Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

1/1/2004 - 9/30/2004

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Administering Race, Class, Community, and Nation in 19th-Century Western Guatemala

FAIN: FB-50052-04

John M. Watanabe
Trustees of Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH 03755-1808)

The book I will complete during my fellowship concerns the extent of Guatemalan state control--institutional, ideological, coercive--over ethnically distinct Maya Indian communities in northwestern Guatemala during the last quarter of the 19th century. Based on administrative records and community land titles from the Archivo General de Centro America (AGCA) in Guatemala City, the book documents institutionalized patterns of interactions between Maya Indian communities and national government officials. Rather than recapitulate now-standard accounts of global capitalist domination imposed by coffee planters from above and resisted by Maya peasants from below, I show how a nexus of recurring yet highly personalized encounters came to routinize, and thus experientially reify, conventional distinctions of race, class, community, and nation in late 19th-century western Guatemala. The resulting lack of institutionalized state presence at the local level, and abiding, increasingly racialized antagonism between Indians and non-Indians presaged Guatemala's government repression and endemic state violence in the 20th century. Theoretically, I explore the development of translocal national cultures in plurilingual, multicultural societies through the bureaucratic procedures that bring states and their citizenries into dialogue; methodologically, I reflect on how U.S. relations with Guatemala, especially the CIA intervention of 1954, intensified presentist tendencies in foreign as well as domestic studies of Guatemalan history.