In Adiós Niño: The Gangs of Guatemala City and the Politics of Death, Deborah T. Levenson examines transformations in the Guatemalan gangs called Maras from their emergence in the 1980s to the early 2000s. A historical study, Adiós Niño describes how fragile spaces of friendship and exploration turned into rigid and violent ones in which youth, and especially young men, came to employ death as a natural way of living for the short period that they expected to survive. Levenson relates the stark changes in the Maras to global, national, and urban deterioration; transregional gangs that intersect with the drug trade; and the Guatemalan military's obliteration of radical popular movements and of social imaginaries of solidarity. Part of Guatemala City's reconfigured social, political, and cultural milieu, with their members often trapped in Guatemala's growing prison system, the gangs are used to justify remilitarization in Guatemala's contemporary postwar, post-peace era. Portraying the Maras as microcosms of broader tragedies, and pointing out the difficulties faced by those youth who seek to escape the gangs, Levenson poses important questions about the relationship between trauma, memory, and historical agency.
After the Bombs
Arturo Arias Northwestern University Press, 1990 Library of Congress PQ7499.2.A73D4713 1990
After the Bombs is a coming of age story that holds a mirror up to the modern history of Guatemala—a funhouse mirror of richly inventive and farcical black comedy which provides a better description of life in that country than any history book ever could. It opens with the bombing of Guatemala City in 1954 when the hero, Max, is a small child. In a swiftly moving narrative, Max journeys toward adulthood, searching for his identity, for his father, and along the way, for the real Guatemala and the possibility of a society founded on human decency, after the bombs.
This exceptional collection revisits the aftermath of the 1954 coup that ousted the democratically elected Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. Contributors frame the impact of 1954 not only in terms of the liberal reforms and coffee revolutions of the nineteenth century, but also in terms of post-1954 U.S. foreign policy and the genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. This volume is of particular interest in the current era of the United States' re-emerging foreign policy based on preemptive strikes and a presumed clash of civilizations.
Recent research and the release of newly declassified U.S. government documents underscore the importance of reading Guatemala's current history through the lens of 1954. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present articulate how the coup fits into ethnographic representations of Guatemala. Highlighting the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, the contributors also offer an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground.
Contributors are Abigail E. Adams, Richard N. Adams, David Carey Jr., Christa Little-Siebold, Judith M. Maxwell, Victor D. Montejo, June C. Nash, and Timothy J. Smith.
Trading was the favorite occupation of the Maya, according to early Spanish observers such as Fray Diego de Landa (1566). Yet scholars of the Maya have long dismissed trade—specifically, market exchange—as unimportant. They argue that the Maya subsisted primarily on agriculture, with long-distance trade playing a minor role in a largely non-commercialized economy.
The Ancient Maya Marketplace reviews the debate on Maya markets and offers compelling new evidence for the existence and identification of ancient marketplaces in the Maya Lowlands. Its authors rethink the prevailing views about Maya economic organization and offer new perspectives. They attribute the dearth of Maya market research to two factors: persistent assumptions that Maya society and its rainforest environment lacked complexity, and an absence of physical evidence for marketplaces—a problem that plagues market research around the world.
Many Mayanists now agree that no site was self-sufficient, and that from the earliest times robust local and regional exchange existed alongside long-distance trade. Contributors to this volume suggest that marketplaces, the physical spaces signifying the presence of a market economy, did not exist for purely economic reasons but served to exchange information and create social ties as well.
The Ancient Maya Marketplace offers concrete links between Maya archaeology, ethnohistory, and contemporary cultures. Its in-depth review of current research will help future investigators to recognize and document marketplaces as a long-standing Maya cultural practice. The volume also provides detailed comparative data for premodern societies elsewhere in the world.
Anthropomorphizing the Cosmos explores the sociocultural significance of more than three hundred Middle Preclassic Maya figurines uncovered at the site of Nixtun-Ch'ich' on Lake Petén Itzá in northern Guatemala. In this careful, holistic, and detailed analysis of the Petén lakes figurines—hand-modeled, terracotta anthropomorphic fragments, animal figures, and musical instruments such as whistles and ocarinas—Prudence M. Rice engages with a broad swath of theory and comparative data on Maya ritual practice.
Presenting original data, Anthropomorphizing the Cosmos offers insight into the synchronous appearance of fired-clay figurines with the emergence of societal complexity in and beyond Mesoamerica. Rice situates these Preclassic Maya figurines in the broader context of Mesoamerican human figural representation, identifies possible connections between anthropomorphic figurine heads and the origins of calendrics and other writing in Mesoamerica, and examines the role of anthropomorphic figurines and zoomorphic musical instruments in Preclassic Maya ritual. The volume shows how community rituals involving the figurines helped to mitigate the uncertainties of societal transitions, including the beginnings of settled agricultural life, the emergence of social differentiation and inequalities, and the centralization of political power and decision-making in the Petén lowlands.
Literature on Maya ritual, cosmology, and specialized artifacts has traditionally focused on the Classic period, with little research centering on the very beginnings of Maya sociopolitical organization and ideological beliefs in the Middle Preclassic. Anthropomorphizing the Cosmos is a welcome contribution to the understanding of the earliest Maya and will be significant to Mayanists and Mesoamericanists as well as nonspecialists with interest in these early figurines
The Pacific coast and southern highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala is a region significant to debates about the origins of social complexity, interaction, and colonialism. The area, however, has received uneven attention and much of what we know is largely restricted to the Preclassic period. This theoretically eclectic volume presents greater temporal coverage, is geographically unified, and engages some of the most important questions of each period through a discussion of the archaeology of identity.
Chapters range from traditional assessments of identity to discussion of practice and relational personhood; all share a concern for how archaeology and ethnohistory provide opportunities and challenges in the reconstruction of identities. The region is one with a multifaceted history of interactions between local populations and those from other parts of Mesoamerica. Linguistic diversity, landscape, and artistic representations have added to the complexities of understanding identity formation here. Rather than providing a unified voice on the issues, Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica is a dialogue presented through case studies, one that will hopefully encourage future research in this complex and little understood region of Mesoamerica.
Archaeology at El Perú-Waka’ is the first book to summarize long-term research at this major Maya site. The results of fieldwork and subsequent analyses conducted by members of the El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project are coupled with theoretical approaches treating the topics of ritual, memory, and power as deciphered through material remains discovered at Waka’. The book is site-centered, yet the fifteen wide-ranging contributions offer readers greater insight to the richness and complexity of Classic-period Maya culture, as well as to the ways in which archaeologists believe ancient peoples negotiated their ritual lives and comprehended their own pasts.
El Perú-Waka’ is an ancient Maya city located in present-day northwestern Petén, Guatemala. Rediscovered by petroleum exploration workers in the mid-1960s, it is the largest known archaeological site in the Laguna del Tigre National Park in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve. The El Perú-Waka’ Regional Archaeological Project initiated scientific investigations in 2003, and through excavation and survey, researchers established that Waka’ was a key political and economic center well integrated into Classic-period lowland Maya civilization, and reconstructed many aspects of Maya life and ritual activity in this ancient community. The research detailed in this volume provides a wealth of new, substantive, and scientifically excavated data, which contributors approach with fresh theoretical insights. In the process, they lay out sound strategies for understanding the ritual manipulation of monuments, landscapes, buildings, objects, and memories, as well as related topics encompassing the performance and negotiation of power throughout the city’s extensive sociopolitical history.
Beyond Repair? explores Mayan women’s agency in the search for redress for harm suffered during the genocidal violence perpetrated by the Guatemalan state in the early 1980s at the height of the thirty-six-year armed conflict. The book draws on eight years of feminist participatory action research conducted with fifty-four Q’eqchi’, Kaqchikel, Chuj, and Mam women who are seeking truth, justice, and reparation for the violence they experienced during the war, and the women’s rights activists, lawyers, psychologists, Mayan rights activists, and researchers who have accompanied them as intermediaries for over a decade. Alison Crosby and M. Brinton Lykes use the concept of “protagonism” to deconstruct dominant psychological discursive constructions of women as “victims,” “survivors,” “selves,” “individuals,” and/or “subjects.” They argue that at different moments Mayan women have been actively engaged as protagonists in constructivist and discursive performances through which they have narrated new, mobile meanings of “Mayan woman,” repositioning themselves at the interstices of multiple communities and in their pursuit of redress for harm suffered.
Over the latter half of the twentieth century, the Guatemalan state slaughtered more than two hundred thousand of its citizens. In the wake of this violence, a vibrant pan-Mayan movement has emerged, one that is challenging Ladino (non-indigenous) notions of citizenship and national identity. In The Blood of Guatemala Greg Grandin locates the origins of this ethnic resurgence within the social processes of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century state formation rather than in the ruins of the national project of recent decades. Focusing on Mayan elites in the community of Quetzaltenango, Grandin shows how their efforts to maintain authority over the indigenous population and secure political power in relation to non-Indians played a crucial role in the formation of the Guatemalan nation. To explore the close connection between nationalism, state power, ethnic identity, and political violence, Grandin draws on sources as diverse as photographs, public rituals, oral testimony, literature, and a collection of previously untapped documents written during the nineteenth century. He explains how the cultural anxiety brought about by Guatemala’s transition to coffee capitalism during this period led Mayan patriarchs to develop understandings of race and nation that were contrary to Ladino notions of assimilation and progress. This alternative national vision, however, could not take hold in a country plagued by class and ethnic divisions. In the years prior to the 1954 coup, class conflict became impossible to contain as the elites violently opposed land claims made by indigenous peasants. This “history of power” reconsiders the way scholars understand the history of Guatemala and will be relevant to those studying nation building and indigenous communities across Latin America.
