Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Marc Edelman

Committee Members

Mary Roldan

Christopher Loperena

Greg Grandin

Subject Categories

Social and Cultural Anthropology


Indigenous Kinship, Ground-Rent, Plantation, Rebellion


Indigenous Maya in Guatemala lived through one of Latin America’s most intense conflicts during the second part of the twentieth century. This research focuses on Maya politics, kinship relations, and interethnic experiences in multifarious mobilization through social democratic parties, rural unions, and cooperatives (1966-1974), and the intricacies of Maya indigenous participation in peasant organizations and insurgencies during the war escalation (1976–1982). This work reassesses Maya indigenous communal politics beyond Cold War dichotomies and situates the villages as central loci to grapple with the complexity of indigenous history during the Guatemalan war. Through research in Akateko, Kaqchikel, K’iche’, and Ixil territories, this work explores plantations’ territoriality and labor transformations, ground-rent expansion, and interethnic relations between Maya peoples and Ladinos. By using methods in ethno-cartography, photo-elucidation workshops, memory visits, chronology of the war, in-situ interviews and focus groups, and recently found historical archives, memoirs, and photos, this research reconstructs the stories of Maya communal politics and individual militancy from the standpoint of indigenous narratologies of the war. This dissertation reinterprets one of Latin America’s Cold War paradigmatic cases from the standpoint of indigenous villagers.

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