Guatemaltecas

Guatemaltecas: The Women's Movement, 1986–2003

SUSAN A. BERGER
Copyright Date: 2006
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/709447
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  • Book Info
    Guatemaltecas
    Book Description:

    After thirty years of military rule and state-sponsored violence, Guatemala reinstated civilian control and began rebuilding democratic institutions in 1986. Responding to these changes, Guatemalan women began organizing to gain an active role in the national body politic and restructure traditional relations of power and gender. This pioneering study examines the formation and evolution of the Guatemalan women's movement and assesses how it has been affected by, and has in turn affected, the forces of democratization and globalization that have transformed much of the developing world.

    Susan Berger pursues three hypotheses in her study of the women's movement. She argues that neoliberal democratization has led to the institutionalization of the women's movement and has encouraged it to turn from protest politics to policy work and to helping the state impose its neoliberal agenda. She also asserts that, while the influences of dominant global discourses are apparent, local definitions of femininity, sexuality, and gender equity and rights have been critical to shaping the form, content, and objectives of the women's movement in Guatemala. And she identifies a counter-discourse to globalization that is slowly emerging within the movement. Berger's findings vigorously reveal the manifold complexities that have attended the development of the Guatemalan women's movement.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79596-9
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Chapter 1 FACE-OFF: GENDER, DEMOCRATIZATION, AND GLOBALIZATION
    (pp. 1-18)

    After more than thirty years of military rule, civilians returned to power in Guatemala in 1986. A neoliberal globalization project has accompanied the democratization process, and both have led Guatemalan women, collectively and individually, to renegotiate their positions and relations within their private and public spheres.While democratization has universally opened political space to more diverse discourses, it has particularly animated the women’s movement to initiate and conduct debates over their political representation, citizenship, and engagement with the state, and the definition and priority of women’s interests. Consequently, while globalization—based on the liberal ethos—is restructuring the economic participation, needs,...

  5. Chapter 2 INSIDE (AND) OUT: HOME, WORK, AND ORGANIZING
    (pp. 19-40)

    Beginning in the late 1970s, Guatemaltecas started to participate in social movements in relatively large numbers for the first time. Social, economic, and political variables had historically divided, isolated, restricted, and subordinated women in Guatemala, making it difficult for them to build a strategically imagined community based on gender. But in the late 1970s, the confluence of a number of domestic and international factors not only opened up new political spaces to women but also encouraged women to think about gender as a basis for identity politics. Guatemaltecas took advantage of these changes, struggling to fashion and expand spaces to...

  6. Chapter 3 La goma elástica: CODIFYING AND INSTITUTIONALIZING WOMEN IN POSTWAR GUATEMALA
    (pp. 41-60)

    Debates over the meaning and the construction ofdemocracy, citizenship, andrightshave dominated the political modernization project of the postauthoritarian era in Guatemala. Most, though not all, state and civil society political actors agree on the need to build democratic institutions and reframe the relationship between the state and civil society, but they disagree about the breadth, direction, and timing of democratic reforms. Women’s organizations have maintained that democracy cannot be achieved without the full participation of women. Consequently, they have tried to position themselves to influence the form and content of institutional reforms. The results have been mixed;...

  7. Chapter 4 T is for Tortillera? SEXUAL MINORITIES AND IDENTITY POLITICS
    (pp. 61-76)

    In 1991–1992, a group of gay male friends in Guatemala City, frightened and saddened by the increase in HIV/AIDS deaths of homosexuals in Guatemala, began to meet informally to educate themselves about the disease. They arranged for a Costa Rican expert on HIV/AIDS to visit Guatemala to give a talk. That event was a success, so they continued to hold meetings and discussions. After several months, however, they decided that there was more than just a need to discuss and educate about HIV/AIDS; there was also a need to establish a safe and secure space where homosexuals could meet...

  8. Chapter 5 THE ‘‘SWALLOW INDUSTRIES’’: FLIGHT, CONSUMPTION, AND INDIGESTION
    (pp. 77-96)

    Although not usually recognized as such by mainstream literature, gender is the lynchpin of globalization: to achieve globalization’s expansionist goals, the restructuring of capital accumulation requires the reevaluation of social reproduction and gender relations.Whereas industrialization of the 1950s–1960s lured Guatemalan men to the factories, recent developments are pulling women, often for the first time, into themaquilasand the formal economy.² This female proletarianization is contributing to the rethinking of gender constructions in Guatemala at both private and public levels. The traditional male-dominated household must adjust to the increased buying power of its female participants and to their absence...

  9. Chapter 6 COUNTERING DISCOURSE: TOWARD RESISTANCE
    (pp. 97-108)

    As the previous chapters have illustrated, the relationship between globalization and the women’s movement in Guatemala is explicable only as a complicated dialectical trajectory. Globalization is leading Guatemaltecas to renegotiate their positions and relations within both their private and public lives. It is also encouraging changes—NGOization, institutionalization, clientelism—in the women’s movement as the movement adjusts to neoliberal economic and political reforms. While international discourses are influencing the shapes of new gender constructs in Guatemala, they are not doing so without the consultation of, and at times the rejection by, local constructs. In fact, Guatemalteca organizations are helping to...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 109-132)
  11. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 133-146)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 147-157)