Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala

Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Rural Guatemala

by Linda Green


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Between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s, the people of Guatemala were subjected to a state-sponsored campaign of political violence and repression designed to not only defeat a left-wing, revolutionary insurgency but also destroy Mayan communities and culture. The Mayan Indians in the western highlands were labeled by the government as revolutionary sympathizers, and many Mayan women lost husbands, sons, and other family members who were brutally murdered or who simply "disappeared."

Based on years of field research conducted in the rural highlands, Fear as a Way of Life traces the intricate links between the recent political violence and repression and the long-term systemic violence connected with class inequalities and gender and ethnic oppression––the violence of everyday life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231100335
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 07/05/1999
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Linda Green is assistant professor of anthropology and international and public affairs at Columbia University.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Author's Note
Six Women from Xe'caj
Part I. A Legacy of Violence
1. In the Aftermath of War: An Introduction
2. The Altiplano: A History of Violence and Survival
3. Living in a State of Fear
Part II. A Legacy of Survival
4. From Wives to Widows: Subsistence and Social Relations
5. The Embodiment of Violence: Lived Lives and Social Suffering
6. The Dialectics of Cloth
7. Shifting Affiliations: Social Exigencies and Evangelicos
8. Mutual Betrayal and Collective Dignity

What People are Saying About This

June Nash

Now, as forensic evidence from the mountains of the dead in the western highlands of Guatemala adds material evidence to the narrations of terror suffered by Mayas in the twenty years of civil war, Linda Green provides us with an analysis of how it is to live with fear. The new body counts in the low-intensity warfare waged against indigenous peoples must include the 80,000 widows and 250,000 orphans who survived. In her analysis of the reconstruction of their lives and communities, we find new insights into the relations of contradiction between structural and political violence, domination, and resistance of a people who have struggled against subordination of their culture and society for almost five hundred years.

June Nash, author of In the Eyes of the Ancestors: Belief and Behavior in a Maya Community

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