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The struggle for livelihoods through community in North Izabal, Guatemala (1970-2002)

The struggle for livelihoods through community in North Izabal, Guatemala (1970-2002)
The struggle for livelihoods through community in North Izabal, Guatemala (1970-2002)

This study addresses the question of what it means to be indigenous in Guatemala. I examine whether the assertion of shared cultural traits resonates with and represents the Q’eqchi communities in North Izabal, Guatemala. In particular my study examines convergence’s and divergence’s within Q’eqchi’ communities, within the Maya Movement, and between the Maya Movement and Q’eqchi’ communities on the issue of land tenure. The assertion of rights based on ethnicity has focused attention first on the nature of the differences, and second on the objectives of intellectuals and leaders who assert and construct those differences. However, much less attention has been given to asking whether the differences are meaningful to the people that they represent.

The detailed ethnographies of four Q’eqchi’ communities on which the study is based compliment existing studies of other regions of Guatemala. At the theoretical level, the analysis of the construction and purpose of ethnicity which underpins this study is of great relevance to other contexts where ethnicity is asserted by intellectuals for wider groups. My hypothesis is that the selection of certain traits which can narrow culture and abstract it from material reality needs to be interrogated.

At the heart of the discussion is my analysis of Maya intellectuals’ promotion of particular cultural traits which separates the material from the symbolic dimensions of peoples’ experiences. I argue that the indigenous identity based on that separation obscures the struggles of Q’eqchi’ communities for land and livelihoods and ignores the ways that tradition is both the grounding and the result of those struggles.

In the conclusion I discuss the political use of culture by the Maya Movement and contrast the Maya construction of a mythological community with communities in North Izabel where symbolic and material dimensions are integrated through the dynamics of community. Furthermore I argue that the Guatemalan case brings out in sharp relief the ways that cultural activism is encouraged by the state as a strategy to dampen calls for structural changes.

Members of indigenous groups are no less immune to the exercise of power and the impact of class difference than other individuals. This study has major implications for policy makers and funders who support cultural activism and may assume that the interests of all members are met through ethnic organising.

University of Southampton
Campbell, Anthony Gerard
Campbell, Anthony Gerard

Campbell, Anthony Gerard (2003) The struggle for livelihoods through community in North Izabal, Guatemala (1970-2002). University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This study addresses the question of what it means to be indigenous in Guatemala. I examine whether the assertion of shared cultural traits resonates with and represents the Q’eqchi communities in North Izabal, Guatemala. In particular my study examines convergence’s and divergence’s within Q’eqchi’ communities, within the Maya Movement, and between the Maya Movement and Q’eqchi’ communities on the issue of land tenure. The assertion of rights based on ethnicity has focused attention first on the nature of the differences, and second on the objectives of intellectuals and leaders who assert and construct those differences. However, much less attention has been given to asking whether the differences are meaningful to the people that they represent.

The detailed ethnographies of four Q’eqchi’ communities on which the study is based compliment existing studies of other regions of Guatemala. At the theoretical level, the analysis of the construction and purpose of ethnicity which underpins this study is of great relevance to other contexts where ethnicity is asserted by intellectuals for wider groups. My hypothesis is that the selection of certain traits which can narrow culture and abstract it from material reality needs to be interrogated.

At the heart of the discussion is my analysis of Maya intellectuals’ promotion of particular cultural traits which separates the material from the symbolic dimensions of peoples’ experiences. I argue that the indigenous identity based on that separation obscures the struggles of Q’eqchi’ communities for land and livelihoods and ignores the ways that tradition is both the grounding and the result of those struggles.

In the conclusion I discuss the political use of culture by the Maya Movement and contrast the Maya construction of a mythological community with communities in North Izabel where symbolic and material dimensions are integrated through the dynamics of community. Furthermore I argue that the Guatemalan case brings out in sharp relief the ways that cultural activism is encouraged by the state as a strategy to dampen calls for structural changes.

Members of indigenous groups are no less immune to the exercise of power and the impact of class difference than other individuals. This study has major implications for policy makers and funders who support cultural activism and may assume that the interests of all members are met through ethnic organising.

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Published date: 2003

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 465398
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/465398
PURE UUID: 4265b794-7c88-4081-862c-a0ed72958091

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Date deposited: 05 Jul 2022 00:42
Last modified: 05 Jul 2022 05:08

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Author: Anthony Gerard Campbell

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