Sequencing the ceramics in Guatemala’s Holmul region has the potential to answer important questions in Maya archaeology. The Holmul region, located in northeastern Guatemala between the central Peten lowlands to the west and the Belize River Valley to the east, encompasses roughly ten square kilometers and contains at least seven major archaeological sites, including two large ceremonial and administrative centers, Holmul and Cival.
The Ceramic Sequence of the Holmul Region, Guatemala illustrates the archaeological ceramics of these prehistoric Maya sites in a study that provides a theoretical starting point for answering questions related to mid- and high-level issues of archaeological method and theory in the Maya area and larger Mesoamerica. The researchers’ ceramic sequence, which uses the method of type:variety-mode classification, spans approximately 1,600 years and encompasses nine ceramic complexes and one sub-complex. The highly illustrated book is formatted as a catalog of the types of ceramics in a chronological framework.
The authors undertook this study with three objectives: to create a temporal-spatial framework for archaeological sites in the politically important Holmul region, to relate this framework to other Maya sites, and to use type:variety-mode data to address specific questions of ancient Maya social practice and process during each ceramic complex.
Specific questions addressed in this volume include the adoption of pottery as early as 800 BC at the sites of Holmul and Cival during the Middle Preclassic period, the creation of the first orange polychrome pottery, the ideological and political influence from sites in Mexico during the Early Classic period, and the demographic and political collapse of lowland Maya polities between AD 800 and AD 830.
In The Chicken and the Quetzal Paul Kockelman theorizes the creation, measurement, and capture of value by recounting the cultural history of a village in Guatemala's highland cloud forests and its relation to conservation movements and ecotourism. In 1990 a group of German ecologists founded an NGO to help preserve the habitat of the resplendent quetzal—the strikingly beautiful national bird of Guatemala—near the village of Chicacnab. The ecotourism project they established in Chicacnab was meant to provide new sources of income for its residents so they would abandon farming methods that destroyed quetzal habitat. The pressure on villagers to change their practices created new values and forced negotiations between indigenous worldviews and the conservationists' goals. Kockelman uses this story to offer a sweeping theoretical framework for understanding the entanglement of values as they are interpreted and travel across different and often incommensurate ontological worlds. His theorizations apply widely to studies of the production of value, the changing ways people make value portable, and value's relationship to ontology, affect, and selfhood.
We are told that simply by sipping our morning cup of organic, fair-trade coffee we are encouraging environmentally friendly agricultural methods, community development, fair prices, and shortened commodity chains. But what is the reality for producers, intermediaries, and consumers? This ethnographic analysis of fair-trade coffee analyzes the collective action and combined efforts of fair-trade network participants to construct a new economic reality.
Focusing on La Voz Que Clama en el Desierto-a cooperative in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala-and its relationships with coffee roasters, importers, and certifiers in the United States, Coffee and Community argues that while fair trade does benefit small coffee-farming communities, it is more flawed than advocates and scholars have acknowledged. However, through detailed ethnographic fieldwork with the farmers and by following the product, fair trade can be understood and modified to be more equitable.
This book will be of interest to students and academics in anthropology, ethnology, Latin American studies, and labor studies, as well as economists, social scientists, policy makers, fair-trade advocates, and anyone interested in globalization and the realities of fair trade. Winner of the Society for Economic Anthropology Book Award
In Conquered Conquistadors, Florine Asselbergs reveals that a large pictorial map, the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan, long thought to represent a series of battles in central Mexico, was actually painted in the 1530s by Quauhquecholteca warriors to document their invasion of Guatemala alongside the Spanish and to proclaim themselves as conquistadors. This painting is the oldest known map of Guatemala and a rare document of the experiences of indigenous conquistadors.
The people of the Nahua community of Quauhquechollan (present-day San Martín Huaquechula), in central Mexico, allied with Cortés during the Spanish-Aztec War and were assigned to the Spanish conquistador Jorge de Alvarado. De Alvarado and his allies, including the Quauhquecholteca and thousands of other indigenous warriors, set off for Guatemala in 1527 to start a campaign against the Maya. The few Quauhquecholteca who lived to tell the story recorded their travels and eventual victory on the huge cloth map, the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan. Conquered Conquistadors, published in a European edition in 2004, overturned conventional views of the European conquest of indigenous cultures. American historians and anthropologists will relish this new edition and Asselbergs's astute analysis, which includes context, interpretation, and comparison with other pictographic accounts of the "Spanish" conquest. This heavily illustrated edition includes an insert reproduction of the Lienzo de Quauhquechollan.
Of extant languages, Ch’orti’ Mayan is the closest to ancient the Maya hieroglyphic script, but it is a language that is decreasing in usage. In southern Guatemala where it is spoken, many children no longer learn it, as Spanish dominates most experiences. From linguistic and anthropological data gathered over many years, Kerry Hull has created the largest and most complete Ch’orti’ Mayan dictionary to date. With nearly 9,000 entries, this trilingual dictionary of Ch’orti’, Spanish, and English preserves ancient words and concepts that were vital to this culture in the past.
Each entry contains examples of Ch’orti’ sentences along with their translations. Each term is defined grammatically and linked to a grammatical index. Variations due to age and region are noted. Additionally, extensive cultural and linguistic annotations accompany many entries, providing detailed looks into Ch’orti’ daily life, mythology, flora and fauna, healing, ritual, and food. Hull worked closely with native speakers, including traditional ritual specialists, and presents that work here in a way that is easily accessible to scholars and laypersons alike.
Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve (MBR), the largest protected area in Central America, is characterized by rampant violence, social and ethnic inequality, and rapid deforestation. Faced with these threats, local residents, conservationists, scientists, and NGOs in the region work within what Micha Rahder calls “an ecology of knowledges,” in which interventions on the MBR landscape are tied to differing and sometimes competing forms of knowing. In this book, Rahder examines how technoscience, endemic violence, and an embodied love of wild species and places shape conservation practices in Guatemala. Rahder highlights how different forms of environmental knowledge emerge from encounters and relations between humans and nonhumans, institutions and local actors, and how situated ways of knowing impact conservation practices and natural places, often in unexpected and unintended ways. In so doing, she opens up new ways of thinking about the complexities of environmental knowledge and conservation in the context of instability, inequality, and violence around the world.
El Q'anil: Man of Lightning
Victor Montejo University of Arizona Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS501.S85 vol. 46 | Dewey Decimal 810.8
The legend of El Q'anil, the "Man of Lightning," stands alongside such classic Maya literary artifacts as Popol Vuh and Chilam Balam but has been preserved only through the oral tradition of the Jakaltek Maya. In this tale, the young man Xhuwan Q'anil brings lightning to his people in order to save them from destruction. He undertakes a journey of adventure, participates in a great war, and is subsequently immortalized. It is a story that all Jakaltek children learn, one that reinforces their identity by showing that their people have a hero who lives in each Jakaltek Maya today. Víctor Montejo, who was raised in Maya culture and knows its lore intimately, compiled several versions of the legend in Guatemala during the height of paramilitary operations in that country in the 1980s. His contemporary reconstruction lovingly preserves this legend and reflects concern for the survival of Maya culture in the face of oppression. Just as the Maya people of western Guatemala continue to pray for peace at the sanctuary of Q'anil, the legend of the Man of Lightning affirms a culture's enduring traditions. In this edition, the text is presented in English, Spanish, and Jakaltek Maya to secure its deserved place in world literature.
Fosters a holistic understanding of the roles of Maya heroic figures as cornerstones of cultural identity and political resistance and power.
In the sixteenth century, Q’eqchi’ Maya leader Aj Poop B’atz’ changed the course of Q’eqchi’ history by welcoming Spanish invaders to his community in peace to protect his people from almost certain violence. Today, he is revered as a powerful symbol of Q’eqchi’ identity. Aj Poop B’atz’ is only one of many indigenous heroes who has been recognized by Maya in Mexico and Guatemala throughout centuries of subjugation, oppression, and state-sponsored violence.
Faces of Resistance: Maya Heroes, Power, and Identity explores the importance of heroes through the analyses of heroic figures, some controversial and alternative, from the Maya area. Contributors examine stories of hero figures as a primary way through which Maya preserve public memory, fortify their identities, and legitimize their place in their country’s historical and political landscape. Leading anthropologists, linguists, historians, and others incorporate ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archival material into their chapters, resulting in a uniquely interdisciplinary book for scholars as well as students.
