Introduction: Indigenous women and legal pluralities in Latin America: Demanding justice and security

This introductory essay frames a series of ethnographic studies from a three year research project involving eleven women researchers and different processes of indigenous women’s organizing in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia that aim to secure greater gender justice within communities, organizations and societies. Taken together, the studies examine how indigenous women collectively engage with different forms of legality, and with ideas about (in)justice and (in)security. In particular, the authors explore the ways in which the intersectionality of violence against indigenous women is expressed, reinforced and resisted through resort to legal mechanisms and discourses, deploying different framings which, as we argue below, are both situated and relational. The introductory essay presents the different cases and discusses some of the key theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues for analyzing indigenous women’s mobilization for justice and security in contexts of legal pluralism in Latin America.

Rutgers University Press

(2017) “Introduction: Indigenous women and legal pluralities in Latin America: Demanding justice and security” in Rachel Sieder (ed.) Demanding Justice and Security: Indigenous Women and Legal Pluralities in Latin America. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ: pp.1-25. ISBN: 978-0-8135-8792-9

Between Participation and Violence: Gender Justice and Neoliberal Government in Chichicastenango, Guatemala

This chapter reflects on the effects of the territorial, political, and legal reorganization associated with development-related social policies and decentralizing neoliberal reforms, specifically the ways in which these policy framings affect the possibilities of local indigenous women activists to work on issues of justice and security from their own cultural standpoints and gender perspectives. The chapter analyzes the challenges faced by a group of Maya K’iche’ women in the municipality of Chichicastenango, Quiché, Guatemala, in their efforts to strengthen spaces and strategies to combat the discrimination and violence they suffer both in their own families and communities and in society in general.

Rutgers University Press

(2017) “Between Participation and Violence: Gender Justice and Neoliberal Government in Chichicastenango, Guatemala” in Rachel Sieder (ed.) Demanding Justice and Security: Indigenous Women and Legal Pluralities in Latin America. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ: pp. 72-94. ISBN: 978-0-8135-8792-9

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the Law in Latin America

This essay provides a synthetic overview of regional developments in the legal recognition of indigenous peoples’ collective rights since the 1990s, focusing particularly on evolving standards on free, prior and informed consent and on current challenges for securing indigenous rights.

 

Download PDF | Handbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

(2016) “Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and the Law in Latin America” in Corinne Lennox and Damien Short (eds), Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. Routledge: New York: pp. 414-424. ISBN: 978-1-85743-641-9:

Pueblos Indígenas en Guatemala: Rearticulación Comunitaria y Disputa de Legalidades en la Democracia Neoliberal

PortadaNuevasViolencias3

In this chapter we analyze the political actions of indigenous peoples in Guatemala in the first decade and a half of the XXI century, in a context marked by the wave of neoliberal accumulation associated with extractive industries and the political agreements that underpin them. We identify a series of processes that move between two poles: (1) the rearticulation of communities as spaces of self-governing politics, and; (2) disputes over the legality of the state from opposing logics and legitimacy. The alternative use of law and the construction of indigenous law are central aspects of indigenous peoples’ political subjectivities.

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Soberanías en Disputa: Justicia Indígena, Violencia y Efectos de Estado en la Guatemala de Posguerra

Justicias Indigenas

This article analyzes the efforts of organized indigenous peoples to exercise their own forms of law and justice within the context of social violence and impunity that characterizes postwar Guatemala. Through an ethnographic exploration of alternative justice practices in the region of Santa Cruz del Quiché, it aims to contribute to discussions around the ‘anthropology of the state’. Specifically, the article describes some of the different phenomena or social forces that compete to exercise sovereignty in the region and reflects on what these reveal about the nature of the contemporary state in Guatemala.

 

 

(2013) en María Teresa Sierra,  Aída Hernández y Rachel Sieder (eds.), Justicias indígenas y Estado: Violencias contemporáneas, FLACSO-CIESAS: México, pp. 229-255.

