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Download e-book Enclosed: Conservation, Cattle, and Commerce Among the Q’eqchi’ Maya Lowlanders

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This impassioned and rigorous analysis of the territorial plight of the Q'eqchi Maya of Guatemala highlights an urgent problem for indigenous communities around the world--repeated displacement from their lands. Liza Grandia uses the tools of ethnography, history, cartography, and ecology to explore the recurring enclosures of Guatemala's second largest indigenous group, who number a million strong. Having lost most of their highland territory to foreign coffee planters at the end of the 19th century, Q'eqchi' people began migrating into the lowland forests of northern Guatemala and southern Belize.

Then, pushed deeper into the frontier by cattle ranchers, lowland Q'eqchi' found themselves in conflict with biodiversity conservationists who established protected areas across this region during the s. The waves of dispossession imposed upon them, driven by encroaching coffee plantations, cattle ranches, and protected areas, have unsettled these agrarian people. Enclosed describes how they have faced and survived their challenges and, in doing so, helps to explain what is happening in other contemporary enclosures of public "common" space. Enclosed makes transparent the social processes underpinning tropical deforestation, entrenched poverty, and the vulnerabilities created by global capital.

Drove for 8 hours, picked up the car in an enclosed trailer and drove back home the next day. Related Information. Close Figure Viewer. Browse All Figures Return to Figure. Previous Figure Next Figure. Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. New Password. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed.

As proof of this, she explained that they had painted animal murals on the doors of their homes with materials she had purchased for them with funding from the United States Agency for International Development USAID. With ranchers, narco-traffickers, and other land speculators hovering to buy up their parents land, this did not strike me as a particularly strategic environmental education project, but perhaps the childrens sentiments were genuine.

The attentive reader may notice that I avoid any reified conclusions about the ecological nobility of Qeqchi people in this book.


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Instead, there are Qeqchi people of many different conservation persuasions across the Guatemalan and Belize border, whose relationship to natural resources has been profoundly shaped by a history of dispossession. There are opportunists who recklessly clear-cut primary forest in order to plant hybrid corn for commodity sale. There are also environmental stewards working in partnership with government to co-manage parks. Mostly, there are those who seek to escape brutal conditions of plantation labor by migrating to the frontier, often unwittingly into protected areas.

Ultimately, I hope to have portrayed Qeqchi people as citizens of a complex world affected by an array of local and global factors that they both conform to and resist. As people working for a living, they are not much different from you or me. Despite years of being disciplined into a docile corporate workforce, many people across the United States also resist working for the Man.

They are bored with the long commutes, unhappy with their ugly cubicles, exhausted from excessive and inflexible hours, concerned about job insecurity, and worried about the dwindling purchasing power of their paychecksall the while knowing that corporate executives are collecting larger million-dollar bonuses each year. Perhaps these recalcitrant workers play hooky by faking a sick day, surf the Internet when they should be industrious, doodle on notepads during meetings, linger too long in the coffee room, steal office supplies, gossip on the phone, or misplace work on purposely messy desks.

The techniques of foot-dragging and resistance to the corporate order are many. Against more than a century of social conditioning, American workers still yearn to own the fruits of their own laborto have respect and independence. Regardless of the risks, every year, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people take the plunge and start their own small businesses, go back to farming, pursue their artistic dreams, or forge other noncorporate career paths. Perhaps you, gentle reader, are one of those resistant workers, struggling against a dehumanized, Dilbert-style wage-work system.

If so, you may perhaps recognize a glimmer of your feelings in Qeqchi peoples determination to find a piece of land where they can work for themselves with dignity. Thrilled by this new anthropological concept of reciprocity, I exclaimed to my friend and then boss Carlos Soza, Did you know there is no such thing as a free gift? Of course, there isnt, he replied nonchalantly, much wiser than I about social structures. Since then, I have acquired many reciprocal debts, and while I cannot possibly repay them all, I do want to sincerely acknowledge some of the people who helped make this book possible.

Enclosed: Conservation, Cattle, and Commerce among the Q'eqchi' Maya Lowlanders

Many more are thanked in the Spanish-language version of this ethnography Grandia c. Countless villagers opened their doors without reservation to this strange gringa or nimla ixq, literally big lady, as they called me in Belize who wandered into their yards calling, Kabanuuu.

I never wanted for a bite of food, a gourd of steaming chocolate or a mug of sweet coffee, a stool or hammock for resting, or a place to lay my head at night. I hope I have done justice to their stories and that my publications may result in policy changes that make the lives of those who hosted this research a little easier. Since , I have worked with ProPetn, led for a decade by Carlos Soza, to whose memory this book is dedicated. A special thanks to Amilcar Corzo for always keeping me on my gringa toes.

Like many others, I am indebted to Qeqchi linguist Rigoberto Baq, who, over cake and buckets of coffee, enthusiastically taught me the fundamentals of his language. Jessica Lawrence enlivened my sad spirits after Carlos Sozas passing with a mid-fieldwork visit during which she endured, with extraordinary aplomb, ticks, sweltering August heat, muddy midnight treks, a wild hitchhike across the Northern Franja Transversal, and bedbug-infested inns with dangerous mattress springs.