The essays offer the first critical survey of the broad significance of these figures and their stories and the ways that they have been appropriated by national governments to impose repressive political agendas. Related themes include the role of heroic figures in the Maya resurgence movement in Guatemala, contemporary Maya concepts of “hero,” and why some assert that all contemporary Maya are heroes.
Smallpox, measles, and typhus. The scourges of lethal disease—as threatening in colonial Mesoamerica as in other parts of the world—called for widespread efforts and enlightened attitudes to battle the centuries-old killers of children and adults. Even before edicts from Spain crossed the Atlantic, colonial elites oftentimes embraced medical experimentation and reform in the name of the public good, believing it was their moral responsibility to apply medical innovations to cure and prevent disease. Their efforts included the first inoculations and vaccinations against smallpox, new strategies to protect families and communities from typhus and measles, and medical interventions into pregnancy and childbirth.
For All of Humanity examines the first public health campaigns in Guatemala, southern Mexico, and Central America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Martha Few pays close attention to Indigenous Mesoamerican medical cultures, which not only influenced the shape and scope of those regional campaigns but also affected the broader New World medical cultures. The author reconstructs a rich and complex picture of the ways colonial doctors, surgeons, Indigenous healers, midwives, priests, government officials, and ordinary people engaged in efforts to prevent and control epidemic disease.
Few’s analysis weaves medical history and ethnohistory with social, cultural, and intellectual history. She uses prescriptive texts, medical correspondence, and legal documents to provide rich ethnographic descriptions of Mesoamerican medical cultures, their practitioners, and regional pharmacopeia that came into contact with colonial medicine, at times violently, during public health campaigns.
In the central highland Maya communities of Guatemala, the demands of the global economy have become a way of life. This book explores how rural peoples experience economic and cultural change as their country joins the global market, focusing on their thoughts about work and sustenance as a way of learning about Guatemala’s changing economy.
For more than a decade, Liliana Goldín observed in highland towns both the intensification of various forms of production and their growing links to wider markets. In this first book to compare economic ideology across a range of production systems, she examines how people make a living and how they think about their options, practices, and constraints. Drawing on interviews and surveys—even retellings of traditional narratives—she reveals how contemporary Maya respond to the increasingly globalized yet locally circumscribed conditions in which they work.
Goldín presents four case studies: cottage industries devoted to garment production, vegetable growing for internal and border markets reached through direct commerce, crops grown for export, and wage labor in garment assembly factories. By comparing generational and gendered differences among workers, she reveals not only complexities of change but also how these complexities arereflected in changing attitudes, understandings, and aspirations that characterize people’s economic ideology. Further, she shows that as rural people take on diverse economic activities, they also reinterpret their views on such matters as accumulation, cooperation, competition, division of labor, and community solidarity.
Global Maya explores global processes in local terms, revealing the interplay of traditional values, household economics, and the inescapable conditions of demographic growth, a shrinking land base, and a global economy always looking for cheap labor. It offers a wealth of new insights not only for Maya scholars but also for anyone concerned with the effects of globalization on the Third World.
Guatemala was first published in 1940. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
This reader brings together more than 200 texts and images in a broad introduction to Guatemala's history, culture, and politics. In choosing the selections, the editors sought to avoid representing the country only in terms of its long experience of conflict, racism, and violence. And so, while offering many perspectives on that violence, this anthology portrays Guatemala as a real place where people experience joys and sorrows that cannot be reduced to the contretemps of resistance and repression. It includes not only the opinions of politicians, activists, and scholars, but also poems, songs, plays, jokes, novels, short stories, recipes, art, and photographs that capture the diversity of everyday life in Guatemala. The editors introduce all of the selections, from the first piece, an excerpt from the Popol Vuh, a mid-sixteenth-century text believed to be the single most important source documenting pre-Hispanic Maya culture, through the final selections, which explore contemporary Guatemala in relation to neoliberalism, multiculturalism, and the dynamics of migration to the United States and of immigrant life. Many pieces were originally published in Spanish, and most of those appear in English for the first time.
Historical and Archaeological Perspectives on the Itzas of Petén, Guatemala is the first exhaustively detailed and thorough account of the Itzas—a Maya group that dominated much of the western lowland area of tropical forest, swamps, and grasslands in Petén, Guatemala. Examining archaeological and historical evidence, Prudence Rice and Don Rice present a theoretical perspective on the Itzas’ origins and an overview of the social, political, linguistic, and environmental history of the area; explain the Spanish view of the Itzas during the Conquest; and explore the material culture of the Itzas as it has been revealed in recent surveys and excavations.
The long but fragmented history of the Petén Itzas requires investigation across multiple periods and regions. Chapters in this six-part overview interweave varying data pertaining to this group—archaeological, artifactual, indigenous textual, Spanish historical—from multiple languages and academic fields, such as anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, ecology, and history. Part I introduces the lowland Itzas, northern and southern, with an emphasis on those of the central Petén lakes area. Part II discusses general Itza origins and identities in the Epiclassic period, while part III reviews Spanish perceptions and misconceptions of the Petén Itzas in their Contact-period writings. With these temporal anchors, parts IV and V present the archaeology and artifacts of the Petén Itzas, including pottery, architecture, and arrow points, from varied sites and excavations but primarily focusing on the island capital of Tayza/Nojpetén. Part VI summarizes key data and themes of the preceding chapters for a new understanding of the Petén Itzas.
A companion volume to The Kowoj—a similar treatment of the Petén Itzas’ regional neighbors—Historical and Archaeological Perspectives on the Itzas of Petén, Guatemala demonstrates the unique physical, cultural, and social framework that was home to the Petén Itza, along with their backstory in northern Yucatán. Archaeologists, historians, art historians, and geographers who specialize in the Maya and the Postclassic, Contact, and Colonial periods will find this book of particular interest.
Contributors: Mark Brenner, Leslie G. Cecil, Charles Andrew Hofling, Nathan J. Meissner, Timothy W. Pugh, Yuko Shiratori
In How Development Projects Persist Erin Beck examines microfinance NGOs working in Guatemala and problematizes the accepted wisdom of how NGOs function. Drawing on twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork, she shows how development models and plans become entangled in the relationships among local actors in ways that alter what they are, how they are valued, and the conditions of their persistence. Beck focuses on two NGOs that use drastically different methods in working with poor rural women in Guatemala. She highlights how each program's beneficiaries—diverse groups of savvy women—exercise their agency by creatively appropriating, resisting, and reinterpreting the lessons of the NGOs to match their personal needs. Beck uses this dynamic—in which the goals of the developers and women do not often overlap—to theorize development projects as social interactions in which policymakers, workers, and beneficiaries critically shape what happens on the ground. This book displaces the notion that development projects are top-down northern interventions into a passive global south by offering a provocative account of how local conditions, ongoing interactions, and even fundamental tensions inherent in development work allow such projects to persist, but in new and unexpected ways.
In recent years Latin American indigenous groups have regularly deployed the discourse of human rights to legitimate their positions and pursue their goals. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the Maya region of Chiapas and Guatemala, where in the last two decades indigenous social movements have been engaged in ongoing negotiations with the state, and the presence of multinational actors has brought human rights to increased prominence. In this volume, scholars and activists examine the role of human rights in the ways that states relate to their populations, analyze conceptualizations and appropriations of human rights by Mayans in specific localities, and explore the relationship between the individualist and “universal” tenets of Western-derived concepts of human rights and various Mayan cultural understandings and political subjectivities.
The collection includes a reflection on the effects of truth-finding and documenting particular human rights abuses, a look at how Catholic social teaching validates the human rights claims advanced by indigenous members of a diocese in Chiapas, and several analyses of the limitations of human rights frameworks. A Mayan intellectual seeks to bring Mayan culture into dialogue with western feminist notions of women’s rights, while another contributor critiques the translation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights into Tzeltal, an indigenous language in Chiapas. Taken together, the essays reveal a broad array of rights-related practices and interpretations among the Mayan population, demonstrating that global-local-state interactions are complex and diverse even within a geographically limited area. So too are the goals of indigenous groups, which vary from social reconstruction and healing following years of violence to the creation of an indigenous autonomy that challenges the tenets of neoliberalism.
Contributors: Robert M. Carmack, Stener Ekern, Christine Kovic, Xochitl Leyva Solano, Julián López García, Irma Otzoy, Pedro Pitarch, Álvaro Reyes, Victoria Sanford, Rachel Sieder, Shannon Speed, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, David Stoll, Richard Ashby Wilson
“It’s not a process,” one pastor insisted, “rehabilitation is a miracle.” In the face of addiction and few state resources, Pentecostal pastors in Guatemala City are fighting what they understand to be a major crisis. Yet the treatment centers they operate produce this miracle of rehabilitation through extraordinary means: captivity. These men of faith snatch drug users off the streets, often at the request of family members, and then lock them up inside their centers for months, sometimes years.
Hunted is based on more than ten years of fieldwork among these centers and the drug users that populate them. Over time, as Kevin Lewis O’Neill engaged both those in treatment and those who surveilled them, he grew increasingly concerned that he, too, had become a hunter, albeit one snatching up information. This thoughtful, intense book will reframe the arc of redemption we so often associate with drug rehabilitation, painting instead a seemingly endless cycle of hunt, capture, and release.
