Examines how some Mayan youth, factory wage workers, and their families experience
and give meaning to new work relations as a result of the ongoing globalization of the
This article builds on the insights of research on factory daughters in export production
that have explored the relationship between capitalist exploitation, changes in
gendered and family relations and identity.
Three ways of modernization and the production of inequalities
Gross inequalities between Mayan Indians and non-indian elites can be traced back to
the colonial period in Gautemala.
In Gautemala, from the colonial period to the present, the state has depended on racial
“Otherness” as the ideological key to domination of Indians by non-Indians.
Since the work of both men and women was crucial to survival, the relationship
between men and women was characterized by a degree of respect and cooperation,
albeit organized along a gendered hierarchy of power relations.
The increasing loss of ancestral lands, is just one of the complex ways in which local
meaning fractured and were reshaped.
Corn has been particularly important site of material practices but also cultural meaning
and Mayan agency. Mayan children have received their “cultural” education in part
through growing, preparing and eating corn.
Through social relations of domestic production and consumption, corn weaves a threat
that connects Mayan people with their past through their ancestors and sacred spirits.
Rural industrialization and the production of powerlessness
Powerlessness: or the inability of groups to influence those critical political and
economic decisions that shape their lives: is a necessary condition of the globalization
Maquilas: the now infamous export apparel assembly factories.
While in factory work they (women) transferred their patriarchial notions of obedience
and authority, once the prerogatives of their fathers, to the factory managers.
In this sense, the maquila serves as a site of hegemonic reproductions where household
patriarchal relations are reninscribed to the factory supervisors in the factory, and
eventually transferred to husbands upon marriage.
The maquila experience creates a sense of freedom for the youths as it reinforces
modernity’s desires. Yet, in order to do so, it depreciates the traditional as it
celebrates the modern.
A dramatic increase in access to information and technology in the post war period has
given youth unprecedented exposure to Western popular cultura through videos,
videogames and tv’s. Reinforcing notions of the “traditional” as backward and inferior
Culture as subjectification