This exceptional collection revisits the aftermath of the 1954 coup that ousted the democratically elected Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz. Contributors frame the impact of 1954 not only in terms of the liberal reforms and coffee revolutions of the nineteenth century, but also in terms of post-1954 U.S. foreign policy and the genocide of the 1970s and 1980s. This volume is of particular interest in the current era of the United States' re-emerging foreign policy based on preemptive strikes and a presumed clash of civilizations.
Recent research and the release of newly declassified U.S. government documents underscore the importance of reading Guatemala's current history through the lens of 1954. Scholars and researchers who have worked in Guatemala from the 1940s to the present articulate how the coup fits into ethnographic representations of Guatemala. Highlighting the voices of individuals with whom they have lived and worked, the contributors also offer an unmatched understanding of how the events preceding and following the coup played out on the ground.
Contributors are Abigail E. Adams, Richard N. Adams, David Carey Jr., Christa Little-Siebold, Judith M. Maxwell, Victor D. Montejo, June C. Nash, and Timothy J. Smith.
"Quite the contrary of old generals, nations do not fade away; they have to be killed."
Richard Adams' view of the nation as a basic social unit is central to this pioneering study in social anthropology. The result of many years of research in Guatemala, this volume utilizes the author's fieldwork as well as that of his colleagues and students to construct a set of concepts explaining how Guatemala reached the difficult circumstances in which it found itself in the 1960s—and still finds itself today.
With the breakup of the great colonial empires after the Second World War, the curtain that had been drawn around Marx by Western social scientists fell away; countries once called "primitive" began to be seen as "underdeveloped," while those once thought to be stable and advanced began to appear predatory and conflict ridden. The theme of Mr. Adams' book is that, in the world as a whole, there is a structural escalation of power concentration.
The author believes that Guatemala, as a small nation within the general domain of the United States, is caught in the developmental hinterland of that powerful neighbor and that the United States, within its own capitalistic development pattern and in competition with other leading world powers, cannot allow the smaller nation to resolve its own political and social problems. Thus Guatemala, he declares, finds itself crucified by unyielding and uncontrollable power plays beyond its national borders.
As a background for the study of specific sectors in Guatemalan society, the author discusses the theoretical nature of complex societies. He shows the cohesive force of a nation to be its power structure and then examines mechanisms whereby this structure is kept intact in Guatemala. Special emphasis is given to the lack of access to power by the poor, the development of the military, the organization of power within the Catholic Church, and the expansion of upper-sector interest groups.
While there was important growth in the power of upper-sector Guatemalan society over the two decades of the study, there was no comparable increase in distribution; the position of the lower sectors within the power structure has therefore changed very slightly. "Development," then, in Guatemala was principally in terms of what was advantageous to the major powers.
Can human social evolution be described in terms common to other sciences, most specifically, as an energy process? The Eighth Day reflects a conviction that the human trajectory, for all its uniqueness and indeterminism, will never be satisfactorily understood until it is framed in dynamics that are common to all of nature. The problem in doing this, however, lies in ourselves. The major social theories have failed to treat human social evolution as a component of broader natural processes.
The Eighth Day argues that the energy process provides a basis for explaining, comparing, and measuring complex social evolution. Using traditional ecological energy flow studies as background, society is conceived as a self-organization of energy. This perspective enables Adams to analyze society in term of the natural selection of self-organizing energy forms and the trigger processes basic to it. Domestication, civilization, socioeconomic development, and the regulation of contemporary industrial nation-states serve to illustrate the approach. A principal aim is to explore the limitation that energy process imposes on human social evolution as well as to clarify the alternatives that it allows.
Richly informed by contemporary anthropological historicism, sociobiology, and Marxism, The Eighth Day avoids simple reductionism and denies facile ideological categorization. Adams builds on work in nonequilibrium thermodynamics and theoretical biology and brings three decades of his own work to an analysis of human society that demands an extreme materialism in which human thought and action find a central place.
All social structures are essentially power structures dependent on energy. The concept of power and the role of energy in social organization are crucial and timely concerns, especially in light of the current apprehension about future energy resources. In Energy and Structure, Richard N. Adams argues that social power affects humanity's approach to ecological, economic, and political problems, directing people to seek solutions that are often deceptively shortsighted. Adams, an anthropologist, proposes that social power is directly derived from control over energy processes. He identifies how power and mentalistic structures constitute fundamental determinants that shape the lives of people at all stages of cultural development, forcing them to accept alternatives often far removed from their desires. His central thesis is that the amount of power in any system varies with the amount of control exercised over the environment and that increasing power and control lead to increasing centralization of decision-making, social marginalization, and environmental despoliation. Thus the more highly developed societies, by virtue of their greater controls, are responsible for the greater ultimate subordination and destruction of human potential, as humanity combines technological advances with a growing inability to exercise good judgment with respect to our own survival. Energy and Structure begins with an examination of the basic theory of social power—what it is and how it works. Adams defines and differentiates between the concepts of power and control, authority and legitimacy, power domains and levels. He then examines the underlying metatheory of energetic and mentalistic structures and provides an analytic model of the evolution of power, from the primitive band to modern nations. He predicts the emergence of supranational blocs and discusses other future possibilities. Throughout, his theoretical points are solidly supported by examples drawn from a wide range of cultures.
Since the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, the Maya population of Guatemala has been forced to adapt to extraordinary challenges. Under colonial rule, the Indians had to adapt enough to satisfy the Spanish while resisting those changes not necessary for survival, applying their understanding of the world to the realities they confronted daily. Despite the major changes wrought in their way of life by centuries of submission, the Maya have managed to regenerate, and thus maintain, their self-identity. Among the major challenges they have faced has been the imposition of outside religions. Quiché Rebelde examines what happened when Acción Católica came into the Guatemalan municipio of San Antonio Ilotenango, Quiché, to convert its inhabitants. Ricardo Falla, a Guatemalan Jesuit priest and anthropologist, analyzes the movement's origins and why some people became part of it while others resisted. He shows how religion was used as another tool to readapt to the changing environment—natural, economic, political, and social. His work is the first major empirical study of how change occurred in a Maya community with no serious loss of Maya identity—and how the process of conversion is related to more general processes of cultural change that actually strengthen ethnic identity.