Presenting the results of six years of archaeological survey and excavation in and around the Maya kingdom of El Zotz, An Inconstant Landscape paints a complex picture of a dynamic landscape over the course of almost 2,000 years of occupation. El Zotz was a dynastic seat of the Classic period in Guatemala. Located between the renowned sites of Tikal and El Perú-Waka’, it existed as a small kingdom with powerful neighbors and serves today as a test-case of political debility and strength during the height of dynastic struggles among the Classic Maya.
In this volume, contributors address the challenges faced by smaller polities on the peripheries of powerful kingdoms and ask how subordination was experienced and independent policy asserted. Leading experts provide cutting-edge analysis in varied topics and detailed discussion of the development of this major site and the region more broadly. The first half of the volume contains a historical narrative of the cultural sequence of El Zotz, tracing the changes in occupation and landscape use across time; the second half provides deep technical analyses of material evidence, including soils, ceramics, stone tools, and bone.
The ever-changing, inconstant landscapes of peripheral kingdoms like El Zotz reveal much about their more dominant—and better known—neighbors. An Inconstant Landscape offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary view of this important but under-studied site, an essential context for the study of the Classic Maya in Guatemala, and a premier reference on the subject of peripheral kingdoms at the height of Maya civilization.
Contributors: Timothy Beach, Nicholas Carter, Ewa Czapiewska-Halliday, Alyce de Carteret, William Delgado, Colin Doyle, James Doyle, Laura Gámez, Jose Luis Garrido López, Yeny Myshell Gutiérrez Castillo, Zachary Hruby, Melanie Kingsley, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Cassandra Mesick Braun, Sarah Newman, Rony Piedrasanta, Edwin Román, and Andrew K. Scherer
Indigenous Bodies, Maya Minds examines tension and conflict over ethnic and religious identity in the K’iche’ Maya community of San Andrés Xecul in the Guatemalan Highlands and considers how religious and ethnic attachments are sustained and transformed through the transnational experiences of locals who have migrated to the United States.
Author C. James MacKenzie explores the relationship among four coexisting religious communities within Highland Maya villages in contemporary Guatemala—costumbre, traditionalist religion with a shamanic substrate; “Enthusiastic Christianity,” versions of Charismaticism and Pentecostalism; an “inculturated” and Mayanized version of Catholicism; and a purified and antisyncretic Maya Spirituality—with attention to the modern and nonmodern worldviews that sustain them. He introduces a sophisticated set of theories to interpret both traditional religion and its relationship to other contemporary religious options, analyzing the relation among these various worldviews in terms of the indigenization of modernity and the various ways modernity can be apprehended as an intellectual project or an embodied experience.
Indigenous Bodies, Maya Minds investigates the way an increasingly plural religious landscape intersects with ethnic and other identities. It will be of interest to Mesoamerican and Mayan ethnographers, as well as students and scholars of cultural anthropology, indigenous cultures, globalization, and religion.
Itzaj Maya Grammar
Charles A Hofling University of Utah Press, 2000 Library of Congress PM3969.5.I89H6 2000 | Dewey Decimal 497.41527
The Itzaj Maya language is a member of the Yukatekan Maya language family spoken in the lowlands of Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, a family that includes Maya, Mopan, and Lakantum. Many classic Maya hieroglyphic texts were written in an earlier form of these languages, as were many important colonial documents. In addition to being a valuable record of ancient language, Andrew Hofling’s Itzaj Maya Grammar contributes greatly to the study of these older documents.
This exemplary grammar completes a basic documentation that began with Itzaj Maya Texts and Itzaj Maya-Spanish-English Dictionary. It’s coverage of the linguistic structures of Itzaj includes the phonological, morphophonological, and syntactic structures. Each morphological and grammatical construction is carefully explained, with additional examples of each construction included.
Itzaj Maya Grammar is a landmark contribution to the study of discourse in Maya language. When used with Hofling’s previous texts, it provides a thoroughly dynamic documentation of the language, useful to all interested in the study of Yukatejan languages or linguistics.
Neighbors of the better-known Itza in the central Petén lakes region of Guatemala, the Kowoj Maya have been studied for little more than a decade. The Kowoj: Identity, Migration, and Geopolitics in Late Postclassic Petén, Guatemala summarizes the results of recent research into this ethno-political group conducted by Prudence Rice, Don Rice, and their colleagues.
Chapters in The Kowoj address the question "Who are the Kowoj?" from varied viewpoints: archaeological, archival, linguistic, ethnographic, and bioarchaeological. Using data drawn primarily from the peninsular site of Zacpetén, the authors illuminate Kowoj history, ritual components of their self-expressed identity, and their archaeological identification. These data support the Kowoj claim of migration from Mayapán in Yucatán, where they were probably affiliated with the Xiw, in opposition to the Itza. These enmities extended into Petén, culminating in civil warfare by the time of final Spanish conquest in 1697.
The first volume to consider Postclassic Petén from broadly integrative anthropological, archaeological, and historical perspectives, The Kowoj is an important addition to the literature on late Maya culture and history in the southern lowlands. It will be of particular interest to archaeologists, historians, ethnohistorians, art historians, and epigraphers.
This translation of Severo Martínez Peláez’s La Patria del Criollo, first published in Guatemala in 1970, makes a classic, controversial work of Latin American history available to English-language readers. Martínez Peláez was one of Guatemala’s foremost historians and a political activist committed to revolutionary social change. La Patria del Criollo is his scathing assessment of Guatemala’s colonial legacy. Martínez Peláez argues that Guatemala remains a colonial society because the conditions that arose centuries ago when imperial Spain held sway have endured. He maintains that economic circumstances that assure prosperity for a few and deprivation for the majority were altered neither by independence in 1821 nor by liberal reform following 1871. The few in question are an elite group of criollos, people of Spanish descent born in Guatemala; the majority are predominantly Maya Indians, whose impoverishment is shared by many mixed-race Guatemalans.
Martínez Peláez asserts that “the coffee dictatorships were the full and radical realization of criollo notions of the patria.” This patria, or homeland, was one that criollos had wrested from Spaniards in the name of independence and taken control of based on claims of liberal reform. He contends that since labor is needed to make land productive, the exploitation of labor, particularly Indian labor, was a necessary complement to criollo appropriation. His depiction of colonial reality is bleak, and his portrayal of Spanish and criollo behavior toward Indians unrelenting in its emphasis on cruelty and oppression. Martínez Peláez felt that the grim past he documented surfaces each day in an equally grim present, and that confronting the past is a necessary step in any effort to improve Guatemala’s woes. An extensive introduction situates La Patria del Criollo in historical context and relates it to contemporary issues and debates.
Land, Politics, and Memory in Five Nija’ib’ K’iche’ Títulos is a careful analysis and translation of five Highland Maya títulos composed in the sixteenth century by the Nija’ib’ K’iche’ of Guatemala. The Spanish conquest of Highland Guatemala entailed a series of sweeping changes to indigenous society, not the least of which were the introduction of the Roman alphabet and the imposition of a European system of colonial government. Introducing the history of these documents and placing them within the context of colonial-era Guatemala, this volume provides valuable information concerning colonial period orthographic practice, the K’iche’ language, and language contact in Highland Guatemala.
For each text, author Mallory E. Matsumoto provides a photographic copy of the original document, a transliteration of its sixteenth-century modified Latin script, a transcription into modern orthography, an extensive morphologic analysis, and a line-by-line translation into English, as well as separate prose versions of the transcription and translation. No complete English translation of this set of manuscripts has been available before, nor has any Highland Maya título previously received such extensive analytical treatment.
Offering insight into the reality of indigenous Highland communities during this period, Land, Politics, and Memory in Five Nija’ib’ K’iche’ Títulos is an important primary source for linguists, historians, and experts in comparative literature. It will also be of significant interest to students and scholars of ethnohistory, linguistics, Latin American studies, anthropology, and archaeology.
After decades of bloody revolutions and political terror, many scholars and politicians lament the rise and brief influence of the left in Latin America; since the triumph of Castro they have accused the left there of rejecting democracy, embracing Communist totalitarianism, and prompting both revolutionary violence and a right-wing backlash. The Last Colonial Massacre challenges these views.
Using Guatemala as a case study, Greg Grandin argues that the Cold War in Latin America was a struggle not between American liberalism and Soviet Communism but between two visions of democracy. The main effect of United States intervention in Latin America, Grandin shows, was not the containment of Communism but the elimination of home-grown concepts of social democracy.
Through unprecedented archival research and gripping personal testimonies, Grandin uncovers the hidden history of the Latin American Cold War: of hidebound reactionaries intent on holding on to their own power and privilege; of Mayan Marxists, blending indigenous notions of justice with universal ideas of freedom and equality; and of a United States supporting new styles of state terror throughout the continent. Drawing from declassified U.S. documents, Grandin exposes Washington's involvement in the 1966 secret execution of more than thirty Guatemalan leftists, which, he argues, prefigured the later wave of disappearances in Chile and Argentina.
