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1 A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: INDIGENOUS WOMENS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM IN GUATEMALA By RACHEL MOTLEY HALLUM MONTES A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Rachel Motley Hallum Montes
3 To all the courageous women and men in Guatemala who are fighting to protect their land and communities
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This dissertation would not have been possible without the support, guidance, advice, and patience of several remarkable individuals. To each and every person who has helped me throughout the envisioning, researching, and writing of this dissertation, I am profoundly grateful. I must first thank all of my committee members the professors who encouraged and guided my intellectual development throughout graduate school and who helped to shape the ideas presented in the following pages My chair, Dr. Milagro s Pea, has been instrumental in fostering my intellectual growth as a sociologist. It was through numerous conversations with her both inside and outside the classroom that I learned about the interconnectedness of various social oppressions and how peopl e are mobilizing against them in local and global struggles for social justice. She has helped me to locate my own activist and academic work within the broader social justice movement, and for this I cannot thank her enough. I could not have asked for a better mentor The support of Dr. Constance Shehan w as also invaluable to me during my years in graduate school. From our first meeting and conversation, s he has showed unwavering enthusiasm for bot h my academic and activist work. Like all great professor s, she clearly cares for students, and has always been willing to talk, listen and offer (much appreciated) advice. To her, I am also indebted. Dr. Charles Gattone has been another great mentor to me, and I thank him for his willingness to talk and exchange ideas on everything from classical and contemporary theory to finding apartments in New York. His support and enthusiasm for my work helped me a great deal (probably more than he realizes) I am also grateful to Dr. Stephen Perz who has offered a wealt h of knowledge on topics ranging from environmental sustainability to
5 indigenous movements to action research. It was also very nice to have him as a fellow cyclist on the committee! Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Sandra Russo, who as a scholar and ac tivist has inspired me and helped to foster my intellectual development It was in her Ecofeminism class that I began to recognize and appreciate the links between gender, race, class, and environmental issues, and to connect these issues to my own work with AIR and indigenous women in Guatemala. Her class served as the genesis for m any of the ideas presented in the chapters of this dissertation. My friends and colleagues at the University of Florida and other institutions have also been tremendous sources of support, guidance, and inspiration. I thank Gina Alvarado and Flavia Leite for the gift of true friendship for a ll of our conversations (some serious and intellectual, many personal all important and valued); for our shared stories and laughs ; and for their trust and confidence. I thank Mike Anastario for the friendship we have maintained since high school (as the only two sociologists to graduate from DeLand High School); for his ability to see and share the humor in academia in general and sociology in particular; and for his confidence in my abilities as a professional sociologist. I look forward to working with him on many projects in the future. I am also grateful to the numerous other graduate students with whom I shared classes, conversations, and ideas, and who also challenged and encouraged me to grow as a sociologist. These outstanding individuals include Maura Ryan, Namita Manohar, Louisa Chang, Jeanne Collins, PettaGay Hannah Ybarra, Daniel Fernandez Baca, Geovanny Perez, Lawrence Eppard, and others, and I am honored to know each and every one.
6 To my family I owe the most profound gratitude for their years of love and support. I am grateful for my little sister, Rebecca, who, like all great sisters, has also been a best friend and close confidant throughout the years. In trying to thank my parents for all they have done for me, mere words cannot suffice, but I owe any and all of my accomplishments to them. I thank my father for his kindness and generosity, for always encouraging me to pu sh boundaries, and for supporting all my endeavors whether athletic or academic. He has always modeled and encouraged a strong work ethic, and it is this ethic that has helped me throughout graduate school and the process of writing this dissertation. I th ank my mother, the amazing woman who founded the Alliance for International Reforestation, and who inspires me every day with her strength, intelligence, and compassion. She has shown me that it is possible to be both a respected academic and a passionate activist, and it is my great desire to follow in her footsteps. This dissertation is because of her, about her and for her. Finally, I am endlessly grateful t o my husband, Roger, who never ceases to amaze me. He has unflinchingly supported me throughout graduate school, and his unwavering faith and confidence in me helped me to get through those occasional, debilitating periods of self doubt I thank him for all the sacrifices, and every drive made between Jacksonville and Gainesville that he made in or der to support us for the past several years. He is my best friend and inspiration, and it is an honor to share my life with him. A final important note of recognition and gratitude must of course be made to all members of the Alliance for International Reforestation and the indigenous women who participated in this project. I thank all of them for their willingness to take the time to share their stories with me, and for their kindness, trust, and confidence. I also thank
7 participants for the vital, life saving work they do on a daily basis to care for the environment and protect it for future generations. May we all be inspired by t heir work and passion for protecting the land and resources that sustain us all.
8 TABLE OF CONTENTS ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 page LIST OF TABLES .......................................................................................................... 11 LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................ 12 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ........................................................................................... 13 ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 14 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 16 Mujeres Unidas Por Amor a La Vida and the Alliance for International Reforestation ....................................................................................................... 17 Purpose of Dissertation ........................................................................................... 20 Transnational Feminism .......................................................................................... 25 Anticapita list Critique ........................................................................................ 27 Cultural and Material Analyses ......................................................................... 29 Transnational Organizing ................................................................................. 31 Ecofeminism ........................................................................................................... 34 The Ecofeminist Critique of Capitalism ............................................................. 35 Intersectional Analysis ...................................................................................... 38 Critiques of Ecofeminism .................................................................................. 40 Lack of empirical evidence ......................................................................... 40 Homogenizing and romanticizing women .................................................. 42 Towards a Sociological Ecofeminism ..................................................................... 44 Organization of the Dissertation .............................................................................. 47 2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: THE THREE CYCLES OF CONQUEST AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION IN THE GUATEMALAN HIGHLANDS .......... 49 Environmental Degradation in the Western Highlands: Material and Cultural Consequences ..................................................................................................... 50 Conquest by Spain ................................................................................................. 58 Conquest by Capitalism: the Rise of Big Agriculture ............................................... 60 Conquest by State Terror: the Continued Destruction of Land and People ............ 65 A Fourth Cycle? Neoliberal Development and the Continued Degradation of the Environment ........................................................................................................ 70 Discussion .............................................................................................................. 77
9 3 METHODOLOGY AND METHODS ........................................................................ 79 Feminist Research and Action Research: Making the Connections ....................... 80 Giving Voice ..................................................................................................... 82 Conscientization ............................................................................................... 84 Reflexivity ......................................................................................................... 85 The Research Project ............................................................................................. 89 Oral Histo ries .................................................................................................... 91 A theoretical sample, or why Mujeres Unidas ............................................ 93 Recruitment and interview process ............................................................ 97 Interviews ....................................................................................................... 100 El equipo AIRE ......................................................................................... 101 Interviews with government officials ......................................................... 103 Triangulation: Archival Research and Observations ....................................... 106 Analysis: Developing Grounded Theory Through Atlas.ti ...................................... 108 Disc u ssion ............................................................................................................ 112 4 THE GENDER DIVISION OF LABOR AND SITUATED KNOWLEDGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS .......................................................................... 114 Costumbre, Conflicto, y Capitalismo: How Tradition, War, and Capitalist Development Shape Womens Environmental Awareness ................................ 117 La R esponsabilidad de la M ujer: T radition and the D evelopment of W omens E nvironmental A wareness ........................................................... 117 War and its A ftermath ..................................................................................... 130 Export A griculture and G endered M igration ................................................... 133 Environmental Problems as Community Problems ............................................... 138 Soil Erosion and Mudslides ............................................................................ 141 Agrochemicals ................................................................................................ 145 Discus sion ............................................................................................................ 147 5 THE WILL TO ACT: GENDER SOCIALIZATION AND THE CAREWORK OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM ............................................................................. 150 Learning to Care: Gender Socialization and the Development of a Consciousness of Care ................................................................................... 153 Safe Spaces and the Development of Critical Consciousness ............................. 160 Revisiting the Motherhood Question ..................................................................... 172 Situating the Environmental Activism of Indigenous Women Within Larger Social Movements ............................................................................................. 175 Discus sion ............................................................................................................ 178 6 OF THE NECESSITY AND DIFFICULTY IN WORKING ACROSS BORDERS ... 181 Building Bridges and Forming Alliances ............................................................... 183 Power, Privilege, and Conflict ............................................................................... 187 Negotiating R ace, C lass, and G ender in a T ransnational O rganization ......... 188
10 Emotional L abor and the I mportance of M ediators in T ransnational M obilization ................................................................................................. 196 The N ever E nding S earch for F unding ........................................................... 199 Building Solidarity: the Importance of Unifiers in Cross Border Activist Work ....... 201 Religion .......................................................................................................... 202 Dialogue and Listening ................................................................................... 204 Hemos Aprendido Muchas Cosas Tambien: the Development of an Organizational Gender Consciousness ............................................................. 206 Discus si on ............................................................................................................ 210 7 CHALLENGING OFFICIAL DISCOURSES: USING THE STORIES OF INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND AIR TO INFORM POLICY DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION .............................................................................................. 212 Background: Guatemalas National Forestry Law, PINFOR, and PINPEP ........... 214 TopDown vs. Community Based Approaches ................................................... 220 Indigenous Communities as Problems vs. Indigenous Women and Men as Allies .................................................................................................................. 224 Deforestation as a New Problem vs. D eforestation as the Result of Historical Appropriation of Land and Resources ............................................................... 227 Development as a Beneficial Process vs. Developm ent as Neocolonialism ......... 230 Discus sion ............................................................................................................ 233 8 CONCLUSION: WHAT CAN WE LEARN? ........................................................... 235 APPENDIX A ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW GUIDE (ENGLISH) ............................................... 247 B ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW GUIDE (SPANISH) ............................................... 249 C AIR STAFF INTERVIEW GUIDE (ENGLISH) ....................................................... 251 D AIR STAFF INTERVIEW GUIDE (SPANISH) ....................................................... 252 E GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE (ENGLISH) ............................... 253 F GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE (SPANISH) ............................... 254 G SIMPLIFIED NETWORK VIEW SHOWING LINKS BETWEEN CODE FAMILIES AND THEORETICAL CODES .............................................................................. 255 H RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY GROUPS, AIR, AND AIRS DONORS .............................................................................................................. 256 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................. 257 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 268
11 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Indigenous populations in highland departments. Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadstica, INE Guatemala. 2002. ................................................................ 53 2 2 Land distribution in Guatemala, 19501979. Source: Hough, et al. 1982. .......... 65 2 3 Forest cover change in highland departments of Guatemala, 1993 2001. Source: INAB ...................................................................................................... 74 2 4 Summary of CAFTA measures. .......................................................................... 76 3 1 List of oral history participants. ........................................................................... 94 3 2 List of AIR interview participants. ...................................................................... 102 3 3 List of government officials interviewed. ........................................................... 105 3 4 Summary of 2006 interview participants. With the exception of Itzapa, all community names have been changed to protect participants identities. ........ 107
12 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Relief map of Guatemala, with departments of Chimaltenango and Solol (where AIR works) highlighted. Source: www.reliefweb.int ................................. 52 3 1 Research design. The primary research method is oral history, supplemented by interviews, archival research, and observational research. ........................... 91 4 1 Woman in Itzapa carrying firewood and grasses. ............................................. 120 4 2 Deforested hillsides on the outskirts of Itzapa. According to the women of Mujeres Unidas, these hills were forested in the early 1990s. .......................... 123 4 3 Deforested hillside on the outskirts of Itzapa. ................................................... 123 4 4 River near Umul, Solol circa 2006. The river was completely covered by a mudslide following Hurricane Stan. .................................................................. 124 4 5 Community pila in Itzapa, supplied with running water from the city. ................ 1 25 4 6 The river Xipacay, circa 2009. Note the height of the river banks, which provide some indication of the past width and depth of the river. ..................... 128 4 7 Community pila supplied with water from a spring in Masat, Solol ................ 129 4 8 Deforested milpa plot in Masat with evidence of severe soil erosion. Trenches opened in the plot following a heavy rainfall in June 2009. ............... 142 4 9 Inside of one local store that sells agrochemicals in Itzapa. Stores like these are a common sight in communities throughout Chimaltenango and Solol ... 146 5 1 A capacitaci n in Itzapa, led by one of the leaders of Mujeres Unidas. ............ 166
13 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AIR (AIRE, AIRES) The Alliance for International Reforestation, or Alianza Internacional de Reforestacin CNOC National Coordination of Peasant Organizations, or Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas CODEDE Council of Departmental Development, or Consejo de Desarollo Departamental CONALFA National Literacy Committee, or Comit Nacional de Alfabetizacin CONAVIGUA National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala, or Coordinadora Nacional de Viud as de Guatemala CUC Committee of Peasant Unity, or Comit de Unidad Campesina FAO Food and Agriculture Organization INAB National Forestry Institute, or Instituto Nacional de Bosques INE National Institute of Statistics, or Instituto Nacional de Estadsticas MAGA Ministry of Agriculture, Grains, and Food, or Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganaderia, y Alimentacin OFM Municipal Forestry Office, or Oficina Forestal Municipal OIM International Migration Organizaton, or Organizacin Internacional para las Migraciones SEGEPLAN Secretary of Planning and Programming for the Presidency, or Secretaria de Planificacin y Programacin de la Presidencia UN United Nations UNEP United Nations Environment Program UNPFII United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous I ssues WEDO Women, Environment, and Development Organization
14 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: INDIGENOUS WOMENS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM IN GUATEMALA By Rachel Motley Hallum Montes December 2010 Chair: Milagros Pea Major: Sociology This dissertation draws from both transnational feminist and ecofeminist theoretical frameworks to analyze how gender, race, and class shape the motivations and strategies that guide indigenous women s environmental activism in Guatemala. Specifically, the dissertation asks: How do race, class, and gender circumscribe the ways in which indigenous women identify and experience various forms of environmental degradation in their day to day lives? Why and how have indigenous women mobilized locally and transnationally in an effort to protect their local environment s? How do they articulate their environmental activism through the lenses of gender, race, and class? Finally, how can this knowledge be used to inform and transform academic knowledge, environmental activist work, and public policy? To address these questions, t he dissertation employs a mixedmethods approach that utilizes oral histories, interviews, and archival and observational research. Results reveal that indigenous womens awareness of local environmental problems specifically deforestation, soil erosion, and the overuse of agrochemicals is related to the gendered work the women do as farmers and providers of firewood and water for their households. Additionally, gender, race, and class all figure prominently in
15 indigenous womens articulation of their decisions to become environmental activists, as they view their activ ism as a way of caring for their families, local communities and the larger indig enous community in Guatemala. The dissertation also examines how the women have mobilized across borders of gender, race, class and nationality through their work with the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR), and in doing so, have challenged the organization to develop an awareness of the links between gender, race, and class in its own environmental work. The dissertation concludes by arguing for the importance of recognizing the links between gender, race, class, and the environment and offer s suggestions for how this project and the stories of indigenous women and AIR might inform feminist and ecofeminist theory and research; environmental activist work; and environmental policy.
16 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION On e late afternoon in June of 2009, Kaqchikel farmer Elena Siquinajay and I went for a walk a round the outskirts of San Andr s Itzapa, the highland community in Guatemala where she has l ived her entire life. As we walked, Elena told me about how she organized a group of indigenous women to begin reforesting the fields and mountains around Itzapa. In 1997 this group of women, who call themselves Mujeres Unidas Por Amor a La Vida (Women United for the Love of Life) began working with the transnational organization Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR or AIRE) to extend their reforestation efforts. In over twelve years of work ing with AIR, Mujeres Unidas Por Amor a La Vida has planted approx imately 9 0,000 trees around Itzapa (AIR 2009: 20) On that overcast afternoon in June, Elena took me to the small plot of land that she and the other women of Mujer e s Unidas rent for us e as the groups tree nursery. As she unlocked the nursery gate she told me, This is where we started, and this is where we continue our work. Last year we planted 10,000 trees. This year  we are going to plant 11,000 trees. As I entered t he nursery with Elena, I noted that it wa s small occupying only about one half of an acre (0.2 hectares) of landbut cle arly wellcared for. To the right of the entrance the women had organized neat rows of pine and aliso seedlings arbolitos that they planned to plant in late June. At the center of the plot the women had cultivated a garden with a variety of vegetables cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, green beans, and various herbs. Elena was clearly proud of the garden, which she said that the women started in 2007. S he emphasized that the garden was todo organico, all
17 organic, and that the women use d the vegetables for their own household use. She also informed m e that other farmers in Itzapa have noted the womens success with using organic methods and have started to adopt these methods on their own. Elena emphasized how important it is that the womens work has an impact on the larger community. All that we do is for our families and our community she told me. This place, here, this nursery, is where we care for our future. Mujeres Unidas Por Amor a La Vida and the Alliance for International Reforestation On that afternoon in the tree nursery, I was in Itzapa with Elena as both a researcher and an activist on behalf of the Alliance for International Reforestation. I have been involved with AIR for nearly twenty years Indeed, m y mother Dr. Anne Hallum, is one of the founding members. In the early 1990s she, along with another North American academic and a Guatemalan activist started the organi zation out of a concern with environmentally destructive development processes in Guatemala and elsewhere in Central America. Beginning in the early 1980s with the implementation of neoliberal devel opment policies, Guatemala experienced a dramatic growth in expor t agriculture and a co ncommitant increase in deforestation as more land was cleared to grow export crops. Today, Central America has the highest rate of deforestation of any world region. From 1990 through 2005, Central America as a whole experienced a loss of 19 % of its total forest cover while Guatemala experienced a loss of 17.1% ( FAO 2005) The Guatemalan National Forestry Institute (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, or INAB) estimates that during the 1990s, the Guatemalan highlands lost an average of 82,000 hectares of for e st cover annually (INAB 2001). This deforestation has been linked in
18 turn to problems of soil erosion, mudslides, and sediment clogged waterways, all of which impact the day to day lives and livelihoods of Guatemalas largely indigenous rural population. Approximately 65% of Guatemalas population lives in rural areas; 75% of the indigenous population lives in rural areas, and have depended upon farming as a source of food and income for centuries ( UN 2009). AIR was founded in 1991 to combat deforestation and related problems in Guatemala. It was incorporated in the same year as a 501( c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to designing, implementing, and promoting community based agroforestry projects (AIR 1991: 1). The formula for how AIR works is relatively simple. First, the organization advertises its reforestation services in local community centers, and community members contact AIR staff if they are interested in participating. AIR agroforestry technicions (tecnicos) then work with a group of interested residents in a particular community to help them establish a community tree nursery, which the resident s eventually learn to maintain on their own. AIRs tecnicos will work with a given community for up to five years, teaching interested residents how to cultivate trees and eventually how to interplant them with their crops. Participation in AIRs agroforestry projects is free, and the organization provides all the seeds, tools, and technical training needed to implement and maintain the projects. Community members are involved in all steps of designing and maintaining the reforestation projects, communicating their needs, concerns, and suggestions to the tecnico. Thus, community participation and ongoing dialogue between local residents and AIR tecnicos are crucial to AIRs community based strategy.
19 After five years of working with AIR, community members are well versed in the methods of agroforestry and equipped to maint ain the agroforestry projects without the help of AIR. At this point, AIR hosts a small celebration to recognize the communitys graduation from AIRs agroforestry program, and the AIR tecnico will move on to work with another community. Since its begi nnings in1991, AIR has remained a small organization, comprised of my mother, the president; Cecilia Ramirez, the director of operations in Guatemala; and a staff of six agroforestry tecnicians, four of whom are indigenous Kaqchikel and two of whom are lad ino While the organization has remained small, its impact has spread throughout highland Guatemala: Over the course of two decades, AIR has worked with approximately 2,000 farmers to plant nearly 4 million trees (AIR 2010) Elena and the women of Mujeres Unidas were among the first groups of indigenous women farmers to work with AIR and they were the first group of women to establish a longterm alliance with the organization. Elena and her friends Graciela and Catalina first contacted AIR in 1997, and by January of 1998 a group of elev en womenthe original members of Mujeres Unidas had established a tree nursery in Itzapa. From 1998 through 2001, the women learned how to cultivate various native tree species and worked to plant 15,000 trees in and around their community On October 15, 2001, the International Day of Rural Women, AIR hosted a celebration to honor the efforts of the women of Mujeres Unidas. The theme of the celebration was Aprendamos a ver lo Invisible, or Let us learn to see the invisible. During the c elebration, Cecilia Ramirez and the rest of the AIR staff acknowledged the importance of recognizing women as key allies in reforestation projects and social
20 development projects in general Cecilia re ad a statement written by the women of Mujeres Unidas that forcefully argued, Aprendamos ver lo invisibl e, y a saber que nuestro aporte como mujeres en cualquier poca del tiempo, en cualquier parte del mundoha sido indispensable para la construcci n de cualquier acci n de progreso humano. Let us learn to see the invi sible, and to know that our contribution as womenin any time period, in any part of the worldhas been indispensable for t he construction of any act of human progress (AIR 2001: 4) Followi ng the development of the alliance between Mujeres Unidas and the Alliance for International Reforestation, AIR has made concerted efforts to see the invisible, and to recognize the important efforts of indigenous women in its reforestation projects. In 2001, the organization began keeping demographic records of the farmers participating in the projects. The results revealed that of the 455 farmers working with AIR at the time, nearly all were indigenous and 305 or 67% were women. These percentage s have remained consistent throughout the years ; in 2009, the organization wa s working wit h 510 farmers, and 357 or 70% were indigenous women (AIR 2009).1Purpose of Dissertation The story of the partnership between indigenous women and the Alliance for International Reforestation is unique in some ways, but it is also important to recognize that it is part of a larger pattern of womens involvement in environmental organizations and environmental activism in general In regions around the world, women of all races and classes have playedand continue to play vital roles in efforts to preserve and protect their local environments. It has been estimated that women comprise between 60 to 80% of the membership base of environmental organizations worldwide (UNEP 1 Please note that these figures may vary from month to month, as community members participate in agroforestry projects when they can find time to do so. AIR utilizes the highest figures for its records.
21 2004; Warren 2000). The importance of womens work on behalf of the environment has been recognized by a number of multilateral international institutions, including the United Nations (UN) and the Women, Environment, and Development Organization (WEDO) Since the 1985 World Conference on Women in Nairobi, the United Nations has emphasiz ed the importance of understanding and taking seriously the material connections between women and the environ ment. One goal that emerged from the 1985 conference was the need to enhance awareness by individual women and all types of womens organizations of environmental issues and the capacity of women and men to manage their environment and sustain their productive resources (UN/DPI 1986: 53). This maxim was reiterated at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, wher e the envi ro n ment was listed as one of twelve critical areas of concern for women. The Beijing Platform for Action asserted that w omen have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns and approaches to natural resource management (UN 1995) The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) also stresses the importance of recognizing women as important allies in struggles for environmental protection and conservation. In recent years t he UNEP has part n ered with the Women, Environment, and Development Organization (WEDO) to address the links between women and the environment in its adv ocacy work, recogniz ing that women have proven to be highly effective agents of change, mobilizing all over the world to demand and work towards a healthy environment ( UNEP 2004:12) During the Ninth Session of the UN Perma nent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) in April 2010, representatives of indigenous organizations from around the world met to discuss topics of particular concern to
22 indigenous peoples. A main topic of discussion centered on the links between indigenous identity, gender, class, development, and environmental degradation. As noted in the UNPFII document Gender and Indigenous Peoples indigenous peoples and more specifically women, who have sustainably managed natural resources for generations, could lose from a liberalization process [as] natur al resources are being plundered at unsustainable rates (UNPFII 2010:25). While major international organizations and activists around the world recognize the importance of considering the connections between women and the environment, the subject has received su r prisingly little attention in academia (Banarjee and Bell 2007; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003 ; Sturgeon 1997). Within the environmental social sciences, for instance, i ssues of gender, feminism, or womens involvement in environmental movements have been largely ignored. In a keyword search of the top five journals in environmental social science, s ociologists Damayanti Banarjee and Michael Bell found that the terms gender or feminism were mentioned in only 3.9% of all articles from 1980 through 2005. As Banarjee and Bell argue, it is clear that gender has not cons t ituted a conc erted topic of investigation [for] environmental social scientists (2007:4). While environmental researchers may have neglected the topic of gender, feminists and gender scholars have largely neglected the topic of the environment ( Eaton and Lorentz en 2003; Godfrey 2005; Sturgeon 1997) Even transnational feminists who offer critical analyses of the impact of neoliberal development on the lives and work of women and men in regions around the globehave overlook ed the
23 environmental consequences of development, and the ways in which these consequences are also gendered. One notable exception to the dearth of feminis t scholarship on the environment has been the development of ecofeminism, which examines both the symbolic and material connections between women and the environment. However, ecofeminism has been largely marginalized within mainstream feminist discourse, as it is oftentimes dismissed as being too essentialist for articulating the womannature connection in biological, universalist, ahistorical, or homogenizing ways of definition (Sturgeon 1997: 5 ). W h ile this may be true of some branches of ecofemini st thought, it does not hold true for materialist or socialist ecofeminism, which aims to highlight the everyday, material connections between women, womens work, and the environment (Mellor 1997; Salleh 2009; Warren 2000). It should also be noted, however, that even within materialist ecofeminist thought, there has been a lack of empirical studies to s upport or strengthen many of its theoretical assertions. As Heather Eaton and Lois Ann Lorentzen note, ecofeminism remains larg ely a t heoretical conversat ion.... The theoretical discourses linking women and nature, as developed thus far, do not sufficiently address material exclusions resul ting from economic forces (2003 :5). Furthermore, a lack of empirical analyses means that ecofeminist theory has missed important opportunities for understanding the motivations and strategies that guide womens environmental activism, and for the ways in which women articulate their activism through the lenses of gender, race, class, nationality, etc.. Thus, much of ecofeminist theory remains ungrounded in the everyday lives and activism of women
24 who are mobilizing to protect the environment ( Godfrey 2005; Salleh 2009; Seagar 2003; Sturgeon 1997). The purpose of this dissertation is to address these vari ous gaps in research through a multi method investigation of the motives and strategies of indigenous women who are mobilizing to protect their local environment in highland Guatemala. In particular, I am concerned with the following questions: How do i ndigenous women identify and experience various forms of environmental degradation in their day to day lives ? How have race, class, and gender circumscribed these experiences? Why and how have indigenous women mobilized through a transnational organiz ation to protect their local environment? How do they articulate their environmental activism through the lenses of gender, race, and class? How are indigenous women and the members of AIR working across borders of gender, race, class, and nationality to combat environmental problems? W hat can we learn from the story of the partnership between indigenous women and AIR in regards to the importance of mobilizing across borders in struggles to protect the environment? Finally, h ow can this knowled ge be used to inform and transform environmental policy and activism ? I n addressing these various interrelated questions, I argue for the importance of an empirically based ecofeminist analysis that highlights the links between intersections of gender, race, class, nationality, and the environment. S uch an analysis is important to fully understand the social dimensions of environmental problems to illuminate the links between interlocking systems of power and privilege in regards to both environmental degradation and environmental activism. Furthermore, an empirically based intersectional analysis also helps to bridge the gap between activism and theory by being attentive to the ways in which environmental activism is often connected to issues of gender, race, and class. By using an intersectional analysis to understand
25 these connections, academics, activists, and policymakers alike are better equipped to build bridges and form alliances across socially and politically constructed borders to develop a broadbased and inclusive global environmental movement. Overall, this is a feminist project that makes use of feminist theory and methodology Specifically, I draw from both transnational feminism and materialist ecofeminism to develop a sociological ecofeminist framework that examines the links between gender, race, class, nationality, and the environment. In the following section I discuss the theoretical groundings of this dissertation. Transnational Feminism Transnational feminism, which has at times also been called global feminism or post colonial feminism represents a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches that interrogate matters of gender, class, and racial/ethnic inequality within a global context (H.J. Kim Puri 2005). Feminist scholars interested in examining these issues use the term transnational, as a way of denoting both the similarities and diversities in womens experiences around the world (Alexander and Mohanty 1997; Ferre and Tripp 2006; Gre wal and Kaplan 1994; Moghadam 2005; Naples and Desai 2002). Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan (1994) propose the term transnational as a corrective to global feminism which they critique for denoting a falsely universalizing idea of a global sisterhood that tends to mask the diversity in womens experiences. Grewal and Kaplan contend that in contrast to the term global, transnational feminism denotes a cutting across of boundaries of race, class, gender, and nation, rather than an erasure of them (6 7). M. Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty (1997) adopt the term for similar reasons, and argue for analyses that situate the local within the global and are attentive to the diversities in womens experiences (xviii xix).
26 Embedded within transnational feminism are a few important themes that guide the remainder of this dissertation. The first of these is the critique of the global spread of the capitalist system and how this system works to reproduce colonial inequalities as patriarchal and imperialist ideologies and practices continue to oppress those groups who have historically been appropriated, controlled, and placed in subordinate positions of dependency by capitalist elites (AcostaBeln and Bose 1995:16). In their analyses of the uneven distribution and flow of global capital, transnational feminists employ various terms, including North/South; First/Third World; core/periphery; and overdeveloped/underdeveloped. It is important to note that all of these terms are hotly contested within t ransnational feminist discourse2A second theme within transnational feminism is a consideration of the ways in which systems of capitalism, patriarchy, and racism intersect to impact the everyday lives of women in marginalized communities around the world. To address this, Throughout this dissertation, I will continue to use the terms South/Third World interchangeably as political and analytic categories to refer to those groups who have historically been marginalized within the capitalis t world system. I will do this to primarily avoid confusion, and so that my own language remains consistent with earlier feminist critiques that I draw from. However, like other feminists, I use these terms while recognizing their problematic political h istory. 2 For instance, the North/South dualism has been critiqued for the ways in which it assumes a neat geographic organization of global economic inequality, while the First World/Third World dualism has been critiqued for the ways in which it discursively just ifies the construction of First World nations as dominant and more advanced (Mohanty 2003; Naples 2002). However, as Nancy Naples (2002) notes, the term Third World has been expanded and critically used in the context of feminist scholarship to include the concerns and perspectives of women in various geographic regions in nations considered to be part of both the First and Third Worlds who are marginalized on the basis of race and class inequality (5).
27 trans national feminist scholars have made use of a wide range of methodological approaches that bridge cultural and material analyses of social and economic inequalities, as these inequalities shape womens everyday lives (Beneria and Feldman 1992; Grewal and K aplan 1994; Kim Puri 2005). Finally, transnational feminists are concerned with illuminating the ways in which women are mobilizing both within their communities and across borders of race, class, gender, and nation to form solidarity in shared struggle s for social justice (Alexander and Mohanty 1997; Mohanty 2003; Naples and Desai 2002; Pea 2007). Taken together, all of these themes are central to this dissertation, which explores how women from a colonized indigenous group in Guatemala are mobilizing within and beyond their communities to confront the env ironmentally destructive impact of capitalist expansion. Anticapitalist Critique A critique of processes of economic globalization, which has also been referred to as the global economic restructuring of capitalism, structural adjustment, the neoliberal project, or globalization from above (Naples 2002:78) is central to transnational feminist thought. In their critiques, transnational feminists draw from the theories of socialist feminists to examine the ways in which economic globalization is made up of a series of gendered, sexualized, and racialized processes that create uneven impact on marginalized groups (Kim Puri 2005:140). Socialist feminists like Zillah Eisenstein (197 8 ) and Maria Mies ( 1998) first advanced the idea that the world system of capitalism is deeply connected with the world system of patriarchy, which sociologist Maria Mies defines as the rule of men at the level of the household as well as the rule of men in most societal institutions, in politics and economics, in short, what has been called the mens league, or mens
28 house. Included within this definition are the ideologies used to justify this rule (1998:37). Mies goes on to note that the understanding of patriarchy as a system also means an understanding of the historical and societal dimension of womens exploitation, and thus a recognition that patriarchy assumes different forms in different historical and social contexts (38). Socialist feminists argue that this world system of patriarchy is deeply connected with, or even an intrinsic part of the world system of capitalism, as the success of the capitalist system is predicated upon the exploitation of womens underpaid or unpaid work (Lorber 2005) More recently transnational feminists have built upon the theoretical insight of socialist feminists to examine the ways in which processes of global economic restructuring have impacted womens lives and work around the world. Many of these scholars note the ways in which the hidden burdens of neoliberal economic globalization and structural adjustment are often borne by women ( Bener a 2003; Desai 2002; Mies 1998; Mohanty 2003, 1997; Nash and Fernandez Kelly 1983). As noted by sociologist M anisha Desai, in this neoliberal era, the interconnection between capitalism and patriarchal ideologies has worked to impact womens lives and work in four key ways: First, there has been a feminization of the global labor force and in increase in womens employment in the low paid service sector. Second, there has been an increase in womens employment in the informal sector, where workers receive no protections from unemployment, no benefits, and wages below the poverty level. Third, womens share of unpaid labor in the home has increased as public funding for health, education, and other social services has declined. Finally, as more land is appropriated for global production, land cultivation and local sustenance diminishes, and environmental damage esc alates, women in the South, who depend on their environments more directly for material and cultural resources, [therefore] face great survival difficulties. (2002:1617).
