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Maya after War

Conflict, Power, and Politics in Guatemala

By Jennifer L. Burrell

Publication Year: 2013

A compelling study of a Guatemalan village, in the wake of civil war and genocide, facing an uneasy transition marked by gang violence, paramilitary security committees, and other power struggles

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. 1-22

On December 29, 1996, I spent much of the morning in the central park in Todos Santos, a Mam Mayan town tucked into the Cuchumatanes mountain range in northwestern Guatemala. I was chatting with a group of young community leaders who were responsible for decorating the plaza in front of the church for the local celebration of the end of the country’s thirty-six-year civil war. As they walked by with banners, paper decorations, ...

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1. War and La Violencia in Todos Santos: Accounting for the Past

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pp. 23-37

I went to Todos Santos for the first time with two vivid images in my mind that defined the town for me as a particular place on the map and as a place with a wartime history. Both of the images were from Olivia Carrescia’s 1989 film, Todos Santos: The Survivors. The first was a pile of stones in the street, meant to block army vehicles from reaching the town center in 1982. The second was the burned-out hull of a school bus, its jagged edges ...

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2. Localities in Conflict: Spaces and the Politics of Mapmaking

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pp. 38-55

Localities are always political and struggled over. This is especially true among the rural Maya, where specific conceptions and local knowledge of space are central to the construction of identity and subjectivity. An individual is Mayan in part due to her relationship to a particular place, constructed from the memories and experiences that connect people through ...

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3. Histories and Silences

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pp. 56-85

Marx famously wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: “Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain...

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4. Reimagining Fiesta: Migration, Culture, and Neoliberalism

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pp. 86-114

“As long as we’re still poor, peace hasn’t arrived for us,” a Todosantero told me, when the town formally marked war’s end in December 1996. This echoed the sentiment of the graffiti on the wall in downtown Huehuetenango that read: “No hay paz sin trabajo” (There’s no peace without work). These words reflected the historical inequality and structural...

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5. After Lynching

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pp. 115-137

Saison Tetsuo Yamahiro, a Japanese tourist, and Edgar Castellanos, a Guatemalan bus driver, were lynched by an angry mob during the Saturday market in Todos Santos on April 29, 2000. Rumors of an international satanic cult gathering in Huehuetenango had contributed to a panic fueled by local radio stations and word of mouth. In the tense atmosphere that resulted, villagers attacked and killed Yamahiro after he photographed and ...

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6. Life and Death of a Rural Marero: Generations in Conflict

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pp. 138-163

On October 28, 2003, during the final days leading up to the annual All Saints’ Day fiesta, Alfonso,1 a young man in his early thirties, was killed by two members of the National Civil Police (PNC), the force charged with keeping order and guarding citizen safety after the signing of the Peace Accords. The police fired eight shots into the man’s back, claiming afterward...

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Epilogue. Waiting after War

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pp. 164-168

In Todos Santos on December 29, 1996, the recent past and shared complicity in the shape and form of local violence hovered over the town’s celebration of war’s end, a reflection of how the war had influenced Todosanteros’ lives in unalterable ways and continued to do so. Although the celebration was meant to be a triumphant festivity, acknowledging the ...


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pp. 169-184


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pp. 185-208


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pp. 209-221

E-ISBN-13: 9780292753754
E-ISBN-10: 0292753756
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292745674
Print-ISBN-10: 0292745672

Page Count: 235
Illustrations: 16 b&w photos, 3 maps, 4 figures
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 841909731
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Maya after War

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mayas -- Crimes against -- Guatemala
  • Mayas -- Violence against -- Guatemala.
  • Social conflict -- Guatemala.
  • Ethnic conflict -- Guatemala.
  • Guatemala -- Politics and government.
  • Guatemala -- Race relations.
  • Guatemala -- Ethnic relations.
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