I am indebted in particular to two academic mentors. Norman Schwartz of the University of Delaware provided my first fieldwork training and imparted a lifelong passion for anthropology. Eighteen years ago, when I returned from my first excursion into the tumultuous politics of Saxbatz village, he greeted me with surprise at the door of the ProPetn office, saying, Congratulations, you made it back!

Lets go get coffee at Las Puertas and you can tell me all about it. With me and other researchers in Petn, he established a collegial atmosphere of exchangeamong not only foreign academics but also local scholars. He has exchanged hundreds of e-mails with me on Petn and sent generous critiques, comments, and suggestions about almost everything I have published over the years. I am also fortunate to have been apprenticed to Laura Nader, who was the best adviser a graduate student could hope for. I regard her as one of the freshest and most independent minds alive todayperpetually blazing trails with.

Always accessible, she read the draft of this book and many other writings in great detail and offered astute commentary. For me, she demonstrates how one can build a career as an engaged public intellectual upon a rigorous base of scholarshipa mentor to emulate in every way. My love and thanks to my family, Dwight, Jackie, and Tim Grandia, for their support, encouragement, letters, field supplies, humbling nicknames, phone calls on lonely nights, good humor about indoor pigs during village visits, financial support in the early years in Petn, understanding about culture shock upon my returns, rearranging family vacations to meet me in the field, and summoning guardian angels when necessary.

My husband, Aaron Tukey, patiently listened to dull, nightly accounts of progress on the many versions of this book. He sacrificed a job in his beloved San Francisco for my academic career, bore my long hours and weekend workdays without remonstrance, and nursed me through three bouts of malaria and a long year of cancer treatment and recovery.

The final joyful inspiration to finish came from my beloved daughter, Adelaide Rose, who patiently waited for me to revise this manuscript before starting her descent into this world under the harvest moon. Finally, this research and writing were made possible by grants from the Berkeley Fellowship, the Deans Normative Time Fellowship, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Leadership Program, the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management, Clark Universitys faculty research funds, and, most especially, a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale Universitys Program in Agrarian Studies, led by the insatiably curious and intellectually vibrant Jim Scott and his delightful program administrator, Kay Mansfield.

ProPetn provided significant in-kind support as well. Thanks to an anonymous donor, OxfamGreat Britain, the World Lutheran Foundation, and Oxfam International, which financed the translation, first and second editions of a Spanish version of this book, and a documentary film about Qeqchi dispossession in Petn, respectively. I am most grateful to Lorri Hagman and K. Sivaramakrishnan at the University of Washington Press for permission to publish first in Spanish and for their patience with delays due to cancer treatment. As a young author, I learned the value of working with a small and dedicated editorial team.

Inspired by the committed work of Inge Hatse and Patrick De Ceuster a and to show respect for the knowledge contained therein, I shall carry out a watesink, a ritual Qeqchi offering of food, for this book in due time. I beg forgiveness for anyone I have inadvertently forgotten. Chaakuy inmaak.

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All errors and mistakes contained within are, of course, my responsibility alone. I welcome any feedback at liza. Linguistically, the Qeqchi language is more closely related to nearby highland Maya languages such as Kiche, Kaqchikel, and Mam than to other lowland languages like Itza or Mopan. The population census revealed that Qeqchi had become the second most popular Maya language in Guatemala up from fourth place in the census.


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  • Of the four major ethnic groups Kiche, Qeqchi, Kaqchikel, Mam , those who identified themselves as Qeqchi also had the highest proportion of native speakers, at 84 percent INE All vowels a, e, i, o, u can also be accompanied by a glottal stop , which some linguists consider the thirty-third letter. Pronunciation is similar to English except for the letters x and w, which sound like sh and kw respectively.

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    Qeqchi has no accent marks, as words are always stressed on the last syllable. Although Qeqchi pluralizes words only with eb used as an article or a suffix, I have made some Qeqchi words plural by adding s to the end for the ease of English-speaking readers. All Spanish terms are enclosed in quotation marks, and Qeqchi words are in italics.

    While I tend to favor the more neutral words farmer and settler in order to avoid the pejorative connotations sometimes associated with the word peasant, Qeqchi people also refer to themselves as indigenous ralal choch , Qeqchi aj Qeqchi , countrymen aj komon , farmers aj awinel , and peasants technically, aj kalebaal, but normally expressed in Qeqchi-fied Spanish as aj kampesiin or merely as poor neba. Figure 1. Figure 2. Guatemala and Belize topographic map with department capitals and approximate location of communities.

    Chimo by the scarlet macaws Macawville 2. Saxbatz by the spider monkeys, Ateles geoffroyi Atelesdale 3. Chipoch by the steamed corn dumplings, tamales Tamalton 4. Sehalaw in tepezcuintle territory, Agouti paca Agoutiville 5. Chinapek small rock Rockridge 6.

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    Sehix by the jaguars Jaguarwood. Figure 3. Linguistic areas of Guatemala. We speak a common language and try to reach common ground in our agreements for the common good.