29 Desai and other transnational feminists have extended the socialist feminist critiq ue of capitalism and patriarchy to incorporate an analysis of the ways in which these systems intersect with systems of racism and imperialism to shape the lives of diverse communities of women around the globe. Thus, transnational feminists argue that thi s latest phase of globalization is dependent upon the recolonization and appropriation of the labor of not only women but other historically marginalized groups. It is these groups, transnational feminists argue, who supply the flexible, cheap, and underpaid or unpaid labor required for the capitalist world system to function (Alexander and Mohanty 1997; Bose and AcostaBelen 1995; Mies 1998). In their analyses of the intersections between capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and imperialism, transnational f eminists have utilized diverse methodological approaches to explore the ways in which unequal economic, social, and political relations are reproduced, maintained, and challenged. Cultural and Material Analyses As noted by H.J. Kim Puri (2005), another key element of transnational feminism is the ways in which it utilizes both cultural and material analyses to demystify the effects of capitalism on womens everyday lives. In their analyses, transnational feminists have relied upon diverse methodological approaches to critically examine the close links between systems of capitalism, patriarchy, and racism as these systems shape womens experiences within the capitalist world order. For example, in Scattered Hegemonies, one of the first anthologies on transnational feminism, authors utilize methods ranging from cultural critique to discourse analysis to articulate the relationship of gender to scattered hegemonies such as global economic structures, patriarchal nationalisms, authentic forms of
30 tradition, l ocal structures of domination, and legal juridical oppression on multiple levels (Grewal and Kaplan 1994:17). Taken together, the articles in this collection push the analysis of socialist feminists into a transnational context, and demonstrate the need t o recognize not one singular system of patriarchy and capitalism but multiple, overlapping, and discrete oppressions (17, emphasis added). Other anthologies by transnational feminists have focused more on material rather than cultural analyses and make use of empirical data to document the connections between multiple oppressions that impact womens day to day lives. A collection edited by Lourdes Benera and Shelley Feldman (1992) document s how structural adjustment polic ies have impacted womens lives in Latin America, Asia and Africa; another collection edited by Cecilia Menj var (2003) focuses more explicitly on women s experiences in Latin America and the Caribbean. Both anthologies document the ways in which development policies have been largely f inanced through a fund of super human efforts of poor women. The detailed and nuanced studies illustrate the myriad ways in which structural adjustment in dismantling public programs has increased demands on women to provide health care, education, and subsistence for their families. At the same time, women have been forced to seek employment opportunities (often in informal, unprotected, and underpaid sectors of the economy) in order to supplement their families incomes. Recently, transnational feminis ts have called attention to the importance of bridging cultural and material analyses to understand how unequal economic, political, and social relations are mediated and reproduced (Kim Puri 2005:143). A 2005 special issue of Gender and Society calls f or the development of a transnational feminist
31 sociology characterized by analyses of cultural representations and meanings, social structures, and the importance of empirical research. In this issue, authors rely on ethnographic research, interviews, and content and discourse analys es to critically examine the ways in which hegemonic ideologies of patriarchy and racism inform various social and economic structures and processes that shape individuals day to day lives. It is thus important to note that while transnational feminists are concerned with theorizing the connections between capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, and racism, they are also concerned with documenting these connections. Through a wide range of methodological approaches, transnational feminists have demonstrated that the connections between capitalism and various forms of patriarchy and racism are more than theoretical or philosophical constructs; rather, they are powerful ideologies that operate at both the macro and micro levels to s hape womens and mens everyday experiences and opportunities. Transnational Organizing As they document the ways in which capitalism, patriarchy, and racism work together to exploit women, transnational feminists are also concerned with the ways in which women are organizing to combat these various interrelated problems. As noted by Chandra Mohanty, a key project of transnational feminism is to uncover the ways in which women may build a politics of solidarity in shared struggles against capitalist develo pment (2003:230). Mohanty and other transnational feminist theorists have thus called attention to the ways in which women around the world are more than victims of the capitalist world system, but are active agents of social change working both within and beyond their communities to combat the debilitating effects of capitalist
32 development, or transnationalism from above (Mahler 1998: 6667). In response, women have mobilized at local, national, and transnational levels to generate a counter hegemonic transnationalism from below, a movement in which the everyday practices of ordinary people, their feelings and understandings of their conditions and existence, often modify those very conditions and thereby shape rather than merely reflect new modes ofculture (Mahler 1998, quoting M.P. Smith 1992). However, transnational feminists theorists also point to the difficulties and complexities that underlie the processes of transnational organizing and building solidarity across highly contested boundaries of nation, race, class, and gender. In their edited volume on Feminist Genealogies, Colonial Legacies, Democratic Futures, M. Jacqui Alexander and Chandra Mohanty acknowledge both the necessity and difficulty of cross cultural feminist organizing. In this volume, feminist scholars document how the anti capitalist, anti colonial struggles of women in periphery nations are centered around issues of basic survival, as women confront problems of violence, racism, and economic deprivation that have been exacerbated under conditions of capitalist development. As noted by Alexander and Mohanty, the case studies of womens NGOs in Jamaica, India, Nigeria, Suriname, and elsewhere offer hope in the midst of the debilitating circumstances of transnational capitalist domination (1997:xxxix). M ore recent work has focused on both the successes and conflict s that have emerged from transnational womens organizing. While these works offer analys e s of opportunities for building bridges, they also caution a gainst the potential pitfalls of transnational organizing, includging the tensions that may arise as a result of class
33 and/or race dynamics, the activist/academic divide, funding issues, and pol itical repression (Desai 2002; Ferree and Tripp 2006; Moghadam 2005; Pe a 2007) For instance, i n her examination of womens transnational organizations and networks involvement in the United Nations conferences, Manisha Desai discusses both the necessity and difficulty in building transnational solidarities between women. She argues that while transnational networks and NGOs have helped women to make demands on national and international institutions concerning economic, political, and environmental rights, they are also not without problems (2002:31). In parti cular, Desai notes that womens transnational NGOs have had to confront problems of racism as well as the reproduction of global inequalities as wealthy elite women often have better access to the social and economic capital necessary to be involved in tra nsnational networks (3132). Additionally, both Sonia Alvarez (1999) and Milagros Pea (2007) emphasize the problem of funding for womens NGOs. Pea concludes that while NGOs offer women an important way to access social and economic capital in their st ruggles against violence, worker exploitation, and economic deprivation, they can not be viewed as a panacea for the myriad problems of that poor women face under conditions of patriarchal power and capitalist development (2007). Overall, transnational f eminism has offered tremendous contributions to the understanding of the capitalist world system as a system that is predicated on the continuous reproduction and exploitation of various intersecting forms of inequality. Feminist scholars within this field have made use of a wide array of methodological approaches to document both the cultural and material linkages between capitalism, patriarchy, and racism and the ways in which these systems of inequality interact to
34 impact womens day to day lives in regi ons ar ound the world. These scholars have also documented the ways in which women are organizing across national borders to mobilize against the debilitating effects of the spread of global capitalism, and have highlighted both the successes and challenge s that characterize womens transnational organizing. However, in spite of these important contributions, transnational feminists have largely ignored the question of how capitalism, as it is connected to environmental degradation, has impacted the lives and work of women around the world. Additionally, transnational feminists have failed to address questions of why and how women are mobilizing to protect their local environments from the threats posed by capitalist development. Ecofeminism Where many transnational feminists h ave offered only limited analyses of the connections between environmental degradation, capitalism, and patriarchy, ecofeminist scholars have tackled these issues headon. The roots of ecofeminist theory can be traced to the late 1970s, as women around the world mobilized against environmental issues of toxic waste, deforestation, military and nuclear weapons policy, and domestic and international agricultural development (Sturgeon 1997: 25). Out of womens activism, ecofeminist theor y was developed as a way of conceptually linking women and environmental issues ; t oday, ecofeminist theory encompasses a wide range of perspectives that explore both the conceptual and empirical linkages between the unequal status of women and the lifeth reatening destruction of the environment (28). In her book Ecofeminist Natures, political theorist Noel Sturgeon identifies at least five ecofeminist positions, while in Ecofeminist Philosophy Karen Warren (2000) identifies ten ecofeminist frameworks including historical, conceptual, empirical, socioeconomic or
35 materialist linguistic, symbolic and literary, spiritual, epistemological, political, and ethical ecofeminisms Some of these frameworks including symbolic and spiritual ecofemini sms base thei r arguments on the notion that women are naturally closer to nature due to their biology or roles as mothers and caretakers; not surprisingly, such arguments have been subject to critiques of essentialism, the homogenization of women as a group, romantic ism, and a failure to consider the material and historical connections between women and the environment (Agarwal 1992; Banarjee and Bell 2007; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003; Jackson 1993). Other ecofeminist positions have attempted to explore the material and socially constructed links between women in the environment. Like transnational feminists, m aterialist ecofeminists build upon socialist feminist critiques of the intersections of capitalism and patriarchy and the ways in which these systems work together to exploit the labor of women and other colonized groups. However, materialist ecofeminists extend this critique to consider the ways in which the environmentally destructive aspects of capitalism impact the lives and work of women around the world ( Eaton and Loretzen 2003; Mies 1998; Jaimes Guerrero 2003; Mies and Shiva 1993; Shiva 1989, 2006; Waters 2003). The Ecofeminist Critique of Capitalism Like transnational feminists, materialist ecofeminists focus much of their analyses on the ways in which capitalist development has exacerbated inequalities between and within nations. In their important work Ecofeminism widely considered the fou ndational text of materialist ecofeminism M aria Mies and Vandana Shiva examine the ways in which development policies advanced by the World Bank and IMF work to exploit not only the labor but the resources of formerly colonized periphery nations.
36 They are particularly critical of the ways in which agricultural development policies have impacted the ability of rural populations to provide for their food base. As Mies and Shiva argue, Development, as a culturally biased process destroys wholesome and sustainable lifestyles and instead creates real material poverty, or misery, by denying the means of survival through the diversion of resources to resource intensive commodity production. They go on to note that ecologically harmful development policies exacerbate inequalities within a nation as First, inequalities in the distribution of privilege and power make for unequal access to natural resources.[And] second, government policy enables resource intensive production processes to gain access to the raw material s [land, water, etc.] that many people, especially from the less privileged economic groups, depend upon for their survival (Mies and Shiva 1993:72 73). Mies and Shiva argue that the ecological burdens of development policies are disproportionately borne by women in rural areas, as women are often responsible for the reproductive labor required to feed their families and communities. In rural areas, this labor involves such quotidien tasks as gathering water and firewood, as well as engaging in subsistence farming. This argument is more than theoretical, as estimates from the World Food and Agriculture O rganization (FAO) indicate that women account for anywhere between 6580% of agricultural producers in nations throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America (FAO 1995). In the case of Guatemala, historians and anthropologists alike have confirmed that indigenous women are primarily responsible for all tasks related to food production and meal preparationfrom tending crops in families subsistence plots to gathering the water and firewood needed for cooking (Carey 2006; Katz 2000a ). Thus, as Mies and Shiva argue, the connection between women and the environment is material and rooted in a gendered division of labor that places women in rural areas in the role of unpaid subsistence farmers.
37 Other ecofeminist scholars have reaffirmed the importance of considering the material connections between women and the environment. In her introduction to a collection of writings by scholars and activists from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, ecofeminist Rosemary Radford Ruether writes that for women in Third World nations, the interconnection of the impoverishment of women and the impoverishment of the land is not an abstract theory to be expressed in statistics or philosophy.Rather, it is present in the concrete realities o ne lives and observes every day (1996: 6). As Ruether notes, Deforestation [from agricultural development] means women walking twice as far each day to gather fuel for firewood, [while] pollution in shantytowns means children dying from dehydration from unclean water sources (7). In Latin America, ecofeminist thought has been largely influenced by liberation theology and its emphasis on working on behalf of the poor. Brazilian theologian Ivone Gebr ara makes explicit the connection between environmental degradation and the everyday liv es of of women living in impoverished conditions, noting that, Ecofeminism is born of daily life, of day to day sharing among people, of enduring together garbage in the streets, bad smells, the absence of sewers and safe drinking water, poor nutrition and inadequate health care. The ecofeminist issue is born of the lack of municipal garbage collection, of the multiplication of rats, cockroaches, and mosquitoes, and of the sores on childrens skin. This is true because it is usually women who have to deal with the daily survival issues: keeping the house clean and feeding and washing the children (1999:2) Mary Judith Ress, an other theologian who lives and works in Chile, makes a similar argument, and again emphasizes the ways in which an ecofeminist cons ciousness arises from conditions of material and environmental impoverishment. She argues that, It is important to note that ecofeminist practices usually emerge in a very practical manner from the critical demands of lifethe imperatives of a particular historical settingand not from any set theory. When women protest against the destruction
38 of their environment, they usually make the connection between what is happening to their surroundings and the fact that they are women....They recognize their vuln erability to increasing environmental disasters and their lack of access to the centers of power responsible for the disasters. This has led many women to critique the present model of development (2006: 46). Thus, materialist ecofeminists point out that as capitalist development policies have led to an appropriation and exploitation of the natural resources of many nations, they have also led to a deterioration in the conditions of the local environments where women work to provide for themselves and their families. As these ecofeminists point out, the connection between women and the environment is more than a conceptual or philosophical abstraction but is a material reality rooted in the everyday lives and experiences of many women around the world. In tersectional Analysis In their various critiques, materialist ecofeminists have also been attentive to the ways in which systems of capitalism and patriarchy intersect with systems of racism and imperialism to exploit not only womens work but the work of other historically marginalized groups. Indeed, as Nol Sturgeon notes, ecofeminists consider all forms of oppression to be interrelated, and so antiracism and anti imperialism have long been key components of the ecofeminist critique (1997). However, ma ny ecofeminist critiques particularly those authored by white Western feminists have remained largely theoretical and philosophical rather than grounded in the material and historical realities of women and other marginalized communities. The writings of indigenous American women have been particularly important for challenging white ecofeminists to consider the ways in which capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, and racism have all worked to exploit both the land and labor of indigenous groups. As these theorists emphasize, the connection between the degradation and
39 impoverishment of the environment and the impoverishment of indigenous groups is more than theoretical but is grounded in the histories and everyday realities of marginalized populations. While she does not explicitly identify as ecofeminist, Choctaw scholar Devon Abbott Mihesuah notes the interconnections between racism, imperialism, and womens work in her book Indigenous American Women, in which she documents how Native lands and resources have been abused and exploited by U.S. governments and corporations. She says, From toxic uranium and nuclear waste to PCBs in breast milk to water, air, and land pollution to the extinction of flora and fauna integral to the subsistence and religion of N ative peoples, the environments inhabited and utilized by Natives have been abused and appropriated. She goes on to say that often one finds that leaders of the fights to restore, clean up, and heal are women (2003: 147). In recent years, other indigenous American scholars have pushed for an expansion of the ecofeminist framework to examine not only the conceptual but material and historical causes and consequences of environmental degradation. A Native of various tribal backgrounds, Anne Waters emphasizes the need for coalition between Native American womanists and ecofeminists in struggle against ecocide of our planet earth (2003:ix). Waters goes on to note, however, that traditional ecofeminism as interpreted by w hite feminists needs to be seri ously and significantly expanded to include understandings of how not only gender, but race, nationality, and processes of colonization are all materially and historically linked to environmental degradation. Feminist theorist M.A. Jaimes Guerrero makes a similar claim, calling for a new kind of theoretical framework that draws from ecofeminist theory while taking into
40 account intersections of gender and race, as well as history when theorizing about environmental degradation and its impact on indigenous communities and other communities of color. Guerrero says that this intersection among nature, Natives, and women, therefore, also serves as a means of illustrating advanced genocidal agendas, because genocide (the destruction or erosion of a people) is often inextricably linked with ethnocide (the destruction or erosion of their cultures) and with ecocide (the destruction or erosi on of their environment) (2003: 68). As Mihesuah, Waters, and Guerrero argue, the abuse and exploitation of indigenous lands have both material and cultural consequences for those groups who have historically depended on the land as a source of material and cultural wealth. Critiques of Ecofeminism While socioeconomic ecofeminists have helped to develop an important framework for analyzing the intersections between capitalism, patriarchy, imperialism, and racism, their analyses have been limited by a lack of empirical evidence, as well as a tendency to both homogenize and romanticize Third World and indigenous women. This l atter tendency has been especially problematic for the development of an anti racist theoretical and political framework for ecofeminism, as it leads to a racist essentializing and stereotyping of Third World and indigenous women as the ultimate environme ntalists (Agarwal 1992; Sturgeon 1997). Lack of empirical evidence The lack of empirical studies has led many to critique the utility of ecofeminist theory in analyzing the myriad problems associated with the global expansion of capitalism. In her importa nt essay on The Gender and Environment Debate, Indian
41 theorist Bina Agarwal summarizes some of the critical weaknesses of ecofeminist theory as follows: First, it posits woman as a unitary category, and fails to differentiate among women by class, race, ethnicity, and so on. Second, it locates the domination of women and of nature almost solely in ideology, neglecting the (interrelated) material sources of this dominance (based on economic advantage and political power). Third, even in the realm of i deological constructs, it says littleabout the social, economic, and political structures within which these constructs are produced and transformed. Fourth, the ecofeminist argument does not take into account womens lived material relationship with na ture. Fifth, those strands of ecofeminism that trace the connection between women and nature to biology may be seen as adhering to a form of essentialism (some notion of a female essence which is unchangeable and irreducible). Such a formulation flies in the face of wideranging evidence that concepts of nature, culture, gender, and so on, are historically and socially constructed and vary across and within cultures and time periods (1992:1223, emphasis added) In recent years, scholar s from the fiel ds of anthropology, sociology, religious studies, and environmental politics have echoed Agarwals criticisms, and have noted in particular the failure of ecofeminism to address transnational issues, economics, and historical processes of colonization and globalization (Banarjee and Bell 2007; Braidotti et al. 2004; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003; Sydee and Beder 2001) As Heather Eaton and Lois Ann Lorentzen argue, the largely theoretical discourses of ecofeminism do not sufficiently address material exclusions resulting from economic f orces and thus they argue that ecofeminism is limited in its ability to adequately analyze globalization as an extension of patriarchal capitalism. They go on to note a related weakness in that while there are many grassroots activist womens organizations resisting the negative effects of globalization, these activities do not provide the primary data for ecofeminist discourse (2003:45). Thus, as these various critics point out, ecofeminism needs to
42 be expanded to include empirical analyses of the consequences of economic globalization on the lives of womenanalyses that, in the words of Chandra Mohanty, work to demystify capitalismas well as analyses of the ways in which women are mobilizing against these consequences. Homogenizing and romanticizing women In addition to being critiqued for a scarcity of empirically based studies, ecofeminism has also been taken to task for a tendency to romanticize and homogenize certain groups of women, particularly Third World and indigenous women. For instance, Vandana Shivas interpretation of indigenous Chipko womens environmental organizing in Southeast Asia has been heavily critiqued for the ways in which it leads to a problematic essentializing of the indigenous Third World woman as the ultimate ecofeminist (Agarwal 1992; Jackson 1993; Sturgeon 1997). As noted by Nol Sturgeon, white ecofeminists have been particularly guilty for appropriating the experiences of Chipko women and using them as a standin for al l Third World women. Such an appropriation has in turn led to an imperialist essentializing of all Third World women as poor peasants whose subsistence farmwork makes them natural environmentalists (Sturgeon 1997: 1248). Critics of this interpretation c harge that it both stereotypes Third World women and fails to respect the particularities of their lives and choices. These critics also acknowledge that while it is important to recognize the impact of environmental degradation on poor womens lives, thi s recognition must be accompanied by an analysis of both the global and local forces of power and privilege including class, race, and gender relations which also impinge on womens lives and impact their work in the environment (Agarwal 1992; Jackson 1993 ).
43 In addition to Third World women, indigenous American women have similarly been essentialized as the ultimate environmentalists in many popular ecofeminist works (see Plant 1989; Diamond and Orenstein 1990). In these works, the environmental philoso phy and activism of indigenous women is appropriated and romanticized by white ecofeminists, w ho tend to characterize all indigenous people as ecologists In Ecofeminist Natures, Nol Sturgeon writes that it may be true that many indigenous cultures emphasize the importance of having a connection to and respect for the land and living things. However, she also notes that it is problematic for white feminists and environmentalists alike to valorize indigenous people as the ultimate environmentalists without a historical analysis of how indigenous struggles on behalf of the environment are also linked to struggles for cultural and material survival (1997:1204). Taken together, the cautions against homogenizing and essentializing Third World and indigenous women are particularly salient for this dissertation on i ndigenous Guatemalan womens environmental organizing. In the various writings of indigenous Guatemalan scholars and activists, the importance of respecting land and nature is a salient theme ( Ix coy 2000; Mench 1984; Montejo 2000), and the preservation of land and natural resources is an issue around which many Maya mobilize ( CUC 2008; Nash 2001; Warren 2000). However, these issues cannot be analyzed in an ahistorical way that fails to take into account the ways in which processes of colonization and capitalist development have worked to progressively destroy the natural resources that rural indigenous populations in Guatemala rely upon for both cultural and material survival. Thus, as M.A. Jamies Guerrero (2003) argues, any analysis of environmental
44 degradation and its impact on indigenous women (and men) must consider the ways in whic h processes of genocide, ethnocide, and ecocide all work together to threaten the survival of indigenous communities. Towards a Sociological Ecofeminism This dissertation attempts to bridge the gap between transnational feminism and materialist ecofeminis m by making use of a sociologically oriented ecofeminist framework This framework draws from both transnational feminism and the more materialist, sociologically informed branches of ecofeminism ; in doing so, it addresses the environment gap in transnational feminist scholarship and the lack of empirical analyses in ecofeminis t literature Drawing from both bodies of literature, a sociological ecofeminist framework consists of several interrelated components. First it provides a historical analysis o f how environmental degradation is a progressive process that has rapidly accelerated in this new era of globalization and capitalist development. When relevant, it is important to understand how recent processes may also be a continuation of historical patterns; thus, as this dissertation argues, present day environmental degradation in Guatemala is not only linked to recent neoliberal development but is also rooted in the countrys colonial history and the appropriation and exploitation of indigenous land and resources. Second, this ecofeminism is sociological in that it incorporates an intersectional analysis of structures of gender, race, class/caste, and nation in analyzing both environmental degradation and environmental activism .3 3 Throughout this dissertation, I consciously use the term race rather than ethnicity in reference to indigenous identity. I do so out of a recognition that in Latin America and Guatemala specifically, the use of the term ethnicity has historically been associated with an assimilationist paradigm (Wade 1997). I also agree with those indigenous activists in Guatemala who argue that it is important to use the term As structures, gender, race,
45 and class work together at both micro and macro levels to shape individual and community experiences, opportunities, and constraints (Risman 2004). A sociological ecofeminist analysis thus recognizes that these social markers and the systems of inequality based on them are fundamentally embedded throughout social life (Risman 2004:444), and as I argue, fundamentally shape the humanenvironment relationship. To understand how gender, race, and class work together to shape the humanenvironment relationship, it is important for ecofeminist scholars to move beyond philosophical analyses to examine the concrete, material connections between women and the environment. Thus, locally focused empirical studies comprise a third component of a sociologi cal ecofeminist framework. However, I also agree with transnational feminists who argue for the importance of situating local studies within broader historical and global contexts (Ferree and Tripp 2005; Mohanty 2003; Naples and Desai 2003). By situating the local within the histori cal/global, a sociological ecofeminist analysis allows us to read up the ladder of privilege to make visibleand accountablethose forces that are impacting the day to day lives of countless women and men in various communities around the globe (Mohanty 2003: 223) A f ourth feature of this framework is that it does not reduce members of impacted communities to mere victims caught up in a tangled web of history, processes of globalization, and various systems of economic and social oppression, but shows t he ways in which individuals exercise their agency to resist and challenge these forces. Like transnational feminism, sociological ecofeminism thus examines both the opportunities and challenges presented when women mobilize across borders of race, race in order to highlight the countrys history of the racial oppression of indigenous groups (Cojti 1999; Colop 1991).
46 class, gender, and nation in struggles for social and environmental causes I also argue that it is important for ecofeminist scholars to pay attention to different strategies employed in cross border mobilization. Specifically, I agree with Milagros Pe a (2007) and Papusa Molina (1990) who take note of the difference between coalitions and alliances. As Molina notes (1990), coalitions involve temporary strategizing to achieve specific goals or objectives; once these objectives are met, coalitions may disband (329). Pe a (2007) argues that alliances, in contrast, have greater potential, as they are formed around commitments to individuals and shared vision[s] of how society can be improved, a vision that is sustained throughout the duration of a movement and among networks of committed activists (25). I argue that it is important for ecofeminist scholars to pay attention to these and other forms of mobilization when examining womens environmental activism. Finally, as this dissertation is focused on the way s in which indigenous Kaqchikel women are mobilizing against environmental degradation, it is also careful to acknowledge the material and cultural value of the land and environment for this indigenous group without essentializing them as the ultimate env ironmentalists or ecofeminists. A central argument of this dissertation is that the preservation of the land is more than a romantic ideal, but a crucial project that is central to the survival of indigenous communities who have historically related to t he land as a source of su bsistence and a place of work. Thus, indigenous womens activism on behalf of the environment should be understood as rooted in a necessity to preserve a food base that sustains the women, their families, and their communities, as well as a necessity to prevent the ongoing degradation of the fields where they farm and work.
47 Organization of the Dissertation This dissertation is organized into eight chapters that address the various interrelated components of a sociological ecofemi nist framework. Chapter 2 offers a historical overview of the connections between colonization, globalization, and environmental degradation in Guatemala, highlighting the ways in which these processes have impacted the countrys indigenous populations. It is within this larger socio historical context that the present day environmental activism of indigenous women is situated. This historical background also allows us to connect indigenous womens environmental activism to a history of indigenous resistanc e to colonization and globalization in Guatemala. Chapter 3 explains the methods used to explore the motivations and strategies that guide indigenous womens environmental activism. This project is a multi method study that relies on oral histories with indigenous women, observational and archival research, as well as interviews with AIR staff and various Guatemalan government officials. As this project is informed by feminist theories, it is also guided by feminist methodology. Specifically, this is a femi nist action research project that connects the present study directly to the work of AIR and other environmental organizations, as well as to government programs and policy. Chapters 4 through 7 present the results of the study. Chapter s 4 and 5 draw from oral history interviews, observations, and archival research to examine the ways in which gender, race, and class shape indigenous womens experiences of and responses tolocal environmental degradation. In Chapter 4, I examine how indigenous women experience interrelated processes of neoliberal development and environmental degradation i n their everyday lives and work and how these experiences
48 have led them to an awareness of environmental problems in their communities. In Chapter 5, I draw from indigenous womens oral histories to examine how the women articulate their motivations for becoming environmental activists, and how they connect their local activism to larger social movements. Chapters 6 and 7 bridge the gap between theory, research, practice, and policy. Chapter 6 draws from interviews with both indigenous women and AIR staff to explore both the diffculties and rewards in transnational environmental organizing. Here, I use the case of indigenous womens work with AIR to highlight both the neces sity and difficulty of organizing across borders of gender, race, class, and nationality. While such work may be challenging, it is also vital to the formation of a broadbased environment al movement. Chapter 7 links the stories of indigenous women and AI R to environmental policy work. Here, I draw from interviews with government officials to examine some of the problematic assumptions that hinder the efficacy of Guatemalas current environmental programs. I also draw from the narratives of indigenous women and AIR staff to both critique Guatemalas current policy and also to offer practical suggestions for improvement. Chapter 8 concludes the dissertation by summarzing the main arguments presented in the preceding chapters. I argue that while the story of indigenous womens activism through AIR is unique is many aspects, it also offers important lessons in regards to understanding the links between gender, race, class, nationality, development, and the environment. More importantly, this story also highlights both the possibility and necessity of mobilizing across borders in a shared struggle to protect the environment.
49 CHAPTER 2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND: THE THREE CYCLES OF CONQUEST AND ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRAD ATION IN THE GUATEMALAN HIGHLANDS On Sept ember 8, 2009, Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom declared a state of national emergency in response to a widespread hunger crisis throughout the country. At the time of his declaration, it was estimated that 54,000 families in Guatemala were experiencin g critical food shortages (AP 2009) While the crisis was particularly severe in 2009, malnutrition is not a new problem in Guatemala. The United Nations lists Guatemala as having the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. R ural and indigenous res idents are particularly vulnerable ; UNICEF estimates that 80% of the indigenous community suffers from malnutrition (UNICEF 200 9 ) In his 2009 speech, Colom acknowledged that the hunger crisis was due in large part to environmental problems that had led to crop failure, as well as a history of unfairness that has made Guatemala live since long ago with high and shameful poverty levels, extreme poverty and undernutrition" (quoted i n AP 2009). While Colom alluded to the connections between hunger, environmental degradation, the current state of social and economic inequality in Guatemala, and the countr ys long history of unfairness, he did not make these connections explicit. No netheless, in order to understand current social and environmental problems in Guatemala, it is important to elucidate their historical development In this chapter, I outline some of the major environmental problems that exist in Guatemala today, with a particular focus on the w estern highland region where AIR works and where there is a large concentration of indigenous Maya. I argue that modern day problems of deforestation and soil erosion are rooted in history and directly linked to the colonization and recolonization of indigenous land
50 and resources. These problems have both material and cul tural consequences for Maya populations, who have long depended upon the land and farming for food, shelter, and income. In Guatemala, indigenous po pulations have survived 500 years of conquest, colonization, and oppression. Historian W. George Lovell (1988) organizes this period into three cycles of conquest that include conquest by imperial Spain, conquest by local and international capital, and c onquest by state terror. I argue that in all three cycles, the appropriation and exploitation of indigenous land and resources by Spanish and later ladino elites were often key parts of campaigns designed to eliminate or force the assimilation of indigeno us populations. These cycles of conquest laid the foundation for many of the environmental problems that exist in Guatemala today. In recent years indigenous populations have faced a new threat in the form of global capitalist expansion. I argue that this latest phase of capitalist development spurred by neoliberal development policies constitutes a fourth cycle of conquest as it further degrades the land that indigenous populations have long depended upon for their material and cultural survival. It is within this larger socio -historical context that I situate the present -day environmental activism of indigenous women. As their activism protects and preserves the land that is central to the survival of indigenous communities in Guatemala, their efforts must be recognized not only as environmental activism, but activism on behalf of the larger indigenous community as well. Environmental Degradation in the Western Highlands: Material and Cultural Consequences In recent years, President Colom and other Guatemalan government officials have acknowledged the many material consequences of environmental degradation citing it as a
51 causal factor in the food shortages facing many Guatemalans. For indigenous Mayan Guatemalans, environmental degradation has bot h material and cultural consequences as it threatens not only their food base but the land and nature that are central to the Mayan cosmovision and culture. I n this section I highlight some of the major environmental problems in the Western highlands of Guatemala, a region where most of the nations Mayan pop ulations are concentrated (and also the region where AIR has most of its reforestation projects) In th e highlands deforestation and soil erosion pose grave threats to the lives and livelihoods of indigenous residents who depend upon the land for material and cultural survival. Since 1991, the Alliance for International Reforestation has worked with over 2,500 farmers in 75 communities in Guatemala. All of these communities are located in the Western highlands, primarily in the departments of Chimaltenango and Solol (see Figure 2 -1). The Western highlands (altiplano occidental) are comprised of a patchwork of mountain ranges and volcanoes and include the departments of Chimaltenango, H uehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Quich, Solol, and Totonicapn. This region is characterized by steep and rugged terrain, with altitudes ranging from 1,600 to 3,400 meters above sea level. The climate is moderate and well suited to agriculture; temperatures range from an average of 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the cold and rainy season of May thr ough October to 90 degrees during the dry season of November through April (Hough, et al. 1982).
52 Figure 21. Relief m ap of Guatemala, with departments of Chimaltenango and Solol (where AIR works) highlighted. Source: www.reliefweb.int
53 In regards to demographics, the Western highlands are a largely indigenous region. The ethnic makeup of the highlands reflects a long history of the colonization, displacement, and resettlement of Guatemalas numerous indigenous groups. Today, there are twenty one recognized indigenous Maya ethnolinguistic groups in Guatemala. According to official government statistics, they comprise approximately 40% of the population of Guatemala and they are primarily concentrated in the mountainous departments of the Western and Central highlands ( INE 2002). Statistics from the most recent Guatemalan census (2002) estimate that between 54 and 98.3% of the residents of Western highland departments are indigenous. Most of the indigenous residents live in conditions of poverty or extreme poverty, on less than $2 per day (INE 2002 ; see Table 21). Table 21. Indigenous populations in highland department s. Source: Instituto Nacional de Estadstica, IN E Guatemala. 2002. Department Total Population Indigenous Population % Total Population is Indigenous % Indigenous Pop. living in poverty Chimaltenango 444,133 352,903 79.5 69.0 Huehuetenango 846,544 551,295 65.1 84.3 Quetzaltenango 624,716 338,055 54.1 55.0 Quich 655,510 581,996 88.8 84.4 Solol 307,661 296,710 96.4 77.4 Totonicapn 339,254 333,481 98.3 72.0 The high incidence of poverty in highland communities means that most residents are dependent upon subsistence farming for survival. In these communities, farming is a year round activity and a way of life that has been upheld for generations For centuries, indigenous communities in Guatemala have relied upon corn and beans as a primary food source. Archaelogists and forensic anthropologists have discovered that
54 corn constituted approximately 70 % of the Mayan diet in the 15th and 16th centuries and the crop continues to remains a staple within Mayan communtiies ( FAO 2003; Flannery 1982; White 1999). Corn also figures prominantly in Mayan cosmology; according to the creation story of the 16th century Popl Voh, humans were mol ded by the gods from corn dough. Today, many Maya still consider corn and farming as sacred, and it is not uncommon for Maya households to holds religious ceremonies during times of both planting and harvesting ( Fischer 2001; Hamilton and Fischer 2005 ; Mol eskyPoz 2006). However, as the food crisis of 2009 made painfully clear, it has become increasin g ly difficult for the largely Mayan rural population to uphold a subsistence way of life. This is due in large part to Guatemalas highly unequal land distribution system which has been connected to problems of overfarming and environmental degradation in the country. A ccording to the UN, t he Gini coefficient for land distribution in Guatemala is 0.85, one of the highest rates of inequality in the world (Witt man and Geisler 2005:6). I n 1979 it was estimated that 2% of agricultural producers cultivated 65 percent of all arable land, while farms smaller than 3.5 hectares comprised 78% of all farms yet cultivated only 10% of arable land (DGE 1979).4 4 1979 was th e last year that Guatemala took an official agricultural census. More recent figures are estimates provided by the Ministry of Agriculture, Grains, and Food (MAGA). Recent statistic s indicate that this inequality has persisted throughout the years: according to the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture, less than 1% of the populations owns approximately 70% of all arable land, while 96% of the population cultivates 17% of arable land (Wittman and Geisler 2005; Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka 2006) The UN estimates that over 500,000 rural families live below the level needed for adequate subsistence (MINUGUA 2000).
