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Lecture 5

Week 5 Green article notes

8 Pages
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Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANTB20H3
Professor
Girish Daswani

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Week 5 – Notes on Mayan Youth and Rural Industrialization in Guatemala – Linda Green
-She explores configurations of production, power and culture through an explication of
the experiences o some Mayan youths as they are increasingly drawn into circuits of the
world economy as wage workers in rural maquilas - the now infamous export apparel
assembly factories
-These factories, employing thousands of workers rely mostly on young Mayan women for
their labour force
102 – Impoverished Maas who make up the majority of Guatemalas population feel most
intensely the impact of drastic reductions in social service expenditures and the lifting of price
controls on basic foods, also experience increasing unemployment and scant opportunities in
low-paid jobs
-Martina 15 year old began working in a maquila factory – came home from work one day
and said the tamale looks like vomit, didnt want to eat her moms tamale and wanted to
know why she couldnt make hot dogs at home – the dad beat her
-New economic and socio-political dislocations in this case factory labour by Mayan
daughters – re work in complex ways notions of gender, power, labour, modernity and
culture/family for Mayan adolescents
103
-Many of these young Mayan women and men are caught between 2 worlds
-One a cultural worked only partially intact, wholly diminished with scant resources for
creating a future
-The other “modern and globalized from which they are simultaneously excluded,
exploited and seduced
Theoretical Concerns
-Even when women are employed outside the home, their gains have been varied but
limited in terms of economic, political or gendered power at the workplace and within the
family structure
-Studies by mainstream economists argue that women are the winners in globalization,
conflating an increase in womens waged employment with their liberation
-Poverty, not liberation is what has obliged many women to seek employment outside the
household
www.notesolution.com
-With the decline in number of agricultural workers in many 4rd world countries, and the
growth of industrial and service sectors, there has been a steady decrease in venues for
male employment
-Relocation of high labour intensity industries such as textiles and clothing, to southern
countries has increased the demand for womens and not mens labour
-In these low skill factories young daughters and childless women are the preferred
workforce not only because of their natural dexterity in performing the tasks at hand but
because they do not threaten to cost employers more than men
Three waves of Modernization and the Production of Inequalities
Land & Labour
105 – by the 1890s the Guatemalan economy was increasingly directed toward large scale coffee
production for export thus ushering in the 1st wave of modernization with particular local variants
on a modern liberal nation state and western capitalism
-Through the use of coercive strategies- debt contracts, labour drafts, and vagrancy laws
the Guatemalan elite with the active support of the Liberal state transformed Mayan
Indians into a part-time migratory workforce
-While increasingly, commodifcation of the rural Mayan economy did lead to new
financial opportunities for some particularly a Mayan elite it also contributed to an
escalation of economic differentiation among individuals in communities
-The 2nd wave of modernization began in the late 1930s and early 40s and best
characterized as one in which indigenous peasants were more fully integrated into a
capitalist system
-Mayan Indians were freed frm the last vestiges of coerced labour and free at last to sell
their labour power
106 – rural households tried to avoid full dependency on cash by clinging tenaciously to their
semi subsistence strategies, many were compelled by the exigencies of survival to make their way
south perennially to the large coffee plantations in order to earn much needed cash
-As a result of population growth during the20th century but no appreciable changes in
land tenancy among highland peasants, families were having a difficult time meeting
their substance needs
www.notesolution.com
-Between 1944-54 2 successive democratically elected governments initiated laws that for
the first time in Guatemalan history attempted to enfranchise the indigenous majority
-Labour codes, peasant leagues, political parties, suffrage and the controversial agrarian
reform laws established bases for Mayan male political participation
-A 1964 CIA sponsored coup precipitated a return to and intensification of exploitation
and repression against, among others Mayan Indians who supported social change
-Cash became a necessity for subsistence production as rural farmers needed money in
hand to buy fertilizers for the milpa rather the customary organic fertilizer
-Guatemalan milpa farmers became dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides that
were very expensive and mostly ineffectual, thus by the mid 70s over half million
peasants were making the annual trek frm the altiplana to the coastal coffee, common and
sugar plantation seeking work where labour conditions were deplorable
107 – the promised rewards of globalization have failed to manifest themselves in the lives of
the majority poor; rather, their levels of poverty and immiseration are far worse than they
were a quarter century ago
-Today an even partial subsistence livelihood on milpa lands is no longer a viable option as
imports of basic grains of corn and beans frm the US flood local markets
-For many Mayan families in the Department of Chimaltenango, rural factory work,
cultivation of winter vegetables grown on converted milpa land and international
migration to the US – that draws almost exclusively on an adolescent workforce – have
become some of their principal economic survival strategies
Racism
-In Guatemala the state has depended on racialotherness as the ideological key to
domination of Indians by non-Indians
-Racism in the guise of ethnicity was re-worked to stress unalterable biological difference
rather than previously held notions of cultural and social distinction
-The Guatemalan state constituted the parameters of its citizenship in which the nation-
state as ‘imagined community’ was constructed on a liberal ideal of mestizaje or
indigenous assimilation
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Week 5 Notes on Mayan Youth and Rural Industrialization in Guatemala Linda Green - She explores configurations of production, power and culture through an explication of the experiences o some Mayan youths as they are increasingly drawn into circuits of the world economy as wage workers in rural maquilas - the now infamous export apparel assembly factories - These factories, employing thousands of workers rely mostly on young Mayan women for their labour force 102 Impoverished Maas who make up the majority of Guatemalas population feel most intensely the impact of drastic reductions in social service expenditures and the lifting of price controls on basic foods, also experience increasing unemployment and scant opportunities in low-paid jobs - Martina 15 year old began working in a maquila factory came home from work one day and said the tamale looks like vomit, didnt want to eat her moms tamale and wanted to know why she couldnt make hot dogs at home the dad beat her - New economic and socio-political dislocations in this case factory labour by Mayan daughters re work in complex ways notions of gender, power, labour, modernity and culturefamily for Mayan adolescents 103 - Many of these young Mayan women and men are caught between 2 worlds - One a cultural worked only partially intact, wholly diminished with scant resources for creating a future - The other modern and globalized from which they are simultaneously excluded, exploited and seduced Theoretical Concerns - Even when women are employed outside the home, their gains have been varied but limited in terms of economic, political or gendered power at the workplace and within the family structure - Studies by mainstream economists argue that women are the winners in globalization, conflating an increase in womens waged employment with their liberation - Poverty, not liberation is what has obliged many women to seek employment outside the household www.notesolution.com
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