“Introducción” Justicias Indígenas y Estado: Violencias Contemporáneas

Justicias Indigenas

This introductory essay introduces the different regional contexts of legal pluralities in Africa and Latin America. It then summarizes different analytical approaches to legal pluralities and proposes a focus on their role in emerging constellations of governance. A third section considers the ways in which contemporary development practice has increasingly engaged with the issue of legal pluralities. A fourth section discusses the intersection of debates on gender justice and legal pluralities. A final section suggests some overall conclusions.

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Género, Derecho y Cosmovisión Maya en Guatemala

Genero_Complementariedas_Exclusiones_Portada

This article explores the contributions made by women’s organizations in Guatemala, regarding their reflections on identity, as well as on collective and gender rights; it also analyzes the way in which these reflections help to revitalize and strengthen indigenous law. The essay’s prime objective is to establish links between Mayan women’s theories about gender and identity, and the emerging practices for revitalizing indigenous law, which are guided by the efforts of Mayan activists to recover and reconstruct their culture’s values and principles.

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Sexual Violence & Gendered Subjectivities: Indigenous Women’s Search for Justice in Guatemala

Portada del libro

This chapter analyses the ways in which indigenous women’s rights to physical integrity and protection from sexual violence are – or are not – addressed within the state justice system and indigenous community justice in postwar Guatemala. Contrasting two specific cases of rape and attempted rape which occurred in the department of Quiché, it explores how justice practices in the postwar period are framed by histories of violence, the interplay between different legal spheres, and different ontologies or understandings of personhood.

Available on Amazon | Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group

 

(2012) “Sexual violence and gendered subjectivities: indigenous women’s search for justice in Guatemala,” in Gender Justice and Legal Pluralities: Latin American and African Perspectives, ed. with John-Andrew McNeish, Routledge-Cavendish: New York.

Introduction: Gender Justice & Legal Pluralities – Latin American & African Perspectives

Portada del libroThe conceptual and methodological framework set out in this introductory chapter emphasizes the fluid, multilayered and transnational nature of legal pluralities (contrasting with more legalistic approaches which understand legal pluralism as the coexistence of different fixed legal orders within a single nation-state). We privilege both women and men’s agency and perceptions, underlining the importance of local, grounded understandings. We also place an emphasis on the role that structure and long-run historical processes play in shaping constellations of legal pluralities and governance, and current prospects for positive change. A dual focus on legal pluralities and governance also helps us to critically consider the nature and effect of different development interventions aimed at improving gender justice. Rather than asking whether legal pluralities are “good” or “bad” for women –a normative stance which we find unhelpful- we understand legal pluralities as a social fact and seek to analyze how gendered rights claims are made and responded to within a range of different cultural, social, economic and political contexts.

Available on Amazon | Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group

(2012) with John-Andrew McNeish, “Introduction: Gender Justice and Legal Pluralities – Latin American and African Perspectives,” in Gender Justice and Legal Pluralities: Latin American and African Perspectives, ed. with John-Andrew McNeish, Routledge-Cavendish: New York.

Pueblos Indígenas y Derecho en América Latina

 

This chapter is part of a collective volume that aims to establish a Latin American agenda for socio-legal and political studies. Through unprecedented legal innovations at international, continental and national levels, indigenous peoples in Latin America have become subjects of collective rights. The chapter reflects on the processes, costs and benefits of judicialization of indigenous peoples’ demands in the region.

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(2011) “Pueblos indígenas y derecho en América Latina,” in César Rodríguez Garavito (coord.) El derecho en América Latina: los retos del siglo XXI, Buenos Aires: Siglo XXI: 302-321. ISBN: ISBN 978-987-629-192-7.

Legal Cultures in the (Un)Rule of Law: Indigenous Rights & Juridification in Guatemala

This chapter analyses the processes of juridification whereby indigenous people’s social movements stake their rights claims to greater autonomy, not simply or principally by resorting to the tribunals but by mimicking the state and constituting alternative “(para)-legalities”. More broadly, it seeks to reflect on the relationship between dominant legal cultures and social movement engagements with legality within a broader context of legal pluralism.