55 The lack of available farmland has in turn led to increasing environmental degradation throughout the highland region. Small plots of land become increasingly smaller as they are divided up and passed down from one generation to the next; thus minifundias become microfundias. The lack of land, in combination with population pressures, means that small scale farmers can no longer practice traditional methods of shifting cultivation. Additionally, an overintensification of farming ( both subsistence and com mercial) has led to increased deforestation and soil erosion in the region. In 2007 the Guatemalan government declared deforestation and soil erosion as major concerns in highland departments (CODEDE 2007). Currently, Guatemala has one of the worlds highest rates of deforestation, having lost 17.1 % of its forest cover from 1990 through 2005 (FAO 2005). A large portion of this forest cover is lost in highland regions, where an estimated 82,000 hectares is deforested annually (INAB 2001). The l ack of trees on steep mountain slopes has in turn led to problems of soil erosion and mudslides. The severity of these interrelated problems was made tragically evident in October 2005, when Hurricane Stan brought extensive rains and flooding to much of Guatemala. The flooding triggered massive mudslides in the departments of Quich Solol and Chimaltenango, destroying housing and infrastructure and causing over 1,500 deaths T he Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture (MAGA) assessed the immediate damage at $46 million, with small scale farmers particularly affected (American Red Cross 2005). This tragedy was repeated in May 2010, when tropical storm Agatha made landfall in Guatemala. The rains and flooding once again triggered mudslides in highland departments, killing at least 179 people and leaving an estimated 42,000 people homeless (Schmidt 2010). In addition to the damage done to shelter and infrastructure, thousands of rural families lost the crops that they depended upon for
56 subsistence. An offic ial with Guatemalas National Institute of Forestry (INAB) later said that there was no doubt that deforestation was a precipitating factor in the widespread mudslides (personal communication). In addition to threatening farmers fields and crops, soil erosion and mudslides also lead to sediment clogged rivers and other waterways The lack of clean, freeflowing water also impact s the everyday lives and livelihoods of rural residents and particularly women, who have primary respons i bility for everyday domestic tasks like w ashing laundry and dish es (Carey 2006; Hallum Montes 2009) For Mayan communities, environmental degradation constitutes an assault not only on their land, crops, and resources, but on their culture as well. As primarily agricultural communities, the Maya have long valued the land and nature as central to their survival ( CNOC 2006; CUC 2008; Mench 1984; Molesky Poz 2006). The Maya cosmovision emphasizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of humanity and nature. The National C oordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOC), an umbrella organization comprised of the largest indigenous organizations in Guatemala, describes the Mayan cosmovision as consisting of two essential terms: 1. Cosmos, which means the universe, the world, the moon, the stars, the sun, fire, the earth, the mountains, the rivers, the animals, the trees, and all that exists; and 2. Vision, which refers to the way in which we see and explain existence, change, and the meaning of ones personal life, the collec tive life of human beings, and the life of all that exists in nature (CNOC 2006: 345). T he cosmovision emphasizes the concept of being human as an integral part of nature and not outside of it, and considers any assault on the natural world as an assault on the indigenous community (CNOC 2006 :3637). The cultural importance placed on the land and environment is directly tied to the agricultural way of life that has been upheld in Maya communities for centuries. It has been pointed out that Maya hav e a long
57 history of sustainably managing their land and resources, and for honoring the earth as sacred in their spiritual practice (Colop 1991; CUC n.d.) Today, Maya spiritual leaders estimate that between 40 and 50% of Maya residents continue t o practice a form of ritual honoring the land, often blending indigenous ritual with Christian ritual in their practice (Molesky Poz 2006) As Jean Molesky Poz (2006) observes these rituals, while diverse in practice, share the theme of acknowledging and honoring the reciprocity between humans and the earth. M any of Guatemalas major indigenous organizations recognize the links between the protection of the environment and the survival of the indigenous community, and make la defensa de la Madre Naturaleza y la Made Tierra (the defense of Mother Nature and Mother Earth) a central part of their activist platform (CNOC 2006; CUC 2008, 2007 ; WaqibKej 2010) These organizations emphasize the importance of protecting and defending Madre Tierra as the source of both the material and cultural survival of Mayan communities. As the Comit de Unidad Campesina (CUC) argues, it is imperative to recover and defend Mother Nature in order to ensure the continued survival of indigenous communities in Guatemala (2007:2). Overall, the various interrelated forms of environmental degradation that I have outlined above pose threats to both the material and cultural survival of the indigenous community in Guatemala. W hile it is true that problems of deforestation, soil erosion, and degraded waterways have been exacerbated in recent years, it must also be pointed out that they are rooted in history Principally, the colonization of Guatemala and the ongoing appropriation of indigenous land and resources are important causal factors that have led to present day social and environmental problems In the next
58 section, I provide a brief overview of the three cycles of conquest of Guatemala. In each cycle, the appropriation and destruction of indigenous land were key components of campaigns designed to eliminate indigenous populations. In many ways, these campaigns laid the foundations for the environmental problems that exist in Guatemala today. Conquest by Spain The colonization of the land and indigenous peoples of Guatemala began in 1524, with the arrival of Spanish forces led by Pedro de Alvarado. From the outset, the campaign against indigenous populations was brutal and unrelenting. Alvarado employed a policy of tierra arrasada (scorched earth) in his colonization campaign, burning indigenous settlements that refused to comply with Spanish demands ( Colop 1991; Warren 1998). As Sam Colop (1991) points out, the Spanish recognized the importance of the land to Maya life and culture, and so made concerted efforts to destroy fields, crops, and forests in their efforts to wipe out the Maya civilization. While many Maya communities resisted Spanish efforts and fought back, decades of warfare and forced assimilationand the ravages of disease s like smallpox, measles, and mumps led to the decimation of indigenous populations H istorians estimate that the entire Maya population in Guatemala declined between 50 and 80% from 1520 through 1600 (Lovell 1988; MacLeod 2007) While Spain was motivated in part by religious mandates, it was also motivated by a desire to expand its territory and economic empire. Early colonizers found Guatemala to be an ideal place to cultivate sugarcane and indigo, two valuable crops in the world market at the time (Lovell 2005; MacLeod 2007). C hronicler and conquistador Bernal D az del Castiollo succinctly summarized the goals of the early colonizers when he
59 wrote, We came here to serve God and the King, and also to get rich (quoted in Elliot 1976:65). I n order to secure the land needed to cultivate export crops, the Spanish forced many Maya from their traditional land and communities, which were dispersed throughout Guatemala. The May a who were not killed by war, disease, or forced re location were made to live in small, concentrated settlements known as congregaciones In addition to making land available for cultivation, these settlements also helped the Spanish by providing them with a means of more effecti vely centralizing and controlling indigenous populations. As Lovell (1988) notes, for the Spanish, congregaci n promoted more effective civil administration,facilitated the conversion of Indians to Christianity, and created centralized pools of labor that could be drawn upon in myriad ways to meet imperial objectives (30). At the time, these imperial objectives mainly entailed using the residents of congregaciones as slaves on the large indigo and sugarcane haciendas established on the southern and eastern coasts of Guatemala. Here, it is important to note that initially the Spanish were not interested in all areas of Guatemala: while lands in the south and eastern parts of the country were i deal for cultivating indigo and sugarcaneand later cacao and coffeethe frigid highlands to the north and west were of little interest. Thus, many Maya fled to the highlands to avoid being killed or enslaved (Lovell 2005; 1988). For Maya in the southern and eastern coasts, where the Spanish presence was strong, the process of forced assimilation through the encroachment of Spanish culture and the the widespread rape of indigenous womenwas strongest. Today, the southern and eastern parts of Guatemala reflect the colonial mixing of Spanish and indigenous populations as the
60 populations of these areas ar e predominantly mestiza/o or ladina/o ( CUC, n.d.; Lovell 1988). In 1550 indigenous slaves in Guatemala were freed by royal decree; however, the Spanish still needed indigenous labor to cultivate profitable export crops Thus, the hacienda slave economy was replaced by an equally exploitative and patriarchal system of repartimiento, in which indigenous populations were allowed to remain on their lands as long as they provided wealthy landowners or padrones with free labor for a number of months every year During these months, Maya workers migrate d from their lands to live on Spanish owned haciendas where they worked and were supervised by a field boss, or padron. The padrones controlled nearly every aspect of life for the Maya laborers, from the amount of w ork they did, to their living arrangements and family life (Lovell 1988; Lovell and Lutz 2000) Thr oughout the next few centuries, coffee gradually replaced indigo as Guatemalas main export crop. This new crop was easily farmed not only along the coast but also in mountainous regions; thus, Spanish landowners began to encroach upon indigenous land in Central and Western Guatemala. In this way the pattern of Spanish acquisition of indigenous land, resources, and labor continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries (Cambranes 1985; Lovell 2005; McCreery 1994). Conquest by Capitalism: t he Rise of Big Agriculture I n 1821 Guatemala gained its independence from Spain and was governed by a series of conservative regimes until 1870. These regimes, as noted by Lovell (1988), favored maintaining Spanish derived institutions that preserved the colonial status quo (37). The status quo consisted of a landowning elite whose wealth was primarily derived from exporting crops particularly coffeeto Spain. Throughout the last half of
61 the 19th century, coffeeand finding land on which to cultivate it became particularly important for Guatemalas elite. As one indigenous authority in Cob n lamented in 1862, "After having bought land in this same city, the foreigner s [Spanish] have also taken much more we cannot even plant a kernel of land because they have taken the best land" (quoted in Cambranes 1985:76). In 1873 a liberal administration headed by Justo Ruffino Barrios was elected. This administration sought to p romote progress through a series of liberal market reforms that included the expropriation of communal indigenous lands in the fertile lowlands, the su bsidization of domestic and foreign operators, and the development of an advertising campaign in Europe to attract modern farmers with capital ( Wittman and Saldivar T anaka 2006: 267) As noted by Carol Smith (1984) it was the reforms implemented by the Barrios administration that unleashed on Guatemala the full force of capitalist development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries ( 203). The world market demand for coffee was great and greatly benefi ted Guatemalas landowners: by 1889, Guatemala was the worlds fourth largest exporter of coffee, with coffee accounting for 96 percent of national export earnings (Bulmer Thomas 1987). As coffee became increasingly important for profit, more indigenous land was appropriated to cultivate it. During t his period, the government divided and sold parcels of land classified as bald a or empty even though it had been used by indigenous communities for centuries for seasonal cultivation of subsistence crops (Davis 1997; McCreery 1994). B etween 1871 and 1879, 155 parcels of terrenos baldos, measuring almost 75,000 hectares, were awarded to private coffee entrepreneurs These lands were subsequently cleared and used for farmland (Davis 1997:10). Later, i n 1894, an
62 agrarian law w as passed to encourage settlement and coffee production in the Guatemalan highlands. This law extended the practice of dividing and selling land to the western and northern highland region. Thus, as noted by McCreery (1994), indigenous Guatemalans found themselves priced out of the market for land they had always imagined was theirs (183). Between 1896 and 1921, a total of 3,600 landowners acquired 16% of Guatemalas national territory, in both the lowlands and the lower altitudes of the highlands This land was subsequently cleared and used for either agriculture or pasture (McCreery 1994; 1990). During this period, Guatemala was governed by a number of political leaders who were also military officers typically highranking generals in the Guatemalan army These leaders, called caudillos, or strongmen, made use of the military to force poor farmers off their land. Thus, even though indigenous farmers resisted the takeover of their lands, in most instances this resistance proved futile when confronted with the strength of the Guatemalan army. Overall, it is estimated that in the last half of the 19th century, Maya communities in Guatemala lost half of the lands they owned during the colonial period (McCreery 1990; Palma Murga 1997; Wittman and Saldiva r Tanaka 2006). This period of land takeover also coincided with a period of increased deforestation in Guatemala, on the part of both wealthy landowners and small scale indigenous farmers. In order to make way for coffee plantations, the landowning elit es cleared large swaths of land once used as communal forest by indigenous communities. This process in turn pushed indigenous groups further to the highland regions, where they also had to clear land in order farms subsistence plots (Grandin 2000). T aken
63 together, both of these processes led to high rates of deforestation that concerned local and national authorities alike; it has been estimated that approximately 80,000 hectares of land was cleared annually from 1880 1900 (Cabrera Gaillard 1996). In 1891 a national forest code was enacted that declared forests to be an integral part of the wealth of the nation, and forbade the cutting of young trees and ordered municipalities to carry out reforestation projects (quoted in Grandin 2000:150). Wh ile predominantly indigenous municipalities strictly followed the code, it was less stringently enforced amongst ladino elites (Grandin 2000) Guatemalas incorporation into the world market continued into the twentieth century when greater numbers of multi national agribusinesses (many of which were based in the United States) entered the country and took control of land to grow export crops. The largest of these companies was United Fruit, which set up operations in Guatemala in 1901 and worked closel y with the Guatemalan government to fund improvements in infrastructure for the country. In return, the Guatemalan government allocated more land for agricultural production to United Fruit. This land was given at the expense of rural small scale farmers, both ladino and Maya (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001; Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka 2006). Th us, the influx of agribusinesses further contributed to the appropriation, privatization, and deforestation of land in Guatemala; by 1924, the Guatemalan government had ceded a total of 188,339 hectares to United Fruit alone (Thiesenhausen 1995). It is important to note that the capitalist driven exploitation of indigenous groups and their lands did not go uncontested. The first half of the twentieth century was marke d by a series of revolts and uprisings of both Maya and ladino farmers protesting
64 government and corporate land takeovers. These protests were often met with violent repression on the part of the Guatemalan military and police. However, after a series of r evolts in the early 1940s, a democratic administration led by Juan Jose Ar valo was e lected in 1945. He was later succeeded by Jacobo Arbenz, who led from 1951 until 1954. This period, referred to in Guatemala as the Ten Years of Spring, saw the instit ution of numerous social reform s, including an enormous land distribution campaign in which uncultivated lands were expropriated from elite landowners and international agribusinesses In 1953 and 1954, the Arbenz administration issued 1,002 expropriation decrees for a total of 603,616 hectares of landof which 146,000 hectares were from United Fruit. This land was subsequently redistributed to 100,000 peasant families (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001; Thiesenhausen 1995; Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka 2006). R esponse to these socialist reforms was swift and severe. As noted by Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka (2006), the reforms were opposed by landed elites, the Catholic Church, the middleclass business sector, foreign plantation owners, expropriated landowners as well as the U.S. government wary of any Communist threat (2930). I n 1954 a CIA backed military coup ousted President Arbenz and forced his resignation. The overthrow of the democratic administration, and the reinstitution of military rule under caudillo leader General Ydigoras Fuentes led to the migration of several thousands of Guatemalans to neighboring countries such as Honduras and Mexico (Hamilton and Chinchilla 2001). Following this overthrow, Fuentes worked with both the military and ladino e lites to nullify the majority of expropriation decrees. His adminstration then proceeded to institute a topdown redistributive land reform, in
65 which small scale farmers were allotted only the smallest of land plots that failed to meet the subsistence r equirements of their families By the time of the 1964 agricultural census, farms smaller than the 7 hectares required for subsistence constituted 87.5% of all farms in Guatemala and cultivated only 18.6 percent of all arable land, while 2.09% of farms cultivated 62.5% of arable land (Hough et al. 1982, see Table 22 ). Table 22. Land distribution in Guatemala, 19501979. Source: Hough, et al. 1982.5 Percentage of Farms Percentage Farm Area Size (in hectares) 1950 1964 1979 1950 1964 1979 <0.7 21.30 20.39 31.36 0.77 0.95 1.33 0.7-1.4 26.26 23.64 22.83 2.54 2.77 2.75 1.4-3.5 28.62 30.94 24.19 5.70 7.85 6.40 3.5-7.0 12.17 12.47 9.74 5.32 7.04 5.74 7-22.4 7.72 8.87 7.60 8.36 12.95 11.91 22.4-44.8 1.76 1.59 1.72 5.10 5.90 6.77 44.8-450 1.86 1.88 2.31 21.86 26.53 30.66 450-900 0.16 0.13 0.17 9.52 10.03 12.81 900-2,250 0.10 0.07 0.07 13.32 11.22 12.00 2,250-4,500 0.03 0.01 0.01 8.81 4.92 5.43 4,500-9,000 n/a n/a n/a 5.28 5.17 2.12 >9,000 n/a n/a n/a 13.43 4.67 2.05 Between 1964 and 1979, the level of inequality in Guatemalas land distribution increased. In 1964, the Gini coefficient6Conque st by State Terror: t he Continued Destruction of Land and People for land distribution in Guatemala was reported to be 0.824; by 1979 it was 0.851, higher than any other nation in Latin America (von Braun, Hotchkiss, and Inmink 1989:21). The next three decades were particularly brutal for the indigenous populations of Guatemala. Following the military coup, a number of junior officers and civilians 5 Note that 7 hectares is required for adequate subsistence for a family of four (Sandoval 1987; Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka 2006). 6 The Gini coefficient ranges from a scale of 0 (perfect equality), to 1 (perfect inequality).
66 mobilized in 1960 in an at tempt to overthrow Fuentes. This revolt el Movimiento Revolucionario de Noviembrewas ultimately crushed by the army; however, its original members went on to mobilize a number of guerilla armies, including the Guerilla Army of the Poor (EGP). For the nex t 36 years, these groups were in armed insurrection against the Guatemalan government and military, and dedicated themselves to fighting on behalf of the rural poor of Guatemala (La Feber 1993). Guatemalas civil war marks the third period of conquest of indigenous populations (Lovell 1988) During this time, the Guatemalan government targeted those populations it felt presented a Communist threat. As noted by Victoria Sanford (2003), this meant that any communitiy that was predominantly poor and appear ed to be organizi ng or protesting in any way was a potential threat Thus, according to Sanford, the fact that indigenous populations constituted the majority of the poor led to the conflation of ethnic class, and political identities; in the eyes of t he Guatemalan government and military, any impoverished i ndigenous person was a potential Communist. In this way, the Guatemalan states war on leftist groups became a war against indigenous populations. By the official end of the war in 1996, 626 Maya communities had been burned to the ground; an estimated 200,000 people had been killed or disappeared; and 1.5 million more had been displaced (CEH 1999). The fact that all communities targeted for destruction had been Maya, and the fact that 83% of those killed were Maya, have led many to conclude that what may have begun as a civil war turned into a systematic campaign of genocide on the part of the Guatemalan government and military, who were deemed responsible for over 93 % of the casual ties (CEH 1999; Churchill 1998; Falla 1993; Sanford 2003).
67 The destruction of indigenous land and crops w as a key part of the militarys co unterinsurgency campaign of 198184. During this time, under the command of General s Lucas Garcia and Rios Mon tt, the army employed a scorched earth strategy (not unlike the one employed by conquistador Pedro de Alvarado some 450 years earlier) ( Manz 1988) This campaign was concentrated in the central and western highland region, where there was a large indigenous population. In the department of El Quich there were at least 344 recorded massacres, while in the smaller departments of Chimaltenango and Solol there were 70 and 16 massacres, respectively (CEH 1999). Following the destruction of communities, the army oftentimes would burn much of the surrounding fields and forest areas, in an effort to track and kill any survivors (Sanford 2003). In the highland region the armys scorched earth campaign had a devastating impact not only on rural populations but the land where they lived and farmed A recent study indicates that the amount of heavy vegetation in the department of El Quich declined by nearly 50 percent between 1979 and 1986 ( Schimmer 2006). As noted by Beatriz Manz (1988), the army s brutal counterinsurgency campaign had immediate and longterm consequences: faced with the destruction of their communities, fields and forests which they depended upon for food, firewood and other resources, many indigenous residents fled. From 1980 to 1983, there was a mass exodus of an estimated 1 million people from the highland Guatemala (Lovell 1988). The continued tradition of displacement and migration was especially traumatic for Maya populations whose religion and culture emphasize the importance of attachment to place and cultivation of ones land; indeed, many scholars have characterized
68 traditional Maya religions as place based religions. Thus, displacem ent for many Maya groups was more than traumatic; it was sacrilegious (Stone 2000; Montejo 2000). The most violent period of the war coincided with the Guatemalan states implementation of neoliberal development policies. Like the rest of Latin America, Guatemala adopted the neoliberal model of development in an effort to correct trade deficits brought about by decades of import subsidized industrialization (ISI). In sum, the policies included measures to drastically cut or eliminate public spending, ease trade restrictions, lower import tari ffs, and privatize land and resources (Franko 2007). Some scholars have argued that the state, anticipating popular protest against these measures, sought to disrupt or crush potential revolts before they had a chance to take hold (Loucky and Moors 2000; Lovell 1988; Sanford 2003). In this way the Guatemalan state reassert ed its hegemony by resorting to premeditated acts of terror (Lovell 1988:45). In many ways t his third cycle of conquest constituted an effort to protect capitalist aims; as Lovell (1988) argues, in its effort to promote a certain kind of capitalist development, the Guatemalan state declared war on its own citizenry, especially its indigenous peoples (45). In 1996, under pressure from the international community, leaders of the Guat emalan government, the revolutionary armies, and the United Nations met to draft and sign a series of peace accords, bringing an official end to the civil war that had ravaged the nation for the past four decades As noted by Wittman and Sald ivar Tanaka (2 006), the accords recognized that both the historical social exclusion of Guatemalas indigenous and campesino rural populations and the unequal distribution of land were not only root causes of the civil conflict, but also primary obstacles to longterm national
69 development and a lasting peace (23). Land reform was therefore a key component of the agreement. However, rather than promoting government assisted land reform that led to the redistribution of idle lands, the accords call for a market based approach that includes measures to strengthen property rights (regulation policies), regist er land titles, implement taxes on largescale farms, improve financial mechanisms to facilitate access to land (land purchase), provide technical assistance and capacity building, provide complimentary social and economic i nvestment, as well as protect the environment. However, the accords do not provide measures for the expropriation and redistribtion of idle land to small scale farmers. Furthermore, the existing measures have not been largely enforced by the Guatemalan government (Garoz and Gauster 2005; Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka 2006) In addition to the peace accords, in 1996 the Guatemalan government also ratified Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization. This convention recognized the social and cultural rights of indigenous people, as well as their rights to land and natural resources to which they had traditionally had access (Deere and Le n 2001). As noted by Deere and Le n (2001), Convention 169 recognizes that collective land rights are the basis of indigenous cultural identity and are necessary to the very survi val of indigenous people (231). Articles 14 and 15 of the Convention state that, The rights of ownership and possession of [indigenous] peoples concerned over the lands which they traditionally occupy shall be recognised. In addition, meas ures shall be taken in appropriate cases to safeguard the right of the peoples concerned to use lands not exclusively occupied by them, but to which they have traditionally had access for their subsistence and traditional activities.... The rights of the peoples concerned to the natural resources pertaining to their lands shall be specially safeguarded. These rights include the right of these peoples to participate in the use, management and c onservation of these resources ( I nternational L abor O rganization, Con vention 169).
70 Despite the seemingly progressive measures taken by the Guatemalan government to recognize the importance of protecting the land and resources of indigenous peoples, there are many critics who allege that the government has only pledged nominal support of indigenous peoples rights without truly trying to transform social and institutional arrangements (Garoz and Gauster 2005; Palma Murga 1997; Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka 2006). The Coordination of Organizations of Mayan Peoples (COPMAG UA) issued a particularly strong critique of the peace accords market based approach to land reform, arguing that this agenda breathes fresh life into structures inherited from the colonial period, and fails to challenge the overriding interests of large landowners ( quoted in Palma Murga 1997). In their review of the 1996 a ccords, Wittman and Saldivar Tanaka (2006) reach a similar conclusion, stating that the agreement s do not off er a strategic, long term plan for resolving rural development problems and the inequitable system of land concentration in Guatemala ( 38). It would seem that until Guatemala makes serious efforts to recognize and redress the historical roots of its current inequalities, indigenous populations and their lands and resources wil l continue to be subject to the political will of the national and international power elite. A Fourth Cycle? Neoliberal Development and the Continued Degradation of the Environment While the statesanctioned terror of Guatemalas civil war was officially ended in 1996, in recent years indigenous groups have faced a new threat to their livelihoods in the form of global capital expansion. Mechanisms designed to promote capitalist growth and free tradefirst implemented in the neoliberal policies of the late 1970s and more recently with the ratification of CAFTA in 2005 have contributed to the
71 degr adation of the environment that indigenous populations depend upon for food and income. Free trade policies and the promotion of export crop cultivation have compounded problems of land scarcity and have contributed to the overintensification of farming practices amongst small scale farmers in the highland region. This has led to increasing deforestation, soil erosion, and the contamination of water resources, all of which threaten the subsistence base that indigenous populations depend upon for their survival. Today, most government officials in Guatemala argue that environmental problems in the highlands are due to a combination of population pressures and el avance de la frontera agricola ( the advance of agriculture) (SEGEPLAN 2007) Increasing population and the lack of arable land7 have forced many highland residents to clear areas formerly reserved for community forests. Historically, residents of high land communities have worked together to manage these forests, which have served as important resources for firewood and materials for building construction.8 However, the combination of land hunger and population growth have led to the undermining of informal agreements regarding the use and management of community forests ; residents are left with few options but to slash and burn forests to make way for their milpa9 7 The most recent estimates indicate that more than 95 percent of farms in the Western highlands are less than 7 hectares, and nearly half of these are microfundias of less than 0.7 hectares (Katz 2000b). (Katz 2000b). 8 It has been estimated that firewood accounts for 68 percent of the total national energy consumption in Guatemala (Cabrera Gaillard 1991; Katz 2000b). 9 Milpa refers to subsistence plots in which farmers plant corn and beans, and usually some other type of vegetable, usually a variety of local squash.
72 In recent decades, the environmental problems due to lack of available land have been compounded by the increased cultivation of export crops by small scale farmers In the late 1970s, export crop cultivation was widely promoted by development policymakers as a way of strengthening Guatemalas position in the global economy Cert ain crops particularly broccoli, snow peas, caulfilower, and green beans were found to be particularly suitable for cultivation by small scale farmers due to the intensive, year round care that they require (von Braun, Hotchkiss, and Inmink 1989). In the 1980s, smallholder cultivation of these nontraditional agricultural export (NTAE or NTAX) crops in Guatemala dramatically expanded as a result of the easing of trade restrictions that constituted part of the neoliberal structural adjustment package. D ata from the Guatemalan Association of Exporters shows that snow pea exports increased from 1,678 metric tons in 1986 to 16,511 tons in 1995 (Hamilton and Fischer 2005: 35). This growth has continued into the new millennium, as data from the Food and Agric ulture Organization shows that exports of broccoli and cauliflower increased from 14,676 metric tons in 1993 to 35,116 tons in 2005, while exports of green beans increased from 154 metric tons in 1993 to 3,526 tons in 2005 (FAO 2008). Overall, from 2002 through 2006, agricultural exports from Guatemala have increased by 15% annually (AGEXPORT 2008). Many of these crops (including approximately 90% of snow peas and 53% of broccoli) are cultivated by small holding farmers in the Guatemalan highlands, who contract with exporters and cooperatives to market the crops (Hamilton and Fischer 2005; Katz 2000a). In some cases, the adoption of NTAX cultivation has led to economic gains for smallholders, with wages in the nontraditional
73 agricultural sector rising 1020% annually from 1995 through 2001 (Rudert and Coolidge 2003) However, while small scale farmers have realized some economic benefits from growing and selling NTAX crops, it is also important to weigh the social and environmental cost s of export crop cultivation. For instance, there is evidence that the expansion of NTAX cultivation has led to further land appropriation on the part of multinational agribusinesses. From 1990 through 2005, the amount of land devoted to largescale plantation farming increased from 32,000 hectares to 122,000 hectares, an increase of 281.3% (FAO 2005). Currently, INAB estimates that the Gini coefficient for land inequality in Guatemala is 0.85, higher than it has ever been (Wittman and Geisler 2005:6). Some have argued that the rising value of export crops and the promotion of NTAX cultivation ha ve been major contribut o r s to the increas ing level of land inequality (Wittman and Geisler 2005; Wittman and TanakaS aldivar 2006) There is also evidence that NTAX crop cultivation has been a major contributor to environmental degradation in the highland region. In the central and western highlands, where the majority of export crops are grown, 95% of farms are smaller than 7 hectares, with over half of these smaller than 0.7 hectares (Katz 2000: 122). Most of the plots are located on very steep mountainsides that are both difficult and dangerous to farm. Both the small size of the plots and the difficult terr ain on which they are located mean that many of these plots are barely capable of yielding enough crops for subsistence purposes. However, as values for export crops have risen throughout the years, many farmers are clearing additional land in order to grow NTAX crops to earn additional income. Prior to the adoption of NTAX cultivation, it was common for farmers to leave
74 parts of their plots forested, in part to protect against the problem of soil erosion. These forested areas have also served as important and convenient sources of firewood for farmers and their families, as farmers can gather fallen branches or prune trees on their own land (Casta eda Salguero 1995). However, as farmers adopt NTAX cultivation, they slash and burn additional areas of their l and in order to accommodate both subsistence and export crops. Taken together, the lack of arable land and the clearing of land for export crop cultivation have been major contributors to deforestation in the highland region of Guatemala. From 1991 through 2001, the departments of Chimaltenango, H uehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Quich, Solol, and Totonicapn lost 67,296 hectares of forest (INAB 2005 see Table 23 ) This deforestation in turn leads t o soil erosion which contaminate water sources, destroy farmers crops and threaten the safety of their communities. As I pointed out earlier, soil erosion precipitates a greater danger of mudslides during the rainy season, which can wipe out entire communities. Tabl e 2 3. Forest cover change in highland departments of Guatemala, 1993 2001. Source: INAB Department Total change (hectares) Total change (%) Average annual change (hectares) Average annual change (%) Chimaltenango -1,612 -1.72 -149 -0.16 Huehuetenango -30,966 -12.67 -3,091 -1.26 Quetzaltenango -816 -1.66 -93 -0.19 Quich -28,634 -8.51 -3,301 -0.98 Solol n/a n/a n/a n/a Totonicapn -5,268 -10.27 -488 -0.95 Total -67,296 -7,122 In addition to deforestation, soil erosion, and mudlsides, the cultivation of export crops has also been linked to the overuse of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, both of
75 which have a harmful impact on local environments and the health of rural populations. The Guatemalan government subsidizes both pesticides and fertilizers, and export contractors encourage liberal application of these agrochemicals on commercial crops (Fischer and Benson 2006) Many large scale growers advocate using up to twenty applications of pesticides per growing cycle (Hamilton and Fisc her 2003: 95). The use and overuse of these chemicals in turn affects local environmental quality as it destroys various forms of plant and animal life. Additionally, agricultural runoff containing pesticide residue also results in the contamination of water sources, affecting the health of rural populations. In 1997, the Guatemalan government sponsored research on pesticide use through the Pesticides and Health Project (Plagsalud). The project reported that nearly 2 million people living in rural areas come into direct contact with chemical pesticides and fertilizers on a daily basis, and as many as 30,000 farmers are treated each year for symptoms associated with pesticide poisoning. The project also indicated that while some pesticides were used on domes tic and/or subsistence crops, the vast majority were used on crops intended for export to the United States and Europe (PAHO 1998). Recent actions by the Guatemalan government may further contribute to the environmental problems that residents in highland communities currently face. In March of 2005, despite widespread protests from a variety of sectors, the Guatemalan government ratified the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). T his agreement further solidifies past neoliberal policies by promoting a prodevelopment agenda. In summary, the agreement includes measures to completely eliminate trade
76 barriers like tariffs and import fees as well as measures to encourage and protect foreign investment (see Table 2 4 ) Table 24. Summary of CAFTA measures. Chapter 3 "Most favored" trade status between member states (U.S., Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica) Chapter 10 Elimination of tariffs (phased out over a 10 year period from the time of ratification) Chapter 10 Protection of investors' land and property from expropriation Chapter 15 Protection of investors' intellectual property rights Chapter 16 Commitment to observe international labor standards, commitment to enforce national labor laws (as determined by each member state) Chapter 17 Recognition of each state's right to design and implement its own environmental laws Chapter 18 Commitment to transparency by making the text of CAFTA -DR and related documents publicly available While the agreement includes guidelines to protect the environment and workers rights, many of these are voluntary and left to the discretion of each party. As stated in Article 17.1 of CAFTA the agreement recogniz[es] the right of each Party to establish its own levels of domestic environmental protection and environmental development policies and priorities, and to adopt or modify accordingly its environmental laws and policies (see CAFTA DR 2004). CAFTA also includes a number of strong measures to protect the land and property of foreign investors ; however, there is no mention of protecting the land and rights of indigenous groups anywhere in the agreement. As noted by Legler et al. (2007), CAFTAs measures to protect the private property of
77 investors actually nullif y many of the terms of Guatemalas 1996 peace accords that promoted land redistribution. These measures benefit both foreign investors as well as domestic elites who derive much of their income from international trade and foreign investment. In this way, CAFTA in effect accomplish[es] what the elites were unable to ensure once the peace accords were signedguaranteeing that the countrys basic social structure remains unchanged (264). I n short, the continued expansion of global capitalism as promoted through neoliberal policies and free trade agreements like CAFTA perpetuates another cycle o f conquest in Guatemala. A s trade policies promote the cultivation of profitable export crops export companies have contracted with small scale farmers to encourage them to grow the crops on their own lands. This has led to further deforestation in the predominantly indigenous highland regions, which has in turn contributed to problems of soil erosion and mudslides. These interrelated environmental problems in turn pose grave threats to the lands that indigenous groups depend upon for their subsistence and income. Free trade agreements like CAFTA further erode indigenous rights to land and resources, offering little to no measures to protect indigenous populations or the environment while ensuring strong protection of both domestic and foreign investors In this way, the latest phase of capitalist expansion constitutes a fourth cycle of conquest of Mayan populations in Guatemala, as it undermines their rights as indigenous peoples while at the same time threatening to degrade the land and resources that they depend upon for survival. Discussion It must be emphasized the Guatemalas current environmental problems and social inequalities are not new, but directly related to the colonization appropriation,
78 and exploitation of indigenous land, labor, and resources. For the past five centuries, th e indigenous Maya of Guatemala have been subject to various cycles of conquest, including conquest by Spain, conquest by local and international capital, and conquest by state terror. The intentional destruction and appropriation of indigenous land by Spanish and ladino elites was a common feature throughout these cycles; in many ways, this destruction laid the foundation for the environmental problems that exist in the Guatemalan highlands today. In recent years, indigenous highland communities have faced a new threat to their survival in the form of dev elopment policies that pave the way for the further (ab)use of lands for capitalist interests while failing to protect the needs of indigenous populations or the environment. By contributing to the destruction of the environment that indigenous populations depend upon for subsistence, t his newest phase of capitalist development constitutes a fourth cycle of conquest that threatens the very survival of Mayan populations in Guatemala. It is within this larger socio historical context that this dissertation situates the stories of the Mayan women who work with AIR. In Guatemala, the health and quality of the land is directly related to the material and cultural survival of indigenous populations who depend upon the land for food, income, and shelter. Thus, indigenous womens environmental activism must be recognized not only as an effort to protect and preserve the land and natural resources, but also as activism to protect the survival and future of Guatemalas indigenous communities
79 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY AND METHODS The goals of this dissertati on are as follows : (1) to explore the ways in which indigenous women identify and experience environmental problems in their communities while being attentive to the ways in which gender, race, and class shape their experiences ; (2) to understand how and why indigenous women are mobilizing in response to these problems; (3) to highlight the dynamics involved in environmental organizing across borders of gender, race, class, and nation; and (4) to generate socially relevant knowledge that may inform activist work and public policy Additionally, as I am directly involved with the organiz ation AIR, this project also has the goal of creating knowledge that may be of use to the organization and its ongoing partnerships with farmers in Guatemala; specifically, I aim to contribute to the ongoing development of AIRs gen der consciousness in its environmental work. I n c onsidering these interrelated and overlapping goals, the methodology o f feminist action research is most appropriate for this dissertation. Broadly stated, feminist action research refers to any project in which researchers and participants engage in cross community knowledge construction and action with a gender lens and a focus on facilitating social change (Lykes and Coquillon 2007:317). In this chapter, I discuss the methodology of feminist action research, and how it is employed in this particular project. Here, it is important to note the distinction between methods and methodologies : as described by Sandra Harding (1987) and Marjorie DeVault (1999), methods refer to specific tools used for research (like interviews or surveys), while methodologies refer to the theories that guide the use and interpretation of specific methods. Thus, f or this project, the methodology of feminist
80 action research informed my choice and use of various methods including oral history, active interviewing, observational research, and archival research. I begin this chapter with an overview of feminis t action research and how and why it is appropriate for this particular project. I then move on to detail the actual project itself, discussing the specifics of the methods used and how the research was carried out. Following this, I elaborate on how the data was analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The major themes that emerged from the data are detailed in the following chapters of the dissertation. Feminist Research and Action Research: Making the Connections As this project is informed by fem inist theories, it is also guided by feminist insight in regards to the research process. Specifically, I locate this project in the new and emerging methodology of feminist action research. While feminist research and action research have historically be en defined as distinct methodo logies, there has been much more cross dialogue between the two approaches in recent years ( Greenwood and Levin 1998; Lykes and Coquillon 2007; Maguire 2008). Feminist action researchers emphasize that both feminist and acti on research have similar goals and approaches, and they have called for an intensification of the discussion about the relationship between feminism and action research as a necessary condition for the success of both (Greenwood and Levin 1998:185). One key feature that both approaches share is a comm itment to linking theory with action (praxis). As noted by Peter Reason and Hilary Bradbury (2008), action research has been employed in the social sciences beginning with the work of Karl Marx, and has been continuously developed and refined throughout the years. Generally, action research is understood a s research that is aimed at improving participants lives by
81 bringing together action and reflection, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and their communities ( Reason and Bardbury 2008: 1). Thus, the key thing that action research makes possible is the development of strategies and programs based on real life experiences rather than theories and assumptions (Barnsley and Ellis 1992:10). For action researchers, it is not enough to simply write or theorize about a social problem or issue; action or activism must also be a key component or outcome of the research project. Since its emergence in the 1960s along with the womens movement, feminist methodology has been similarly committed to creating knowledge for the purpose of informing positive s ocial change. Of course, feminist researchers place particular importance on women and gender issues In her work Liberating Method, sociologist Marjorie DeVault summarizes some of the key principles of feminist methodology: [First], f eminists seek a met hodology that will do the work of excavation, shifting the focus of standard practice from mens concerns in order to reveal the locations and perspectives of (all) women. [Second], f eminists seek a science that minimizes harm and control in the researc h process. In response to the observation that researchers have often exploited or harmed women participants, and that scientific knowledge has sustained systematic oppressions of women, feminist methodologists have searched for practices that will minimiz e harm to women and limit negative consequences [Third], feminists seek a methodology that will support research of value to women, leading to social change or action beneficial to women (1999:3031 emphasis added). Thus, praxis is also an important com ponent of feminist research, and many have argued that research cannot be considered feminist unless it involves some link between theory and action/activism ( Collins 2000; DeVault 1999; HesseBiber 2007; Naples 2003; Patai 1991; Reinharz 1992). As argued by Sharlene Nagy HesseBiber, feminist research is political work with a focus on knowledge building aimed at
82 empowerment, action, and ultimately social transformation (2007:151). Thus, while action researchers make activism an explicit part of thei r projects, for many feminist researchers, the link between theory, method, and action is an implicit and critical part of their work. However, the emphasis on praxis is only one key concern that action researchers and feminists share. Feminist action researchers have noted other important connections between the two approaches. Included among these are the importance of giving voice to marginalized groups; the emphasis on consciousness raising as part of the research process; and t he necessity of challenging unequal power relations both within and through the research process (Lykes and Coquillon 2007; Maguire 2008) Giving Voice As Patricia Maguire (2008) notes, the themes of voice and of giving or finding voice are common t o both femini st and action research (64). Researchers in both fields emphasize the importance of dialogue between practitioners and participants in the research process ; as well as the importance of highlighting the voices and experiences of groups who hav e historically been silenced, forgotten, or ignored (DeVault 1999; Fals Borda 2008; Freire 1970; Hess e Biber 2007; Reason and Bradbury 2008; Reinharz 1992). In the field of action research, Brazilian activist Paolo Freire (1970) is largely credited with developing a model of critical and liberating dialogue between researchers and participants (or teachers and students ) to help marginalized and oppressed groups formulate critiques of unjust power relations. Through dialogue, researchers help participants to articulate their views and critique of power and both parties are able to develop new understandings of the ways in which power and
83 privilege operate in society This method has been carried on throughout the action research tradition; as Budd Hall notes [action research] fundamentally is about the right to speak...participatory action research argues for the articulation of points of view by the dominatied or subordinated (1993:xvii) Thus, in any action research project, the perspectives ideas, concerns, and critiques of participants must feature strongly in the knowledge production process. Feminist researchers hold similar values in regards to research by, for, and/or about women. As Marjorie DeVault (1999) notes, feminist research is largely about the process of excavation, that is, to find what has been ignored, censored, and suppressed, and to reveal both the diversity of actual womens lives and the ideo logical mechanisms that have made so many of those lives invisible (30). For feminist action researchers and feminst researchers in general a key part of the excavation process is beginning from the starting point of womens everyday lives. Thus, like other feminist methodologies, feminist action research is closely connected with a standpoint epistemology that contends that the experiences and perspectives of oppressed groups can help to reveal the ways in interconnected re lations of ruling work to structure society (Smith 1987) As Maguire (2008) notes, it is the knowledge generated by womens everyday lives that feminist action researchers use to inform recommendations for social change. Thus, feminist action research seeks to connect the articulated, contextualized personal with the often hidden or invisible structural and social institutions that shape our lives.... Feminist grounded action research uncovers how gender and other locations influence peoples voicing and visioning (66).