Impassioned but judicious, The Last Colonial Massacre is history of the highest order—a work that will dramatically recast our understanding of Latin American politics and the triumphal role of the United States in the Cold War and beyond.
After decades of bloodshed and political terror, many lament the rise of the left in Latin America. Since the triumph of Castro, politicians and historians have accused the left there of rejecting democracy, embracing communist totalitarianism, and prompting both revolutionary violence and a right-wing backlash. Through unprecedented archival research and gripping personal testimonies, Greg Grandin powerfully challenges these views in this classic work. In doing so, he uncovers the hidden history of the Latin American Cold War: of hidebound reactionaries holding on to their power and privilege; of Mayan Marxists blending indigenous notions of justice with universal ideas of equality; and of a United States supporting new styles of state terror throughout the region.
With Guatemala as his case study, Grandin argues that the Latin American Cold War was a struggle not between political liberalism and Soviet communism but two visions of democracy—one vibrant and egalitarian, the other tepid and unequal—and that the conflict’s main effect was to eliminate homegrown notions of social democracy. Updated with a new preface by the author and an interview with Naomi Klein, The Last Colonial Massacre is history of the highest order—a work that will dramatically recast our understanding of Latin American politics and the role of the United States in the Cold War and beyond.
“This work admirably explains the process in which hopes of democracy were brutally repressed in Guatemala and its people experienced a civil war lasting for half a century.”—International History Review
“A richly detailed, humane, and passionately subversive portrait of inspiring reformers tragically redefined by the Cold War as enemies of the state.”—Journal of American History
Aguateca is a Classic Mayan site located in the Petexbatun region of Guatemala. In this volume, Takeshi Inomata, Daniela Triadan, and their team examine the life of the Mayan royal family, nobles, and their retainers through the analysis of numerous complete and reconstructible artifacts left in this site’s elite residential area. Aguateca was unexpectedly attacked around AD 810, its central part was burned and its residents fled or were taken captive.
Because of the surprise nature of the attack, most artifacts were left in their original locations, providing unprecedented views of the daily life of the Classic Maya. Detailed analyses of these objects and their distribution has shown that Mayan elites stored some of their food in their residences and that they also conducted various administrative duties there. The presence of numerous precious ornaments indicates that many of the Maya elite were also skilled craft producers.
Life and Politics at the Royal Court of Aguateca is the third and final volume of the monograph series on Aguateca. It presents the analyses of items not covered in the first two volumes, including figurines, ceramic laminates and masks, spindle whorls, ground stone, and bone artifacts, as well as hieroglyphic texts and plant and animal remains. It discusses the broad implications of this remarkable data set and provides a summation of the project.
In The Life-Giving Stone, Michael Searcy provides a thought-provoking ethnoarchaeological account of metate and mano manufacture, marketing, and use among Guatemalan Maya for whom these stone implements are still essential equipment in everyday life and diet.
Although many archaeologists have regarded these artifacts simply as common everyday tools and therefore unremarkable, Searcy’s methodology reveals how, for the ancient Maya, the manufacture and use of grinding stones significantly impacted their physical and economic welfare. In tracing the life cycle of these tools from production to discard for the modern Maya, Searcy discovers rich customs and traditions that indicate how metates and manos have continued to sustain life—not just literally, in terms of food, but also in terms of culture. His research is based on two years of fieldwork among three Mayan groups, in which he documented behaviors associated with these tools during their procurement, production, acquisition, use, discard, and re-use.
Searcy’s investigation documents traditional practices that are rapidly being lost or dramatically modified. In few instances will it be possible in the future to observe metates and manos as central elements in household provisioning or follow their path from hand-manufacture to market distribution and to intergenerational transmission. In this careful inquiry into the cultural significance of a simple tool, Searcy’s ethnographic observations are guided both by an interest in how grinding stone traditions have persisted and how they are changing today, and by the goal of enhancing the archaeological interpretation of these stones, which were so fundamental to pre-Hispanic agriculturalists with corn-based cuisines.
What circumstances lead writers in a poor, multi-ethnic and largely illiterate country to produce a literature that both expresses and affects opposition to the regime? Who are these writers? This study examines these and other questions about the literature of resistance in Guatemala, from the days of Estrada Cabrera up to the events of May and June of 1993.
Zimmerman provides the cultural context for the various modes of literary production and analysis, and identifies the currents of opposition in the nation's fiction, poetry, and testimonial writing. He details the cultural politics involving Guatemalan writers and their organizations during their years of Cerezo and Serrano-Elías, paying particular attention to the role of women and indigenous groups, Rigoberta Menchú among them.
These two volumes are companion texts to Guatemala: Voices from the Silence, an "epic-collage" of writings compiled by Zimmerman and Raúl Rojas.
The name "maguey" refers to various forms of the agave and furcraea genus, also sometimes called the century plant. The fibers extracted from the leaves of these plants are spun into fine cordage and worked with a variety of tools and techniques to create textiles, from net bags and hammocks to equestrian gear.
In this fascinating book, Kathryn Rousso, an accomplished textile artist, takes a detailed look at the state of maguey culture, use, and trade in Guatemala. She has spent years traveling in Guatemala, highlighting maguey workers’ interactions in many locations and blending historical and current facts to describe their environments. Along the way, Rousso has learned the process of turning a raw leaf into beautiful and useful textile products and how globalization and modernization are transforming the maguey trade in Guatemala.
Featuring a section of full-color illustrations that follow the process from plant to weaving to product, Maguey Journey presents the story of this fiber over recent decades through the travels of an impassioned artist. Useful to cultural anthropologists, ethnobotanists, fiber artists, and interested travelers alike, this book offers a snapshot of how the industry stands now and seeks to honor those who keep the art alive in Guatemala.
The Eisenhower administration's intervention in Guatemala is one of the most closely studied covert operations in the history of the Cold War. Yet we know far more about the 1954 coup itself than its aftermath. This book uses the concept of “counterrevolution” to trace the Eisenhower administration's efforts to restore U.S. hegemony in a nation whose reform governments had antagonized U.S. economic interests and the local elite.
Comparing the Guatemalan case to U.S.-sponsored counterrevolutions in Iran, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Chile reveals that Washington's efforts to roll back “communism” in Latin America and elsewhere during the Cold War represented in reality a short-term strategy to protect core American interests from the rising tide of Third World nationalism.
For the Achi, one of the several Mayan ethnic groups indigenous to Guatemala, the music of the marimba serves not only as a form of entertainment but also as a form of communication, a vehicle for memory, and an articulation of cultural identity. Sergio Navarrete Pellicer examines the marimba tradition—the confluence of African musical influences, Spanish colonial power, and Indian ethnic assimilation—as a driving force in the dynamics of cultural continuity and change in Rabinal, the heart of Achi culture and society. By examining the performance and consumption of marimba music as essential parts of a system of social interaction, religious practice, and ethnic identification, Navarrete Pellicer reveals how the strains of the marimba resonate with the spiritual yearnings and cultural negotiations of the Achi as they try to come to terms with the violence and economic hardship wrought by their colonial past.
Maya people have lived for thousands of years in the mountains and forests of Guatemala, but they lost control of their land, becoming serfs and refugees, when the Spanish invaded in the sixteenth century. Under the Spanish and the Guatemalan non-Indian elites, they suffered enforced poverty as a resident source of cheap labor for non-Maya projects, particularly agriculture production. Following the CIA-induced coup that toppled Guatemala's elected government in 1954, their misery was exacerbated by government accommodation to United States "interests," which promoted crops for export and reinforced the need for cheap and passive labor.
This widespread poverty was endemic throughout northwestern Guatemala, where 80 percent of Maya children were chronically malnourished, and forced wide-scale migration to the Pacific coast. The self-help aid that flowed into the area in the 1960s and 1970s raised hopes for justice and equity that were brutally suppressed by Guatemala's military government. This military reprisal led to a massive diaspora of Maya throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
This collection describes that process and the results. The chapters show the dangers and problems of the migratory/refugee process and the range of creative cultural adaptations that the Maya have developed. It provides the first comparative view of the formation and transformation of this new and expanding transnational population, presented from the standpoint of the migrants themselves as well as from a societal and international perspective. Together, the chapters furnish ethnographically grounded perspectives on the dynamic implications of uprooting and resettlement, social and psychological adjustment, long-term prospects for continued links to migration history from Guatemala, and the development of a sense of co-ethnicity with other indigenous people of Maya descent. As the Maya struggle to find their place in a more global society, their stories of quiet courage epitomize those of many other ethnic groups, migrants, and refugees today.
In this valuable book, ethnographer and anthropologist Brigittine French mobilizes new critical-theoretical perspectives in linguistic anthropology, applying them to the politically charged context of contemporary Guatemala. Beginning with an examination of the “nationalist project” that has been ongoing since the end of the colonial period, French interrogates the “Guatemalan/indigenous binary.” In Guatemala, “Ladino” refers to the Spanish-speaking minority of the population, who are of mixed European, usually Spanish, and indigenous ancestry; “Indian” is understood to mean the majority of Guatemala’s population, who speak one of the twenty-one languages in the Maya linguistic groups of the country, although levels of bilingualism are very high among most Maya communities. As French shows, the Guatemalan state has actively promoted a racialized, essentialized notion of “Indians” as an undifferentiated, inherently inferior group that has stood stubbornly in the way of national progress, unity, and development—which are, implicitly, the goals of “true Guatemalans” (that is, Ladinos).
