War by Other Means

Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala

War by Other Means

Book Pages: 408 Illustrations: 23 photographs, 2 maps Published: October 2013

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Central America, Native and Indigenous Studies

Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala's civil war claimed 250,000 lives and displaced one million people. Since the peace accords, Guatemala has struggled to address the legacy of war, genocidal violence against the Maya, and the dismantling of alternative projects for the future. War by Other Means brings together new essays by leading scholars of Guatemala from a range of geographical backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives.

Contributors consider a wide range of issues confronting present-day Guatemala: returning refugees, land reform, gang violence, neoliberal economic restructuring, indigenous and women's rights, complex race relations, the politics of memory, and the challenges of sustaining hope. From a sweeping account of Guatemalan elites' centuries-long use of violence to suppress dissent to studies of intimate experiences of complicity and contestation in richly drawn localities, War by Other Means provides a nuanced reckoning of the injustices that made genocide possible and the ongoing attempts to overcome them.

Contributors. Santiago Bastos, Jennifer Burrell, Manuela Camus, Matilde González-Izás, Jorge Ramón González Ponciano, Greg Grandin, Paul Kobrak, Deborah T. Levenson, Carlota McAllister, Diane M. Nelson, Elizabeth Oglesby, Luis Solano, Irmalicia Velásquez Nimatuj, Paula Worby


“Every few years, a new volume explores the many aftermaths of the violent insurgency and rabid counterinsurgency that plagued Guatemala in the 1970s and 1980s. This latest collection of essays is among the best yet, not least because of its extensive bibliography on the postwar period…Highly recommended.”  — P. R. Sullivan, Choice

"War by Other Means brilliantly links past and present through studies of biopolitics, everyday life, and lived hypermodernity in a land wracked by violence. Rich, nuanced, detailed, and full of multiple voices - many of them Guatemalan - it is indispensable to students and experts alike. It engages themes at the forefront of Guatemalan and Latin American studies and cannot be recommended highly enough." — J.T. Way, Hispanic American Historical Review

"This volume of insightful essays vitally extends the literature on Guatemala and on neoliberalism and globalization more generally . . . Readers from a wide array of backgrounds and experiences will find this volume incredibly helpful in understanding the sweeping effects of today's global forces . . ." — Shirley Heying, Journal of Anthropological Research

“What strikes me as perhaps the most important contribution is the authors’ capacity to weave together violent incidents prior to, during and after the civil war (since atrocities did not start with the civil war), as well as their courage in revealing the public secret that actors on both sides of the conflict also used the guise of war to settle long conflicts over land and property. Another important quality stems from the inclusion of the works of both Guatemalan and foreign scholars, the latter often having fieldwork experiences from the 1970s and 1980s to the present.” — Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, Bulletin of Latin American Research

"An important collection, War by Other Means is the result of many years of multifaceted collaboration among the editors and authors. Rich in content and in method, the volume combines the views and idioms of scholars from Guatemala and the United States as they write history, testimony, ethnography, and political economy in the complex aftermath of death and survival in Central America." — Marisol de la Cadena, author of Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Carlota McAllister is Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University in Toronto.

Diane M. Nelson is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. She is the author of Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Aftermath: Harvests of Violence and Histories of the Future / Carlota McAllister and Diane M. Nelson 1

Part I: Surveying the Landscape: Histories of the Present

1. Five Hundred Years / Greg Grandin 49

2. Difficult Complementarity: Relations between the Mayan and Revolutionary Movements / Santiago Bastos and Manuela Camus 71

3. Testimonial Truths and Revolutionary Mysteries / Carlota McAllister 93

Part II: Market Freedoms and Market Forces: The New Biopolitical Economy

4. Development and/as Dispossession: Elite Networks and Extractive Industry in the Franja Transversal del Norte / Luis Solano 119

5. "We're No Longer Dealing with Fools": Violence, Labor, and Governance on the South Coast / Elizabeth Oglesby 143

6. "A Dignified Community Where We Can Live": Violence, Law, and Debt in Nueva Cajolá's Struggle for Land / Irmalicia Velásquez Nimatuj 170

Part III. Means into Ends: Neoliberal Transparency and Its Shadows

7. What Happened to the Revolution? Guatemala City's Maras from Life to Death / Deborah T. Levenson 195

8. The Long War in Colotenango: Guerrillas, Army, and Civil Patrols / Paul Kobrak 218

9. After Lynching / Jennifer Burrell 241

10. Labor Contractors to Military Specialists to Development Experts: Marginal Elites and Postwar State Formation / Matilde González Izás 261

Part IV: Whither the Future? Postwar Aspirations and Identifications

11. 100 Percent Omnilife: Health, Economy, and the End/s of War / Diane M. Nelson 285

12. The Shumo Challenge: White Class Privilege and the Post-Race, Post-Genocide Alliances of Cosmopolitanism from Below / Jorge Ramón González Ponciano 307

13. A Generation after the Refugees' Return: Are We There Yet? / Paula Worby 330

Works Cited 353

Contributors 377

Index 383
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5509-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5493-2
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