84 Conscientization For feminist and action researchers alike, the involvement and consideration of participants voices is connected to the process of c onscientization, or consciousness raising (Fals Borda 2008; Freire 1970; Lykes and Coquillon 2007; Reason and Bradbury 2008) As articulated by Fr e i re conscientization refers to the process in which researcher and participant engage in critical dialogue and reflection which organizes their thinking and thus leads them to move from a purely nave knowledge of reality to a higher level, one which enables them to perceive the causes of reality (1970:131). Through a dialogical process, researchers and participants work together to make sense of their everyday lives and experiences, and to connect the personal to the political and structural systems of power and privilege. Feminists point out that consciousness raising has been an important part of the womens movement for many years, and that it i s an important first step in the process of social change (Collins 2000; DeVault 1999; HesseBiber 2007) As DeVault (1999) argues, consciousness raising as a part of the research process is an important aspect of feminist methodology, as it leads directly to change in womens lives or in the systems of organization that control women (34). This occurs as re searchers and participants become more aware of the ways in which various systems of power, domination, and subordination shape their own lives and experiences; their awareness then becomes the basis for action. As Patricia Hill Collins states, a changed consciousness encourages people to change the conditions of their lives (2000:117). Here, it is important to note that I did not (do not) hold any facile or arrogant assumptions about my ability as a researcher to enlighten the various indigenous women wh o participated in this project. As they acknowledged in the interviews, all of
85 the wo m en are clearly aware of environmental problems in their communities, and all argue for the importance of recognizing the links between gender and the environment. However, it should also be recognized that conscientization is not a one shot deal; rather, it is a lifelong process of learning, a dynamic unfolding of consciousness that occurs as individuals continue to connect their personal, everyday lives to larger social structures and processes. A s Elena, the president of Mujeres Unidas stated, siempre estamos aprendiendo (we are always learning) This project was undertaken with the aim of being a part of the ongoing learning and conscientization of all parti cipa nts involved (myself included) As many members of the AIR staff told me, they do feel that the organization has developed a conocimiento de g nero (gender consciousness) in its approach, but before this project they had only vague understanding s of why this consciousness was important. The dialogues carried out in this project through oral histories and activ e interviews presented participants with the opportunity to discuss and clarify their thoughts and positions on issues related to development, env ironmental degradation, gender, race, and class in modernday Guatemala. It is my hope that this clarified understanding and more developed gender consciousness can in turn help to inform the future activism of all those who participated in this project Reflexivity In addition to the value placed on praxis, giving voice to marginalized groups, and conscientization, action researchers and feminists also place importance on challenging power hierarchies throughout the course of the research project. As Patricia Mag uire (2008) acknowledges, one of the most important feminist contributions to the field of action research has been the use of reflexivity a strategy which enables
86 researchers to locate themselves and the ways in which their own biases, feelings, choices, and multiple identities influence the knowledge production process (67). Feminist scholars point out that researcher reflexivity has a few important implications. First, it draws attention to the unequal power dynamics that characterize the relationship between researcher and researched, and encourages the researcher to be critical of her own privilege as structured al ong the lines of race, class, and nationality (DeVault 1999; HesseBibe r 2007; Naples 2003; Patai 1991). Second, feminist reflexivity encourages the researcher to develop research strategies and scholarship that can be used to benefit participants (Harding 2007; Patai 1991). Finally, this reflexivity also draws attention to the ways in which the situated location of the researcher influenc es the entire research project; in doing so, reflexivity enables us to understand the process of knowledge production a s one that is shaped by the social locations of researcher s and participants and the relationships between all parties involved (Bhavnani 2007; Haraway 1988; Naples 2003). This particular project is one that is certainly characterized by unequal power r elations. Beyond gender, I share little in common with the indigenous women who are the primary focus of this dissertation. I am a North American gringa, a university educated woman with class privilege and the luxury of not having to worry about where m y next meal will come from. In contrast, most of the indigenous women who spoke with me have not received any formal schooling beyond fifth grade, and most cannot read or write. They are members of an ethnic group that has survived a history of slavery a nd violent persecution in Guatemala, and they continue to face discrimination on a daily basis. Most of the women interviewed f or this project live in poverty, on les s
87 than $2 per day, and a major, daily concern for them is whether or not their small subsi stence plots will yield enough crops to feed themselves and their families. This project, like so many others, is one in which I, the researcher, clearly occupy a position of privilege relative to the individuals who participated. As this project is one that is guided by feminist ideals, it is also one that is critical of this privilege. However, I also agree with those feminist scholars who argue for the necessity of doing more than merely apologizing for privilege, and who also advocate using this pri vilege on behalf of research participants who may not have access to the same social or economic resources as the researcher (Harding 2007; Lykes and Coquillon 2007; Patai 1991). As a feminist grounded action research project, this dissertation aims to ful fill this ideal by developing knowledge that has value for activists, academics, and policymakers alike. In addition to addressing various gaps within the academic literature, the knowledge g enerated from this project may be used to inform the work of AIR (or any other organization working on similar issues) and thus help the organizations to better serve the needs and interests of community members with whom they work. Additionally, this project can also inform the development of environmental and social policy (as addressed in Chapter 7), and thus can generate positive social change within the political arena as well. In addition to calling attention to inequalities in research and challenging researchers to address those inequalities, feminist reflexive practice also highlights the ways in which the situated location of the researcher influences the processes of research and analysis. By acknowledging our own limited, partial locations, we are better equipped to understand the power dynamics that charac terize research and what
88 their consequences might be in the many different stages of research (Collins 2000; Haraway 1988; Hesse Biber 2007; Naples 2003). As Sharlene Nagy HesseBiber (2007) argues, through disclosing their values, attitudes, and biases in their approach to particular research questions and in engaging in strong reflexivity throughout the research process, feminist researchers can actually improve the objectivity of the research (10). Thus, in stating my own social and economic background and my decided outsider status in terms of race, class, nationality (and gender, for some interviews), I do not mean to simply confess or apologize for privilege, but rather to draw attention to the ways in which this background may influence the r esearch project. I am not a 100 percent objective, valueneutral researcher, nor do I claim to be; in undertaking this research, I must be aware of the ways in which my background shapes the project, and I encourage the reader to be aware of my bias as well. However, as various feminist researchers have noted, the boundaries that supposedly delineate one as an outsider or insider are in fact fluid and permeable, and oftentimes researchers occupy both positions simultaneously (Collins 2000; Naples 2003) Thus, while I may be an outsider in terms of my role as a researcher, as well as my race, socioeconomic background, and nationality, I am at the same time an ins ider in regards to my involvement with the AIR organization. It is doubtless that some will charge that my association with the organization and my insider status will bias my research and detract from the objectivity that a researcher should maintain. However, I argue that such charges stem from the very positivist values that feminist researchers have long critiqued. I thus align myself with those feminist scholars who argue that positivist ideals of unbiased, value free research are neither possible nor desirable, as
89 they often obscure the power dynamics that characterize and influence the research process (Haraway 1988; HesseBiber 2007). Furthermore, I also agree with those scholars who argue that a researchers insider status can be used to strengthen the research project, as an insider can begin the project with a heightened sensitivity to some of they key issues and concerns that revolve around the research topic (Collins 2000; HesseBiber 2007; Naples 2003). Thus, I argue that my close involvement with AIR and my prior experiential knowledge of the challenges and rewards involved in transnational organizing ar e actually a strength of this project. Throughout the course of my research, I used my knowledge to shape the kinds of questions that I asked, how I asked them, and how I interpreted them. Nonetheless, I have done my best to not take my insider status for granted; rather, I have tried t o maintain a sense of strong reflexivity (Harding 1993) throughout the research process in order to understand the ways in which my own positionality and situated knowledge have shaped and influenced this entire project fr om start to finish. The Research Project All of the research for this project was conducted from 2006 through 2009 in the departments of Chimaltenango and Solol Guatemala (see Figure 21). These are the highland departments where AIR works with local indigenous communities to establish its reforestation projects. As I noted in Chapter 2, like other highland departments, Chimaltenango and Solol are primarily indigenous, and are characterized by high rates of poverty and deforestation. At the time of the research, AIR was working with five groups of indigenous women farmers: three groups in Chimaltenango, in the communities of Itzapa, Chimal, and Puebla; and two groups in Solol in the
90 communities of Masat and Umul. Most of the research was conducted wit hin these communities. The current project employed a mix of various methods in order to address the research questions. The primary source of data is comprised of the oral histories that I conducted in 2009 with the ten original members of the group Muje res Unidas Por Amor a La Vida, who work in Itzapa and are one of the first groups of women farmers to work with AIR. Th e oral histories are supplemented by active interviews with all eight members of the AIR team, as well as with four officials who work with the Guatemalan government in environmental programs. Both oral histories and active interviews were triangulated through archival rese arch, which included past interviews with 31 indigenous women from Itzapa, Chimal, Puebla Masat and Umul (conducted by AIR staff and volunteers in 2006) ; as well as observations of the communities where the women live and work (see Figure 31 for a visual representation of the research design of this project).
91 Figure 31. Research design. The primary research method is oral history, supplemented by interviews, archival research, and observational research. Oral Histories In consi dering the goals of this dissertation, as well as the feminist values of giving voice, building critical consciousness, and challenging power relations, I decided t o employ oral histories as the primary research method for this project. Simply put, oral ORAL HISTORIES with Mujeres Unidas (10 participants) Interviews -AIR staff (8 participants) -Govt. officials (4 participants) Observational research Archival research -past interviews with indigenous women (31 participants) -AIR documents
92 history involves the pr ocess of interviewing and recording the remembered experience of i ndividuals ( Dunaway and Baum 1984: xix). In recent decades, oral history has been a particularly important method for highlighting the voices and experiences of those who have been silenc ed or marginalized in traditional historical accounts (Carey 2006; Gluck and Patai 1991; Morissey 1984; Reinharz 1992; Thompson 2000). As noted by Charles Morissey, for many researchers oral history represents an important method for illuminating what is variously called grass roots history, or the history of the nonelite, or the history of ordinary people as they live their ordinary lives (Morissey 1984: xxi). Thus, as historian Paul Thompson argues, oral history can actually democratize the history making process and make it more inclusive; as oral history uncovers and reclaims the perspectives and stories of the under classes, the unprivileged and the defeated it also gives back to the people who made and experienced history, through their own words, a central place (Thompson 2000: 7). Over the past few decades, feminist scholars have embraced oral history as a way of excavating the stories of women and attending to the neglect of womens perspectives in both history and the social sciences. Sociologist Sherna Gluck argues that oral history is an ideal method for feminist research for several reasons: it creates new historical material about women; validates womens experiences; fosters communication between women of different backgrounds; and assists in the feminist project of discovering and reclaiming womens history (Gluck 1984:223). In addition, femini st sociologist Shulamit Reinharz contends that oral history serves as an important way of addressing the fundamental sociological task of illuminating the connections between biography, history, and social structure ( 1992:132).
93 Oral history is particularly wellsuited for the goals of this feminist action research project. The method allows me to begin from the starting point of indigenous womens lives and uncover the ways in which their everyday lives and work in highland Guatemala have been impacted by larger macrolevel processes of neoliberal development and environmental degradation. Additionally, the oral histories conducted for this dissertation will help to illuminate the perspectives of a group whose voices have historically been silenced within both Guatemalan society and mainstream social science research (Carey 2006). Finally, these oral histories will have a direct impact on th e activist and service work conducted through the Alliance for International Reforestation. As this research will foster the development of a deeper understanding of indigenous womens experiences with environmental degradation, as well as their environmental activism, it may also foster the development of a better informed partnership between these women and the ladinas, ladinos, and U.S. based women and men who make up the AIR team By better understanding the needs and concerns of the indigenous women w ith whom we work, we are better equipped to develop and sustain the longterm alliances that are vital to any activist work. A t heoretical s ample, or w hy Mujeres Unidas During the summer of 2009, I conducted oral history interviews with the ten founders and original members of Mujeres Unidas Por Amor a La Vida,10 10 Please note that there were 11 women who founded Mujeres Unidas. Sadly, one of the founders Graciela passed away in 2002. who live and work in the community of Itzapa in Chimaltenango. As I mentioned previously, this is one of the first group of women farmers to work with AIR and it is the first group of women farmers that develop ed a longterm alliance with the organization. Th e founders
94 of Mujeres Unidas began working with AIR in 1997, only two years after the organization began establishing connections in the Western highland region of Guatemala (see Table 31 for a list of oral history interview participants ; note that participants with no last name have had their names changed and asked that their identities remain confidential ) Table 31. List of oral history participants. Name Age Position in group Date Interviewed Elena Siquinajay 48 president 12-Jun 09 13-Jun -09 Catalina Siquinajay 43 vice -president 12-Jun -09 Luvia Perez 46 secretary 13-Jun -09 Isabel Siquinajay 33 leader 14-Jun -09 Felippa 40 original member 14-Jun -09 Juana 47 original member 15-Jun -09 Marta 38 original member 19-Jun -09 Ivelisse 40 original member 20-Jun -09 Els a 4 3 original member 20-Jun -09 Rosita 4 7 original member 21-Jun -09 *These women were interviewed in 2006, and again in 2009. Like most other residents of Itzapa, the founders of Mujeres Unidas are indigenous Kaqchikel, one of the largest of the 21 Mayan groups in Guatemala. The women are all middle aged, with an age range between 33 and 48 years. All are married, and all are mo thers, with between two and six children. Additionally, like most indigenous residents in the highlands, most live below the poverty level as defined by the World Bank ( less than $2 per day ) When asked to estimate their familys monthly income, 9 out of 10 women, or 90 percent estimated that their entire household income is between 100 0
95 and 1 6 00 Quetzales (between approximately $125 and $200) per month.11This group of women was selected as the focus for this dissertation for a few important reasons. First, the stories of the women of Mujeres Unidas offer an important starting point for examining the connections between neoliberal development, environmental degradation, race, class, and gender in the context of Guatemala. These are important connections that have a salient impact on the lives and work of indigenous women in Guatemala, and yet they have remained largely unexplored within mainstream academic scholarship. While I do not claim that the stories of the women who participate in thi s project are representative of all indigenous women in Guatemala, it is possible to connect their individual stories and experiences to larger structural trends and processes. The sample of women from Mujeres Unidas should therefore be considered a theor etical rather than representative sample. As noted by Emerson (2001) theoretical sampling is used by qualitative researchers in order to elaborate, qualify, and test analytic categories and more complex theoretical propositions ( 292). One womanwho runs a local school reported that her family earns more than 3000 Quetzales (approximately $400) per month. While no woman reported having a stable job as most Westerners understand the term, they nonetheless engage in a variety of incomegenerating activities. These include domestic work in the nearby city of Antigua; weaving garments to sell at local markets; growing and sel ling vegetables ; helping to run the family store; and making food to sell on the streets. Additionally, all women reported that they helped to farm the familys subsistence plot on a weekly basis. They do all of this work in addition to the volunteer work that they do with AIR. 11 The exchange rate typically varies between 7 and 8 Quetzales for every US$1. In June 2009, the exchange rate was 8 Quetzales for every US$1.
96 Thus, as Charmaz (2006) argues, theoretical sampling pertains only to conceptual and theoretical development; it is not about representing a population or increasing the statistical generalizability of results (101). Theoretical sampling is best done when a researcher is already sensitized to certain concepts, and has a clear idea of what types of questions she wants to ask, how to ask them, and of whom she should ask them (Charmaz 2006) For this project, my research questions and design were largely informed by my f amiliarity with ecofeminist theories and my past work with AIR and indigenous women. The combination of my academic training and activist experience led me to formulate the questions that guide this current project. A second reason for focusing on the stories of the ten original members of Mujeres Unidas is that they present a significant opportunity for understanding the ways in which longterm alliances develop, and how these alliances can shape the consciousness of all who are involved. As I have menti oned earlier, Mujeres Unidas was one of the first groups of indigenous women farmers to work with AIR, and the first group of women to maintain longterm contact with the organization. By foc using on the ways in which the women of Mujeres Unidas initiated, cultivated, and maintained a partnership with AIR, this dissertation highlights the ways in which individuals are mobilizing across borders of race, class, gender, and nationality to build and sustain longterm relationships in working together for a shar ed goal. These relationships alliances based on dialogue and mutual trust and respect can in turn shape the consciousness of all parties involved, individuals and organizations alike. An examination of the partnership between Mujeres Unidas and AIR therefore allows for an analysis of how this partnership
97 challenged AIR to incorporate a gender conscious ness in its reforestation programs. T hus, t h e oral histories conducted with the women of Mujeres Unidas allow for insight into how the women challenged AIR to recognize environmental issues as womens issues. Finally, this sample was chosen for practical reasons, namely in regards to recruitment and the interview process As a member of the AIR team, I have worked with th e women of Mujeres Unidas for over t hirteen years. During this time, I have developed a level of mutual trust, confidence, and respect with many of the group members. As noted by Gluck and Patai (1991), gaining the trust and confidence of participants is critical for conducting oral history interviews that often cover intimate and sensitive topics. It is particularly important when the relationship between researcher and participants is unevenly structured along the lines of race and class. However, the fact that all of the leaders of Mujeres Unidas had known me for several years helped to faciltiate the recruitment and interview process. This is particularly notable, because in rural, largely indigenous areas of Guatemala there is a well established (and completely understandable) distrust of outsiders and individuals associated with unknown institutions (Carey 2006; Ehlers 2000) Recruitment and i nterview p rocess My insider status as a member of AIR helped tremendously throughout the research process, beginning with the recruitment of participants. Because most of the women of Mujeres Unidas knew (know) and trusted (trust) me, the recruitment process was simply a matter of informing them of the purpose of my project and requesting their participation. I did this one year in advance (in 2008) during one of AI Rs annual trips to Guatemala. During this trip, I met with Elena and Catalina, and discussed the details
98 and purpose of the project with them. I asked them if they thought that the other leaders of Mujeres Unidas would be wi lling to partcipate, and they agreed that it should not be a problem Elena volunteered to recruit the other members of the group and to set up interview dates for me. Throughout the course of the following year, I maintained email contact with Cecilia (the Director of AIR), and she and the staff members of AIR maintained contact with the women of Mujeres Unidas. Through this transnational relay, I was able to communicate with Elena and exchange information about travel dates, expectations f or the interviews, etc. Elena in turn set up the dates, time s, and locations for each of the ten interviews and passed on the information to the AIR staff, who passed it on to me. Thus, by the ti me I arrived in Itzapa on June 11 2009, I already had an interview schedule set up with all ten participants. All oral history interviews took place in participants homes. Elena admitted to me that setting up the interview schedule was no easy task, as the majority of women in Itzapa do not have tw o to four hours of l eisure time to participate in an oral history interview. All of the women interviewed for this project are mothers, with between two and six children to look after. All women reported having primary responsibility for domestic work like cooking, cleaning the home, washing clothes, etc. In addition, the women also assist their husbands in caring for and cultivating their subsistence farm plots and all engage in various other incomegenerating activities, like making tamalitos to sell, running a small tie nda, or weaving garments to sell at local markets. Thus, there we re limited time frames in which th e interviews could be conducted: all interviews took place during the mid morning, after the women had already sent their children off to
99 school; or later i n the evening, after dinner. The interviews were conducted in Spanish (all participants are fluent in both Kaqchikel and Spanish), and lasted between 120 and 240 minutes. In many cases, the interview ha d to be stopped so that the woman could attend to her various responsibilities, like washing dishes or preparing the midday meal .12me to come back at another time, but all insisted that they wanted to finish the interview. During each interview, I repeatedly asked the women if they wanted For each inter view, I asked t he women about their childhood and growing up in Itzapa; how the environment in and around Itzapa has changed since their childhood; their everyday work and responsibilities; what they perceived to be the major environmental problems in Itzapa and how these problems affected them and their families; as well as questions about their work with AIR (see Appendices A and B for a list of guiding questions). In the majority of cases I was struck with how eager the w omen were to tell their stories. Beginning with the first question about the womans childhood, many elaborated at length on all topics covered. In a few instances, I had to prod the women; for example, when I asked them about environmental problems in Itzapa, some women simply replied that of course, there are problems. This could have been due to my association with AIR, and their assumption that I already knew about environmental problems in the community However, when I asked about their personal opinions, and how these problems affected their own day to day work and lives, they were quick to elaborate. Overall, the womens openness and willingness to talk with me underscored their commitment to caring for their local environment and community as 12 In cases in which the woman had to attend to these responsibilities, I offered to assist her while we talked. Most of the time, my offer was accepted. I wore the tape recorder on a cord around my neck so my hands were free to wash and/or dry dishes, or in some cases mold corn dough to make tortillas or tamalitos.
100 well as an express desire to tell the story of their work with AIR In all interviews, I asked the women why they had decided to participate. The most common response was that they wanted people to know about their work in Itzapa, and about the importance of caring for the environment. Some womenincluding Elena actually insisted that I write a book! Other women pointed out that they chose to participate because of a desire to help AIR and to help AIR improve its work with their community. As Luvia said, I did it [participated] becaus e AIR has helped us a lot. So if I can help AIR I am going to do it. And AIR can use this project to help us and others, too. Thus, while my presence and the interview process may have been an imposition in many regards, the women seemed to feel that any negative consequences of my presence were outweighed by the potential positive outcomes of this project. Interviews The stories of the women of Mujeres Unidas are interwoven with with the story of AIR; and the activism of both groups is shaped in large part by national and international policies related to development and the environment. Because of this, I felt it was important to interview all members of the organization AIR, as well as various Guatemalan government officials. The interviews with both groups help to supplement the information gathered from the oral history interviews. The interviews with the members of AIR are important for illuminating the way s in which indigenous women develop and maintain alliances across borders of race, class, gender, and nationality in their efforts to protect their local environment. The interviews with the government officials, meanwhile, help to shed light on the official discourses related to development and environmental degradation in Guatemala, and how these discourses inform national programs and policies.
101 For both the interviews with the members of AIR and the government officials, I adopted an active interviewing approach, as developed by James Holstein and Jaber Gubrium (1995). This approach is unique in that it considers both the interviewer and the respondent as collaborators in the meaningmaking process, and allows for a more fluid and flexible interview format in which the interview takes the form of a dialogue rather than a rigidly formatted question and answer session (Holstein and Gubrium 1995:4). Thus, for these interviews I did not adhere to a fixed list of closedended Likert type responses, but instead used a series of openended guiding questions (see Appendices C, D, E, and F) t hat addressed different topics. As noted by Holstein and Gubrium (1995) as well as various feminist researchers (Gluck and Patai 1991; Reinharz 1992), such flexibility is important as it allows for respondents to pursue and elaborate upon topics that they feel are significant, rather than only those topics that the interviewer deems worthy of exploration. Additionally, this approach offers insight into the ways in which respondents construct meaning of their activities. Thus, whereas a close ended questi on and answer format might only allow respondents the option of answering yes to the question of whether or not environmental activism is important to the indigenous community in Guatemala, the active interview format allows respondents the chance to elaborate on why they feel this activism to be important. El equipo AIRE For this project, I conducted interviews with the eight staff members of el equipo AIRE, the AIR team or organization. The interview participants included the Director of AIR, Cecilia Ramirez, as well as six agroforestry technicians ( tecnicos ) who work with the organization. I also interviewed my mother, the founder and president of the organization (see Table 3 2 for a list of AIR interview participants)
102 Table 32. List of AIR inte rview participants Name Age Race; Nationality Position Year began working with AIR Date Interviewed Anne Hallum 56 W hite ; United States Founder, president 1991 13-Sep-09 Cecilia Ramirez 40 Ladina ; Guatemalan Director 1994 1 -Jul -09 William Santizo 44 Ladino ; Guatemalan tecnico, senior 1995 29-Jun -09 Luis Iquique 31 Kaqchikel ; Guatemalan tecnico, senior 1996 24-Jun -09 Miguel Lopez 50 Kaqchikel ; Guatemalan tecnico, senior 1996 30-Jun -09 Pedro Miguel Lopez 27 Kaqchikel ; Guatemalan tecnico 2005 25-Jun -09 Carlos Hic 25 Kaqchikel ; Guatemalan tecnico 2007 1 -Jul -09 Mario Pop 25 Kaqchikel ; Guatemalan tecnico 2008 28-Jun -09 As with the recruitment process for the women of Mujeres Unidas, recruiting the members of AIR was also a relatively easy task. I had informed all participants of the project a year in advance, and all had agreed to participate. For the following year, I maintained e mail contact with Cecilia and work ed with her to set up an interview schedule. Thus, as with the oral history interviews, an interview schedule was already in place when I arrived in Chimaltenango (where the headquarters of AIR are located) in June 2009. The majority of these interviews took place in AIRs offices in Chimaltenango; some also took place in a hostel in the department of Solol where AIR also works. Each interview lasted between 45 minutes and 2 hours, and with the exception of the interview with my mother, all interviews we re done in Spanish. Participants were asked questions related to how and why they decided to start working with AIR; their
103 responsibilities and job duties; the positive and difficult aspects of working with a transnational organization; and how they negot iate working with individuals from different races, nationalities, genders, and class backgrounds (see Appendices C and D for a list of guiding questions for interviews). Of course, the fact that I am the daughter of the president of the organization had some influence on the interview process. The power that my mother has in designing the structure of the organization as well as paying the salaries of the staff undoubtedly placed pressure on the members of the organization, not only to agree to participate but also in how they answered questions. To a large degree, it was impossible for me to avoid the unequal power structure that shaped the interview process. However, I did my best to mitigate it by acknowledging it openly at the beginning of the inter view, and by noting that I knew that some questions might be difficult to answer because of who I was and my position within the organization. I also emphasized the importance of being open about what participants perceived as difficulties and weaknesses of AIRs work because this honesty could help the organization to identify and overcome these weaknesses. All participants acknowledged this and agreed that honesty during the interviews would ultimately be beneficial for the organization as a whole. The fact that most participants particularly those who had worked with the organization the longest were able to identify problems that they saw with the organization is evidence that they took my suggestions to heart. Interviews with government officials The activism of the members of both Mujeres Unidas and AIR has developed largely in response to the environmental problems associated with the implementation of neoliberal development policies in Guatemala. As t his project seeks to situate the
104 local activis m of individuals within a larger context of national and international policies related to development and the environment it is important to have an understanding of what these policies entail and how they are defined and facilitated through the Guatemal an state. For this reason, I thought it pertinent to also interview various officials with the Guatemalan government, to gain a better understanding of how individuals in positions of political power conceptualize and propose to resolve problems related to development and environmental degradation specifically deforestationin Guatemala. Specifically, I interviewed four officials: two from the National Institute of Forestry (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, or INAB) and two from the Secretary of Planning and Programming for the Presidency (Secretaria de Planificacion y Progr amaci n de la Presidencia, or SEGEPLAN) .13 INAB and SEGEPLAN are institutions that have responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of policy related to forestry ma nagement and sustainable development in Guatemala. All officials were asked questions about environmental problems in Guatemala in general and the highlands in particular; how development policies have impacted the environment and rural populations ; and the importance of considering gender and race when designing environmental programs (see Appendices E and F for a list of guiding questions for interviews with government officials). 13 Three officials requested that their identity r emain confidential. These include both the national and regional representative of SEGEPLAN, as well as a national representative of INAB. Their names have been changed.
105 Table 33. List of government officials interviewed. Name Position Date Interviewed Ar mando R. Delegate for SEGEPLAN, nation al level 10-Feb-09 Angel a M. Delegate for SEGEPLAN, regional level (Chimaltenango) 10-Feb-09 Edwin Periera Region 5 INAB representative (Chimaltenango) 11-Feb-09 Jos M. Executive officeholder at INAB national level 14-Feb-09 The interviews with the government officials are important because they reveal the ways in which individuals in positions of political power understand problems related to development and environmental degradation in Guatemala. Thus, these interviews represent the Guatemalan governments official narrative on environmental problems in Guatemala, particularly in regards to why these problems exist and how they can best be addressed. Overall, the interviews with the members of AIR and officials of the Guatemalan government help to supplement the oral histories of the women of Mujeres Unidas. The interviews conducted wi th the women and men of AIR help to provide a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the ways in which the women of Mujeres Unidas have worked to form transnational alliances, and highlight the various complexities, difficulties, and rewards that are involved in transnational environmental organizing. The interviews with the government officials, meanwhile, help to situate the stories of Mujeres Unidas and AIR within the context of larger national policies and processes and provide insight into the ways in which these officials talk about and propose to resolve problems related to development and the environment in Guatemala.