French shows, with useful examples, how constructions of language and collective identity are in fact strategies undertaken to serve the goals of institutions (including the government, the military, the educational system, and the church) and social actors (including linguists, scholars, and activists). But by incorporating in-depth fieldwork with groups that speak Kaqchikel and K’iche’ along with analyses of Spanish-language discourses, Maya Ethnolinguistic Identity also shows how some individuals in urban, bilingual Indian communities have disrupted the essentializing projects of multiculturalism. And by focusing on ideologies of language, the author is able to explicitly link linguistic forms and functions with larger issues of consciousness, gender politics, social positions, and the forging of hegemonic power relations.
The Maya are the single largest group of indigenous people living in North and Central America. Beginning in the early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Maya fled the terror of Guatemalan civil strife to safety in Mexico and the U.S. This ethnography of Mayan immigrants who settled in Indiatown, a small agricultural community in south central Florida, presents the experiences of these traditional people, their adaptations to life in the U.S., and the ways they preserve their ancestral culture. For more than a decade, Allan F. Burns has been researching and doing advocacy work for these immigrant Maya, who speak Kanjobal, Quiche, Mamanâ, and several other of the more than thirty distinct languages in southern Mexico and Guatemala. In this fist book on the Guatemalan Maya in the U.S, he uses their many voices to communicate the experience of the Maya in Florida and describes the advantages and results of applied anthropology in refugee studies and cultural adaptation.
Burns describes the political and social background of the Guatemalan immigrants to the U.S. and includes personal accounts of individual strategies for leaving Guatemala and traveling to Florida. Examining how they interact with the community and recreate a Maya society in the U.S., he considers how low-wage labor influences the social structure of Maya immigrant society and discusses the effects of U.S. immigration policy on these refugees.
As cultural mediators, Chamelco's market women offer a model of contemporary Q'eqchi' identity grounded in the strength of the Maya historical legacy. Guatemala's Maya communities have faced nearly five hundred years of constant challenges to their culture, from colonial oppression to the instability of violent military dictatorships and the advent of new global technologies. In spite of this history, the people of San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala, have effectively resisted significant changes to their cultural identities. Chamelco residents embrace new technologies, ideas, and resources to strengthen their indigenous identities and maintain Maya practice in the 21st century, a resilience that sets Chamelco apart from other Maya towns.
Unlike the region's other indigenous women, Chamelco's Q'eqchi' market women achieve both prominence and visibility as vendors, dominating social domains from religion to local politics. These women honor their families' legacies through continuation of the inherited, high-status marketing trade. In Maya Market Women, S. Ashley Kistler describes how market women gain social standing as mediators of sometimes conflicting realities, harnessing the forces of global capitalism to revitalize Chamelco's indigenous identity. Working at the intersections of globalization, kinship, gender, and memory, Kistler presents a firsthand look at Maya markets as a domain in which the values of capitalism and indigenous communities meet.
In The Mayan in the Mall, J. T. Way traces the creation of modern Guatemala from the 1920s to the present through a series of national and international development projects. Way shows that, far from being chronically underdeveloped, this nation of stark contrasts—where shopping malls and multinational corporate headquarters coexist with some of the Western Hemisphere's poorest and most violent slums—is the embodiment of globalized capitalism.
Using a wide array of historical and contemporary sources, Way explores the multiple intersections of development and individual life, focusing on the construction of social space through successive waves of land reform, urban planning, and economic policy. His explorations move from Guatemala City's poorest neighborhoods and informal economies (run predominantly by women) to a countryside still recovering from civil war and anti-Mayan genocide, and they encompass such artifacts of development as the modernist Pan-American Highway and the postmodern Grand Tikal Futura, a Mayan-themed shopping mall ringed by gated communities and shantytowns. Capitalist development, Way concludes, has dramatically reshaped the country's physical and social landscapes—engendering poverty, ethnic regionalism, and genocidal violence—and positioned Guatemala as a harbinger of globalization's future.
Like the original Harvest of Violence, published in 1988, this volume reveals how the contemporary Mayas contend with crime, political violence, internal community power struggles, and the broader impact of transnational economic and political policies in Guatemala. However, this work, informed by long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Mayan communities and commitment to conducting research in Mayan languages, places current anthropological analyses in relation to Mayan political activism and key Mayan intellectuals’ research and criticism. Illustrating specifically how Mayas in this post-war period conceive of their social and political place in Guatemala, Mayas working in factories, fields, and markets, and participating in local, community-level politics provide critiques of the government, the Maya movement, and the general state of insecurity and social and political violence that they continue to face on a daily basis. Their critical assessments and efforts to improve political, social, and economic conditions illustrate their resiliency and positive, nonviolent solutions to Guatemala’s ongoing problems that deserve serious consideration by Guatemalan and US policy makers, international non-government organizations, peace activists, and even academics studying politics, social agency, and the survival of indigenous people.
Abigail E. Adams / José Oscar Barrera Nuñez / Peter Benson / Barbara Bocek / Jennifer L. Burrell / Robert M. Carmack / Monica DeHart / Edward F. Fischer / Liliana Goldín / Walter E. Little / Judith M. Maxwell / J. Jailey Philpot-Munson / Brenda Rosenbaum / Timothy J. Smith / David Stoll
Following the conquest of Mexico by Cortés and much of Central America by Alvarado, cathedral churches were established throughout the region, all with European-style polyphonic choirs. Among the most important of these early centers of Spanish culture was the cathedral of Guatemala City, where polyphony was already in use in the 1540s.
Shortly after 1600, the organist and choir director of the cathedral collected, organized, and copied into choirbooks all of the then-extant music used by the choir. The manuscript presented here in modern edition, one of at least five choirbooks prepared at the time, contains a number of otherwise unknown works by such major Old World composers as Francisco Guerrero and Cristóbal de Morales. Significant works by Hernando Franco and Pedro Bermúdez, choirmasters of the Guatemala City Cathedral, are also included. The manuscript presents a unified repertory for Holy Week and for the Salve services in Lent, including four settings of the Passion, for which the Spanish were famous throughout Christendom. Some of the works predate the sixteenth-century reform of the Roman Breviary and Missal, among them the original versions of several Vespers hymns and Magnificat settings by Guerrero that are otherwise known only in later versions found in Spanish sources. An extensive historical introduction by Robert J. Snow discusses the formation of the cathedral's musical repertory and illuminates both Old and New World practices of sixteenth-century Spanish liturgical music.
In this rich and dynamic work, David Carey Jr. provides a new perspective on contemporary Guatemalan history by allowing the indigenous peoples to speak for themselves.
Combining the methodologies of anthropology and history, Carey uses both oral interviews and meticulous archival research to construct a history of the last 130 years in Guatemala from the perspective of present-day Mayan people. His research took place over five years, including intensive language study, four summers of fieldwork, and a year-long residence in Comalapa, during which he conducted most of the 414 interviews. By casting a wide net for his interviews—from tiny hamlets to bustling Guatemala City—Carey gained insight into more than a single community or a single group of Maya.
The Maya-Kaqchikel record their history through oral tradition; thus, few written accounts exist. Comparing the Kaqchikel point of view to that of the western scholars and Ladinos who have written most of the history texts, Carey reveals the people and events important to the Maya, which have been virtually written out of the national history.
A motto of the Guatemalan organization Maya Decinio para el Pueblo Indigena (Maya Decade for the Indigenous People) is that people who do not know their past cannot build a future. By elucidating what the Kaqchikel think of their own past, Carey also illuminates the value of non-Western theoretical and methodological approaches that can be applied to the history of other peoples. Valuable to historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, or anyone interested in Mayan and Latin American studies, this book will inform as well as enchant.
Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory: Nationalist Performance of Nicaragua and Guatemala adds to a growing and timely body of work on nationalist drama. Examining important twentieth-century plays that few people have written about in English, E. J. Westlake analyzes the phenomenon of nation as performance by focusing on the definition of a people, national metaphors, and the uses of national history.
Westlake discerns the common characteristics that constitute nationalist plays, a genre that seeks to legitimate the nature of a nation by defining its boundaries, race, language, citizens, and history. Particularly relevant in an era influenced by imperialism, migration, and globalization, the volume probes the concepts of nation and nationalism in the context of postcolonial literary and performance theory.
Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory covers the political and theatrical history of Nicaragua and Guatemala. Westlake examines how the blending of races factors into nationalism with a look at the play El tren amarillo by Manuel Galich and uses Nobel laureate Miguel Á ngel Asturias’ s Soluna to show how nationalists appropriate Mayan culture to create a sense of the Guatemalan people and culture. She discusses the mapping of history as a linear progression in Alan Bolt’ s Banana republic and as a cycle of patricide in Por los caminos van los campesinos by Pablo Cuadra. Westlake also suggests that Rolando Steiner’ s La noche de Wiwilí , a play taken from an eyewitness account, acts as a site of official national memory, and she examines as well the canonizing of the folk ballet El Gü egü ence to further explore the notion of sites of memory versus lived memory.