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(2011) “Legal Cultures in the (Un)Rule of Law: Indigenous Rights and Juridification in Guatemala,” (re-print of part of original chapter) in Lawrence M. Friedman, Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo, y Manuel A. Gómez (eds.), Law in Many Societies. A Reader, Stanford CA: Stanford University Press: 152-8. ISBN: 9780804763738

Guatemala: Enduring Underdevelopment

A contribution to a textbook on politics and development, this chapter examines Guatemala as a persistent case of underdevelopment, defining development in terms of social, economic, cultural, and political rights. It analyses historical patterns of state formation and economic development before examining the attempts to reverse historical trends and “engineer development” represented by the 1996 peace agreement. The final section signals the main contemporary causes of the country’s persistent underdevelopment: a patrimonialist and predatory state linked in turn to the strength and conservatism of the private sector, the weakness of the party system, the continuing influence of the armed forces, and extremely high levels of crime and impunity.

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(2011) “Guatemala: Enduring Underdevelopment?” in Vicky Randall, Peter Burnell and Lisa Rakner (eds), Politics in the Developing World, Oxford University Press, 3rd edition: 452-464. ISBN: 978-0-19-957083-6.

La Antropología Frente a los Derechos Humanos y los Derechos Indígenas

This essay considers the relationship between legal-anthropology, human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. The first part discusses the principal theoretical and methodological perspectives in legal anthropology; the second addresses the history of relations between anthropology and the concept of universal human rights since the mid-twentieth century. A third section focuses on the recent development of legal anthropology in Mexico, highlighting its contributions to debates and practice surrounding human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples.

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(2010) La antropología frente a los derechos humanos y los derechos indígenas,” in Ariadna Estévez y Daniel Vásquez (coords.) Los derechos humanos en las ciencias sociales: una perspectiva multidisciplinaria. Mexico: FLACSO-UNAM-CISAN: 191-219. ISBN: 978-607-7629-38-2

Legal Cultures in the (Un)Rule of Law: Indigenous Rights & Juridification in Guatemala

This chapter analyses the processes of juridification whereby indigenous people’s social movements stake their rights claims to greater autonomy, not simply or principally by resorting to the tribunals but by mimicking the state and constituting alternative “(para)-legalities”. More broadly, it seeks to reflect on the relationship between dominant legal cultures and social movement engagements with legality within a broader context of legal pluralism.


Available on Amazon

 

(2010) “Legal Cultures in the (Un)Rule of Law: Indigenous Rights and Juridification in Guatemala,” in Javier Couso, Alex Huneeus and Rachel Sieder (eds). Cultures of Legality: Judicialization and Political Activism in Latin America. Cambridge University Press: 161-181. ISBN: 978-0-521-76723-1

Cultures of Legality: Judicialization & Political Activism in Contemporary Latin America

This introductory chapter explores this landscape of changing legal cultures in Latin America, emphasizing the repertoires of legal ideas and practices that accompany, cause, and are a consequence of the judicialization of politics. It argues that a focus on the concept of legal cultures offers three distinct contributions to current debates on politics, law, and society. First, it pushes scholars of courts to take seriously the role that ideas, language, and informal practices play in judicial politics. Second, it pushes the debate on judicialization in Latin America beyond the courts and, more profoundly, beyond the state. Third, by exploring the specific forms judicialization processes take in Latin America, it teaches us something new about law and politics.

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(2010) “Cultures of Legality: Judicialization and Political Activism in Contemporary Latin America,” in Javier Couso, Alex Huneeus and Rachel Sieder (eds). Cultures of Legality: Judicialization and Political Activism in Latin America. Cambridge University Press: 3-21. ISBN: 978-0-521-76723-1

Entre la Multiculturalización y las Reivindicaciones Identitarias: Construyendo Ciudadanía Étnica y Autoridad Indígena en Guatemala

Despite the weakness of the turn to multiculturalism in Guatemala, this chapter argues that the peace accords led to a new phase of construction of ethnic citizenship and new forms of indigenous authority. Operating within a complex field of power that is increasingly transnationalized, these processes largely depend on the agency of indigenous players in their search for new forms of identity, authority and governance, development, and an ethical and moral life. The chapter concludes that while not all indigenous people self-identify as “Mayas”, these changes may lead to a new phase of re-articulations and new counter-hegemonic movements.