106 Triangulation: Archival Research and Observations In spite of the strengths of oral histories and active interviews as methods that give voice to individuals and allow participants and researchers alike to connect individua l stories to larger social structures and forces, they are not without their drawbacks. Most notably, both oral histories and interviews are methods that rely on individuals memories and interpretations; as such they are both enriched and limited by this reliance. In regards to oral history, Paul Thompson notes that while the method is very helpful in illuminating individuals feelings and interpretations of particular events, it is not always reliable in describing the details or chronology of those events (2000: 156172). Thus, in order to ensure better reliability of data, many qualitative researchers who make use of oral history and/or interview data advocate using other forms of data to triangulate the research (Dunaway and Baum 1984; Gluck and Patai 1991; Reinharz 1993). For this project, I made use of both archival and observational research as a means of supplementing the data from the oral histories and interviews, and as a way of ensuring the reliability of the data. In particular, I analyzed archival materials from the organization AIR, including annual reports, notes from staff meetings, email correspondence, as well as data from 31 interviews conducted with indigenous women farmers in 2006. These interviews were conducted with the leaders of groups of women farmers in the departments of Chimaltenango and Solol ; eight of the interviews were conducted with members of Mujeres Unidas in Itzapa, who were again interviewed in 2009 for the oral histories The interviews were conduc ted by AIR staf f and volunteers (myself included) as part of a effort to compile feedback from farmers for AIRs annual reports (see Table 34). In these interviews, women were asked about the major environmental problems in their
107 communities, why they had decided to wor k with AIR, the strengths and weaknesses of AIRs agroforestry programs, and whether or not they had any suggestions for how AIR might improve its work. Table 34. Summary of 2006 interview participants. With the exception of Itzapa, all community names have been changed to protect participants identities. Community Number respondents Chimaltenango Chimal 7 Puebla 5 Itzapa 8 Solol Masat 5 Umul 6 Total 31 Community Number participa nts Department of Chimaltenango Chimal 7 Puebla 5 Itzapa 8 Department of Solol Masat 5 Umul 6 Total 31 In addition to analyzing archival materials, I also conducted extensive observations of the communities where the women live and work. During the summers of 2006 and 2009 I accompanied the women of Itzapa, Chimal, Puebla Masat and Umul to their fields on a daily basis to assist them in planting trees and crops. In many cases, the wome n also showed me around their communities, so I could see for myself and document the various environmental problems that were of concern to them. After each observation period, I would try to find a quiet placeeither a room at one of the
108 womens houses, a shaded area under a tree, or a local cafwhere I could write down all that I could recall. Altogether, I documented over 20 0 hours of observations Taken together, both the archival research and observations serve as important ways of triangulating the data gathered through the oral histories and interviews. For instance, I used data from the 2006 interviews to supplement the data from the oral histories, and to help me develop a more nuanced understanding of how indigenous women identify, experience, and respond to environmental degradation in their communities. The observational research allowed me to see firsthand the extent of environmental degradation in the various communities. Additiona lly, a review of AIRs e mails and annual reports helped me to better understand how AIRs approach to agroforestry work changed following the development of partnerships with indigenous women farmers. In addition to helping me to flesh out or saturate various analytical categories, the archival and observational research also helped me to check the validity of my data, by ensuring that individuals recollections of certain events and dates were accurate. Analysis: Developing Grounded Theory Through Atlas.ti For this project, I employed a grounded t heory method of analyzing and interpreting the data. As described by Anselm Strauss and Juliet Corbin, grounded theory is an inductive approach to qualitative data analysis in which the researcher allows the theory to emerge from the data (Strauss and Corbin 2008:14 ). Earl y formulations of ground theory had a distinctly positivist approach, emphasizing the discovery or emergence of theory from qualitative data ( Glaser and Strauss 1967) More recently, however, researchers have turned to a construc tivist approach to grounded theory (Charmaz 2006, 2002; Clark 2007; Strauss and Corbin 2008) A s
109 noted by Charmaz (2002) this approach assumes that theories are not discovered but rather constructed through the shared experiences of researchers and participants and the researchers relationship with participants (Charmaz 2002:675). Thus, data and the theories that emerge from it do not reflect some concrete, external reality; rather, they reflect a complex interaction between participants, researchers and their memories and interpretations of events and experiences. I t has been argued that a constructivist grounded theory approach is implicitly feminist in the ways in which it privileges the voices and interpretations of participants while at the sam e time encouraging strong researcher reflexivity (Charmaz 2005 ; Clark 2007). Thus, constructivist grounded theorists on modes of knowing and representing studied life, which means giving close attention to empirical realities and collected renderings of them and locating oneself [as a researcher] inthese realities (Charmaz 2005:509). This point is particularly important for the feminist goal of critiquing and challenging the power structure in the research process. Thus, while my voice is privileged as the narrator of the dissertation, I am as much a participant as any individual that I interviewed; conversely, all participants should be understood as coresearchers who helped me to construct the ideas and theories presented in the chapters that follow. As formulated by Strauss and Corbin (2008) and Charmaz (2006, 2002) grounded theory involves a stepby step process in which the researcher moves from analyzing and assigning codes to small bits of data to linking these bits across categories to build analytical categories, and eventually, to developing a coherent theoretical framework. As Charmaz (2006) explains, the process begins with the initial
110 coding of qualitative data, in whi ch the researcher examines the data wordby word and assigns temporary labels or codes to particular phenomena. Following this, the researcher identifies related codes through focused coding and links them in order to develop analytic categories. Finally, these categories are used to develop a theoretical framework that addresses the focus of the research project. In order to assist with data analysis, I made use of the qualitative software program Atlas.ti. This software program served as a useful (and timesaving) tool to help manage and organize data from the oral histories and interviews. However, it should be pointed out that Atlas.ti does not actually generate data analysis; it only helps the researcher to more efficiently organize the process of analysis, thereby saving time and energy. Using Atlas.ti, I began the coding process by perusing the transcribed interviews line by line, assigning initial codes to each segment of data. As noted by Charmaz (2006), it is during the initial coding phas e that researchers mine early data for analytic ideas to pursue in further analysis (46). Throughout this process, I drew from my past work with AIR, as well as my research experience and familiarity with feminist and ecofeminist theory in order to make meaning of the various segments of data. In this way, I maintained a dialogic relationship between theory/experience and data analysis, taking note of when and how this relationship produced tension (i.e., the data challenged or conflicted with certain theories). From this initial exercise in meaning making, numerous initial analytic ideas began to emerge; code phrases like walking for firewood; cultivating export crops; harvesting corn; deciding to take action represented my attempt to grapple with what the data meant. By the time I finished the initial coding
111 phase, I had generated a list of over 1, 2 00 codes in Atlas.ti. It was also by the end of this phase that I had developed a more nuanced understanding of the data and had begun to identify theoretical linkages between bits of coded data. As I was developing my list of codes in Atlas.ti, I was also developing a list of code families which grouped related codes under more general headings. This phase of data analysis mirrors what Charmaz refers to as to as the process of focused coding, which involve s using the most significant and/or frequent earlier codes to sift through large amounts of data (Charmaz 2006:57). It is during this phase that researchers begin to make comparisons across interviews and observations, and to develop and refine theoretical linkages. Thus, through comparing data to data [researchers] develop the focused code. Then [researchers] compare data to these codes, which helps to refine them (Charmaz 2006:61). Through constant comparison between sets of data, I grouped the most frequently occurring codes into a total of 151 code families. In this way, codes like harvesting corn, c utting grass and gathering seeds were grouped into the code family working in the field. In the final phase of codingtheoretical codingI began to used the code families to form a coherent theoretical framework. This was perhaps the most intellectually rigorous part of the coding process, as it was at this point that I began to weave the fractured story back together (Glaser 1978:72). As Charmaz (2006) points out, this is the integrative phase of coding, as theoretical codes help to tell an analytic story that has coherence...not only [conceptualizing] how substantive codes are related, but als o [moving] the analytic story in a theoretical direction (63). During this phase, the use of the network view in Atlas.ti was particularly helpful, as it allowed me to visualize
112 relationships between code families. Using this feature helped me to further develop theoretical linkages; thus, I connected the code family of working in the field to related codes and code families of walking for firewood and gathering water for household use, and grouped them together under the broader analytic category of indigenous women work ing in the local environment (see Appendix G for a simplified visual representation of how these codes are related). It was through this process of piec ing together the analytic puzzle that I began to develop a sense of the story of this dissertation a story of stories, so to speak of the experiences opinions, and reflections of a diverse group of participants who, despite their differences, were n ever thele ss connected in meaningful ways. It was not until this final phase of coding that I was able to recognize these larger connections, and use them to build the theoretical framework that guides this dissertation. Discussion As a feminist project, this dissertation is informed by both feminist theory and methodology. Specifically, this dissertation is guided by the principles of feminist action research, and aims to generate knowledge that has both academic value and practical relevance for activists and policymakers. In addressing the feminist goal of excavating womens voices and experiences, this dissertation relies on the oral histories of indigenous Guatemalan women as a primary source of data. These oral histories are supplemented in turn by interviews with AIR staff; Guatemalan government officials; as well as archival and observational research. A grounded theory approach to data analysis has allowed me to develop a coherent analytical story based on a close reading of the experiences, reflections, and interpretations of the various individuals who participated in this study. As both a
113 researcher and a member of the AIR team, I also count myself as a character in this story, and thus I also have played a role in shaping and interpreting the storyline. The major themes that emerged from my interpretation of the data comprise the remaining chapters of this dissertation.
114 CHAPTER 4 THE GENDER DIVISION OF LABOR AND SITUATE D KNOWLEDGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS Doa Elena Siquinajay, the president of Mujeres Unidas in Itzapa, said that she and a few of her friends began noticing environmental problems in t hei r community in the mid1990s. One of the first problems they noticed was the lack of trees and branches available for firewood. As she described it, First it was the problem of the lack of firewood. We were not able to find enough firewood. So we started to look for pinecones to burn, instead of branches. We told o ur children, Go get pinecones in the field, and they would come back and say, There are no pinecones. And that worried us. We started to ask ourselves, Why a re the pinecones and the trees disappearing? The lack of firewood was a major concern that the women of Mujeres Unidas expressed; for many, it was a precipatating factor in their decision to work with AIR. I n Guatemala, a typical rural household requires between two and three trees each month (or between 24 and 36 trees per year) for firewood (Kat z 2000b:121). In highland communities it has traditionally been the responsibility of women to take care of all tasks related to cooking and other domestic work including gathering firewood (Carey 2006; Katz 2000a). Thus, when Elena and her friends began worrying about the lack of trees in their community, their concern was directly related to the work that they do as women to maintain their households. According to much ecofeminist literature, the gender div ision of labor is key to understanding why and h ow women develop an awareness of environmental problems in their local communities. As Mary Mellor argues, womens association with the natural world cannot be understood in essentialist or purel y symbolic terms, but must be recognized as socially constructed, reflect[ing] women s role as mediators of human society (1997:189). Through their reproductive work of maintaining the household and
115 having primary responsibility for childcare, women interact more closely with their local environment than do men (Mellor 2003:13). Thus, womens awareness of environmental problems stems from their situated knowledge as caretakers of their homes As Joni Seagar summarizes, Women are usually the first to noticeor to anticipate environmental problems in their communities. Typically, what women notice is pretty mundane. Because women, worldwide, still have primary responsibility for feeding, housing, and childcare, they are oftren the first to notice when the water smells peculiar, when the laundry gets dingier with each wash, when children develop mysterious ailments.... [This perspective] is important because environmental degradation is typically mundane: it occurs in smal l measures, drop by drop, well by well, tree by tree (1996 :280). This gender division of labor thesis is a cornerstrone of materialist ecofeminist analyses (see also Eaton and Lorentzen 2003; Mies and Shiva 1993; Salleh 2009) However, it is a thesis that is not without its weaknesses. First, it tends to treat the gender division of labor as a given or natural feature of any society without calling into question how various social forces and/or processes might shape it I argue that while it is true t hat traditional gendered household arrangements often do play an important role in dictating the work that women and men do within the household, it is also important to recognize the ways in which the gender division of labor can be quite fluid and shaped by changing social, economic, political, and historical conditions. By construing this division of labor as a given, materialist ecofeminists risk falling into the trap of essentialism of making a social arrangement which has been socially and historica lly constructed appear to be an essenti al, inherent part of any society, and therefore immune to efforts to change it. A second weakness of this thesis is that by focusing its analytical lens primarily on gendered social arrangements, it may neglect the ways in which race and class also mediate womens relationships with their local environments.
116 Thus, I agree with those critics who fault any ecofeminist framework that fails to offer an intersectional analysis of the ways in which individuals experience and respond to environmental degradation (Agarwal 1992; S turgeon 1997; Taylor 1997) In this chapter, I examine the ways in which the gender division of labor has led to indigenous womens awareness of environmental problems in their communities. Drawing from the stories of the women interviewed, I argue that while womens work in the environment is shaped in part by tradition and traditional gendered arrangements within the household, it is also shaped in large part by interrelated social polit ical, and economic factor s. In the case of Guatemala, these factor s includ e the aftermath of the civil war, which left many women as the sole providers of their households; gendered patterns of migration; and the advent of export agricultureall of which h ave led to womens increased participation in agricultural work From their everyday work in agriculture and the environment, indigenous women have become more aware of environmental problems in their communities. However, I also argue that environmental problems cannot be analyzed only through the lens of gender ; rather, it is important to adopt an intersectional perspective that considers race and class as well. When analyzed through the lens of a sociological ecofeminist framework, it becomes apparent that environmental degradation in Guatemala is a gendered, racialized, and classed process with great consequences for the entire indigenous community a primarily agricultural community that has depended upon the environment for material and cultural surv ival for centuries
117 Costumbre, Conflicto, y Capitalismo: How Tradition, War, and Capitalist Development Shape Womens Environmental Awareness All of the indigenous women who were interviewed for this dissertation report ed that they spend a great deal of time working outside in the environment on a day to day basis. The ten leaders of Mujeres Unidas reported spending between 1525 hours each either working in el campo (the field), or gathering firewood and water for daily household use. All of these mundane tasks require the women to be in close, intimate contact with their local environment everday While the work that women do in the environment is due in part to costumbre traditional gender divisions of labor, it is al so shaped by various social, political, and economic development s. In h ighland Guatemala, womens work has been impacted by the civil war, gendered patterns of migration, and the increasing adoption of export crop cultivation by small scale farmers Taken together, these factors have contributed to what Carmen Diana Deere (2005) terms a feminization of agriculture amongst small scale farmers in Guatemala. In the following section I explore how these processes have shaped indigenous womens work in the env ironment, and led to their awareness of environmental problems in their communities. La R esponsabilidad de la M ujer: T radition and the D evelopment of W omens E nvironmental A wareness Elena and the other women of Mujeres Unidas acknowledge that it was the lack of firewood and clean water in Itzapa that led to their initial concern about changes in their local environment. For these women, this concern i s directly related to a traditional gender division of labor that characterizes many households in highland Guatemala: the man works outside of the home, either for wages or in the familys subsistence plot,
118 while the woman is primarily responsible for the reproductive labor of maintaining the household and caring for the children (Carey 2006; Ehlers 2000; Katz 2000a).14In highland communities like Itzapa, two tasks that have traditionally been defined as womens work are gathering firewood and water, as these activities are directly re lated to cooking, cleaning, and the overall maintenance of the domestic sphere. In the interviews, the w omen made it clear that they have primary responsibility for these tasks, and that it has been this way in their families for generations. As Felippa, 40, explained, Each part of the work of cooking gathering the firewood, making the tortillas, and all that and each part of the work of cleaning the house is the responsibility of the woman. The reproductive labor that indigenous women engage in on a daily basis is timeconsuming and can be very exhausting. Elena vividly summarized a typical day for an indigenous woman in Itzapa. She has to wake up at 4:00 or 3:30 in the morning. At 3:30 in the morning she is running around. She makes the fire, prepares the firewood, prepares the corn dough, sweeps the house. At 4:00 in the morning she makes tortillas, one hour to make tortillas and coffee. Well then the children and her husband wake up. After breakfast, she washe s the dishes and takes the children to school. After...maybe she has to get firewood. Its typical to get firewood once each week. And we have to walk very far to get it...almost three kilometers each way. If she needs it, she brings water from the spring, too. At twelve or one in the af ternoon she cooks for her husband. They eat lunch, and afterwards she washe s the dishes again. Sometimes she may help her husband in the field. At 2 :00 or 3:00 she gets the children. M aybe then she has a little free time, so she weaves or makes tamalitos to sell At 6:00 or 7:00 she and her daughters make supper. And afterwards they 14 It is also true that for indigenous women in Guatemala, there is some flexibility i n this division of labor. For instance, if a womans husband needs her assistance in the field, then she will provide it. However, it is exceedingly rare to see men take on womens roles. Historian David Carey attributes this to the overall devaluation of women and womens work in the indigenous community; thus, as gender relations impose an inferior standing on women, their assumption of male roles [can] be seen as an attempt to improve their status. However, for a man to take on tasks traditionally defi ned as womens work, would be humiliating and an indication that he was choosing subordination (2006:115).
119 wash the plates. We usually go to sleep at 11:00 at night. And the next day we get up and do it again. Procuring firewood can be a particularly arduous and timeconsuming task. All of the women note that they have to gather firewood between one and three times each week. Of the women interviewed in 2006 and 2009, only three reported that they own enough land to allow them to prune branches from trees in their own fields. Occasionally, the women buy firewood from a local vendor. In highland communties, t he cost for one load of firewood ranges between 60 and 100 Quetzales (between USD$7.50 and $12.50), and the load may supply a family with enough firewood to last one to two weeks For many women, the cost is equal to one week of income for their family, and is simply too much to afford. Thus, most women gather firewood from a nearby communally managed forest The members of Mujere s Unidas report that they walk between one and four kilometers, one way, to the forest on the outskirts of the city. In the forest, the y will prune branches or gather fallen limbs, which they then wrap in a bundl e and carry on their heads, using a yagual or sotoy .15 Oftentimes, the women will also gat her and carry a mix of grasses that they use to feed any farm animals that they might keep (see Figure 41). 15 A yagual is a small piece of folded cloth used by indigenous women to help them carry burdens on their heads. The yagual is placed on the crown of the head and helps to more evenly distribute the weight of the burden. Sotoy is the Kaqchikel word for yagual.
120 Figure 41. Woman in Itzapa carrying firewood and grasses Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, t he women of Mujeres Unidas began noticing an increasing scarcity of trees in and around Itzapa. As they explained their awareness developed poco a pocolittle by little as they found it increasingly difficult to find sufficient amounts of firewood. Ivelisse is a 40year old mother to four children, ages 10 thr ough 22. She noted that in the early 1990s prior to beginning agroforestry work with AIR, she had to devote an entire day to looking for firewood: Every week, once or twice each week, I would walk nearly two or three hours, out o f the community, up into the mountains, up, up, just to find some branches firewood. I would have to walk so far, because I had no trees in my field, and no one else had trees, and I was not going to steal other peoples trees or branches! Then, I would car ry all this back down, on my head or my back, and it was very difficult if it ever started to rain. Finally, I would get home, almost eight hours after I left. And then I would have to cook for the family!
121 Juana, 35, said that by the mid 1990s she had to w alk nearly four kilometers to find firewo od to cook for her family of five. She described how she reflected on the lack of trees every day that she walked to gather firewood: I had the same thoughts. That before there was enough firewood and we would go to get firewood...there [pointing to a hillside] there was enough. Now there is not. Now there is some...but the trees are far. And...that is the other problem, too. The lack of trees. Now there is no longer firewood here for the fire. Thus, womens initia l awareness of the increasing scarcity of trees in Itzapa was related to the ways in which this scarcity impacted their everyday work and responsibilities to provide their families with firewood for cooking. Individual frustrations with tiring and timeconsuming treks soon developed into concerns that the women shared. Most of the women of Mujeres Unidas are lifelong residents of Itzapa, and most know the other group members as friends, relatives, or acquaint ances. It is common for the women to visit each other or to walk together to the market, to church, or to the fields or forests. It was through these informal meetings that the women began to share their individual worries about the lack of trees and firewood in Itzapa. As Elena explained, This was the topic of our conversations, whenever we met. At the market, in the the street, when we visited, sharing coffee. We talked a lot about how the trees ...that the trees were disappearing. We talked about how w e were not able to find enough firewood for cooking, and about how far we had to go to find branches or pinecones ... This was a major concern for us, the deforestation and the lack of trees. The womens concerns were valid and well founded. A 2008 report issued by the local government of Itzapa estimates that from 1975 through 2007, Itzapa lost 60% of its 5,200 hectares of forest cover From 1995 through 2007, Itzapa lost 0.91 hectares of forest cover annually or between 10,950 and 12,775 trees each year (Monografia
122 2008). The steep hillsides around Itzapa that were once completely forested are now a patchwork of farms and houses (see Figures 42 and 43). The women of Itzapa expressed concern about what this deforestation means not onl y for their individual work, but also for the future of their families and communities. As Marta emphasized, How can we cook if there is no firewood? And if we cannot cook, then we cannot eat! Catalina explained that the members of Mujeres Unidas share this concern for the future. She point ed out that : About ten or twelve years ago approximately it [the environment] changed. We realized it because we were not able to find branches...I had to buy firewood in the street and that costs a lot, 60 Quetzales [USD$7.50] It was because the majority of people started to cut trees. It did not matter to them. If there were small ones, big ones, the people just cut the trees. They never thought that it i s damaging...that i t is damaging the earth. Never do the men thi nk that if they cut a tree it i s like...how do you say...cutting our life. In Itzapa and other highland communities, women have connected deforestation to other environmental problems. Of particular concern to m any women is the contamination of local water sources. As more trees are cleared on steep hillsides, soil erosion leads to more instances of sediment clogged waterways. Heavy rains exacerbate the problem of soil erosion in highland communities leading t o rivers, springs, and other water sources being partially or completely covered with mud, rocks, and other sediment due to flooding (see Figure 44).
123 Figure 42. Deforested hillsides on the outskirts of Itzapa. According to the women of Mujeres Unidas, these hills were forested in the early 1990s. Figure 43. Deforested hillside on the outskirts of Itzapa.
124 Figure 44 River near Umul, Solol circa 2006. The river was completely covered by a mudslide following Hurricane Stan Like deforestati on, the lack of clean water in rivers, springs, and wells has a direct impact on womens work in highland communities. In these communities, women have primary responsibility for washing clothes and dishes and for gathering the water needed to accompl ish these daily tasks Currently, the World Heal th Organization estimates that 35% of households in rural Guatemala lack running water (WHO/UNICEF 2008). For the households that do have running water, the supply is often limited; in Itzapa, for instance, the municipality turns on the water for ten hours each day. When there is an insufficient supply of water to meet daily household needs, the responsibility falls on the women of the house to find ways to accommodate. This typically means th at women must gather water from a nearby river, spring, or well. If there is not enough water for laundry, then women will make use of a community pila (a set of outdoor sinks) in order to wash clothes. Some pilas are supplied with running water from the city, while others are located next to a natural water source so that the women can
125 easily gather water as needed. Thus, like collecting firewood, obtaining wat e r is also a distin ctly gendered task that is tied to the domestic sphere and the reproductive labor that women engage in to maintain the household (Carey 2006; Ehlers 2001; Socolow 2000). Figure 45. Community pila in Itzapa, supplied with running water from the city In Itzapa, the women of Mujeres Unidas began to notice the gradual degradation of a local river, Xipa cay, around the same time that they began to notice the problem of deforestation. According to Elena and the other women of Mujeres Unidas, at one time the river was cristilino, crystalline and very wide. The women noted that when they were children, it was common for them to go w ith their mothers and neighbors to the river to wash laundry. Marta acknowledged that while laundry is a timeconsuming chore, she also enjoyed the opportunities to socialize during the weekly trips to the riv er
126 Every week we went to the river...I went with my mother and neighbors too. Then [3 0 years ago], the river was crystalline Now, it is not...it is dirty and dry Before, we went and we spent the day there, chatting, washing, laughing, all that, and...I liked it a lot. Before, the river served us well. In contrast now it does not serve us. It is very sad, yes. Now no. Now it is not clean. T he women of Mujeres Unidas said t hat they became aware of the d egradation of the river Xipa cay little by little, over time. Ivelisse recalled that in the late 1980s she began to notice that every time it rained, the river became very muddy. She explained how this impacted her everyday wor k, noting that I was not able to go to wash clothes, because it [the river] was dirty...the water was black. So I had to wait a few days to wash. In addition to being important for very practical purposes, the river Xipicay was also important for various religious practices in Itzapa. As I pointed out in Chapter 2, it is common for indigenous community member s to practice a syncretic blend of religious traditions that integrate indigenous r itual with Christian ritual ( Molesky Poz 2006 ). This was the cas e in Itzapa, where, every June pr ior to the festival of Corpus C risti, a group of indigenous women from the local Catholic church participated in a ritual washing of the robes worn by statues of saints in the church. According to Elena, who participated in the ceremony on a few occasions, they washed the robes in the spring that fed Xipicay because the wate r was clean and fresh, and it was very important to the comm unity of Itzapa. However, as both the spring and river became more contaminated, the women were no longer able to wash the robes in the waters. Elena recalled: It was 1994 ...that was the last year that we washed [in Xipacay] the robes of the saints, of the images of the Catholic Church. Now we use the pila, because the spring is too dirty and has a lot of contamination. Before, the people respected the river but now it is very small and dirty and everyone throws trash in it.
127 T he story of the contamination of Xipacay points to both the material and cultural consequences of environmental degradation for indigenous communities. Prior to the contamination of the river, it served as a source of clean water for daily use, as well as an important religious and cultural symbol. Its subsequent degradation was thus not only traumatic for the community insofar as its material consequences, but also for the loss of a sacred symbol as well. It was through their informal meetings that the women of Muje res Unidas connected the degradation of Xipa cay with the increasing deforestation around them. Luvia explained: We talked and we realized it was not a coincidence, that both of these things were happening at the same time. We saw how every time it rained, it washed soil into the river. And we saw that if there were less trees, there was more erosion. So yes, they are connected. Now, the condition of Xipacay has deteriorated t o the point that it is hardly recognizable as a river. Years of deforestation and soil erosion have led to the river becoming clogged with sediment from run off; now it is only a small stream that runs al ong the outskirts of Itzapa. As Elena and the other members of Mujeres Unidas lamented, the river that was once of great material, cultural, and religious value to the community is now being used as a basurero, a trash dump (see Figure 46) The women of Itzapa are not the only women who are concerned with the degradation of their local wat er sources. In 2006, 26 of the 31 women interviewed mentioned that the protection of local springs and rivers was one of the major reasons why they decided to work with AIR. A group of women from Masat, Solol were particularly concerned with protecting a spring that supplies water to a community pila (see Figure 47). As the women explained, the deforestation of mountain slopes around
128 Figure 46. The river Xipacay, circa 2009. Note the height of the river banks, which provide some indication of the past width and depth of the river. the spring has led to more sediment being washed into the water. This problem was particularly severe in 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Stan. The heavy rains and flooding from Stan led to massive soil eros ion and mudslides which destroyed many farmers crops, and which also partially covered over the spring that fed the pila. For a while, the women were unable to use the pila because of the lack of clean water. The women explain ed that the degradation of the spring and being unable to wash clothes at the pila has both material and cultural consequences. Francisca, 53, described making weekly trips to the pila as a longstanding tradition that she and other women in her community had shared. For her, the time spent gathering water from the river and washing clothes with other women in her community was a time to talk and commune with her friends and neighbors, and it was an important way of preserving both Maya
129 tradition and community solidarity. When asked about the degradation of the spring, Francisa expressed a profound sense of loss lamenting that We are very sad, very sad. When we were children we went with our mothers to wash clothes there. As adults, we went there together with our daughters. But, af ter Stan, the river was gone. And now, we can no longer do that which we have done for many years Figure 47 Community pila supplied with water from a spring in Masat Solol T hus, as ecofeminists argue, the work that women do in relation to their reproductive labor of maintaining the home oftentimes does place women in close, immediate, and regular contact with their local environment. For indigenous women in Guatemala, the day to day work of gathering firewood and water means that women spend a large portion of their day working in the environment walking to and from forests and springs, gathering and pruning branches, and finding clean water for
130 household use. However, indigenous womens work in the environment is not shaped by a traditional gender d ivision of labor alone. In recent decades, more women in highland Guatemala have taken up agricultural work in response to certain political, social, and economic developments. This feminization of agriculture also shapes womens work in the environment and their awareness of environmental problems in their communities War and its A ftermath Nearly four decades of civil war devastated rural communities in Guatemala. As I pointed out in Chapter 2, and estimated 200,000 citizens were killed during the war, 83% of whom were indigenous (CEH 1999). While exact statistics are unavailable, it is estimated that the war left between 40,000 and 80,000 widows in rural Guatemala (Green 1995). It is notable that one of the largest indigenous womens organizations in the nation is CONAVIGUAthe National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala ( Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala). While some indigenous widows have remarried since the war, many have not, and have taken up the role of being the sole pr oviders for their families (Godoy Paiz 2005; Zur 1998). This has dramatically altered the gender division of labor in many highland communities particularly in regards to farming, an activity that has traditionally been defined as mens work in highland Guatemala. Timeuse studies of agricultural labor in Guatemala estimate that men are responsible for between 75 and 91 percent of the labor time needed to grow traditional crops (von Braun, et al. 1989). However, as the grim toll of war has forced many widows to assume the roles of sole or primary providers for their households, they have also taken up the full responsibility of subsistence farming in order to feed themselves and their families.
131 While Itzapa was largely spared from the violence of the civil war, other communities where AIR works were not. The small town of Chimal, for instance, suffered the loss of several men who were killed by the army because they were suspected of assisting guerilla armies. In this town, AIR works with a group of approximately twenty indigenous women, four of whom are unmarried widows. In the years since the civil war, these women have assumed primary responsibilities for farming for themselves and their children. Santiaga, 48, is one of the leaders of the group in Chimal. Her husband was killed in 1984 during an army raid of Chimal. In a 2006 interview she recalled that, During that time my situation was very difficult. It was very difficult because I lost my husband and the father of my children. And so I was alone and I had to take care of everything, everything on my own. Santiaga noted that in addition to caring for her three children, she also had to assume full responsibility for farming the familys milpa plot. She worked in the field nearly every day to ens ure that she had enou g h crops to feed herself and her children. During this time, she relied upon her brother and her friends for social and financial support, as well as assistance with farming. She credited her family and friends for her survival, saying that I thank God for them every day. After years of farming her familys milpa, Santiaga began to notice changes in the local environment of Chimal In particular, she grew concerned with problems with soil erosion. She said that the soil quality became much worse and that she started to lose crops when it rained. She heard about AIR through a friend from the community of El Rinc n where AIR had established an agroforestry project and planted 75,000 trees. Santiaga recalled that
132 [My friend] told me that I should go to AIR, because they could help me. And so I went, because I was very worried about my crops. My family is very poor, and if we do not have crops then we do not have food. From meeting and talking with AIR tecnicos William and Miguel, Sant iaga learned that the soil erosion that concerned her was likely connected to the deforestation around Chimal. Santiaga resolved to do something about the problem, and i n 2003 she organized a group of eight of her friends and relatives and began to work with AIR. Since then, the group has grown to include over 40 women. Santiaga is a religious woma n, and when she reflected on the story of how she started to work with AIR, she said that it was the work of God: I say thank God every day because only God c an make a tragedy intointo something good. And so I lost my husband because of the Violence. And it was very difficult. I learned to do everything by myself, yes I had the help of my family and friends but I was still alone, without my husband. But I als o learned how to take care of the land. And now we are working here in Chimal to make a better future for our children, and for all our community, too. Santiagas story illustrates how the tragedy of Guatemalas civil war left many women in rural communit ies as the sole providers for their households. As widows, women like Santiaga had to assume responsibility for all major household tasks including farming the family milpa plot Through assuming additional work in the field, Santiaga began to develop a recognition of environmental problems in Chimal. Thus, her story also illustrates the link between ones experience and material connection to the environment, and the development of ones environmental awareness. It was through the development of this awareness that Santiaga became motivated to take action to protect her local environment and thus ensure a better future for her community.
