We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Everyday Revolutionaries

Gender, Violence, and Disillusionment in Postwar El Salvador

Irina Carlota Silber

Publication Year: 2011

Everyday Revolutionaries provides a longitudinal and rigorous analysis of the legacies of war in a community racked by political violence. By exploring political processes in one of El Salvador's former war zones-a region known for its peasant revolutionary participation-it offers a searing portrait of the entangled aftermaths of confrontation and displacement, aftermaths that have produced continued deception and marginalization. Beautifully written and offering rich stories of hope and despair, this book contributes to important debates in public anthropology and the ethics of engaged research practices.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. i-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-xiii

This book has taken me some time. In the process of assembling it I have been inspired, pushed, challenged, and supported by mentors, colleagues, family,and friends. While time has changed the questions I pose, the stories I weave,and the analysis I develop, what has remained constant is my deep respect for the men, women, and children of repopulated communities in Chalatenango...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xv-xvi


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xvii-xix

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-9

From late afternoon until evening on most days, a group of men kneel, squat, and sit as they play cards and gamble a bit of their money in front of a family-run store (tienda) which also serves as a bus stop. Some smoke Salvadoran cigarettes, some drink community-produced grain alcohol, and there is a lot of talk amidst the thumping of the cards onto the cement floor. Their mothers, sisters, and wives are home finishing up the day’s labors, after which they, too, visit neighbors, chat and gossip at other nearby tiendas, or watch Mexican soap operas...

read more

1. Entangled Aftermaths

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 10-30

Postwar El Salvador is defined by what I term the entangled aftermaths of war and displacement, aftermaths that have produced postwar deception and disillusionment. I use the metaphor of entanglement to theorize postwar lives as enmeshed, ensnared, confused, and intertwined yet deeply involved.1It is in this material, physical, and internal space that Chalatecos live with their embodied trauma and speak for a generation lost to war and for the next generation social- ized through it. In this enmeshing people reflect upon the lies of revolution and...

read more

2. Histories of Violence/Histories of Organizing

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 31-40

Scholarship on El Salvador—historical, sociological, comparative, feminist, and ethnographic—has exploded over the last decade, contributing to our understanding of the formation of regional social, political, and economic relation-ships of power through time. An attention to historical processes provides a window into the multiple factors that shape and are shaped by the broadly...

read more

3. Rank-and-File History

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 41-69

The young priest Padre José, the son of peasants from Ojos de Agua, traveled throughout Chalatenango’s rural communities in a small white jeep.1 Usually dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he put on only a white cloak tied with a simple length of twine to hold mass in churches still half rebuilt, some with benches, some without benches, or sometimes under trees. He celebrated first communions with children dressed in white and led in other ritual celebrations. After a year of attending these different events by Padre José, who was trained in and...

read more

NGO War Stories

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 70-74

On July 23, 1993, after my first long stretch in El Rancho, I met with Daysi to update her on my experiences and observations. I remember the rush of that after- noon vividly. I was in awe of the CORDES director. I wanted her input and, yes, approval. I can still feel the intimacy encircling the two of us as I sat beside Daysi watching her multitask: comment on the situation I described, tell me her narrative of survival, and edit yet another grant proposal...

read more

4. NGOs in the Postwar Period

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 75-88

The ride to El Rancho felt bumpier than usual as I held onto Walter. I was thankful for the motorcycle ride, and thankful that the bike had not broken down in the rain, forcing us to wait for the less-than-frequent sound of a pickup truck to stop and give us a ride back to the capital city. Walter dropped me off and introduced me to Rodolfo, another CORDES técnico, slightly older and specializing in cattle projects. While Walter headed for the women’s chicken coop to organize...

read more

Stitching Wounds and Frying Chicken

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 89-90

It was supposed to snow on the evening of the thirteenth of January, and I was hoping for enough snowfall to arguably keep me home. I had that familiar eve-of- bus-ride-to-Chalatenango feeling—anxious, looking for excuses to visit NGO offices in the capital rather than travel to El Rancho and traverse the Troncal del Norte. Only this was the New Jersey Transit bus system, and I was leaving from New York City. Why the nerves? I decided upon another route and took the train instead. It...

read more

5. Not Revolutionary Enough?

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 91-110

The road was hilly and winding, and the air cool. I sat in the back of an old but cared for Nissan truck, this one with cushions and seatbelts—a luxury vehicle by El Rancho standards. Chico and Chayo were seated up front and offered to show me the landscape. I learned early that tagging along and getting a lay of the land would be a critical aspect of my fieldwork methodology. For Chalatecos war was everyday and rooted in territory. To rebuild the region involved not only the backbreaking physical labor of erecting homes, clearing land, starting anew, but...

read more

FMLN Snapshots

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 111-117

It was breezy that night in Las Vueltas. The air held nostalgia. Residents from communities across the municipality, farther away than El Rancho, had arrived for FMLN municipal elections. Local party representatives were to be elected to represent the municipality at the departmental political party level. It was also a night to remember, to see old friends, former neighbors, and kin. For the making of politics, I argue, is an embodied historic and social process. As we approached the town hall, the rich smell of coffee and tamales reached the...

read more

6. Cardboard Democracy

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 118-134

Imagine a typical CORDES training session funded through international development dollars. It is the dry season and thirty-five women are in a stiflingly hot room. No fan, no air circulation. Road repair noise—jackhammers, whistles,concrete cracking, shovels smacking—enters through two small windows and echoes inside, increasing the volume of women’s voices and the intermittent...

Aftermaths of Solidarity

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 135-136

read more

7. Conning Revolutionaries

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 137-162

In December 1996, bus number 125travels on the Troncal del Norte, the “high-way” from San Salvador to Chalatenango. Along the way, the landscape is densely populated, with house after house lining the road and very little green in between. The bus passes by key cities and towns such as Apopa, Guazapa,Aguilares, and El Paraíso. At each stop, lasting about one minute, venders sell...

Postwar Dance

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 163-164

read more

8. The Postwar Highway

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 165-188

Seven-year-old Miguel with his broad grin and electrified blond hair was the first person I saw through the bus window as I approached the rural community of El Rancho on a hot, late morning in November 1996.1 He was racing along the cracked cement road, dragging a deflated red balloon on a string, hoping to catch some air. Miguel was dangerously and nearly underfoot of the aging, unsteady, local bus making its second trip from the rural capital city of Chalatenango to El Rancho. Despite what at the time I understood as so many “lacks,” he wore an...

read more

Epilogue: Amor Lejos, Amor de Pendejos

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 189-201

Writing in 2007, Veena Das, ethnographer-philosopher, locates her project on violence in the everyday. In Life and Words,she juxtaposes different moments, kinds, and narratives of violence through time and in doing so theorizes violence not as the fantastic but rather as the ordinary. This book has been inspired by Das’s reflections and, in particular, by the ways in which she structures her questions. She writes, “I ask whether a different picture of victims and survivors is possible in which time is not frozen but is allowed to do its work”...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 203-217


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 219-230


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 231-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780813550183
E-ISBN-10: 0813550181
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813549347
Print-ISBN-10: 0813549345

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 7 photographs, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 785779623
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Everyday Revolutionaries

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • El Salvador -- History -- 1992-.
  • Postwar reconstruction -- Social aspects -- El Salvador.
  • El Salvador -- Social conditions.
  • El Salvador -- Politics and government -- 1992-.
  • El Salvador -- Emigration and immigration -- Social aspects.
  • Revolutionaries -- El Salvador -- Case studies.
  • Political activists -- El Salvador -- Case studies.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access