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(2009) “Entre la Multiculturalización y las Reivindicaciones Identitarias: Construyendo Ciudadanía Étnica y Autoridad Indígena en Guatemala,” in Santiago Bastos (comp.), Multiculturalismo y Futuro en Guatemala, FLACSO, Guatemala: 69-96. ISBN: 978-99939-72-75-4

Legal Globalization & Human Rights: Constructing the ‘Rule of Law’ in Post-Conflict Guatemala

 

In this chapter I focus on post-conflict Guatemala and consider what prevailing global trends in “rule of law construction” might mean for human rights and access to justice, especially of the most vulnerable and excluded sectors of society. How do internationally-supported justice reform initiatives affect relations between the state and society? And what role do different local and international understandings of “human rights” and “rule of law” play within such processes?

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(2008) “Legal Globalization and Human Rights: Constructing the ‘Rule of Law’ in Post-Conflict Guatemala,” in Pedro Pitarch, Shannon Speed and Xochitl Leyva (eds), Human Rights in the Maya Region: Global Politics, Moral Engagements, and Cultural Contentions, Duke University Press: 67-88. ISBN: 978-0822343134

Derechos Indígenas, Reformas Multiculturales y Globalización Legal: ¿La Construcción del “Estado de Derecho” en Guatemala?

 

This chapter analyses attempts to increase access to multicultural justice for indigenous peoples in Guatemala within the context of global processes of judicial reform. It also considers these changes in light of the dynamics of the formation of the Guatemalan state in the longer term. What do decentralization and multiculturalism of law in Guatemala mean for the nature of the State? What impacts will such processes have in terms of justice for the most marginalized sectors of the population?

Available on Prometeo Editorial

 

(2007) “Derechos indígenas, reformas multiculturales y globalización legal: ¿La construcción del “Estado de derecho” en Guatemala?” in Juan Manuel Palacio and Magdalena Candioti (comps.), Justicia, política y derechos en América Latina, Buenos Aires, Prometeo: 63-81. ISBN: 978-987-574-147-8

Políticas de Guerra, Paz y Memória en América Central

Las politicas hacia el pasado

This chapter compares and contrasts the experiences of “politics of memory ” in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala; the three Central American countries that during the 90s promoted official processes to investigate past human rights violations. It analyses the role that mobilizations around memory, truth and justice have played in the struggle for democratization.

 

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(2001) “The Politics of Remembering and Forgetting in Central America,” in Alexandra de Brito, Carmen González and Paloma Aguilar (eds.), The Politics of Memory and Democratization, Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York: 161-89.

Advancing Indigenous Claims through the Law: Reflections on the Guatemalan Peace Process

In this chapter we argue that recourse to legalistic strategies and discourses to strategically further the aims of indigenous movements shapes the ways their aspirations are represented. Indigenous identities in Guatemala are effectively being narrated or codified through dominant legal discourses, specifically international human rights law and multiculturalism. This has resulted in the projection of an essentialized, idealized and atemporal indigenous identity, the movement’s leaders often perceiving such essentializing as tactically necessary in order to secure collective rights for indigenous people. Such claims of authenticity have become intrinsic to demands for indigenous legal structures and practices to be given greater political space as part of the wider process of state reform. However, such conceptions ultimately fail to reflect the complexity and power dynamics of social relations in the wake of the armed conflict.

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(2001) with Jessica Witchell, “Advancing indigenous claims through the law: Reflections on the Guatemalan Peace Process” in Jane Cowan, Marie Dembour and Richard Wilson (eds.), Culture and Rights, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York: 201-225. ISBN: 0-521-79339-4

Impulsando las Demandas Indígenas a Través de la Ley: Reflexiones Sobre el Proceso de Paz en Guatemala

In this chapter we argue that recourse to legal strategies and discourses to strategically further the aims of indigenous movements shapes the ways their aspirations are represented. Indigenous identities in Guatemala are effectively being narrated or codified through dominant legal discourses, specifically international human rights law and multiculturalism. We argue this has resulted in the frequent projection of an essentialized, idealized, and timeless indigenous identity as part of actions to secure greater autonomy rights. However, such framings fail to reflect the complexity and dynamics of social relations in the wake of the armed conflict.