133 Export A griculture and G endered M igration In addition to the impact of the civil war, recent economic developments have also contributed to a feminization of agriculture in highland Guatemala. According to economist Carmen Deere (2005), two main reasons for this trend have been the adoption of nontraditional export (NTAX) crop cultivation by small scale farmers ; as we ll as gendered patterns in migration that have left women as de facto household heads As I pointed out in Chapter 2, the adoption of export agriculture by small scale farmers has been promoted in Guatemala since the 1970s as a way to both alleviate rura l poverty and make the country more competitive in the global market (Deere 2005; Katz 2000a). For their part, small scale farmers have turned to export crop cultivation as a means of earning additional income for themselves and their families (Fischer and Benson 2006; Hamilton and Fischer 2005). Supplementing family income has become particularly important in the neoliberal era, as state cutbacks in education, welfare programs, and food subsidies have led to higher costs of living while wages have remained the same. Today, it costs between USD$350 and $400 per year to send a child to school beyond the primary (elementary) level in Guatemala. All of these price increases have a dramatic impact on the estimated 56% of the Guatemalan population who live on less than $2 per day ( CEPAL 2007 ) Thus, for many small scale farmers in Guatemala, NTAX cultivation is an attractive option that allows them to continue to cultivate their own land, augment their household income, and support their families. S tudies of womens participation in NTAX cultivation have shown that women contribute more labor time to household production of these crops This is due in large part to the high input of time and labor requir ed to successfully grow these crops (Dary
134 1991; Hamilt on and Fischer 2003; Katz 2000a; von Braun et al. 1989) For instance, von Braun et al. (1989) found that women contribute between 21 and 30% of the labor needed to grow export crops like snow peas and broccoli. Oftentimes, w omen engage in NTAX cultivation at the expense of other incomegenerating activities, like weaving or growing and selling traditional crops (Blumberg 1994; Dary 1991). As Deere (2005) concludes, in many ways neoliberal development and the advent of export agriculture have increased the workload of women in rural areas in Guatemala. The indigenous women interviewed for this dissertation indicated that they do spend a great deal of time in el campo, maintaining the field and their crops. Of the 33 women interviewed in 2006 and 2009, 30 reported that they shared farming responsibilities with their husbands. Two women reported that they had sole farming responsibilities as t hei r husbands migrated to the United States to seek employment Another woman reported that her husband had primary farming responsibilities for their milpa, but that she assisted him sometimes, when it was time to harvest crops. Ma ny of these women also indicated that their work in agriculture has increased in recent years due to a need to diversify and expand their household income. For instance, t welve women report ed that their households have adopted NTAX cultivation in the past ten years as a means of increasing their household income. Many of these women also report ed that th eir workload have increased since they began farming the new types of crops. Elsa, 43, is a member of Mujeres Unidas whose husband works in Itzapa as a schoolteacher. She and her husband share responsibilities for farming their two hectare subsistence plot Elsa explain ed that they began to work with the export contractor
135 Legumex16I did not [used to] hav e the responsibilities that I have now. Now I in 2000 to grow green beans and snow peas in order to supplement their familys income. She noted that while the export crops have provided a needed source of income, they also require much more work on her part. Prior to growing the green beans and snow peas Elsa spent one or two days each week working in their familys plot. Since adopting export crop cultivation, however, she works four days each week in the field: wake up every day at four or five in the morning. I make breakfast. Then I clean up after breakfast. Then I go to the field. I am fortunate because my [two] older daughters can look after the younger children while I work in the field. After five or six hours of work, then maybe I have to go get firewood, or maybe I have to wash some clothes. Then I get home at around six or seven at night. Then I have to cook for everyone, and clean up again. I go to bed around eleven. A lot of women I know here work like this. We do this every day, except Sundays. On Sundays we go to church and thank God for another day of struggle. Marta, 38, is is another woman whose workload has increased considerably in recent years due to changes in local and global economies. In 2001, Martas husband left Itzapa to search for work in the United States. Like many other men in rural Guatemala, Martas husband made the decision to migrate in order to increase his household inc ome. In recent decades, migration has been another important means of augmenting household income for both rural and urban Guatemalans National dat a 16 Legumex is an agroexport company that was founded in 1976 in Guatemala. It contracts with local, small scale farmers to grow a variety of export crops, including snow peas, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, as well as a variety of fruits. It exports both fresh and frozen produce to the United States and Europe; it is worth noting that the website of Legumex is in English. Two of the comp anys major contractors in the U.S. include Superior Foods and Inn Foods. Superior Foods in turn supplies produce to a variety of other companies, including Sysco and U.S. Food Service, the second largest food distributor in the U.S.. In 2006 Legumex was c ited by the National Labor Committee and the U.S. State Department for violations of workers rights and for employing and underpaying girls under 14 years of age to work in its factory (see NLC 2007). The headquarters of Legumex are in El Tejar, approximately 7 kilometers from Itzapa.
136 indicates that in 1980, the number of Guatemalans living abroad was approximately 100,000; by 2008, this figure had increased to 1,313,931 persons. While the number of female migrants has increased, men constitute the majority approximately 73.4% of international migrants (OIM 2009) The migrating population is largely motivated by a number of push and pull factors, including the lack of economic opportunities in Guatemala, and the promise of better opportunities to the north (Franko 2007). Indeed, remittances are very important to Guatemalas national economy; in 2008 Guatemala received roughly USD $4. 4 billion in remittances about 13% of its GDP (OIM 2009). In 2008 the population benefiting from remittances totaled 4,172,987 persons; 56.3 % of this population was located in rural areas, and women comprised 54.7% of this population (OIM 2008). As men in rural areas migrate to the north in search of better economic opportunities, women in rural areas are left as the de facto heads of household, and must provide food for themselves and their children. Marta acknowledges that since her husband left, her workload has increased considerably. While her husband sends payments on a monthly basis, Marta point ed out that she still must farm to feed herself and her four children. Oh yes, I have to work ... more now than before. I care for the children by myself, and I farm by myself. When he [my husband] left, I became the farmer. It was very difficult at first, because I had never worked by myself before. It was very difficult, because at first he did not send money. Now, he sends money, and I use it to send the children to school, and I can buy clothes and food, too. But I still must farm to feed us. I t sometimes makes me tired. Rosita, 47, is another woman whose work in agriculture has increased due to m igration. She has three children; two daughters and one son. In 2007 her 16 year old son left with his friends to go to the U.S. in search of work. As Rosita explained, her son used
137 to help her husband in the field, where the family farms a mix of subsis tence crops and export crops, including broccoli and cauliflower. Since her son left, Rosita and her daughters have had to start working in the field to help her husband. Her increased work in agricultur e has impinged upon Rositas other income generating activities, particularly weaving garments to sell at local markets. Before my son helped my husband in the field...cleaning, planting...the harvest, all that. Now no. Two years ago he [my son] left. Two years ago I was with great sadness because I only had one, my son, and he left me for the north...he was very small, only 16 years old.... [Now] Margarita [my daughter] and I work in the field because we have two hectares of land and it is too much for [ my husband] Each week we work...once or twice each we ek we work in the field. Now I do not have much time to weave, only at night. Taken together, womens increased involvement in farming, as well as their continued responsibilities as caretakers of their household, means that the women have experienced incr eased demands on both their time and energy. In addition, the womens responsibilities to provide crops, firewood, and water for their families means that they are in direct and immediate contact with their local environment on a regular basis. It has been through indigenous womens work in el campo, in addition to their traditional responsibilities, that they have become more aware of environmental problems in their local communities Elena highlighted the links between indigenous womens work in the field and the development of their environmental awareness According to Elena, while womens work as agricultoras may have increased in recent years, indigenous women have long been accustomed to farmwork As she sa id We, the indigenous people, ar e a community of farmers. The indigenous woman is accustomed to working in the field, from very early, she does things with love. The indigenous woman walks with her feet on the earth, like this.... So, it does not bother us to dirty our clothes, to dirty our feet. And because of our work in the field we started to recognize that there was a big problem in our community, that of deforestation, soil erosion, the lack of trees and birds too.
138 Thus, the women of Itzapa and other communities acknowledge d that environmental problems of deforestation and soil erosion affect the gender specific work they do as caretakers of their household, particularly in relation to traditional responsibilities of locating firewood and clean water. T he women also point ed out that environmental problems have a direct impact on their work as farmers. However, it is important to recognize that when discussing environmental problems and their relation to farmwork, the women frame these problems as community problems with consequences for the health and livelihoods for all members of the indigenous community. Thus, I argue that when discussing the ways in which women are impacted by environmental problems, it is not enough to for ecofeminists or other scholars of gender and the environment to focus the analytical lens on gender alone. Rather, we must adopt an intersectional analysis that allows us to understand the ways in which gender works with race and class to shape individuals experiences of and responses to environmental degradation. Environmental Problems as Community Problems In discussing how their experiences shaped their awareness of local environmental degradation, indigenous women often framed environmental problems as community problem s. Here, it is important to n ote that indigenous women used the term comunidad (community) in reference to both their geographic community (the community of Itzapa or Chimal), as well as the indigenous community more generally. In many cases, women interchanged the term comunidad with el pueblo ind gena (the indigenous people). Thus, race and class were central to indigenous womens understanding and articulation of community. In the interviews, the women
139 emphasized that environmental problems are community problems insofar as they threaten the land and crops that indigenous populations depend upon for survival. The women of Mujeres Unidas were particularly emphatic in taking note of the centrality of agriculture to the indigenous community. Catalina explained that in Itzapa, indigenous children learn from a young age that life is in the field. This was her experience as a child, as she recalled: Yes, I worked...my brothers [and sisters] and I...from the age of 9, 8 years [we worked] in the field. We went to the field, there...pl anting or cutting the grasses...and we [my sisters and I] caring for our little brothers. And this is what I di d...after, when we were 14, 13, 15 years old, we continued to work...helping our parents. Eh...cutting the grass for the animals or gathering beans when it was the the harvest, or when it was the harvest gathering the milpa, the corn. We had to go help our parents and they never told us about our studies...only, only in the field. They taught us how to farm. Like other impoverished families in the highlands, Catalinas family did not have the resources to send her or her siblings to school. Instead, all family members were expected to work in the field to help cultivate the milpa, and thereby ensure the day to day survival of the family As Rosita explained, for indigenous families in the highlands, we farm so we can eat Thus, as soon as they are old enough, indigenous children are expected to work in the field, helping their parents to ensure that all family members will have food on their plates. While many of the women interviewed recognized the importance of formal education and lament ed the fact that they did not attend school when they were younger, they also t ook pride in the indigenous tradition of farming and in being part of a community of farmers. Luvia, for instance, said that she thanks God every day because her parents taught her and her sister and two brothers how to farm. Like Catalina and Rosita Luvia highlighted the importance of farming for all members of the indigenous
140 community men and women alike. As she explain ed, she and the other women of Mujeres Unidas have developed an awareness of environmental problems in Itzapa not only because they are women but because they are indigenous women: I think that we, the indigenous people, we know more about working in the fields. Because for example the people like, the ladinos, they are not accustomed to working in the field, and they cannot carry heavy things.... So they use more, for example, stoves, blenders, all that. So it does not bother them much, the lack of firewood. In contrast we, the indigenous use more firewood. And we have more experience working in the, the fields. Maybe its because of that, that they [the ladinos] do not care much about the environment because they only think about themselves. But they do not think about the future.... In contrast we, thank God our parents taught us to work like this, very hard. To work with a shovel, with a machete. And we know how to cut firewood, all that. Maybe because of this maybe we the indigenous are concerned more [ about the environment ] because we have more experience working in the fields. It has been noted that in Guatemala, the distinction between urban city dwellers and rural farmers is org anized along racial lines ladinos are overwhelmingly concentrated in urban settings, while an estimated 75% of the indigenous populati on resides in rural areas (UN 2009). This distinction is so clear that in Guatemala, it is almost automatic to consider the ladino identity as an urban identity, and the indigenous identity a s a rural identity (Ehlers 2000; Hale 2006). Thus, it is unsurprising that Luvia considered environmental problem s to be of little concern to ladinos whom she characterized as urban dwellers and thus far removed from their local environment In contrast, she consider ed environmental problems to be of special concern to the indigenous community who, as a rural and agricultural based community, depends upon the environment for day to day survival. Marta echoed Luvias concerns, and also incorporated an analysis of class in explaining how environmental problems impact indigenous women and men. As she
141 argued, the largely impoverished indigenous community does not have the financial resources to ignore or escape the consequences of environmental degradation. Because the indigenous, we are poor, and the ladinos...[the environment] does not concern them. Because they have money if they do not have water. They can buy Salvavida [bottled] water. It does not af fect them. We cannot buy Salvavida, right? And they live in the city...they cannot see, or they dont...dont want to see environmental problems. Because they do not use trees, they do not need trees. Thus, when speaking about environmental problems and t heir consequences, many indigenous women characterized them as being clearly organized along lines of race and class. As the women explained, they are problems which have a particularly strong impact on the largely impoverished indigenous community, which has long depended upon the environment for food, shelter, and income. When speaking of environmental problems in Itzapa, Fidelia, another member of Mujeres Unidas, point ed out that, These are not only my problems. All of us here depend on our land for sur vival, and if we do not care for it, then it will not care for us. We must protect our land to protect our future. Thus, while indigenous women characterized some problems as having gendered consequences as is the case with the lack of firewood and clean w ater they noted that others impact all members of the indigenous community. In particular, the women express ed a concern with soil erosion and mudslides, as well as the widespread use of agrochemicals by small scale farmers Soil Erosion and Mudslides In highland departments high rates of deforestation have led to a lack of firewood and increased incidence of soil erosion and the contamination of water resources. Soil erosion poses a particular danger in highland communities to farmers and their crops in highland communities. In Itzapa, Chimal, Masat and other areas of highland
142 Guatemala, most far mers plots are located on very steep hillsides where it is both difficult and dangerous to farm (see Figures 4 6 and 4 7 ). Indeed, in some areas, the Figure 46. Deforested hillside with soil erosion outside of Chimal. Figure 48 Deforested milpa plot in Masat with evidence of severe soil erosion. T renches opened in the plot following a heavy rainfall in June 2009.
143 terrain is so steep and rocky that farmers will tie themselves to nearby trees as they work, in order to keep from sliding down a hillside. In these mountainous areas, soil erosion aggravates the possibility of mudslides, which can completely destroy residents communities and cr ops. A s I pointed out in Chapter 2, the connections between deforestation, soil erosion, and mudslides were made painfully clear in 2005 when Hurricane Stan brought torrential rains and flooding to much of Guatemala. Highland communities throughout Chimaltenango and Solol experienced high incidence of soil erosion and mudslides during the hurricane, and also during the weeks and months that followed. For Elena, it was clear that the mudslides in Itzapa were connected to the deforestation of mountain slopes: Because...because of the erosion of the soil, right? They cut all the trees, only the lo o se roots remained, and the earth was very loose. And when the hurricane came, it was very easy for it to bring all the earth, uprooted trees, more trees. And a ll for not being reforested, they deforested all the mountains. So, this is a grave problem that we are seeing now, right? It is notable that all of the women interviewed in 2006 and 2009 mentioned soil erosion and mudslides as some of the biggest environm ental problems in their communities. As the women explained, both of these problems pose a grave threat to crops, as well as the safety of farmers and their communities. Mona, from Puebla, is a farmer and a mother of four children. She described some of the dangers that she contends with on a day to day basis when she works in her field: The soil can be loose, and it is easy to slip on the rocks. I do not like to bring my children...the little ones with me, because it can be a little dangerous S o I ask my older ones to watch them when I am working [in the field]. Mona extended this danger beyond her own personal experiences, however, saying that, I am only one of many farmers here. I know that others have the same difficulties like I have. Thus, Mona c onnected her experiences to the e xperiences of others in
144 situations similar to hers, concluding that the dangers inherent in farming on steep, unstable slopes are dangers that many farmers in her community must contend with on a day to day basis. Other wom en noted the threat that mudslides pose to their crops, as many farmers had significant portions of their fields washed away during and after Hurricane Stan. Catalina, from Itzapa, link ed the problem of mudslides with the problem of deforestation in her community She argued that, We have to farm to eat, of course, but the only places to farm are here, on these mountains that are very steep. This is a problem because people want to clear more and more space for their crops, and not everyone knows the importance of trees. But then, when the rain is strong, there are many crops that are washed away, and then what do people have to eat? Ivelisse, a lso from Itzapa, similarly linked problems of deforestation, soil erosion, and mudslides. She argued that she began working with AIR in large part to protect her crops from the dangers of soil erosion. One of her neighbors had lost all of his crops in a mudslide that occurred during the week following Hurricane Stan. She noted that he is not the only one, ex plaining that, People came here afterwards to give us clothes and water, but they did not understand all that we had lost. We lost our crops, our food. It will take a long time to recover from t his....This is why our little group [Mujeres Unidas ] works wit h AIR. We work with AIR to plant the trees to protect our crops and protect our families, our future. Thus, while soil erosion and mudslides may impact individual farmers and their crops, the women interviewed do not characterize them as problems that are limited to one or two individual farmers. Rather, the women view these problems as part of a larger pattern of environmental degradation that threatens the food base, safety, and future of the entire indigenous community.
145 Agrochemicals Through their work as farmers, many women also developed a sense of concern over the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers From the 2006 and 2009 interviews, a total of six women (four from Itzapa and two from Chimal) report ed using agrochemicals on either their subsistence crops, their commercial crops, or both. All express ed some uneasiness in doing this, however, as there is a growing awareness in Guatemala of the health risks associated with agrochemical use. Recent estimates indicate that the number of acute illnesses resulting from pesticide use in Guatemala varies between 10,000 and 30,000 annually (PAHO 1998). In the present study, t he indigenous women who reported us ing agrochemicals said that they began doing so when they adopted export crop cultivation. In order to secure a contract with an export company, farmers usually must agree to apply a certain amount of pesticides and fertilizers to the export crops for each growing cycle. Previous studies have shown that farmers may apply as many as 20 applicatio ns of pesticides per growing cycle (Fischer and Hendrickson 2003; Hamilton and Fischer 2003). Pesticides and other agrochemicals are available at small stores located throughout communities (see Figure 4 9 ). Felippa and her husband, Pedro, adopted expor t crop cultivation in 2002. Like Elsa, Felippa and Pedro contract with the local exporter Legumex. Felippa said that in order to secure the contract, Pedro had to agree to use a certain brand of pesticide and fertilizer, and to apply them a certain number of times every month. While Felippa noted that the company is very strict in showing farmers how to apply the agrochemicals to the crops, she also said that the company made no mention of the health risks of the chemicals.
146 Figure 49 Inside of one local store that sells agrochemicals in Itzapa. Stores like these are a common sight in communities throughout Chimaltenango and Solol This is particularly alarming, given that many agrochemicals commonly used in Guatemala have been banned in the U.S. due to concerns about the risks that they pose to both humans and the environment. One of these is Methamidophos, manufactured by Bayer and sold under the names Tamaron or Monitor 4. This insecticide has been linked to health problems amongst bot h humans and animals, and the World Health Organization classifies it as a type 1b (Highly Hazardous) chemical (Lee 2008). However, due to relaxed government regulation of the agroexport sector in Guatemala, methamidophos and other harmful chemicals are r eadily available for purchas e at any local tienda. Despite using the chemicals on their export crops, Felip p a and her husband do not spray them on the familys subsistence crops of corn and beans. She said that this is a compromise she reached with her husband: He has worked for many years in a farm [on a seasonal basis in Tecp n] and they use many chemicals there. He has a bad cough that he has developed since
147 working there. When we started growing these crops [snow peas], I told him that we can use chemicals on these crops, but not on the maize [for family consumption]. I know that the chemicals are bad for his health, and I do not want him to use them. I think they are bad for our family. The other women who said that their families used agrochemicals on their crops also report ed reservations in doing so, and acknowledged that they worry some about the longterm consequences of using these inputs. Indeed, concern over chemical inputs i s cited by many women as one of the main reasons why they chose to w ork with AIR. Through AIR, the women have learned how to make and use an organic fertilizer/pesticide mixture (made from charcoal). Rebec ca, from Chimal, explained why she preferred the organic mixture, noting that If we can farm in a way that does not hurt our land or our health, then of course we will do it. Why should we use those chemicals if we know that they are dangerous? Lidia, also from Chimal, concur red with Rebecca. She noted that farming in a sustainable way, w ithout the use of chemicals, h as both short and longterm benefits for individual farmers, their families, and their larger communities: In this way we take care of our health and the health of our families. What good are crops if they are poisoned and if they make you sick to grow the m and to eat them? We can grow them without using those chemicals, andwe can grow them in away that does not make us sick and does not make our children and grandchildren sick. Discussion As the words and stories of women like Elena, Catalina, and Rebecca make clear, indigenous women in Guatemala have a well developed awareness of environmental problems in their local communities. In particular, indigenous women from communities in Chimaltenango and Solol express ed a great deal of concern with problems of deforestation, soil erosion, the contamination of water sources, and the overuse of
148 agrochemicals. The womens awareness of environmental problems was due in part to their traditional responsibilities as the primary food, fuel, and water providers for their families. In this respect, I contend with ecofeminist scholars and argue that womens environmental awareness is shaped to a great deal through the gender division of labor and womens roles as mediators between society and nature. However, I also argue that the gender division of labor is much more fluid than many ecofeminists recognize, and that it is also shaped in part by social, political, and economic developments. Thus, indigenous womens awareness of environmental problems in Guatemala is also due in large part to their increasing responsibilities as both subsistence and commercial farmers, roles which they have been forced to assume as widows in the aftermath of Guatemalas civil war, or in response to gendered patterns of migration and the advent of export agriculture. It is also important to point out that while indigenous women acknowledged that some environmental problems directly impacted their work as women, they also characterized these problems as c ommunity wide problems that posed threats to the land and crops that the indigenous community depends upon for survival. Thus, themes of gender, race, and class were central to indigenous womens explanations for how and why they developed an awareness of environmental problems in their local communities. Overall, th eir testimonies highlight the importance of an intersectional analysis of environmental problems. Thus, I argue that ecofeminists and other environmental scholars must recognize how interconnected social mar kers and systems of power and privilege work together to shape how individuals and communities identify, experience, and respond to environmental problems
149 In the next chapter, I examine how and why indigenous womens awareness of environmental problems led them to take action to pr otect their land and communities
150 CHAPTER 5 THE WILL TO ACT: GENDER SOCIALIZATION AND THE CAREWORK OF ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVI SM In 1997, three years after what she refers to as the death of the river Xipacay, Elena Siquinajay was still thinking about the environmental problems facing her community of Itzapa. She shared her concerns with an acquaintance, Francisca. Francisca told Elena about a presentation that a local organization was planning to give the foll owing week: She told me that the organization was about the environment, and I was excited. Ah, how good! I told her. So lets go!....So the next week, we went to the presentation, and this was the presentation of AIR. It was at this presentation that Elena met William Santizo, a ladino agroforestry technician who started working with AIR in 1994. During the presentation, William spoke about deforestation and its connections to soil erosion, mudslides, and other environmental problems. For Elena, the presentation clarified many of her worries about the environment, and also sparked a strong reaction in her. I started to cry. He [William] was talking about all the damage we are doing to the earth, the way we are destroying it. And he was talking about Mother Earth. And I, I started to think about my childhood. My father was very violent. Many times he hit my mother...never us, the children. But my mother, yes. And I had to take care of my little brothers and little sisters, because I was the oldest, and my mother was not able to take care of us when my father hit her. And so I was thinking, We are destroying the earth. And the earth is like our mother, like a beaten mother. How can the earth care for us when she is abused ? ...So I decided th at I wanted to do something to help...not just to take care of her, Mother Earth, but us, her children too. Like many other indigenous women who choose to work with AIR, Elena describes her environmental activism as carework as a way of caring for the earth, the family, and the community. In particular, Elena and other women relate their
151 environmental activism to their work as mothers, in that they characterize their activist work as an extension of the carework they do within the household. Indigenous women in Guatemala are not alone in using their identities as mothers and caretakers to inform their activist work. Indeed, mobilizing ar ound these identities is an important strategy for women around the world who are work ing for social, economic, and environmental justice on behalf of their communities (Collins 2000; Craske and Chant 2003; Godfrey 2005; hooks 1990; Naples 1998; Pardo 1998; Seagar 1996, 1993). As Patricia Hill Collins (2000) and bell hooks (1990) note, for women living in socially and economically oppressive conditions, mobilizing around the identity of mothers is often an important pathway to broader based community activ ism. Nancy Naples (1998) makes a similar argument, and uses the term activist mothering to describe any type of activism that involves carework for individuals within ones household and larger community As Naples explains Activist mothering not only involves nurturing work for those outside ones kinship group, but also encompasses a broad definition of actual mothering practices (113). Here, it is important to recognize that community is not used simply in reference to geographic or spatial locat ions, but is also constructed along a convergence of racial ethnic identification and class affiliation (Naples 1998:114) Thus, in many cases womens community carework is connected to larger struggles against racism, sexism, and poverty. In the case of indigenous women in Guatemala, I argue that it is also part of a long struggle against the colonization of indigenous land and resources. While I contend that it is important to recognize environmental activism as a form of community carework, and as an extension of the carework that women do within the
152 household, I also caution against viewing this carework as a natural tendency for women. Rather, I argue that the propensity of women t o become community activists stems directly from their gender socialization, in which women have been taught since childhood to be caregiv ers within the household. In this chapter I explore how the gender specific socialization of girls and women in highla nd Guatemala has led to women developing a consciousness of car e that has guided their pathways to becoming environmental activists in Guatemala. Specifically, I focus on the oral histories of the women of Mujeres Unidas, in an effort to understand how gender and processes of gender socialization influenced their decisions to become environmental activists. As the women of Mujeres Unidas made clear, they view their environmental work with AIR as an important way of caring for their families, children, and the future of the larger indigenous community. By mobilizing around their identities as mothers and caregivers, indigenous women link their personal, everyday experiences to political activism, and extend the carework they do within the household to thei r larger communities. Of course, it should be pointed out that womens mobilization ar ound their identit ies as mothers has long been a fiercely debated topic within feminist scholarship on Latin American ( Alvarez 1990; Chant and Craske 2003; Molyneaux 2001; Sutton 2007). While some scholars view it as contributing to womens oppression and confinement in the home (i.e., women have value only or primarily as mothers and/or wives) others view it as an empowering strategy, a basis for political participation, identity, resistance, and/or transformation (Chant and Craske 2003:10). Here again I note the importance of an intersectional analaysis: while I concur that it is problematic to
153 continue to reinforce the link between women and motherhood, I also argue that it is important to recognize the (environmental) activist mothering of indigenous women a s a n important form of carework for the entire indigenous community. Understood in this way, it is possible to situate the environmental activism and carework of indigenous women within both the womens movement and the larger indigenous movement As part of the Guatemalan womens movement, the environmental activism of indigenous women challenges scholars and activists alike to broaden our definitions of womens issues to include not only racism and poverty, but environmental degradation as well. A dditionally, highlighting the work of groups like Mujeres Unidas allows for a better understanding of the ways in which indigenous women are contributing to the lar ger indigenous movement. As a way of caring for the health, safety, land, and future of their families and communities, indigenous womens environmental activism is an important part of the indigenous movement in Guatemalaa movement that has struggled for the past five centuries against the exploitation and destruction of indigenous land labor, and resources Learning to Care: Gender Socialization and the Development of a Consciousness of Care When recounting her childhood in Itzapa, Catalina Siquinajay acknowledged that she had many responsibilities as a young girl From the age of eight she worked in the field with her parents, assisting them in clearing and planting their milpa plot. She also had daily responsibilities for helping her mother cook and wash clothes, and for taking the family corn to the molin, the community corn grinder Catalina noted that perhaps her most important responsibility was looking after her little brothers and sisters: I [as the oldest] always had reponsability to care for my little brothers [an d sisters]. Because at times my mother had to work and she could not care for us, neither
154 could my father because he was working too. So it was I...I took my little brothers [and sisters] to the field, I carried the baby on my back, like this...and when my mother was sick I had the responsibility to make and carry food [to the field] for the entire family. This is what I did since the age of nine, eight years old. Catalina is not alone; the other leaders of Mujeres Unidas also acknowledge that from an early age, they learned that they were expected to care for their families and households. These expectations were often clearly organized along the lines of gender, as Ivelisse explain ed in the following exchange: Ivelisse: When I was young, I did not go to school. I did not learn many things, eh, like math, Spanish, things like that. My school was in the house, the field. Rachel : So, what did you learn in the house and field? Ivelisse: How to cook,eh, how to farm. How to take care of my little brothers [and sisters] I helped my mother a lot, making tortillas, washing clothes. And i f someone my little brother for examplewas sick, I helped her [my mother] to care for them. My sister and I, we helped our mother a lot. Rachel : And your brothers? Did they help your mother? Ivelisse: [Laughing]. No! Of course not. They were working. They work ed only in the field, helping my father. The oral histories of the women of Muje res Unidas reveal that gender was central to shaping their childhood experiences in Itzapa. Beginning at an early age, the women learned the expectations and responsibilities that their families and larger society placed on them, first as girls, and later as women. Of course, it should be pointed out that this gender socialization is embedded within every society. Recognized as the lifelong process through which we learn the social expectations of what is appropriately masculine or feminine, gender soc ialization plays a major role in teaching the values, behaviors, norms, expectations, and responsibilities (traditionally) associated with maleness or femaleness in a particular context (Andersen 2009:33) While gender socialization influences and is influenced by cultural and social forces there are also
155 over arching themes in this process that cut across many cultural boundaries. One of these themes entails women l earning how to assume the role of care giv ers As Andersen (2009) notes, the role of caregiver involves taking responsibility for carework or all the forms of labor (including unpaid work) that is needed to nurture, reproduce, and sustain people... [and that] is critical to the maintenance of soci al life. C are work is gendered insofar as women do the vast majority of such work within the household (ibid:147). While both gender socialization and carework are basic sociological concept s, they are largely absent in discussions of gender and the environment. Rather, as I argued in Chapter 4, ecofeminists and other gender and environment scholars tend to treat the gender division of labor and womens roles as caregiv ers as given features of any society, largely ignoring the ways in which these arrangements are socially constructed By foregrounding the concept of gender socialization, I emphasize that the role of woman as caregiv er and the behaviors, values, and consciousness associated with this roleare all learned attributes. As Catalina, Ivelisse and other women point out, their parents and families were key to facilitating the process of socialization ; it was from their parents that they first learned the responsibilities that were expected of them, first as girls and later as women. Luvia credited her parents with teaching her everything, say ing that, A s a child, I had to learn how to do many things From my father [I learned] how to cultivate, how to work in the field. From my mother [I learned] how to cook, take care of the house, eh, cleaning, washing clothes, caring for children, all that. As I noted in Chapter 4, while the gender division of labor in highland Guatemala is in many ways flexible, it is more so for women; that is, it is more acceptable and in some cases necessary for women to adopt work tra ditionally done by men. However,
156 t he socially undervalued realm of reproductive carework is still largely reserved for women; as noted by David Carey (2006), indigenous men do not engage in womens work because to do so would be humiliating, a sign that men were choosing subordination ( 115; see Chapter 4 for more on this). Some indigenous women viewed the gender division of labor as unproblematic, describing it as simple costumbre and a reflection of men and womens natural tendencies. Rosita for instance, saw no problem with taking care of the house while her husband works for wages She said, I t is tradition. The man has to work all day, some in the field, some in the plantation. My husband, for example, does all types of hard work. He works on the mountain...selling firewood, he works as an assistant to a bricklayer So when he comes home at the end of the day he is tired, his back hurts, his hands hurt, he does not want to do anything! So I make dinner and I take care of him. This is the responsibility that I have. Of course, Rosit a neglected to mention the hard work that she does on a daily basis. S he wakes up at 3:30 or 4:00 every morning to begin making breakfast for her family, and then goes to work in the family sub sistenc e plot for a few hours. S he tends the family store for the rest of the day, and then around 6:00 p.m. begins to make dinner. After dinner, her oldest daughter helps to wash dishes and put the younger children to sleep while Rosita stays awake until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. w eaving huipils to sell at local markets According to Rosita, it usually takes between one and three months to make a huipil, which usually sells for 250 Quetzales, or a little more than USD $30. Unlike Rosit a, Elena wa s highly critical of the ways in whi ch the everyday responsibilities of caring for the family and household can overburden indigenous women.
157 A t times it is a little funny, at times sad, because after [work], the man goes, if possible he goes to play a little ball or he simply stays...if he has a television he watches television, or if not, he stays on the bed like this, very comfortable, and sle eps peacefully. And the women is running, watching after the children, caring for them. Lets go to school! Lets go to the market! Lets go home! A nd if one wants its bottle, if one wants coffee with bread, or if one want s to leave to go shopping, ay! One with children, with all the work, with all the care for her husband. The husband just brings the money. It is certain that he brings the money, but w ho works more? ...And we are a lways thinking of our hus band and the children, never thinking of oursel ves So they [the women] say, Ah, I want to please my husband. And I quit thinking of myself. We are always thinking of the husband. But never do we think, what would I like? H owever, while Elena acknowledged the burden of carework, she also point ed out that it is a responsibility that should be shared by all members of the community. She argued that it is because of their responsibilities as caregiv ers that the women of Mujeres Unidas decided to take action to stop further environmental degradation in Itzapa. It i s certain that w e should all take care of each other, right? This is what we [the women of Mujeres Unidas] believe. That it is not just the work of women, but everyone men, parents, grandparents, little ones right? This is our idea...the idea that we have. And this is why we started to work with AIR, because we realize d that it is very important to care for the future of everyone, o ur children and our community. Luvia concur red with Elena, and also connect ed her concern for her children and family with her concern for protecting the environment. As she said This is the interest that we, the women, have: to plant more so that our children later may have a place to get firewood, and will have pure air. This is...that is what one...one has to think of the children! Not of oneself. Because now...maybe now we will not see if the future will be bad. But they [the children] will. So we have to do something now. Like Elena and Luvia, all of the le aders of Mujeres Unidas emphasized the importance of taking care of their families children, and community when discussing their environmental activism. While it is c lear that the women see a connection between their care work within and beyond the household, this work should not be regarded as
158 simply a nat ural tendency for women. Rather, I argue that women make the decision to engage in community care work as environmental activists due in large part to their gender socialization as caregiv ers. Since their childhood, the women were taught and expe cted to assume a caregiving role; as secondary caregiv ers, they helped their mothers to care for their siblings and their fathers. This early learning helped to facilitate womens transition to the role of primary care giv ers as wives and/or mothers as adults I argue that it is t hrough the process of gender socialization and the assumption of traditional gender roles that women develop a consciousness of care. Simply put, a consciousness of care is the recognition of the importance of engaging in work to benefit and nurture ones family, community, and larger society. This consciousness may then be an impetus that leads individuals to mobilize and act upon perceived threats to their families and/or communities. A consciousness of care i s also something that is learned or developed, both from the material conditions of ones everyday life as well as ones everyday responsibilities. Here, it is important to reiterate the centrality of gender: patterns of gender socialization facilitate the development of womens consciousness of care, as women are taught (and expected) throughout their lives to fulfill a caregiving role. This is not to say that men cannot or should not be caretakers quite the opposite! Rather, I am simply pointing out that the caregiving role and a consciousness of care are attributes that women are taught and expected to assume, while in many societi es men are actively discouraged from possessing (or displaying) these attributes.
