The Democracy Development Machine: Neoliberalism, Radical Pessimism, and Authoritarian Populism in Mayan Guatemala

The Democracy Development Machine: Neoliberalism, Radical Pessimism, and Authoritarian Populism in Mayan Guatemala

by Nicholas Copeland


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Nicholas Copeland sheds new light on rural politics in Guatemala and across neoliberal and post-conflict settings in The Democracy Development Machine. This historical ethnography examines how governmentalized spaces of democracy and development fell short, enabling and disfiguring an ethnic Mayan resurgence.

In a passionate and politically engaged book, Copeland argues that the transition to democracy in Guatemalan Mayan communities has led to a troubling paradox. He finds that while liberal democracy is celebrated in most of the world as the ideal, it can subvert political desires and channel them into illiberal spaces. As a result, Copeland explores alternative ways of imagining liberal democracy and economic and social amelioration in a traumatized and highly unequal society as it strives to transition from war and authoritarian rule to open elections and free-market democracy.

The Democracy Development Machine follows Guatemala's transition, reflects on Mayan involvement in politics during and after the conflict, and provides novel ways to link democratic development with economic and political development.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501736063
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 05/15/2019
Pages: 282
Sales rank: 1,224,538
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: A Transition to Misery
1. "They Committed No Crime": Developing Democratic Memories
2. Nos Falta Capacidad: Training Enterprising Selves
3. The Capacity for Democracy: Transforming Democratic Imaginaries
4. Radical Pessimism: Neoliberal Democratic Atmosphere
5. Parties and Projects: Democratizing Sovereign Violence
6. Cruel Populism: Mutilating the People
Conclusion: Reorienting Democracy
Works Cited

What People are Saying About This

Jennifer Burrell

"The Democracy Development Machine is a fantastic book. It’s exactly what political ethnography should be—insightful, analytically rigorous, ethnographically rich, and provocative."

Edward Fischer

"Nicholas Copeland has written a powerful critique of grassroots democracy. Copeland captures the complicated ways local allegiances work in practice, shattering romantic notions of community cooperation. This reveals much about Guatemala's troubled politics and enriches our understanding of the multifaceted, often unintended, effects of social action."

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