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The Women's Movement, 1986–2003

By Susan A. Berger

Publication Year: 2006

After thirty years of military rule and state-sponsored violence, Guatemala reinstated civilian control and began rebuilding democratic institutions in 1986. Responding to these changes, Guatemalan women began organizing to gain an active role in the national body politic and restructure traditional relations of power and gender. This pioneering study examines the formation and evolution of the Guatemalan women's movement and assesses how it has been affected by, and has in turn affected, the forces of democratization and globalization that have transformed much of the developing world. Susan Berger pursues three hypotheses in her study of the women's movement. She argues that neoliberal democratization has led to the institutionalization of the women's movement and has encouraged it to turn from protest politics to policy work and to helping the state impose its neoliberal agenda. She also asserts that, while the influences of dominant global discourses are apparent, local definitions of femininity, sexuality, and gender equity and rights have been critical to shaping the form, content, and objectives of the women's movement in Guatemala. And she identifies a counter-discourse to globalization that is slowly emerging within the movement. Berger's findings vigorously reveal the manifold complexities that have attended the development of the Guatemalan women's movement.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xii

In writing this book, I have accrued enormous debts. To the many Guatemaltecas who shared their knowledge and insights with me, I am eternally thankful. This book could not have been written without them. I hope that I have appropiately represented their struggles and not abused their trust. I am particularly thankful to Carmen Lucia Pellecer and Olga Rivas, ...

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Chapter 1. Face-Off: Gender, Democratization, and Globalization

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pp. 1-18

After more than thirty years of military rule, civilians returned to power in Guatemala in 1986. A neoliberal globalization project has accompanied the democratization process, and both have led Guatemalan women, collectively and individually, to renegotiate their positions and relations within their private and public spheres. While democratization has universally ...

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Chapter 2. Inside (and) Out: Home, Work, and Organizing

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pp. 19-40

Beginning in the late 1970s, Guatemaltecas started to participate in social movements in relatively large numbers for the first time. Social, economic, and political variables had historically divided, isolated, restricted, and subordinated women in Guatemala, making it difficult for them to build a strategically imagined community based on gender. But in the late 1970s, ...

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Chapter 3. La goma elastica: Codifying and Institutionalizing Women in Postwar Guatemala

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pp. 41-60

Debates over the meaning and the construction of democracy, citizenship, and rights have dominated the political modernization project of the postauthoritarian era in Guatemala. Most, though not all, state and civil society political actors agree on the need to build democratic institutions ...

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Chapter 4. T is for Tortillera?: Sexual Minorities and Identity Politics

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pp. 61-76

In 1991–1992, a group of gay male friends in Guatemala City, frightened and saddened by the increase in HIB/AIDS deaths of homosexuals in Guatemala began to meet informally to educate themselves about the disease.They arranged for a Costa Rican expert on HIV/AIDS to visit Guatemala to give a talk.That event was a success, so they continued ...

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Chapter 5. The "Swallow Industries": Flight, Consumption, and Indigestion

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pp. 77-108

Although not usually recognized as such by mainstream literature, gender is the lynchpin of globalization; to achieve globalization's expansionist goals, the restructuring of capital accumulation requires the reevaluation of social reproduction and gender relations. Whereas industrialization of the 1950s–1960s lured Guatemalan men to the factories, recent developments ...

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Chapter 6. Countering Discourse: Toward Resistance

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pp. 97-108

As the previous chapters have illustrated, the relationship between globalization and the women's movement in Guatemala is explicable only as a complicated dialectical trajectory. Globalization is leading Guatemaltecas to renegotiate their positions and relations within both their private and public lives. It is also encouraging changes -- NGOization, institutionalization, ...


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pp. 109-132


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pp. 133-146


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pp. 147-157

E-ISBN-13: 9780292795969
E-ISBN-10: 0292795963
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292709447
Print-ISBN-10: 0292709447

Page Count: 169
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 69385056
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Guatemaltecas

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Subject Headings

  • Women's rights -- Guatemala.
  • Women -- Guatemala -- Economic conditions.
  • Women -- Guatemala -- Social conditions.
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