159 I t is this gendered, caring consciousness that informs womens carework within the household and larger community. As the leaders of Mujeres Unidas point ed out, it is also this consciousness that led them to make the decision to work with AIR and bec ome environmental activists. Juana explains: F or me, to be a mother is to care for my children in all ways. Not only in the house, making food, caring for them when they are crying, and all that, but also taking care of their future.... So this is why I work in the little group with Doa Elena [and AI R], for the future, so my children can have clean air and water. Many of the women also noted the centrality of gender in their environmental work, and point ed out that when they first started to work with AIR, the men of the community (including their hus bands and members of their own families) teased them and laughed at them. As Catalina recalled There are many men that are not interested. Eh...for example when we first formed the group, we talked with our neighbors, our friends, and we told them that we need to plant trees for the future, to protect our future. But their husbands were laughing and said that we were wasting our time. So because of this there were not many women in our little group, because their husbands are very machista Rosita point ed out that when she joined Mujeres Unidas her husband was not supportive at all She said that when she first started working with the other women, He [my husband] did not think anything. He told me, What benefits are you all making? What is the point ? Other women said that their husbands grew resentful, and even violent, as they thought that their wives work with AIR would detract from their responsibilities within the home. Juana, for instance, said that when she first started to meet with the group every Tuesday afternoon, her husband accused her of neglecting him and the children, and of cheating on him. She recounted: He got very angry. He was drinking a lot and he told me that I was going out with men. So he hit me. Every week he hit me. Eventually,
160 Juana began to lie to her husband, telling him she was going to the market to buy vegetables whenever she went to meet with the women of Mujeres Unidas. At the meeting, the other women gave Juana vegetables from their own gardens, so that her husband would not become suspicious. Juana says that in spite of the threat of violence from her hubsand, she continues to work with Mujeres Unidas because she believes in the importance of the work. It [the groups work] is very important because we [the indigenous] do not have much! So we need to protect what we have. ... What the group wants is hopefully that everyone benefits from our work. Aha. That is what...what I think...that we benefit everyone so that...in the future the people...the children will have tr ees, air, clean water. Yes. Its for the common good. Yes. Safe Spaces and the Development of Critical Consciousness Shortly after Elena attended Williams presentation, she contacted her longtime friends Catalina and Graciela. They met at Elenas home and talked about Williams presentation, and about the sadness they felt at the deforest ation around them. Elena recounted the meeting: I told them, It gives me sadness to see the trees falling. When the chainsaw comes cutting, deforesting everything, and al l the little animals are running, dying, looking for their children, searching for branches to cover themselves, it is very sad. And Catalina and Graciela were also ver y sentimental. Me too, it gives me sadness. So, what can we do? Catalina told me. I didnt know. So I told her I dont know. But we have to i nvite more women, and we should call William. Following that first meeting, Elena, Catalin a and Graciela proceded to make use of informal social networks to invite other women to join their group. They told their friends, neighbors, and relatives that they wanted to work with AIR and plant trees in order to protect their community and their childrens future. Initially, m any women were unable to participate; according to Elena and Catalina, this was due in part to a lack of time, and in part to the fact that many womens husbands discouraged them from
161 participating. In spite of these setbacks, however, within three week s the group grew to include elev en mem bers: Elena, Catalina, Luvia, Isabel, Felippa, Marta, Juana, Rosita, Elsa, Ivelisse and Graciela.17The small group of women began to work wit h William on a weekly basis. Elenas husband supported their efforts and he and Elena alloted a small corner of their land to be used as a tree nursery. William and AIR provided the women with the seeds, tools, and training necessary to cultivate tree seedlings. The women and William agreed to meet every Tuesday afternoon for a few hours to wo rk in the nursery. Occasionally, William took the women on tours of AIRs agroforestry projects in other communities. These tours allowed the women the opportunity to talk with other (indigenous) farmers and see how agroforestry work was being carried out elsewhere. With these members Elena then proceded to contact William and asked him to help the group establish its first tree nursery In July of 1998, a fter several months of training and work, the time came to plant the groups first batch of approximately 600 tree seedlings. The members of Mujeres Unidas voted and unanimously decided to plant the seedlings in the milpa plots of Elena Graciela, and Catalina, the founders of Mujeres Unidas For the women planting the trees was a momentous occasionit was a reward and validation f or their hard work, and helped motivate them to c ontinue. As Elena sa id We saw our dream as a reality. All of us [were] like this... crying. We were planting, and laughing, and crying... all at the same time! We realized that we have the ability to do what we want, and we wanted to do more. Since those firs t years of work with AIR in 1997 and 1998, the leaders of Mujeres Unidas have made it a priority to continue to attend the weekly meetings in the tree 17 Graciela worked with the group for two years, but had to quit due to time constraints. She passed away in 2002.
162 nursery. According to the women, these meetings are important in two respects. First, in regards to practical issues, the meetings enable the women to learn and practice the technical specifics of sustainable agroforestry: how to plant and cultivate seeds and seedlings; how to make organic fertilizer and pesticide; when and how the trees should be planted; etc. As Catalina described it, The nursery is our school We are always learning things Second and perhaps more importantly, the tree nursery and the time spent there have offered the women invaluable opportunities to simply be together for an extended period of timetalking, laughing, and bonding, free (for a brief time) from the distractions and demands of everyday life. In many ways, the time in the tree nursery has helped the women of Mujeres Unida s to cultivate a safe space, a place where they can speak freely and share conversation, ideas, worries, concerns, and laughs with each other These safe spaces represent much more than a casual opportunity to chat with friends, however. Rather, I concur with Patricia Hill Collins (2000) who argues that safe spaces constitute critical sites of resistance where members of oppressed groups can freely express t hemselves, free from dominant forces of racism and/or sexism that would otherwise marginalize their voices or render them silent. Writing about the importance of safe spaces for Black women in the U.S., Collins contends that these spaces are a necessary condition for Black womens resistance to objectifying racist, sexist, and elitist ideologies Thus, by advancing Black womens empowerment through self definition, these safe spaces help Black women resist dominant ideology (2000:101). For the women of Mujeres Unidas, the tree nursery and fields where they plant offer a refuge from the demands of everyday life, as well as a place free of oppressive
163 forces the racism and marginalization of larger society, and the patriarchy that many women experience within their own homes. Many women reported that w h en t hey are in the company of other indigenous womentheir friends and fellow group members they feel more liberated to share their ideas and opinion s. Marta, 38, explain ed that it is important for indigenous women to work together in order to find and express their voice: Yes, it is important [to work together]. To defeat the fear, to be able to have...to reclaim the strength of the woman. To find her voice. Aha. To lose that timidity, because at times someone at the meeting says, what I want to say is not correct...you all are going to laugh. But working in the group, one loses this timidity, this fear. This hesitancy and fear of speaking develops as many girls and women are actively discouraged from expressing their thoughts and opinions within the household and larger community. Both symbolic and actual violence are used to silence women. For instance, some women noted that they fear being laughed at or ridiculed if they talk about political or social issues. Juana said that when she tries to talk with her husband or other men about the environment, they laugh at her. They [the men] say that we are crazy, that we do not have the right to speak about many things, nor to work in the nursery like we do. They say that they want us to start a tortilla shop if the trees die. Other women point ed out that the threat of physical violence has also led to some women being afraid to speak. Isabel dr ew from her own childhood to illustrate this point: For me, for example, I grew up with my father who would not let us speak. Always if we were talking my mother or my sister and I he would hit us. So I was very afraid to talk and I did not want to talk much. ... I still dread talking, but it is very important because we, the women...I believe that we have a good vision and we should, we need to share it wit h the community.
164 Thus, within a community and society in which womens voices are often marginalized, ridiculed, or ignored, the importance of safe spaces where women are encouraged to speak freely becomes apparent. The women of Mujeres Unidas note that their work in the nursery has given them the opportunity to share ideas to develop a clear understanding of their goals and vision, and to cultivate an empowered sense of self as they take pride in the work that they do. As Juana summarized simply, Here in the nursery we have more confidence with women. We have developed confidence in ourselves because we see that we have the ability, eh, the power to contribute to the common good. By allowing women the opportunity to speak freely, safe spaces help to facil itate the process of conscientization the development of a critical consciousness As elaborated by Paolo Freire (2008), conscientization involves both action and reflection, critical thinking by means of which people discover each other to be in a situa tion (109). Through this process, individuals who were submerged in reality, merely feeling their needs, emerge from reality and perceive the causes of their needs (110). As Friere contends, t his critical consciousness in turn in forms the continuation and/or extension of activist work. Elena Siquinajay said that it was shortly after she began working with AIR that she started to become muy critica (very critical) of the sexism, racism, and poverty that she saw in Itzapa and elsewhere in Guatemala. Elena explains that after the women of Mujeres Unidas planted their first batch of tree seedlings, other women in the community expressed an interest in joining the group. As more women began to participate in the meetings every Tuesday, Elena began to recognize common themes in the stories the women told about their lives.
165 They talked about the same pain, psychologically we have the same pain...of being poor, of being women without rights, without respect. And so the idea occurred to me that we are doing this work for our children, for our families, but what are we doing for ourselves? So this is when I started to learn about gender, about sexism and racism...and I used what I learned to teach the other women. In the fall of 1997, Elena started attending the Escuela Normal Pedro Molina por u na Educacin sin Sexismo y sin Racismo (the Pedro Molina Normal School for an Education without Sexism and Racism), a school sponsored by another local NGO that works to educate adults and adolescents on how to challenge sexism and racism in everyday life. It was here that Elena learned more about the history of colonization, and about the connections between various forms of oppression. It was also at this school that she learned how to educate others about these social problems, using a Freireinspired model of pedagogy. The schools program lasted four months, and Elena took everything she learned back to the tree nursery. In addition to the Tuesday meetings with William, Elena also started to lead separate meetings capacitaciones every other week in the nursery D uring these meetings she and the women spoke about their everyday problems and learned from each other in consciousness raising sessions (see Figure 51 ) For many women, these capacitaciones helped them t o better understand how larger systems of power and privilege shaped their own lives. Catalina point ed out that the women learned to recognize, name, and understand the historical foundations of different forms of oppression, including sexism or machismo as well as racism and poverty. The capacitaciones also help ed many leaders of Mujeres Unidas to realize the importance of continuing their activist work not only for their families and community but also as a way of empowering themselves. As Marta said
166 We realized that we need to continue this work so that we can continue to have respect for ourselves. And...i f I have respect and if I have confidence in myself then others are going to have respect for me, too. So t his is a nother goal that we have. Figur e 51. A capacitaci n in Itzapa, led by one of the leaders of Mujeres Unidas. The critical consciousness that the women of Mujeres Unidas developed continued to inform the womens environmental activism and also led some women to extend their community activis m beyond reforestation work alone. Elena and Catalina, for instance, started self esteem workshops for women and girls in Itzapa. In addition to teaching women how to value themselves, Elena and Catalina also used the workshops to recruit more women to the Mujeres Unidas group. By late 1998, the group had grown to include over 40 members. Around the same time the group decided to st art making and selling shampoo from sbila and manzanilla plants that many women grew in their milpa plots The shampoo sold well in both Itzapa and Chimaltenango, and in 2001 the group decided to use the proceeds to rent a small building where they opened a school to educate
167 indigenous children of families with escasos recursos (scarce resources). They named it the Pajaro de Fuego (Phoenix) SchooI because, as Elen a said, we believe that out of the ashes of poverty and discrimination a bright future can still grow. Two of the members of Mujeres Unidas who were literate volunteered to teach classes; however, due to other demands on the womens time, the school was only able to enroll one class of about 50 children during its first year. Throughout this time, the women of Mujeres Unidas continued to grow and plant trees in Itzapa. By 2000, all the leaders of the group had reforested their own fields, and the benefits of their agroforestry work were becoming apparent: all of the ten leaders contended that the trees had greatly improved the quality of the soil in their fields a s well as the quality and quantity of their crops. Elena said that within three years, the production of her milpa plot had doubled, because fewer plants were dying or being washed aw ay due to soil erosion. Eventually, other members of the community men and women alikenoticed the women s success, and started asking the women for trees to plant. The women met to decide whether to sell the trees or give them away. After some discussion, the group deci ded to give away a maximum of 50 trees to any farmers who asked for them. If the people wanted more, then they had to pledge to work for an agreed upon amount of time in the nursery. As Elena noted, while the women have not received monetary compensation for their work, they have received the respect of their community and the satisfaction that they are working for the common good. Catalina made a similar point, noting that For us it was an easy decision. Because we do not ask for anything, anything. We are doing this for our community, our children, and ourselves. What we receive is thanks and the promise of a better future.
168 Luvia agreed that the groups de cision to give trees away was a good one. She also offer ed a critical analysis noti ng that while womens unpaid work is often undervalued or unappreciated, that this is no longer the case with the work done by the women of Mujeres Unidas: Now people see the work that we do, and they can see how important it is to protect the trees, because the trees protect our land and give us clean water and pure air. Of course, there are still people that sell firewoodthey cut trees and do not plan one. But the majority, I believe, realize the importance of the little trees. And so now it is a little funny, because before people were laughing when we started to work in the nursery. And now they are as king us for trees! And so we joke and we say, who is laughing now? By 2001, the women of Mujeres Unidas had cultivated and plant ed 15,000 trees in and around Itzapa. On October 15, 2001, the International Day of Rural Women, the staff of AIR hosted a celebration to honor the hard wor k and achievements of Mujeres Unidas. Elena and the other group leaders prepared a statement for the celebration, in which they articulated their vision and goals for their activism. In addition to reflecting the womens motivations and visions for a better society, the statement also reflects the development of their critical consciousness. Their words form a powerful critique of the impact of interlocking systems of oppression including patriar chy, racism, and colonization on the everyday lives of indigenous women in Guatemala: Lo que somos: las raices de las Mujeres rurales en Guatemala, vienen directamente de los Civilizac iones Mayas, que les catalogaban c omo Creadoras de vida y Madres. Aos despues con la colonizacion y conquista, se empiezan a utilizar c omo obsequios para los espaoles y se les escl aviza ms severamente que a los hombres...y no solo en mbitos sociales sino tambin en mbitos familiares, donde se le asignan estrictamente la tarea de procreacin y otros roles secundarios (por no ser valorados adecuademente). Iniciando o fortaleciendo un proceso de discriminacin terrible y casi inhumana...no solo por el hecho de ser probres (lo que en si signicaba ya la falta de acceso a oportunidades de progreso). Tambien eran indgenas (catalogadas como de clase inferior y limitndolos an ms en sus propios niveles decadentes de vida). Y encimia de eso Mujeres (clasif icadas como inferiores a los hombres, sin derechos y con muchas obligaciones).
169 Lo que trajo su propia dinamica en la sociedad. Somos hijas (para quienes la educacin no era prioridad, porque lo importante era que nosotras aprendiramos los oficos domsticos para cuando nos casramos ) Somos hermanas (teniendo que servir, cuidar, alimentar a nuestros hermanos mientras ellos iban a la escuela o a trabajar). Somos esposas ( debiendo respeto y servicio eterno a nuestros maridos, asignadas culturalmente a hacer t odos los oficios domsticos y a tareas establecidas ) Somos Madres (debiendo cuidar, crear, ensear a nuestros hijos/as). Y en que momento hemos sido simplemente Mujeres? Lo que valemos: Aprendamos ver lo Invisible y a saber que nuestro aporte en cualqui er poca del tiempo, en cualquier parte del mundo ha sido indispensable para la construccin de cualquier accin de progreso humano. Somos una parte importante en la dinmica social humana, donde no podemos ni queremos separar a hombres y mujeres, lo que queremos es que se nos brinde el espacio justo para aceptar nuestras diferencias y aprovechar nuestras fortalezas en beneficio del bien comn. Lo que queremos: Queremos empezar con lo que podamos, con lo que tenemos a nuestro alcance. Val oremos lo que tenem os: vivimos en un pas donde la multiculturalidad y la interculturalidad no deben ser trminos de moda, deben ser parte de nuestra vida diaria, en nuestras casas, en nuestras comunidades y en nuestra Guatemala. Vernos a nosotras mismas y que nos vean com o Creadoras de una Nueva Sociendad ms Justa, ms Equitativa, y ms Humana. Es pues una responsabilidad compartida. Who we are: the roots of rural women in Guatemala come directly from the Maya civilizations, that categorized [women] as Creators of life and Mothers. In the years since the colonization and conquest, [ indigenous women] were used as objects by the Spanish and enslaved more severely than men...not only in social environments but in familiar environments, where they were strictly assigned the role of procreation and other secondary roles (by not being adequately valued). This started or strengthened a process of terrible and almost inhumane discrimination...not only for the fact of being poor (which meant a lack of opportunties to progress). Also for being indigenous (catalogued as an inferior class and limited still more to the lower levels of life). And on top of this, women (classified as inferior to men, without rights and with many obligations). This has brought its own dynamic to our soc iety. We are daughters (for whom education was not a priority, because what was important was that we learn the domestic roles for when we get married). We are sis ters (having to serve, care for feed our brothers while they went to school or to work). We are wives (owing respect and eternal service to our husbands culturally assigned to do all thi ngs domestic and all traditional tasks). We are mothers (having to care, believe in, teach our children).
170 And in what moment have we simply been women? What we value: Let us learn to see the Invisible, and to know that our role in any time period, in any part of the world has been indispensible for any action of human progress. We are an important part of the human social dynamic, where we are not able nor do w e want to separate men and women, what we want is the space to accept our differences and to take full advantage of our strengths for the benefit of the common good. What we want: We want to start with what we are able, with what we have within our reach. We value what we have: we live in a country where multiculturalism and interculturalism should not be buzz words, they should be part of our daily life, in our homes, in our communities, and in our Guatemala. [We want to be able] to see ourselves and to be seen as creators of a New Society that is more Just, more Equitable, and more Humane. It is therefore a shared responsibility. Since 2001, the women of Mujeres Unidas have continued to meet and work in the tree nursery on a regular basis. The group has planted more than 9 0,000 trees in and around Itzapa, and plans to continue planting between 10,00011,000 trees each year The group now includes 120 women from Itzapa and nearby communit ies, although many women are not able to attend the meetings on a regular basis due to time constraints and everyday demands. Nonetheless, the members of Mujeres Unidas are well known and respected throughout the community, and they have gained the attention of national newspapers like Prensa Libre, which published a story in 2007 on the group. The leaders of Mujeres Unidas have also expanded their activist work beyond the local level to make national and international connections In 2003, Elena developed a partnership with another international NGO to expand the work of t he Pajaro de Fuego school The NGO provides the school with both financial resources as well as team s of international volunteers who teach classes at the school T oday, t he school offers a free education and enrolls over 300 indigenous children between the ages of 513 every year. Many of the women of Mujeres Unidas have children currently enrolled in the
171 school, and Catalina, Luvia, and Marta regularly help Elena to clean and maintain the building where classes are held. In a country where 43 percent of t he (mostly indigenous) rural population is illiterate, the education of indigenous children and adults is a political act (Cuxil 2006) As Catalina sa id We live in a place where almost half of the population cannot r ead or write. And it is worse for us as indigenouspeopls, and it is also bad for women. So, for example, I cannot read, and Elena can only read a little. But our children, yes [they can read]. It [education] is important because when we have an education, it is possible to know about our rights as indigenous people and as women. And so it is possible to make a better future for ourselves. Through t hei r work with the school the leaders of Mujeres Unidas have made connections with the larger indig e nous movement. Pajaro de Fuego is certified thro ugh the National Commi ttee for Literacy (Comi t Nacional de Alfabetizaci n, or CONALFA), which works with local and national organizations to improve literacy rates amongst indige nous and rural communities throughout Guatemala. More recently, the women of Mujeres Unidas have also linked their work to the larger womens movement in Guatemala. In 2007, Elena was asked to speak at a national conference organized by the group Mujeres L deres Guatemaltecas (Guatemalan Women Leaders). During her presentation, El ena spoke about the importance of recognizing environmental activism as a key part of both the indigenous movement and the womens movement, noting that environmental problems have a tremendous impact on the day to day lives of indigenous women and men. W hile Elena appreciated the opportunity to speak and to make connections with other leaders in the womens movement, she was also critical of the fact that she was one of only a few indigenous women present at the conference (which included over 1,000 women) She was also the only indigenous woman who was asked to speak as a panelist.
172 Nevertheless, Elena made some important connections at the conference, and met with members of Tierra Viva, one of the largest womens organizations in Guatemala. The leadership structure of Tierra Viva is comprised of both indig e n ous and ladina women, and the organization recognizes that problems of poverty, racism, and illiteracy are all feminist issues (Tierra Viva 2010). Shortly after the leadership conference, members of Tierra Viva went to Itzapa to host a workshop on womens rights and self esteem. Since then, representatives of the organization have returned to Itzapa every year to continue their work with women in the community Revisiting the Motherhood Question The words and stories of the women of Mujeres Unidas encourage a closer examination of womens identity based organizing, particularly around the identity of mothers and/or caretakers As I mentioned earlier, the strategy of organizing women as mothers/caretakers has long been debated within the gender and feminist scholarship on Latin America. M an y scholars are critical of this strategy, arguing that it actually impedes womens social progress by reinforcing the patriarchal idea that women only have value insofar as they adhere to their traditional roles as caretakers of the family ( Chaney 1979; Lagarde 1994; Molyneaux 2000). Chaney (1979), for instance, argues that associations with motherhood ultimately constrain womens political participation. If women act in ways that defy traditional notions of motherhood and/or femininity or that challenge patriarchal power then they jeopardize their claims on the political arena and thereby risk their political power and the possibility of securing gains for women. Others however, point out that for many women with limited economic and political resources, the strategy of mobilizing as mothers represents an important way of gaining access to the political realm (Alvarez 1990; Craske 1999; Godfrey 2005;
173 Schirmer 1993). Craske ( 1999), for instance, notes the ways in which motherist politics can introduce women to ideas of womens rights (as well as other political issues) Here again I reiterate the importance of an intersectional analysis: it is not enough to analyze womens organizing through the lens of gender alone. Rather, we must consider the ways in which race and class also shape womens opportunities and strategies for mobilizing. The case of Mujeres Unidas illustrates that for indigenous women wh o are daily confronted with racism, poverty, and gender discrimination, and who have had little to no access to formal education, organizing as mothers may be the most viable strategy for political mobilization. For many women, this strategy represents an important entry point for becoming involved in community activism and in larger social movements. The process of linking individual and community struggles with larger movements may then facilitate the process of conscientization, whereby individuals become more critical of interlocking oppressions. Thus while the women of Mujeres Unidas may have first mobilized as mothers/caretakers informed by a consicousness of care their community activism and connections with larger social movements led them to develop a critical consciousness that also informs their work and situates their activism within larger anti sexist anti racist, and anti colonial struggles. This is a pattern that has been noted elsewhere in cases of womens environmental activism (Godfrey 2005; Merchant 1995; Salleh 2009; Shiva 1989). In writing about ecofeminist activism and womens mobilization as mothers, Phoebe Godfrey notes that identities that start out as having potentially essentialist qualities can nevertheless become the means of political transformation (2005:24).
174 Informed by a (critical) consciousness of care, t he women of Mujeres Unidas do not deny or reject the importance of motherhood or the importance of caring for others. R ather they are critical of two aspects of th e woman/mother/caregiv er association: First, they critique the idea that women are valued only as caregiv ers of the family and household. As Elena argued, It is certain that we have an important role in the household, because every member of the family has responsibilities in the house. But we also believe that women, like men, should participate in all aspects of social life. We also have the right to be leaders. A second critique is the idea that only women can (or should) have primary responsibilities as caregiv ers Rather, the women of Mujeres Unidas contend that everyone has a responsibility to carenot only for the environment, but for each other as well. Elena explain ed that, This is why we say it is a shared responsibility. Because it is not only the responsibility of the woman to care, right? We all share this earth and this, eh, this society. We are all like branches on the same tree. So we say, If the tree dies, then we die. A single branch cannot live without the tree! So we all have to care fo r each other. Not just women but men too. Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, everyone. The women of Mujeres Unidas identified carework as a critical part of their activism, and many connect ed their identities as mothers with their identities as activists and community leaders. Indeed, all of the leaders of Mujeres Unidas refer to themselves as madres de la comunidad, o r mothers of the community. The decisions to embrace the label of mother and to emphasize the importance of c aring for others do not reflect a lack of critical reflection on the part of the women of Mujeres Unidas; rather, these decisions are grounded in a deep understanding of the importance of caring as a general social practice. By mobilizing as mothers and c aretakers, the women hope to
175 serve as an example to both the community of Itzapa, as well as the larger indigenous community. Luvia remarked, All these problems, the cutting of trees, the lack of land, the garbage, everything, everything, they are destroyi ng us. And we have a part in it, we are destroying ourselves too. So we as women are working to show that we have to help each other. And not just here in Itzapa, not just here. People ask us, What are they [the people] paying you [for the trees]? And we say [They pay us] a thank you and the promise of a better tomorrow. Because the work that we do is for our future...for our survival. Through their mobilization as mothers and caregiv ers of Itzapa and the larger indigenous community, the women of Mujere s Unidas have reclaimed the label of mother as a powerful political identity. Elena contended that the carework that the indigenous women do as mothers of the community is part of a longer tradition of carework that has ensured the survival of the indi genous community. As the Guatemalan state has historically been an enemy rather than an ally of indigenous groups, it has largely fallen upon members of the indigenous community to care for each other. Thus, for those groups who have lived through centuries of colonization, enslavement, displacement and/or genocide, community carework is often central for their continued survival Elena made the link between motherhood, carework and the survival of the indigenous community explicit, noting that We call ourselves the mothers of the community because we are working for the survival of the community. In the house, the mother cares for children so that her children can survive. And we do this too, of course we do this, but we also car e for our community so that we can all survive. Situating the Environmental Activism of Indigenous Women Within Larger Social Movements Understood as a form of carework for the indigenous community, the environmental activism of indigenous women can be c learly situated within the larger indigenous movement. As I pointed out in Chapter 2, while indigenous community
176 activism has a long history in Guatemala, it has only been in recent decades that activists and organizations have coales ced as a movement with specific aims and objectives namely, the revindication of indigenous ethnic and cultural rights, including the decoloniization of Maya, Xinka, and Garifuna peoples, the elimination of the consequent racism, and the the development of the indigenous identity (Cojt Cuxil 2006:14, my translation ). As numerous Mayan activists and organizations have pointed out, land and farming have long been central to the cultural and material survival of indigenous communities both within and beyond the national boundaries of Guatemala. The leaders of these organizations regard neoliberal development and environmental degradation as direct threats to indigenous lives and livelihoods ; thus, any efforts to defend and protect the land and environment are efforts to protect the indigenous community ( CNOC 2006; Cojt Cuxil 2006; CUC 2008; Waqib Kej 2009) Recognizing this, the Comit de Unidad Campesina (Committee of Peasant Unity, or CUC), has adopted the slogan, Mother Earth is not bought and sold; she is recovered and defended (CUC 2008). Thus, while the numerous indigenous women who work with AIR may be working at (primarily) local levels, their environmental activism rooted in a desire to protect the land, their families, and the future of their communities links them at an ideological level to the larger national and transnational indigenous movement. The mobilization of indigenous women around environmental issues also encourages a broader reconceptualization of womens activism within national and international womens movement(s). In a national context, it has been pointed out that the Guatemalan wom ens movement has done important work to [highlight] issues of
177 gender within the nationalist discourse and its policymaking apparatus by fighting for institutional reforms, employment opportunities and condtions, social conditions, and property rights based on gender equity (Berger 2006:1). However, as political scientist Susan Berger points out, many of the large womens organizations in Guatemala have failed to mobilize beyond issues of gender and patriarchy to address other issues like racism and (neo)colonialism that also impact the everyday lives experiences, and opportunities of many women in Guatemala (Berger 2006). Stories of indigenous womens activism help to broaden understandings of what constitutes womens activism Rather than narrowly focusing their attention on patriarchy and gender oppression, indigenous women in Guatemala recognize the interconnectedness of oppressions. The perspectives and concerns of indigenous women reflect the need to form a more inclusive womens movement in Guatemala, one that recognizes that in addition to patriarchy, problem s of poverty, racism, colonization, and environmental degradation are also womens issues. The national womens organization Tierra Viva seems to be aware of this and has made concerted efforts to be a more inclusive organization that attends to these interrelated issues O ther womens organizations in Guatemala would do well to follow suit, or otherwise risk marginalizing themselves by being unable (or unwilling) to bridge divides of rac e, class, and ideology. O n an international context, the voices of indigenous women act ivists join the voices of other activis ts around the world who argue that womens recognition and participation as allies in environmental protection efforts is key to t he longterm success of the global environmental movement Several multilateral institutions have paid heed
178 to the voices of these activists, and the United Nations now incorporates a gender analysis in its environmental programs. A recent publication on W omen and the Environment by the United Nations Environment Program ( UNEP) attests to the importance of a convergence between the international womens and environmental movements. As the UNEP states, Women all over the world are calling for a peaceful and healthy planet. They work, organize, debate, engage and sustain their vision a reality, now and for the future...their perspectives must be heard, and [their] active participation and the application of a clear gender lens in all environment and sustainab le development work is imperative (2004:102). Thus, while the indigenous women who work with AIR may engage in environmental and community activism on a local level, they have formed connections with national and transnational environmental, indigenous and womens organizations. Furthermore, the ideas that guide their work including critiques of racism/colonialism, and patriarchy connect them at an ideological level to both the indigenous and womens movements in Guatemala. The fact that the activism of Mujeres Unidas is centered around a commitment to protect their local environment also connects them to the larger environmental movement. In this way, the environmental activism of Mujeres Unidas is situated at the nexus of the environmental, indigenous, and womens movements in Guatemala. The case of Mujeres Unidas thus shows the ways in which the ideas of larger national and transnational social movements can inform local level community activism. Discussion Several important lessons can be learned from the story of how and why the women of Mujeres Unidas became environmental activists. The first is an understanding of the links between gendered patterns of socialization and the decision to become
179 activists. As the women profiled in this chapter point out, throughout the course of their lives they have been taught, encouraged, and expected to assume caregiv ing role s (as wives and/or mothers) within the household. I argue that t his socialization of women as caregiv ers is a key factor in womens decis ions to become activists; informed by a consciousness of care, women activists extend their carework from their household to their larger communities. In this way, indigenous womens consciousness of care helped them to link the personal with the politic al, serving as a bridge that allowed them to extend the carework they do within the household to the larger community (both their local community and the indigenous community). I t is important to note, however, that indigenous women s strategy of mobilizin g as caregiv ers or mothers of the community represents more than a reinforcement of womens traditional roles. Thus, a second lesson is on the importance of recognizing community carework as key to the continued survival and strength of communities that have historically been marginalized and oppress ed. Through their work, the women of Mujeres Unidas recognize and re affirm the radical potential of caring as a general social practice. As their words and actions make clear, t hey regard carework as essential for the survival of the indigenous community and society in general. A final lesson is in regards to the interconnectedness of activism and the development of a critical consciouness. Freire (2008) reminds us that the process of conscientization involves a n ongoing dialogue between activism and critical reflection. This has certainly been true with the women of Mujeres Unidas: as the women have mobilized and linked their own personal and community struggles with larger systems of oppression and discrimination, they have become involved with other forms of activism
180 that link their local work with larger social movements. Through this combination of activism and reflection, the leaders of Mujeres Unidas have developed their own theory and statement on the interconnectedness of racism, patriarchy, and colonialism This critique in addition to connections the women have formed with national and transnational environmental, indigenous, and womens organizations connects the local environmental activism of Mujeres Unidas to larger environmental, indigenous and womens movements. The ideas, goals, and visions of women like Elena, Catalina, and other s have extended beyond their homes and communities due in large part to national and transnational networks and organizations. In the next chapter I explore how indigenous women have mobilized across borders of race, class, gender, and nation in order to realize their goals with the help of the transnational organization Alliance for International Reforestation. As Milag ros Pe a (2007) points out, it has been through networking with other organizations that many womens groups have been able to achieve goals that otherwise would be out of reach (106). I argue that it is also through such networking that women are able t o share their ideas and influence the goals and strategies of other organizations.
181 CHAPTER 6 OF THE NECESSITY AND DIFFICULTY IN WORKING ACROSS BORDERS We had the consciousness and the strength and the vision. But we did not have the resources. And so this is why we called [AIR]...and this is why we continue to work with [AIR]...to realize our vision of planting a better future. Elena, president of Mujeres Unidas While indigenous women and men throughout Guatemala share visions of how to mak e their society more j ust, equitable, and sustainable, many of them lack the r esources necessary to make these visions a reality. As Cecilia Menjvar (2000) notes the social context in which individuals live, as well as their social position dictate the quality and quantity of resources they have available (149) Thus, communitie s who live within a context of poverty and who have historically been marginalized by race and/or gender may not have access to the funding, technical knowledge, organizational skills, or professional and political contacts needed for widespread and effective mobilization. For these groups, mobilizing beyond their local communities is a crucial step towards fulfilling their activist goals. Here is where the importance of national and transnational organizing becomes apparent: as Keck and Sikkink (1998) contend, transnational organizations and advocacy networks are key to mak[ing] international resources available to new actors in domestic political and social struggles (1). Thus, by link ing local struggles with national and transnational networks and NGOs individuals and communities can access the social and economic resources needed to bring about positive social change. Of course, transnational mobilizing is not without its own set of difficulties and complications. Relationships among actors involved in transnational organizations and networks are unavoidably embedded in local, national, and international power
182 constructions (Berger 2006; Keck and Sikkink 1998) These power constructions in turn are organized along lines of gender, race, class, and nationality, allowing some actors differential access to material, cultural, and political resources, than others (Alvarez, Dagnino, and Escobar 1998:18). Furthermore, a s Milagros Pea (2007) points out, depending heavily upon NGOs for resources can be risky, as these organizations are often themselves faced with difficulties in securing the funding necessary to carry out their projects. In th is chapter I examine how ind igenous women in Guatemala have mobilized across borders of race, class, gender, and nationality through the Alliance for I nternational Reforestation. I argue that while this cross border mobilization has helped the women achieve their goal s of planting a better future for their families and communities it has also been a process frought with challenges. Namely, these challenges include the negotiation of power and privilege in organizing across borders ; the intensive (but often overlooked) aspect of emotional labor in activist work ; as well as the difficulties in finding funding for salaries and projects Here, I draw from interviews with both indigenous women community activists as well as the indigenous, ladina/o, and North American women and men of the AIR team to highlight the main (and recurring) difficulties they have encountered in their many years of experience. As someone who has been involved with AIR since I was a child, I also add my own personal experiences to the narratives presented in this chapter. I argue that in spite of difficulties, certain shared commitments values, and ideals have helped to bridge social and cultural divides and have solidified the alliances between AIR and local actors.
