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Secrecy and Insurgency

Socialities and Knowledge Practices in Guatemala

Silvia Posocco

Publication Year: 2014

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 those interested in Latin American studies, human rights, women’s studies, and gender studies.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

The research presented in this book benefited from the generous support offered by the Society for Latin American Studies, the University of London Central Research Fund, and the London School of Economics. Reflections on the field of performativity theory were assisted by a jointly awarded research grant from the British Academy....

List of Acronyms

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pp. xv-xviii

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pp. 1-23

When I arrived in Guatemala in October 1999, the country was in the grip of the electoral campaign for the first “free and democratic” national elections since the signing of the Guatemalan Peace Accords between the Guatemalan government and the umbrella guerrilla organization Unidad Revolucionaria ...

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1. The Problem of Context

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pp. 24-49

This chapter explores traditions of social and cultural analysis in and about Guatemala,1 and key knowledge practices related to this field. The aim is to examine a range of trajectories in social, cultural, and historical research and highlight the influential and rich reservoir of ideas for the production and figuring of the Guatemalan context historically, both nationally and ...

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2. Violence, Sovereignty, Governmentality

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pp. 50-87

This chapter explores the “contexts” of the present research further, and specifically the ways in which different cultural texts may illuminate contrasting and often contradictory aspects and interpretations of social life in Guatemala. Through juxtaposition, partiality and what is or has been “out ...

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3. Secrecy, Relation, Connection

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pp. 88-110

This chapter opens with a discussion of an ethnographic moment of partial disclosure, when I first realized that ex-combatants deployed different names for themselves and others and that names qualified different, multiple, and complex relationalities. I discuss naming practices and argue that whatever the scale, through names, pseudonyms, and nicknames partial ...

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4. Secrecy, Sociality, Merographic Analogy

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pp. 111-141

In the previous chapter I discussed naming practices among guerrilla combatants and associates and their role in the articulation of secretive and complex relationalities, grounded in selective forms of disclosure and foreclosure. I argued that secrecy challenges knowledge practices and related understandings...

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5. Sociality, Substance, Moral Order

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pp. 142-175

In this chapter I explore processes of constitution of guerrilla sociality and relationality. I argue that from accounts given by members of the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR) there emerge a number of perspectives on their experience of guerrilla life. Different perspectives may be said to offer different ...

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6. Secrecy, Prosthetics, Aesthetics

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pp. 176-200

This chapter is intended to be a reflection on forms of description and theorizing, that is, on the aesthetics of knowledge practices. The aim is to provide a “cultural description” of cultural categories such as “subjectivity,” “personhood,” “embodiment,” and “agency,” and not to be a “sociological analysis” (Strathern 1988, 274). I envisage the task by reflecting on the aesthetics ...

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pp. 201-206

In this book I set out to explore histories of violence and cultures of secrecy in Petén, northern Guatemala, in the aftermath of the 1996 Peace Accords signed by the Guatemalan government and guerrilla insurgents. Informed by ethnographic research among displaced constituencies with experiences of militancy in the guerrilla organization Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes...


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pp. 207-224


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pp. 225-242


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pp. 243-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780817386986
E-ISBN-10: 081738698X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817313593
Print-ISBN-10: 0817313591

Page Count: 267
Illustrations: 11 illustrations
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 871787864
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Secrecy and Insurgency

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Guerrillas -- Guatemala -- Social conditions.
  • Secrecy -- Social aspects -- Guatemala.
  • Guatemala -- History -- Civil War, 1960-1996 -- Peace.
  • Ethnology -- Guatemala.
  • Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (Guatemala).
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