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(2001) “Impulsando las demandas indígenas a través de la ley: Reflexiones sobre el proceso de paz en Guatemala,” in Pedro Pitarch (ed.), Representaciones y usos del concepto de Derechos Humanos en el Área Maya, Universidad Complutense, Madrid: 55-82. ISBN: 84-923545-1-8

Revisioning Citizenship: Reforming the Law in Post-Conflict Guatemala


This chapter focuses on the issue of legal pluralism and the recognition of indigenous customary law within the Guatemalan peace process. It understands law as a site of engagement where different imaginaries and political projects of citizenship and the state are contested from above and below. The chapter situates contemporary debates about citizenship in Guatemala in historical context and analyzes the socio-legal transformations which have occurred since the signing of the 1995 Agreement on the Rights and Identity of Indigenous Peoples.

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(2001) “Revisioning citizenship: Reforming the Law in Post-Conflict Guatemala,” in Thomas Blum Hansen y Finn Stepputat (eds.), States of Imagination: Explorations of the Post-Colonial State, Duke University Press: 203-220. ISBN: 0-8223-2801-1

War, Peace & the Politics of Memory in Guatemala

Focusing on the case of Guatemala, this chapter examines a number of variables central to explaining the nature and impact of memory politics: first, the social legacies of widespread human rights violations, including who the victims and perpetrators were, and the kind of impact human rights violations had on society as a whole; second, the circumstances of the transition itself, specifically the prevailing balance of political forces and the different trade-offs between truth and justice that this engendered; third, the role of local human rights organizations and civil society in general, in particular whether and how they supported and/or contested official attempts to deal with the legacy of past violations of human rights; and fourth, the role played by international governmental and nongovernmental organizations in efforts to uncover the truth about the past and address the consequences of human rights violations. In the light of this analysis, the final section of the chapter considers the impact of memory politics on the wider process of democratization in Guatemala.

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(2001) “War, Peace and the Politics of Memory in Guatemala,” in Nigel Biggar (ed.), Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice After Civil Conflict, Georgetown University Press: 184-206.
ISBN: 0-87840-394-9

The Politics of Remembering & Forgetting in Central America

This chapter compares and contrasts experiences of “memory politics” in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, the three Central American countries which during the 1990s undertook official processes of investigating past abuses of human rights, and examines the examines the role exercises in memory have played in the struggle for democratization. In marked contrast to the Southern Cone of Latin America, the transition to procedural democracy in these three Central American countries roughly coincided with the worst period of human rights abuse, the consolidation of military power over the state and civil society, and the demobilization of opposition movements. It is therefore argued here that effective democratic consolidation hinges less on the constitution of formal procedural channels for participation and representation, and more crucially on the effective and far-reaching demilitarization of state and society. This involves securing both formal changes to state institutions and the creation of a democratic political culture of citizenship. Exercises in memory have constituted a critical variable in these distended and complex processes.

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(2001) “The Politics of Remembering and Forgetting in Central America,” in Alexandra de Brito, Carmen González and Paloma Aguilar (eds.), The Politics of Memory and Democratization, Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York: 161-89. ISBN: 0-19-924090-6

Rethinking Citizenship: Legal Pluralism and Institutional Reform in Guatemala

The December 1996 peace settlement in Guatemala agreed a series of institutional reforms in order to recognize the rights of the country’s indigenous peoples: some 23 ethno-linguistic groups which make up 60% of the overall population. This article explores the relationship between pluriculturalism, citizenship, democracy and law in the contemporary politics of Guatemala. While territorially autonomous regions or separate legal jurisdictions are often proposed as a means to ensure indigenous rights, I argue that within a framework of postconflict reconstruction, integration with a measure of autonomy for democratically organized communities is the ideal. This is linked to development of an integrative form of citizenship which combines both social membership and identity and rights. Finally I argue that support for pro-active efforts to challenge the legacies of authoritarianism, militarization and inequality will be necessary in order to build democracy, build a culture of citizenship and increase justice.

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(1999) “Rethinking Citizenship: Legal Pluralism and Institutional Reform in Guatemala,” Citizenship Studies, Vol.3 (1): 103-118.

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