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After the Coup

An Ethnographic Reframing of Guatemala 1954

Timothy J. Smith

Publication Year: 2011

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. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present highlight the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, offering an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground._x000B__x000B_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.

Published by: University of Illinois Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

We are very grateful to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for sponsoring the April 2005 conference that formed the basis for this book: “From a Springtime of Democracy to a Winter of Cold War: The 1954 Guatemalan Coup and Its Lasting Impact on U.S./Latin American Relations.” ...

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Introduction Reflecting upon the Historical Impact of the Coup

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pp. 1-16

In 1954, leaders of a coup overthrew the democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, and ended Guatemala’s so-called Diez Años de Primavera (Ten Years of Spring), the 1944–54 decade of progressive legislation inspired in part by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. ...

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1. Antonio Goubaud Carrera Between the Contradictions of the Generación de 1920 and U.S. Anthropology

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pp. 17-48

In the spirit of this volume’s work to recontextualize the events and people from the coup, I take up the life and writings of Antonio Goubaud Carrera, first director of Guatemala’s Instituto Indigenista Nacional (IIN). Goubaud is a pivotal figure in the charged relations among Guatemalan indigenists, nationalists, and U.S. anthropologists. ...

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2. Recovering the Truth of the 1954 Coup: Restoring Peace with Justice

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pp. 49-72

During my student days in the 1950s, issues such as rebellions, coups, domestic violence, alcoholism, drugs, and corruption in public office were considered peripheral to the field project of anthropology; today they have become central to ethnography. And yet there were precedents to the focus on social conflict: ...

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3. A Democracy Born in Violence: Maya Perceptions of the 1944 Patzicía Massacre and the 1954 Coup

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pp. 73-98

What is striking about the events of 1954 in Maya-Kaqchikel (henceforth Kaqchikel) popular memory is their obscurity in Kaqchikel reconstructions of the past. Seldom do Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas’s (1954–57) overthrow of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán (1951–54) and the role of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) emerge in Kaqchikel oral histories. ...

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4. The Politics of Land, Identity, and Silencing: A Case Study from El Oriente of Guatemala, 1944-54

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pp. 99-114

The indigenous alcalde received word that the U.S.-backed Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was to set up camp in Quezaltepeque after invading from neighboring Honduras. The alcalde had to act quickly, with dignity, and in a way that showed the sense of responsibility he felt toward his fellow campesinos. ...

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5. The Path Back to Literacy: Maya Education through War and Beyond

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pp. 115-133

Before Guatemala’s democratic “spring” there was the “winter” of Ubico’s content. What did this mean in terms of education? President Jorge Ubico y Castañeda supported increased education for the indigenous population and decreed that bilingual education should be available in rural areas. ...

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6. Democracy Delayed: The Evolution of Ethnicity in Guatemala Society, 1944-96

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pp. 134-150

In retrospect, the 1944 revolution initiated not a democracy but rather a fifty-year transition to democracy that evolved through three revolutionary phases. These can be characterized as bourgeois, ladino, and indigenous, as each marked the beginning of serious revolutionary participation of the respective sector. ...

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Epilogue The October Revolution and the Peace Accords

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pp. 151-154

In this epilogue I highlight certain striking similarities and differences between the October Revolution of 1944 and the Peace Accords, signed December 29, 1996, by the Guatemala government and the guerrilla forces, to end a civil war that lasted almost thirty-six years, nearly to the end of the twentieth century. ...

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List of Contributors

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pp. 155-158

Abigail Adams’s research and teaching interests include relations between North and Central Americans, Maya cultural revitalization, Guatemala’s civil reconstruction, and environmental anthropology. ...


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pp. 159-167

Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9780252094026
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252035869

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 753324080
MUSE Marc Record: Download for After the Coup

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Guatemala -- History -- Revolution, 1954.
  • Guatemala -- History -- Revolution, 1954 -- Influence.
  • Ethnology -- Guatemala.
  • Guatemala -- Ethnic relations.
  • Mayas -- Violence against -- Guatemala -- History -- 20th century.
  • Guatemala -- History -- 1945-1985.
  • Guatemala -- History -- 1985-.
  • Guatemala -- Politics and government -- 1945-1985.
  • Guatemala -- Politics and government -- 1985-.
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