of U.S. involvement in Central America, the processes of neoliberalism and globalization, and the intersection of immigration, criminal, and antiterrorist law. These forces combine to produce what Zilberg terms “neoliberal securityscapes.”
To Rise in Darkness offers a new perspective on a defining moment in modern Central American history. In January 1932 thousands of indigenous and ladino (non-Indian) rural laborers, provoked by electoral fraud and the repression of strikes, rose up and took control of several municipalities in central and western El Salvador. Within days the military and civilian militias retook the towns and executed thousands of people, most of whom were indigenous. This event, known as la Matanza (the massacre), has received relatively little scholarly attention. In To Rise in Darkness, Jeffrey L. Gould and Aldo A. Lauria-Santiago investigate memories of the massacre and its long-term cultural and political consequences.
Gould conducted more than two hundred interviews with survivors of la Matanza and their descendants. He and Lauria-Santiago combine individual accounts with documentary sources from archives in El Salvador, Guatemala, Washington, London, and Moscow. They describe the political, economic, and cultural landscape of El Salvador during the 1920s and early 1930s, and offer a detailed narrative of the uprising and massacre. The authors challenge the prevailing idea that the Communist organizers of the uprising and the rural Indians who participated in it were two distinct groups. Gould and Lauria-Santiago demonstrate that many Communist militants were themselves rural Indians, some of whom had been union activists on the coffee plantations for several years prior to the rebellion. Moreover, by meticulously documenting local variations in class relations, ethnic identity, and political commitment, the authors show that those groups considered “Indian” in western El Salvador were far from homogeneous. The united revolutionary movement of January 1932 emerged out of significant cultural difference and conflict.
This collection presents a representative sample of the writings of three of the six Jesuits who were slain in El Salvador on November 16, 1989. Although little known in the United States, these men were significant scholars who possessed an original conception of the university. They affirmed in difficult circumstances, the pursuit and teaching of truth as a collaborative, collegial process that transcends international boundaries.
Jacqueline Hansen Maggiore presents in this volume the biography of her lifelong friend Carol Piette, known throughout Chile and El Salvador as Sister Carla. Drawing from the memories of those who knew her and excerpts from her letters and diaries, Vessel of Clay chronicles Sister Carla’s extraordinary life, highlighting her dedication to the poor of Latin America but also revealing her struggles with self-doubt and emotional frailty. Vessel of Clay will appeal to both lay and religious readers interested in peace and social justice, spiritual formation and development, women’s issues, liberation theology, and mission service.
One of the first longitudinal studies of collective resistance in the developing world, Waves of Protest examines large-scale contentious action in El Salvador during critical eras in the country’s history.
Providing a compelling analysis of the massive waves of protests from the early twentieth century to the present in El Salvador, Paul D. Almeida fully chronicles one of the largest and most successful campaigns against globalization and privatization in the Americas. Drawing on original protest data from newspapers and other archival sources, Almeida makes an impassioned argument that regime liberalization organizes civil society and, conversely, acts of state-sponsored repression radicalize society. He correlates the ebb and flow of protest waves to the changes in regime liberalization and subsequent de-democratization and back to liberalization.
Almeida shows how institutional access and competitive elections create opportunity for civic organizations that become radicalized when authoritarianism increases, resulting at times in violent protest campaigns that escalate to revolutionary levels. In doing so, he brings negative political conditions and threats to the forefront as central forces driving social movement activity and popular contention in the developing world.
Paul D. Almeida is assistant professor of sociology at Texas A&M University. He is coeditor with Hank Johnston of Latin American Social Movements: Globalization, Democratization, and Transnational Networks.