Contextualizing In/Security: The Political Identity 'Mayan-Woman' in Guatemala

Wednesday, December 31, 1997
Maria Stern-Pettersson
Central America

Many Mayan-women in Guatemala claim that they are insecure in multiple ways: as women, as members of an ethnic group, and as members of a socio economicclass which struggles to attain the basic requirements for survival.Many are also threatened in different and related manners in the variant spatio-temporal contexts which inform their lives, such as the family, society at large, their organizations, or the Guatemalan nation-state project. Similarly,those who threaten these persons may, in a different context, be their closest ally. Many Mayan-women's in/security is therefore contingent and multiple—even hybrid.

However, despite (and in the function of) their subaltern positions, many Mayan-women have begun to make their voices heard in protest of their selfdefined1 triple discrimination, both on a national level, and within their own communities and organizations. For the first time in Guatemala's history, Mayan-women are making claims for security and identity as Mayan-women.They are thus re-constructing both what this identity and what security means in the context of seemingly intractable conflicts between those who wield power in Guatemala, and those who are striving to empower themselves in the face of violence and marginalization. They are also making it increasingly clear that they too are subjects in the fashioning of the society in which they are living.

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InSecurity Mayan Woman in Guatemala, Stern-Pettersson, 1997