Raising essential questions about the future of nationalism and nationalist performance, Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory will be of interest to scholars and students in drama, Latin American theatre studies, political science, and history.
Building on Sol Tax's pioneering work of the economic organization of Panajachel in the 1930s, Hinshaw describes this Guatemalan village and analyzes the differences among Indians in other villages responding to environmental, social, and economic changes in the next quarter century. This book offers a unique examination of belief patterns and social relations, and the continuity and change in the society's worldview.
In Paper Cadavers, an inside account of the astonishing discovery and rescue of Guatemala's secret police archives, Kirsten Weld probes the politics of memory, the wages of the Cold War, and the stakes of historical knowledge production. After Guatemala's bloody thirty-six years of civil war (1960–1996), silence and impunity reigned. That is, until 2005, when human rights investigators stumbled on the archives of the country's National Police, which, at 75 million pages, proved to be the largest trove of secret state records ever found in Latin America.
The unearthing of the archives renewed fierce debates about history, memory, and justice. In Paper Cadavers, Weld explores Guatemala's struggles to manage this avalanche of evidence of past war crimes, providing a firsthand look at how postwar justice activists worked to reconfigure terror archives into implements of social change. Tracing the history of the police files as they were transformed from weapons of counterinsurgency into tools for post-conflict reckoning, Weld sheds light on the country's fraught transition from war to an uneasy peace, reflecting on how societies forget and remember political violence.
In the first comprehensive treatment of Classic Maya patron deity veneration, Joanne P. Baron demonstrates the central importance of patron deity cults in political relationships between both rulers and their subjects and among different Maya kingdoms. Weaving together evidence from inscriptions, images, and artifacts, Patron Gods and Patron Lords provides new insights into how the Classic Maya polity was organized and maintained.
Using semiotic theory, Baron draws on three bodies of evidence: ethnographies and manuscripts from Postclassic, Colonial, and modern Maya communities that connect patron saints to pre-Columbian patron gods; hieroglyphic texts from the Classic period that discuss patron deity veneration; and excavations from four patron deity temples at the site of La Corona, Guatemala. She shows how the Classic Maya used patron deity effigies, temples, and acts of devotion to negotiate group membership, social entitlements, and obligations between individuals and communities. She also explores the wider role of these processes in politics, arguing that rituals and discourses related to patron deities ultimately formulated Maya rulership as a locally oriented institution, which limited the ability of powerful kingdoms to create wider religious communities.
Applying a new theoretical approach for the archaeological study of ideology and power dynamics, Patron Gods and Patron Lords reveals an overlooked aspect of the belief system of Maya communities.
Douglass Sullivan Gonzalez examines the influence of religion on the development of nationalism in Guatemala during the period 1821-1871, focusing on the relationship between Rafael Carrera amd the Guatemalan Catholic Church. He illustrates the peculiar and fascinating blend of religious fervor, popular power, and caudillo politics that inspired a multiethnic and multiclass alliance to defend the Guatemalan nation in the mid-nineteenth century.
Led by the military strongman Rafael Carrera, an unlikely coalition of mestizos, Indians, and creoles (whites born in the Americas) overcame a devastating civil war in the late 1840s and withstood two threats (1851 and 1863) from neighboring Honduras and El Salvador that aimed at reintegrating conservative Guatemala into a liberal federation of Central American nations.
Sullivan-Gonzalez shows that religious discourse and ritual were crucial to the successful construction and defense of independent Guatemala. Sermons commemorating independence from Spain developed a covenantal theology that affirmed divine protection if the Guatemalan people embraced Catholicism. Sullivan-Gonzalez examines the extent to which this religious and nationalist discourse was popularly appropriated.
Recently opened archives of the Guatemalan Catholic Church revealed that the largely mestizo population of the central and eastern highlands responded favorably to the church’s message. Records indicate that Carrera depended upon the clerics’ ability to pacify the rebellious inhabitants during Guatemala’s civil war (1847-1851) and to rally them to Guatemala’s defense against foreign invaders. Though hostile to whites and mestizos, the majority indigenous population of the western highlands identified with Carrera as their liberator. Their admiration for and loyalty to Carrera allowed them a territory that far exceeded their own social space.
Though populist and antidemocratic, the historic legacy of the Carrera years is the Guatemalan nation. Sullivan-Gonzalez details how theological discourse, popular claims emerging from mestizo and Indian communities, and the caudillo’s ability to finesse his enemies enabled Carrera to bring together divergent and contradictory interests to bind many nations into one.
Following the 1996 treaty ending decades of civil war, how are Guatemalans reckoning with genocide, especially since almost everyone contributed in some way to the violence? Meaning “to count, figure up” and “to settle rewards and punishments,” reckoning promises accounting and accountability. Yet as Diane M. Nelson shows, the means by which the war was waged, especially as they related to race and gender, unsettled the very premises of knowing and being. Symptomatic are the stories of duplicity pervasive in postwar Guatemala, as the left, the Mayan people, and the state were each said to have “two faces.” Drawing on more than twenty years of research in Guatemala, Nelson explores how postwar struggles to reckon with traumatic experience illuminate the assumptions of identity more generally.
Nelson brings together stories of human rights activism, Mayan identity struggles, coerced participation in massacres, and popular entertainment—including traditional dances, horror films, and carnivals—with analyses of mass-grave exhumations, official apologies, and reparations. She discusses the stereotype of the Two-Faced Indian as colonial discourse revivified by anti-guerrilla counterinsurgency and by the claims of duplicity leveled against the Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchú, and she explores how duplicity may in turn function as a survival strategy for some. Nelson examines suspicions that state power is also two-faced, from the left’s fears of a clandestine para-state behind the democratic façade, to the right’s conviction that NGOs threaten Guatemalan sovereignty. Her comparison of antimalaria and antisubversive campaigns suggests biopolitical ways that the state is two-faced, simultaneously giving and taking life. Reckoning is a view from the ground up of how Guatemalans are finding creative ways forward, turning ledger books, technoscience, and even gory horror movies into tools for making sense of violence, loss, and the future.
Christian evangelicals among native people in Latin America.
What does it mean to be both Maya and Protestant in Guatemala? Burgeoning religious pluralism in Mesoamerica and throughout Latin America is evident as Protestantism permeates a region that had been overwhelmingly Catholic for nearly five centuries.
In considering the interplay between contemporary Protestant practice and native cultural traditions among Maya evangelicals, Samson documents the processes whereby some Maya have converted to new forms of Christianity and the ways in which the Maya are incorporating Christianity for their own purposes. At the intersection of religion and cultural pluralism, contemporary evangelicals focus on easing the tension between Maya identity and the Protestant insistence that old ways must be left behind in the conversion process.
Against the backdrop of the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996 and the rise of the indigenous Maya Movement in the late 1980s, this work provides a unique portrait of social movements, cultural and human rights, and the role that religion plays in relation to the nation-state in post-conflict political processes. Re-enchanting the World fills a niche within the anthropological literature on evangelicals in Latin America during a time of significant social change.
On February 13, 1982, the Guatemalan army stormed into the remote northern Guatemalan village of Santa Maria Tzeja. The villagers had already fled in terror, but over the next six days seventeen of them, mostly women and children, were caught and massacred, animals were slaughtered, and the entire village was burned to the ground.
Twelve years later, utilizing terms of refugee agreements reached in 1982, villagers from Santa Maria who had fled to Mexico returned to their homes and lands to re-create their community with those who had stayed in Guatemala. Return of Guatemala's Refugees tells the story of that process. In this moving and provocative book, Clark Taylor describes the experiences of the survivors -- both those who stayed behind in conditions of savage repression and those who fled to Mexico where they learned to organize and defend their rights. Their struggle to rebuild is set in the wider drama of efforts by grassroots groups to pressure the government, economic elites, and army to fulfill peace accords signed in December of 1996.
Focusing on the village of Santa Maria Tzeja, Taylor defines the challenges that faced returning refugees and their community. How did the opposing subcultures of fear (generated among those who stayed in Guatemala) and of education and human rights (experienced by those who took refuge in Mexico) coexist? Would the flood of international money sent to settle the refugees and fulfill the peace accords serve to promote participatory development or new forms of social control? How did survivors expand the space for democracy firmly grounded in human rights? How did they get beyond the grief and trauma that remained from the terror of the early eighties? Finally, the ultimate challenge, how did they work within conditions of extreme poverty to create a grassroots democracy in a militarized society?
Secrecy and Insurgency deals with the experiences of guerrilla combatants of the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (Rebel Armed Forces) in the aftermath of the peace accords signed in December 1996 between the Guatemalan government and guerrilla insurgents.
Drawing on a broad field of contemporary theory, Silvia Posocco’s Secrecy and Insurgency presents a vivid ethnographic account of secrecy as both sociality and a set of knowledge practices. Informed by multi-sited anthropological fieldwork among displaced communities with experiences of militancy in the guerrilla organization Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes, the book traces the contours of dispersed and intermittent guerrilla social relations, unraveling the gendered dimensions of guerrilla socialities and subjectivities in a local context marked by violence and rapid social change.
