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After the Coup

After the Coup: An Ethnographic Reframing of Guatemala 1954

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 184
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    After the Coup
    Book Description:

    This exceptional collection revisits the aftermath of the 1954 coup that ousted the democratically elected Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. Contributors frame the impact of 1954 not only in terms of the liberal reforms and coffee revolutions of the nineteenth century, but also in terms of post-1954 U.S. foreign policy and the genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. This volume is of particular interest in the current era of the United States' re-emerging foreign policy based on preemptive strikes and a presumed clash of civilizations._x000B__x000B_Recent research and the release of newly declassified U.S. government documents underscore the importance of reading Guatemala's current history through the lens of 1954. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present articulate how the coup fits into ethnographic representations of Guatemala. Highlighting the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, the contributors also offer an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground._x000B__x000B_Contributors are Abigail E. Adams, Richard N. Adams, David Carey Jr., Christa Little-Siebold, Judith M. Maxwell, Victor D. Montejo, June C. Nash, and Timothy J. Smith.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09402-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Timothy J. Smith and Abigail E. Adams
  4. INTRODUCTION Reflecting upon the Historical Impact of the Coup
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 1954, leaders of a coup overthrew the democratically elected president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, and ended Guatemala’s so-called Diez Años de Primavera (Ten Years of Spring), the 1944–54 decade of progressive legislation inspired in part by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Guatemala 1954 represented the U.S. government’s first covert action in Latin America and its second overthrow of a foreign government, after August 1953’s coup removed Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. Many scholars have detailed the events leading to the 1954 coup and the rationale for U.S. involvement, as well as the aftermath (see for example Sinclair 1995; Handy...

  5. 1 Antonio Goubaud Carrera: Between the Contradictions of the Generación de 1920 and U.S. Anthropology
    (pp. 17-48)

    In the spirit of this volume’s work to recontextualize the events and people from the coup, I take up the life and writings of Antonio Goubaud Carrera, first director of Guatemala’s Instituto Indigenista Nacional (IIN). Goubaud is a pivotal figure in the charged relations among Guatemalan indigenists, nationalists, and U.S. anthropologists. Goubaud was dubbed Guatemala’s “first anthropologist.” A dedicated autodidact, he also pursued formal education at Harvard and his master’s degree at the University of Chicago; he was the first professor of anthropology at Guatemala’s Universidad de San Carlos. He was also a progressive nationalist. Goubaud was a member of...

  6. 2 Recovering the Truth of the 1954 Coup: Restoring Peace with Justice
    (pp. 49-72)

    During my student days in the 1950s, issues such as rebellions, coups, domestic violence, alcoholism, drugs, and corruption in public office were considered peripheral to the field project of anthropology; today they have become central to ethnography. And yet there were precedents to the focus on social conflict: Max Gluckman (1940) recognized the importance of conflicts and dysfunction as essential aspects of field analysis.¹ The subtitle to his later anthologyOpen Minds and Closed Systems: The Limits of Naïveté in Social Anthropology(Gluckman 1964) highlights a key issue in the development of social anthropology—that is, the need to cultivate...

  7. 3 A Democracy Born in Violence: Maya Perceptions of the 1944 Patzicía Massacre and the 1954 Coup
    (pp. 73-98)

    What is striking about the events of 1954 in Maya-Kaqchikel (henceforth Kaqchikel) popular memory is their obscurity in Kaqchikel reconstructions of the past. Seldom do Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas’s (1954–57) over-throw of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán (1951–54) and the role of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) emerge in Kaqchikel oral histories. This elision is even more pronounced in women’s historical narratives. Though oral tradition is a significant repository for Kaqchikel formulations and revisions of the past, other sources such as clothing and topography serve as mnemonic devices of history. Similarly, a mural painted on the cemetery walls...

  8. 4 The Politics of Land, Identity, and Silencing: A Case Study from El Oriente of Guatemala, 1944–54
    (pp. 99-114)

    This chapter examines the local politics of land, identity, and memory in Quezaltepeque, Chiquimula, during the Diez Años de Primavera (Ten Years of Spring). Quezaltepeque is where Arbenz’s administration ended, as it was the site of Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas’sentrada de la liberación(assault of the liberation) and march to Guatemala City. The short-lived period of democracy brought about dramatic changes in the political landscape after decades of dictatorship and military rule.

    I have pieced together what was going on in a small community in the Eastern Highlands during the ten-year period. Working with consultants, particularly those who were...

  9. 5 The Path Back to Literacy: Maya Education through War and Beyond
    (pp. 115-133)

    Before Guatemala’s democratic “spring” there was the “winter” of Ubico’s content. What did this mean in terms of education? President Jorge Ubico y Castañeda supported increased education for the indigenous population and decreed that bilingual education should be available in rural areas. His 1938 decree classified the areas and townships of Guatemala as either “urban” or “rural.” This became the basis for allocating funds for social and educational projects, assigning teachers, and delivering services. The classification remains operative despite massive population shifts. Ubico made finca owners responsible for providing schools should their farms have ten or more school-age children in...

  10. 6 Democracy Delayed: The Evolution of Ethnicity in Guatemala Society, 1944–96
    (pp. 134-150)

    In retrospect, the 1944 revolution initiated not a democracy but rather a fifty-year transition to democracy that evolved through three revolutionary phases. These can be characterized as bourgeois, ladino, and indigenous, as each marked the beginning of serious revolutionary participation of the respective sector. In each phase the role of the United States was visible and in some manner consequential. Beginning with the revolution of 1944, the bourgeois phase established democratic electoral and administrative processes and introduced major governmental, economic, and political reforms under the presidencies of Juan José Arévalo and Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. This saw the end of many...

  11. Epilogue The October Revolution and the Peace Accords
    (pp. 151-154)

    In this epilogue I highlight certain striking similarities and differences between the October Revolution of 1944 and the Peace Accords, signed December 29, 1996, by the Guatemala government and the guerrilla forces, to end a civil war that lasted almost thirty-six years, nearly to the end of the twentieth century.

    Perhaps the most relevant similarity between these two sociopolitical movements is that these are the onlytotal social phenomenaof the entire history of Guatemala from independence in 1821 until 2005. The idea of a “total social phenomenon” refers simply to those events that affect all levels, aspects, and stages...

  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 155-158)
  13. Index
    (pp. 159-167)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 168-172)