The chapters chart shifting regimes of governance in the northern departamento of Petén; the inception of violence and insurgency; guerrilla practices of naming and secret relations; moral orders based on sameness and sharing; and forms of relatedness, embodiment, and subjectivity among the combatants. The volume develops new critical idioms for grappling with partiality, perspective, and incompleteness in ethnography and contributes to new thinking on the anthropology of Guatemala.
Secrecy and Insurgency will be of interest to social and cultural anthropologists, human geographers, and scholars in Latin American studies, human rights, women’s studies, and gender studies.
Unprecedented crime rates have made Guatemala City one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Following a peace process that ended Central America’s longest and bloodiest civil war and impelled the transition from a state-centric economy to the global free market, Guatemala’s neoliberal moment is now strikingly evident in the practices and politics of security. Postwar violence has not prompted public debates about the conditions that permit transnational gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime to thrive. Instead, the dominant reaction to crime has been the cultural promulgation of fear and the privatization of what would otherwise be the state’s responsibility to secure the city. This collection of essays, the first comparative study of urban Guatemala, explores these neoliberal efforts at security. Contributing to the anthropology of space and urban studies, this book brings together anthropologists and historians to examine how postwar violence and responses to it are reconfiguring urban space, transforming the relationship between city and country, and exacerbating deeply rooted structures of inequality and ethnic discrimination.
Contributors. Peter Benson, Manuela Camus, Avery Dickins de Girón, Edward F. Fischer, Deborah Levenson, Thomas Offit, Kevin Lewis O’Neill, Kedron Thomas, Rodrigo José Véliz
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.
new in paperback Silence on the Mountain is a virtuoso work of reporting and a masterfully plotted narrative tracing the history of Guatemala’s thirty-six-year internal war, a conflict that claimed the lives of some 200,000 people, the vast majority of whom died (or were “disappeared”) at the hands of the U.S.-backed military government. Written by Daniel Wilkinson, a young human rights worker, the story begins in 1993, when the author decides to investigate the arson of a coffee plantation’s manor house by a band of guerrillas. The questions surrounding this incident soon broaden into a complex mystery whose solution requires Wilkinson to dig up the largely unwritten history of the country’s recent civil war, following its roots back to a land reform movement that was derailed by a U.S.-sponsored military coup in 1954 and to the origins of a plantation system that put Guatemala’s Mayan Indians to work picking coffee beans for the American and European markets.
Decades of terror-inspired fear have led the Guatemalans to adopt a survival strategy of silence so complete that it verges on collective amnesia. The author’s great triumph is that he finds a way for people to tell their stories, and it is through these stories—dramatic, intimate, heartbreaking—that we are shown the anatomy of a thwarted revolution that has relevance not only to Guatemala but also to countless places around the world where terror has been used as a political tool.
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.
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.
TESTIMONY: DEATH OF A GUATEMALAN VILLAGE is an eyewitness account by a Guatemalan primary school teacher detailing one instance of violent conflict between the indigenous Maya people and the army. An accidental clash between the village's "civil patrol" and a Guatemalan army troop leads to the execution or imprisonment of many villagers. Written in clear, direct prose, this account reads like an adventure story while conveying an historical reality. This vital and essential record captures how Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which reached its most violent peak in the 1980s, ripped the traditional fabric of Guatemalan society.
This work analyzes ritual practices and knowledge related to the Mesoamerican calendar with the aim of contributing to an understanding of the use and conceptualization of this calendar system in the contemporary K’iche’ community of Momostenango in the Highlands of Guatemala. The research presented here discusses the indigenous calendar system, forms of synergy between the Christian and the Highland Guatemalan calendar, the indigenous perception of history, and continuity in time-related symbolism.
Van den Akker argues that the social role of cultural anthropologists and archaeologists is to contribute to the ongoing process of cultural healing and spiritual recovery of the peoples that suffer(ed) from colonization and oppression. This study therefore places an emphasis on cultural continuity and approaches the continuation of Maya calendar practices as a possible tool for restoring breaks in social memory, which are caused by dramatic events such as colonization.
Throughout this book it is argued that time is an authority which directs human behavior in a cyclical manner through the landscape on a local and regional scale. Time is related to morality and cultural values, and a shared perception of time contributes to the cohesion of the community as it recreates and reaffirms the identity of its members by reiterating their shared social conventions and history. Finally, the conjunction of time and ritual provides a tool to overcome the rupture caused by death and to transmit messages from generation to generation over a long span of time.
"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.
One of the most important Postclassic cities, Utatlán, in highland Guatemala, was excavated more than three decades ago. However, the data amassed by archaeologists have not been published until now. Details on architecture, pottery, burials, and artifacts, along with a focus on residential archaeology, make Utatlán: The Constituted Community of the K'iche' Maya of Q'umarkaj a significant contribution to Maya archaeology.
Most information available on Utatlán focuses on the ceremonial center and ignores the city of the commoners. Using the archaeological data, Utatlán attempts to determine the boundaries of the community and to characterize subdivisions within it. Evidence of indigenous nonelite houses, rich burials, and grave goods unlike those found in contemporary sites reveals information about the supporting residence zone. In addition, Babcock applies the concept of "constituted community," interpreting the archaeological data from a prehistoric context, and proposes a theoretical framework for interpreting prehistoric sites with respect to urbanism and political complexity.
Utatlán: The Constituted Community of the K'iche' Maya of Q'umarkaj will be of interest to students and scholars of Mesoamerican anthropology, archaeology, and ethnohistory.
The conquest, colonization, independence, the liberal reforms, the regimes, revolution, and dictatorships, the insurrections and ongoing peace dialogues all are combined in a narrative projecting the most important forces in Guatemalan history from the Mayan period to our own times.
Using excerpts from poems, novels, stories, essays, and interviews by writers ranging from Cardoza y Aragón and Nobel Prize winner Miguel Angel Asturias to the indigenous and testimonial voices of Rigoberta Menchú and Mario Payeras, this full sampling of a country’s literature is, in truth, a documentary of realism and magic. Voices from the Silence bears witness to a nation’s long journey toward some ideal community for which so many have fought and died.
Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala's civil war claimed 250,000 lives and displaced one million people. Since the peace accords, Guatemala has struggled to address the legacy of war, genocidal violence against the Maya, and the dismantling of alternative projects for the future. War by Other Means brings together new essays by leading scholars of Guatemala from a range of geographical backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives.
Contributors consider a wide range of issues confronting present-day Guatemala: returning refugees, land reform, gang violence, neoliberal economic restructuring, indigenous and women's rights, complex race relations, the politics of memory, and the challenges of sustaining hope. From a sweeping account of Guatemalan elites' centuries-long use of violence to suppress dissent to studies of intimate experiences of complicity and contestation in richly drawn localities, War by Other Means provides a nuanced reckoning of the injustices that made genocide possible and the ongoing attempts to overcome them.
Contributors. Santiago Bastos, Jennifer Burrell, Manuela Camus, Matilde González-Izás, Jorge Ramón González Ponciano, Greg Grandin, Paul Kobrak, Deborah T. Levenson, Carlota McAllister, Diane M. Nelson, Elizabeth Oglesby, Luis Solano, Irmalicia Velásquez Nimatuj, Paula Worby
In Who Counts? Diane M. Nelson explores the social life of numbers, teasing out the myriad roles math plays in Guatemalan state violence, economic exploitation, and disenfranchisement, as well as in Mayan revitalization and grassroots environmental struggles. In the aftermath of thirty-six years of civil war, to count—both numerically and in the sense of having value—is a contested and qualitative practice of complex calculations encompassing war losses, migration, debt, and competing understandings of progress. Nelson makes broad connections among seemingly divergent phenomena, such as debates over reparations for genocide victims, Ponzi schemes, and antimining movements. Challenging the presumed objectivity of Western mathematics, Nelson shows how it flattens social complexity and becomes a raced, classed, and gendered skill that colonial powers considered beyond the grasp of indigenous peoples. Yet the Classic Maya are famous for the precision of their mathematics, including conceptualizing zero long before Europeans. Nelson shows how Guatemala's indigenous population is increasingly returning to Mayan numeracy to critique systemic inequalities with the goal of being counted—in every sense of the word.
In the aftermath of armed conflict, how do new generations of young people learn about peace, justice, and democracy? Michelle J. Bellino describes how, following Guatemala’s civil war, adolescents at four schools in urban and rural communities learn about their country’s history of authoritarianism and develop civic identities within a fragile postwar democracy.
Through rich ethnographic accounts, Youth in Postwar Guatemala, traces youth experiences in schools, homes, and communities, to examine how knowledge and attitudes toward historical injustice traverse public and private spaces, as well as generations. Bellino documents the ways that young people critically examine injustice while shaping an evolving sense of themselves as civic actors. In a country still marked by the legacies of war and division, young people navigate between the perilous work of critiquing the flawed democracy they inherited, and safely waiting for the one they were promised...