183 While the story of AIRs partnership wit h indigenous women and men may be unique in some ways, it is also an instructive case t hat offers important lessons about the challenges, obstacles, rewards and strategies in volved in transnational mobilization. In the following section, I offer a brief overview of the history of the organization, its structure, and how it works. Building Bridges and Forming Alliances When Elena Siquinajay attended the presentation by agroforest ry technician William Santizo in 1997, the A lliance for I nternational R eforestation was still a relatively new organization. AIR was founded in 1991 by political science professor Anne Hallum Anne decided to start the organization after volunteer ing to lead a group of college students on a study abroad trip to Guatemala. Anne said that tak ing that trip was a reckless move she had never travelled outside the U.S. did not speak any Spanish, and knew nothing about the political history of Guatemala. Nevertheless, she had always wanted to travel and so she jumped at the opportunity. The trip affected her in many ways, as she recounted: It was scary, [Guatemala] was still in the war, so you would see military everywhere. But I also saw the deforestation. I saw a lot of hungry people and people carrying firewood so I was touched in many ways, you know. I was...overwhelmed by how beautiful it was but also overwhelmed by how sad it was. Upon returning to the United States, Anne decided that she had to do something to address the myriad problems of poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation that she had witnessed in Guatemala. She met with a former student who had experience working with international NGOs, and he suggested that she start an organization. Over the course of a long lunch, he helped her to draft a set of bylaws in which they articulated the aims of the organization to work with local farmers in designing,
184 implementing, and promoting community based reforestation projects in Central America (AIR 1991). In addition to having a working knowledge of NGOs, the s tudent also knew a few activists in Guatemala. He put Anne in contact with Father Andres Gir n, a ladino priest who was heavily involved in a national peasants mov ement in the latter years of Guatemalas civil war. According to Anne, Father Gir n was only involved with AIR for its first year, but during that time he had a profound impact on influencing the organizations community based approach. Father Gir ns advice also ensured that the founders of AIR had an understanding of the salience of race and cl ass in their agroforestry work. As Anne noted, We talked a lot, and he made it clear that all of the leadership had to be in the hands of the people. They had to make the decisions not us [the North Americans]. He also said it was best if we hired a Guatemalan staff, someone with knowledge of the country and the people and the history. A n d preferrably indigenous, because most people in the rural areas most farmers are indigenous. After some initial difficulties in securing start up funds, in late 1993 Anne met and hired her first two staff members: Eladio Iquique, an indigenous Guatemalan with a degree in agroforestry; and Chris Wunderlic h, another North American who also had a degree in agroforestry and who had been working in Guatemala for a development a gency to build water captation tanks. After being hired by Anne, Chris and Eladio began working in five communities in the highlands of Chimaltenango. Withi n only 10 weeks they had developed close relationships with local farmers in the communities and wor ked with them to cultivate and plant 20,000 tree seedlings. Word of the AIRs work quickly spread to other communities, and the organization had to hire new staff to meet the growing demand for its services In 1995, AIR hired
185 William Santizo, a ladino agroforestry technician; and Cecilia Ramirez, a ladina with a background in law and business management who initially worked as AIRs secretary. In 1997, AIR also hired Luis Iquique, Eladios son, to help with the agroforestry work. In 1998, Chris left AIR t o work with another international NGO, and Anne promoted Cecilia as the new Director of AIR. Under Cecilias leadership, the organization continued to grow. By 2002, AIR had a staff of six agroforestry technicians ( tecnicos) who were working in a total of 26 communities in the departments of Chimaltenango, Solol and Huehuetenango. As of 2009, the AIR staff consisted of seven fulltime employees, including six tecnicos, as well as the Director, Cecilia. The tecnicos work wit h anywhere between 30 and 50 communities every year In many communities, an AIR technician may work with only one or two families, while in other communities technicians may work with very large groups (as is the case with Itzapa, for instance). The part nership between AIR and local communities results in 200,000212,000 trees being planted each year. In regards to its structure, AIR is truly a transnational organization. While the tecnicos and Director live and work in Guatemala year round, President Anne Hallum and the Board of Directors are based in the United States Additionally, AIR also has networks with other transnational organizations, including the Peace Corps, and has hosted volunteers from the United Kingdom and Japan, as well as the United S tates. The President Director, and staff of AIR describe the organization as a team, with each player having a particular and well defined role. A ll the team players contribute to the organizations work. Local community groups often headed by a one or a few group leaders (like Elena, Catalina, and Luvia in the case of Mujeres Unidas) work
186 closely with AIRs tecnicos to design and implement agroforestry projects The tecnicos then communicate with Director Cecilia Ramirez to let her know the type and quantity of resources (seeds, tools, educational manuals, etc.) they will need to begin and maintain the projects Cecilia calculates the cost of the various tools and equipment needed and communicates this to the President and Board of Directors The Presi dent and Board, in turn, are responsible for raising the funds needed for project start up and maintenance. Approximately half of AIRs funds are from individual donors; the other half are from foundations churches, o ther organizations or grants These funds then go directly to fund AIRs projects and to pay the Guatemalan staff. A review of AIRs tax returns shows that since 1993, between 90 and 97% of AIRs annual income has gone directly to project implementation. The President, B oard members and various donors also regularly travel to Guatemala in order to assist with treeplanting efforts and to meet community members. These annual or sem i annual trips are important in two main regards. First, they allow donors the chance to see how their funds are being used. Seeing the community reforestation projects up close and personal helps donors to recognize that their funds are being well spent, and m otivates them to continue funding AIRs projects. As one woman said, Once you see the faces of people in the communities, and you see how important the trees are for them, it is impossible to not support the work that [AIR] does (personal communication, emphasis in original email). Second, site visits are also important for developing group cohesion: by allowing AIR team members the opportunity to work together and share important faceto face interaction, these visit s help to strengthen the social ties and trust between communities, AIR staff and
187 volunteers and donors As Marta from Itzap a summarized succinctly, We know we can trust AIR because you always come back (see Appendix H for a visual representation of the relationship between AIR and Mujeres Unidas as an example of how the AIR team works). The transnational mobilization of indi viduals and resources is not without its challenges, however. In order to achieve both short and longterm goals, the women and men of the AIR team (including local community activists) must mobilize across highly contested borders of race, class, gender, and nationality. In the following sections I detail how the multiracial, multinational equipo AIRE negotiates power, privilege, and conflict in its work. Power, Privilege, and Conflict Given my position within the organization AIR (as a Board member and the daughter of AIRs founder), I was well aware that there may be difficulty in trying to elicit stories of conflict or discontent with the organization from the many individuals who were interviewed for this dissertation. Indeed, with the exception of only three individuals, all participa nts indigenous women and AIR staff alikeinitially reported that they had never experienced problems with AIR! However, this reluctance to divulge is probably less indicative of actual experiences, and more revealing of p articipa nts efforts to maintain solidarity within the AIR team. It is also revealing of the ways in which power is negotiated within this organization, and I would be remiss to not acknowledge my position of power within AIR. As I am related to the indivi dual responsible for founding and securing funding for the organization, my role as researcher doubtless placed considerable pressure on participants to describe their experiences with AIR in wholly positive terms. However, as I told participa nts, I was aw are from personal
188 experience and past conversations that there have been a number of internal and external challenges t hat AIR has had to overcome. I also reminded participants that a key purpose of this project is to help AIR improve its work, and that in order to improve our work we need to know the organizations weak points. After some prodding, participants acknowledged that there has been some conflict within the organization, and offered stories and examples of how the AIR team has had to work to resolve various issues. Broadly, these stories revolve around themes of negotiating power a cross borders of gender, race, class, and nationality; the exhausting (but necessary) emotional labor that is critical for building and maintaining cross border al liances; and the difficulties in securing funding for the o r ganization. Negotiating R ace, C lass, and G ender in a T ransnational organization Early scholarship on civil society and social movement s in Latin America was almost wholly positive, emphasizing the ways in which social movements challenged authoritarian regimes and united actors from all sectors of society around shared goals (Cohen and Arato 1992; Jaquette 1991). Writing about the early work on Latin American social movements, David Slater points out, not infrequently civil society has been essentialized in a positive frame, as the terrain of the good and the enlightened (1998: 385). Later scholarship has been more critical, however, and has highlighted how national and t ransnational organizing is a messy and highly contested process (Alvarez 1999; Alvarez, et al. 2003; Berger 2006; Kampwirth 2004; Shayne 2004) As Susan Berger (2006) contends, in reality...civil society is much more complex, fragmented hierarchica lly by race, ethnicity, gender, and class (3). In discussing transnational mobilization, I would also add the social marker of nationality to this list. Studying the case of AIR allows for insight into the ways in which all these social markers and loca l,
189 national, and international power relations shape processes of transnational mobilization. In countries like Guatemala that have histories of ethnic or racially based violence, and which are clearly stratified along racial lines, mobilizing across thes e lines to achieve common goals can be particularly difficult. Centuries of exploitation and the appropriation of indigenous land and resources have resulted in a distinct racial hierarchy in Guatemala, a sharp differentiation among distinct strata along the lines of power and privilege, with ladinos generally occupying a higher stratum and Indians a lower one (Hale 2006:209). As Charles Hale notes, the persistence of this hierarchy has led to a pervasive Maya distrust of ladino efforts to build solidarity with indigenous groups ( 2006: 174). To successfully build coalitions or alliances in a highly stratified society, it is imperative that activists and organizations have an understanding of the historical, political, and social context in which they operate. While AIRs founder Anne Hallum was not well versed in Guatemalan history or politics, she made sure to locate individuals who were (like Father Gir n and Eladio Iquique), and deferred to their suggestions on organizational structure and str ategy. Here, it is important to make a point on international actors and activists deferring to local actors: while I agree with Aili Mari Tripps assertion that international actors should consider that local actors have the most intimate knowledge of i ssues, other players, conditions, laws, and cultural sensitivities (2006:306), I also caution that international and local actors should be confident that they share the same goals and motives. In the case of AIR, Anne, Father Gir n and Eladio shared com mitments to soci al and environmental justice making it
190 easier for them to work together and have confidence in giving and receiving advice and suggestions. One of the strongest suggestions offered by Father Gir n and Eladio was in regards to hiring both indigenous and ladina/o staff for AIR. As Anne recalled, [Father Gir n] said that if our goal was to reach out to all sectors of Guatemalan society, then, then we needed to reflect that in our organization. And that...we needed to have indigenous staff, to build trust with indigenous communities. So I said, OK. Currently, five of the six agroforestry technicians working for AIR are indigenous Having indigenous staff has helped AIR in two key ways : F irst, it has enabled the organization to build contact s with indigenous communities. All of AIRs indigenous staff are lifelong residents of communities in Chimaltenango and Solol and have family and friends who live in neighboring areas. Through staff connections and social networks, AIR has de facto connections with indigenous communities, and uses these connections to identify and work with those communities that interested in adopt ing reforestation programs. S econd ly, indigenous staff both reflect and help to solidify AIRs commitment to working in solidarity with indigenous communities. Through its staff community connections and wordof mouth, the organization has established a reputation as an ally of indigenous communities. This reputation, in turn, is what has led additional communities to seek out AIRs help. As Mona, 42, from Puebla explain ed, We work with AIR because we trust you all. In contrast we laugh if the government says it is going to help, because the officials say many things, they have beautiful words, but they do not do anything! But AIR works with people...we have friends in other communities and they told us that we can trust AIR.
191 All members of the AIR team reiterate the importance of having indigen ous staff who connect with indigenous residents L uis, a 31 year old Kaqchikel resident of Chimaltenango, explained: It is very, very important to make connections with the people, with the communities ...to have people [in the organization] who can speak Kaqchikel, or Quiche, or Mam, and wh o know about [i ndigenous] traditions, and wh o have friends in the communities This is why we [AIR] are able to do what we do because we have strong connections with the people. In addition to working across lines of race and class, the communities and AIR staff also for m alliances across borders of gender as well. All of the agroforestry tecnicians who work with AIR are mena fact which reflects the lack of educational and employment opportunities available for women in a patriarchal society. Cecilia, AIRs Director, co nfesses that as an educated businesswoman, she is an anamoly in Guatemala. She explained: Education is very expensive, and many families in Guatemala can not afford it. So if a family has some resources, then the boy will go to school, but the girl does not, because later in life the boys will have better opportunities of being employed and earning a salary. Thank God my parents had enough to send all of us to school! But yes, it is a very sexist system. Like many other organizations, AIR works across borders of gender and race both internally and externally through its work with indigenous communities. Externally, there has been little to no evidence of conflict between the male tecnicos and women community activists. Indeed, all of the indigenous women who were interviewed spoke in very positive terms about their experiences working with William, Luis, Miguel, Pedro Miguel, Mario, and Carlos. The women in Masat for instance, have worked with Mario Pop, and described him as encouraging of their work and alw ays willing to listen. The women of Mujeres Unidas have worked with both William and Pedro Miguel, and described both men in glowing terms. Catalina, for instance, pointed out that the women
192 often teased William and Pedro Miguel about being el gallo en el gallinero ( the rooster in the henhouse) While there has been little conflict between tecnicos and the indigenous women with whom they work, there have been some difficulties in talking about gender based issues and challenges. Marta, Luvia, and Elena, for instance, noted that the presence of a male tecnico may compromise the safe spaces that are important for indigenous women to cultivate a sense of self empowerment and critical consciousness (discussed in Chapter 5). During one conversation I had wi th Elena she pointed out that it is often difficult for women to talk about issues of gender inequality with men. She mentioned that during the first few years of her work with AIR, she was concerned that a male tecnico may interfere with the process of c onsciousness raising for women by giving misguided advice. She explained, They [the tecnicos ] are very good people, very good. But they are not gender experts. So I was a little worried at first. In our group we encourage women to share their experiences, to make connections between their experiences and the experiences of others. Because that is how we learn, right? So at the beginning I was thinking, Ay, I dont know what will happen, what will happen if a woman s husband hits her, and she tells the tec nico about it, what will he tell her? To be patient or, or to not worry or to not talk about it? No, that is not what the woman needs to hear. We are trying to teach the women to talk more about these issues and to find help if they need it. On the part of the tecnicos, they also admitted that as men it is difficult for them to talk with women community members about cosas familares (intimate subjects). William described the initial difficulty he experienced upon beginning work with the womens group i n Itzapa: And for me it was difficult at first. Many women came to work in the nursery [in Itzapa] because they had problems at home. Sadly their husbands were drinking a lot, they beat [the women], [there were] many problems. They [the women] came to the nursery to leave their problems, to forget their problems. And to me, they
193 told me, Ah, Don William, I have problems. And it is difficult because I do not want to involve myself in family problems. Elena and William have developed a strategy for how to address gender issues in their agroforestry work. Recognizing that he is not a gender scholar, but not wanting to be uncaring, William has decided that he will listen and offer a sympathetic ear to women if they want to talk with him about any topic. Howev er, if he feels that he is not qualified to address a problem, then he will refer the women to Elena or another leader o f Mujeres Unidas. As he said, What I do is listen. I listen to them and I refer them to Elena if I cannot help. This story illustrates the importance of acknowledging organizational and staff limitations in transnational work. I agree that it is important that organizations guard against mission drift the tendency of organizations to become involved in activities and programs that dist ract them from their original aims and objectives. However, because gender, race, and class are ubiquitous in shaping the life experiences and daily realities of all involved parties, it is inevitable that at some point organizations regardless of their or iginal mission will have to address these issues in their work. It is therefore important that they have a strategy in place for doing so. As the case of Williams work with the women of Mujeres Uni das illustrates, it is helpful for an organization to have connections with individuals and/or other organizations that are equipped to address issues of gender, race, or class inequalities In this way, an organization can refer actors to others, and thus does not ignore issues when they arise, but also does not overstep its boundaries and area of expertiseand perhaps do more harm than good.
194 While AIR has had to negotiate various challenges in working across borders of race, class, and gender with communities, interestingly the most conflict that AIR has experienced has been within the organization itself. I argue that this conflict stems in large part from the gendered makeup of AIRs organizational structure and how this structure defies traditional norms of gendered power and privilege. Rosabeth Kanter (1993) observes that organizational power or the ability to get things done is largely structured along lines of gender, with men occupying the upper rungs of the organizational structure. When this traditional gendered arrangement is challenged, there tends t o be conflict or outright backlash against women in leadership positions (Acker 2006; Martin 2003). Negotiating gendered power relations has resulted in some tension within the AIR organization. Both the President and Director of AIR reported having exper ienced various conflicts with staff, some of which they attributed to being women leaders of an allmale staff. Anne, for instance, rec alled how her decision to promote Cecilia to the position of Director of AIR was met with resistance from both the tecnic os and the former Director. In 1998, Chris Wunderlich, the original Director of AIR, was hired by another NGO, and Anne was faced with the difficult decision of finding a successor. As Anne recounted, Chris wanted to hire another North American expert, s omething that Anne was opposed to because she wanted the organization to be run by local experts : It didnt matter [that I was the President of AIR]...I was ve ry intimidated by Chris But I, I just insisted, I just felt like we needed to hire a Guatemalan, and then I finally said, I think Ceci [Cecilia] can do it, and he said, Are you nuts? Shes the receptionist But she was getting her business degree and she was qualified.... An d [my husband] and I always say that Ceci was the best thing to happen to AIR, because [she] really allowed [ AIR] to blossom as a Guatemalan [organization].
195 Despite the fact that Anne was the president and founder of AIR, she still felt intimidated by Chris who she said often lectured her on how to run AIR, even though she was his boss. According to Anne, her intimidation stemmed in part from the fact that Chris was an agroforestry expert and highly skilled in running the organization, and in part to gender ed power dynamics. Reflecting back on her decision to hire Ceci, Anne confessed that the moment stands out in her mind in part because of how much courage it took for her to stand up to Chris, and in part because that decision shaped the future of the organization. Despite Chriss objection to promoting the receptionist to the position of Director (an objection that was also likely based in part on sexist assumpt ions), Cecilia has proven to be, in Annes words, one of the best things to happen to AIR. Und er Ceci lia s leadership, AIR has grown into a nationally and internationally respected organization that has been honored by the Guatemalan government and the United Nations, in addition to numerous local communities. In spite of her skill at leading the organization, however, Ceci lia has also experienced conflict with staff in her years as Director She acknowledged that she has to be very strong to successfully manage AIR, and that being a strong leader often clashes with the roles and behaviors she is expected to assume as a woman in Guatemala. She pointed out that being a woman leader has both advantages and disadvantages: I have to be strong to manage AIR, to do everything that we as an organization need to do. But it is not common to have very strong women leaders in Guatemala. To have a woman as a boss, it is almost...it is very rare. So sometimes to be a woman leader also brings conflicts. Some here in AIR have told me that it makes them nervous to have a woman boss, or that I am too strong. So I h ave to be strong to manage the work that we do, but not too strong because I do not want people to fear me!
196 Both Anne and Ceci lia noted that their success in managing AIR has depended in large part on their abilities to mediate conflict and appease staff, donors, and community members throughout the years In many ways, the highly genderedbut often invisible or overlookedwork of emotional labor has been key to resolving conflicts within AIR and ensuring the long term success of the organization. Emotio nal L abor and the I mportance of M ediators in T ransnational M obilization As defined by Arlie Hochschild, emotional labor refers to the management of feeling to produce a particular emotional state in another person (1983:7). According to Hoschschild under capitalism emotions have become yet another commodity to be bought and sold, particularly in the growing and femaledominated service sector of the economy While Hochschild and other theorists focus on the exploitation of emotional labor in for profit industries (Hochschild 1983; Macdonald and Merrill 2009; Macdonald and Sirianni 1996; Orzechowicz 2008) I argue that emotional labor is also a significant part of work in nonprofit organizations. It is particularly important for negotiating power relations and differences of race, gender, and class on a day to day basis and for cultivating relationships with donors in order to secure funding. This type of emotional labor is not done by everyone within the organization. Rather it is reserved for those who I call mediators those individuals who must work to manage relationships both within the organization and between the organization and its donors and constituents. Like other forms of emotional labor, this type of work is gendered in that it involves creating in others feelings of well being or affirmation, responsibilities typically assigned to women (Wharton 2009:149). Anne acknow l edged that emotional labor is a regular part of her work as President of AIR. Not only does she mediate between the members of the Guatemalan staff, but
197 between the Guatemalan staff and the North American donors and volunteers. She noted that while the work is necessary, it is also exhaus t ing. She provided one example of when she had to fly t o Guatemala to help resolve a dispute between Cecilia and William. The dispute centered around gender roles and Williams assertion that Cecilia was too strong. Anne recounted: The whole [ issu e] was really about gender, dont you think? [William] said he was so nervous around [Cecilia] he couldnt sleep, he couldnt concentrate, that she scared him... That she was giving him a nervous breakdown. And everything and that he was losing his memory. He couldnt work with her because he was so scared that he w ould do something wrong and that she would criticize him. So it was just nerves. And you know, so he was going to quit. So I was trying to convince him not to quit and that they needed to talk to each other. ... Over and over again I told them, You just need to talk. You know, so I really was just doing a lot of mediating, um, to get them to talk to each other. I t was it certainly was stretching my managerial skills. For Anne, Cecilia, and myself, emotional labor has been important to maintaining good relations amongst the members of the AIR staff, as well as good relations between the staff and international donors and volunteers. In this regard, there is a very distinct division of (emotional) labor within this transnational organi zation, in which the m embers of the organization who have primary responsibility for bringing together local and international actors also have primary responsibility for mediating relationships between actors. This division of labor has not gone unnoticed by the staff of AIR: while many of the tecnicos acknowledged that emotional labor is an important part of running the organization, they also pointed out that it was reserved for the leaders of the organization who communicate between the Guatemalan and North American sides. Miguel characterized Anne, Cecilia, and I as the links between the staff, community, and the North American donors: Even within the same team one can see differences, right? S o when the North Americans arriv e, well, they have power and all that. And I believe that, for me,
198 there is no better link [than you all]. You all can share with the North Americans how we [the Guatemalan members of the AIR team] act, how we work, or what...what our plans are. You are the links. As Miguel pointed out, maintaining strong connections both within an organization and between an organization and its donors is an important task. Like Miguel, Anne also emphasized the importance of mediators serving as links within a transnational organization like AIR : M ediator is exactly where I place myself, because, um, Im the North American, so I do the fundraising. Because you know, the Guatemalan fundraising is just too hard, and too, theres just not enough people to ask for money. So it falls to North Americans: we have the money! [The Guatemalan staff] have the expertise, and the culture. So that division of labor makes perfect sense. But ... there has to be someone in the middle. So I, I...it is difficult. Ive certainly gotten better at it through practice [emphasis added] I myself have often had to mediate between North American volunteers and donors and Guatemalan staff and communities. For instance, as I pointed out earlier, it is often the case that North American donors will visit AIRs projects in Guatemala to see firsthand how AIR works and how their funds are being spent. If they are visiting Guatemala for the first time, they often experience a form of culture shock and may be hesitant to eat local foods visit certain areas, or may express an urgent desir e to want to return to the U.S.. When this is the case, it is the responsi bility of Anne and I to put the donors at ease and also to make sure that the AIR staff and community members are not offended. All of this requires a delicate balancing act in which we try to make sure that everyones emotional needs are met and that relationships are not irreperably damaged. Most of the AIR staff and community members are well aware of the importance of maintaining good relations with donors if Anne, Cecilia, and I (as mediators) do not engage in the emotional labor required to maintain these ties, then we risk losing important sources of funding for AIR.
199 Thus, in addition to being important for maintaining cohesion and alliances within an organization, emotional la bor is also an important part of being able to mobilize and make connections across organizational and national boundaries. Furthermore, emotional labor is also a key but often overlookedpart of fundraising, another challenge which every NGO must confront at some point. The N ever E nding S earch for F unding Much of the literature on NGOs focuses on the tremendous difficulties they face in finding the funds needed to advance their projects (Berger 2006; Pea 2007; Staudt and Coronado 2002). Many organizations opt to pursue grants from large foundations; however this strategy often leaves NGOs vulnerable to donor discipline, as granting agencies or foundations...set the agenda for what will be funded (Pea 2007:136). Pea notes that in order to avoid compromising their goals and objectives for donors, NGOs will often develop alternative strategies to find funding. One strategy that AIR has developed is to cultivate relationships with individual, private donors. Approximately half of AIRs donations are f rom individuals. The large portion of AIRs additional funds are received from churches or foundations that respect AIRs work and take a very hands off approach to funding. Of course, this strategy has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, it means that AIR is not wholly dependent upon the desires and demands of heavy handed donors and funding agencies and that it can retain the integrity of its orginal mission and community based strategy. As Anne said, The whole topdown approach, the conditionality of a lot of these grants is a bit much! And I am not going to compromise AIRs mission just to satisfy the conditions of some granting agency. We have been doing this a long time, it works, the people [in the communities] tell us it work s. So...so if its not broke n dont fix it, you know what I mean?
200 This approach also means that the leaders or AIR are not pressured to spend a lot of time writing and applying for big grants which we may or may not get. It is important to emphasize here that like many other NGO leaders, Anne and I work with AIR as volunteers. We also have full time academic jobs. For those NGO leaders who balance their involvement with the organization with the demands of their work and f amily life, weighing the costs and benefits of funding strategies is particularly salient. Thus, for Anne and I the time and energy spent writing a big grant proposal that has a high likelihood of being unsuccessful and/or subject to strict donor demands means that grant writing is a strategy that we seldom pursue. In contrast, fundraising through churches and individual donors, while also time consuming, has resulted in a steady source of funding for AIR over the past two decades. Anne asserted that she can always rely on churches to donate: They [church congregations] always come through. It may be $1,000 here or $5,000 there, but they give what they can and they always come through. However, this latter strat egy seeking funding through individuals and churches also has its drawback s. As I mentioned, it is very time consuming, requiring a tremendous amount of travel and preparation to give presentations to churches and other organizations like Rotary Anne regularly travels throughout the southern U.S. giving presentations on AIRs work in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. Anne noted that this travel, while rewarding in terms of fundraising and building connections with churches and other institutions, can be exhausting at times. She noted that when she f irst started the organization, she felt a tremendous amount of guilt as a mother when she had to leave my sister and I (who were both younger that 10 at the time) to go to
201 Guatemala or on fundraising trips. Additionally, the time consuming work of fundrai sing has taken a toll on Annes career. She acknowledged that, Ive accepted the fact that Ill never be a famous academic or publish a ton of books or articles I just dont have the time! However, she went on to point out that, I have...well, Ive ju st accepted the importance of this work [with AIR], and I wouldnt trade it for the world. Thus, for Anne, the pros of pursuing funding by cultivating relationships with churches, other organizations, and private donors far outweigh the disadvantages of t his approach. This strategy has enabled AIR to retain the integrity of its mission without having this mission being donor driven. B uilding Solidarity: the Importance of Unifiers in CrossBorder Activist Work Transnational organizing is a process that i nvolves the daily negotiation of power, privilege, and difference across race, class, gender, culture, nationality, and myriad other social boundaries. In order to effectively pursue their goals and objectives, it is imp erative that transnational activists develop strategies to bridge these social ly constructed borders and build solidarity. In analyzing AIRs strategies for building solidarity, it is evident that the organization has identifed and made use of unifiers a set of values, beliefs, and practices that have helped to facilitate cross border collaboration, foster solidarity, and aid in the development and maintenance of longterm alliances. In the interviews, both the indigenous women and AIR staff cited religion and the importance of dial ogue and listening as the most important unifiers that guide their activist work.
202 Religion It has been noted that religion has always played a big role ... in mobilizing collective groups to pursue social change ( HondagneuSotelo 2007:18). In her book Go ds Heart Has No Borders, Pierette HondagneuSotelo argues that religion can unite activists by providing them with a shared belief system that gives moral weight to their causes, while at the same time serving as a common social movement language of rit ual and shared shared cultural practices ( 2007: 1823). In discussing their environmental work, both the indigenous women and the staff and leaders of A IR acknowledge d that their religious beliefs and spirituality both motivate and unite them. All of the l eaders of Mujeres Unidas, for instance, are Catholic, and frequently referenced the environment as la Creaci n, the Creation. Els a explained that the women of Mujeres Unidas begin and end their weekly meetings in the tree nursery with a prayer. She noted t hat this practice helped to inspire and unite the women, because we know we are doing Gods work, because we are working to help his Creation and his children. Many indigenous women also noted that religion has helped them to develop close ties with the staff, leaders, and volunteers of AIR. While many women are Catholic, they also incorporate rituals in their religious practice that blend both Mayan and Christian traditions. In spite of the difference in pratices, the shared themes of caring for Creation and the importance of ritual and giving thanks help to connect the women with the AIR staff and volunteers. D or a, from Umul, pointed out that she appreciated the fact that the President of AIR is also muy religiosa, very religious. As Dor a explained, this unites us, because we can pray together. It the same God, right? And it is the same Creation. So...yes I think this helps us in our work because it is like, like a link.
203 On the part of AIR, several of the organizations members reaffirmed the importance of religion and spirituality as important unifiers Anne noted the ways in which religion has been both a personal resource for her, as well as an organizational resource for AIR that has helped to bridge cultural divides: I have always felt that my religious belief and my religious familiarity has been one of my strongest resources [in my work with AIR] because that is a bridge automatically across a culture. B ecause when they [the staff or community residents] are talking about God, or faith, or there are rituals or ceremonies I am very comfortable with that and I know what theyre talking about .... I know how that works. And I know how important it is. So, and we talk about it all the time. ... So anyway, I think that religion, my religious belief ...so Im not talking about it being a personal resource, Im talking about it being a cultural bridge. Or both. That it is both, thats what I mean. So its a personal resource but it turns out that its very much aan organizational resource and a cultural bridge as well .... I mean, we look at too often religion as a cultural divide. But it can be a powerful bridge. William similarly noted that the ways in which religion helped to build solidarity both within the AIR organization and between AIR and the communities. For William, the belief in God and the idea of respecting difference were the most important ways in which religion helped to bridge cultural divides: The belief in God is the important thing. Because religion...I think i t is...it is a method for carrying ones belief. And each one has his/her belief. And in AIR we are also very diverse in this respect, right? So, that is my opinion. I believe that...faith in God. Faith in God. Faith in God unites us. With respect for ever y belief. I respect Cecilia, and I respect Don Migual, I respect Mario and his Evangelical beliefs. And I dont criticize anyone.... Respect. Faith and respect. In addition to being a cultural bridge, relgion has also provided AIR with some core values that also unite its members and guide their work. Namely, these values include humility, compassion, a love for nature, and gratitude. Anne elaborated on how religion informs these values:
204 H umility, would be a core value... Humility that, eh, we need each other. And we need God, and we need prayer. And that were not we cant do this by ourselves. That we cant keep doing this work by ourselves That is a core value. But what I mean by that is that we need each other. And we need God. So humility in the sense of community. Isnt that interesting? So humility and community go together. And then the other [value] is compassion, which that of course also has a religious basis And then for the nature. We are true believers in Creation as something to be treasur ed, protected. You know. I we really do love trees! [laughing] So thats a I think thats a core value, sure. Our love for Creation and sense of again, responsibility, stewardship.... Gratitude, I have to put that. Gratitude is a core value. Its a motivat ing value, Ill say that. That were grateful for all that God has given us and feel that OK, it does all tie together, doesnt it? Luis echoed these sentiments, and also noted the importance of religious values of gratitude and stewardship in guiding AIR s work: Because we are all part of the same Creation, the Creation of God. And there is no difference [among us] in his eyes. And what we are doing simply is to contribute to the Creation of God, which he made in 6 days, and he made it very well. But li ttle by little we are destroying this Creation. And because of that we [the AIR team] are conscious. We do what we do, and we like what we do. And we are always grateful to have this opportunity. Thus, as the indigenous women and the members of the AIR team attest, the importance of religion as a unifier cannot be discounted in transnational activist work. By providing activists with a shared set of beliefs, values, and pratices, religion can help to bridge social and cultural divides and build the kind of solidarity that sustains and motivates activist work. Dialogue and Listening In addition to religion, participants also noted that certain practices are also important for building solidarity. In particular, both indigenous women and AIR staff emphasized that good communication and listening are key to building relationships both w ithin AIR and between AIR and the communities. As community based programs
205 are the cornerstone of AIRs environmental work, it is particularly important for the organization to listen to the needs, concerns, and suggestions of community members. Anne noted the importance of humility when listening and considering the advice of both the AIR staff and community members. She pointed out that it when she first started AIR, her inexperience and humility were what allowed the organization to grow. Her words point to the importance of taking a hands off approach to transnational organizing, and letting local experts lead in project development and implentation: And then, and then, [there was] kind of a learning curve for me [at the beginning]... that my gift was, ironically, that I didnt know what I was doing. So I did the right thing: I stood back, and let it grow. And, and let, you know....so it was out of my own inexperience that AIR became what it is today. The importance of humility, respect and dialogue in transnational activism cannot be emphasized enough. As Aili Mari Tripp (2005) notes, effective transnational mobilization requires that international actors consider that local actors have the most intimate knowledge of issues, other players, conditions, laws, and cultural sensitivities (306). Thus, it is important to take cues from local actors, and privilege their voices in advocacy programs. Sustained, open, and respectful dialogue can in turn help to build solidarity and trust betw een international and local activists. Of course, dialogue and listening is important for local activism as well, and is particularly important for unifying activists across borders of race, class, and gender. AIR makes concerted efforts to incorporate t he voices, concerns, and suggestions of community residents in all its programs, a fact that is not lost on the residents themselves. The women of Mujeres Unidas acknowledged that their longterm partnership with AIR has been the result of sustained dialogue; as Catalina summarized, You all [with AIR] listen to us, and you always come back. Its for this that
206 we have confidence and faith in AIR. Establishing good relationships with communities has helped to build AIRs reputation as an organization that privileges the needs and concerns of communities a reputation which has in turn helped AIR to network with other communiteis. Other indigenous women noted that they heard about AIR through word of mouth, and that their friends vouched for the organization. One woman from Masat Solola noted that she had never attended one of AIRs presentations, but that she had heard about the organization through a friend from Chimaltenango. Her friend recommended that the women of Masat contact AIR to help them with refo restation projects. Thus, through the practice of dialogue and listening informed by humility and compassion, AIR has developed a good reputation throughout many highland departments. This reputation has in turn helped the organization to make new connecti ons, build new alliances, and extend its work through highland Guatemala. Hemos Aprendido Muchas Cosas Tambien: the Development of an Organizational Gender Consciousness The practice of dialogue and listening has also helped AIR to grow and develop as an organization. Just as the indigenous women acknowledged that they have learned many things in their work with AIR, so too have the staff and leaders of AIR learned from their partnerships with indigenous women and men. Of particular relevance to this project has been the development of a gender consciousness within the organization. As I pointed out earlier, AIRs founders (and Father Gir n in particular) ensured that the organization incorporated an awareness of the salience of race and class in its envi ronmental work. Thus, since its beginnings, AIR has recognized the importance of protecting the environment for impoverished indigenous communities. However, it has not been until recent years that AIR has also incorporated an awareness of the
207 importance of gender and gender relations in its environmental community work. I use the term organizational gender consciousness to refer to this awareness, and to highlight the ways in which this consciousness is not restricted to one or a few individuals, but is shared by AIRs leaders and staff and has become embedded within the organization and its programs. Here, i t is important to reiterate that AIR did not begin as a womens organization. However, through the organizations willingness to listen, recogni ze, and attend to the needs and concerns of both women and men in its work, the staff and leaders of AIR have developed an awareness of the importance of gender and gendered power relations in the organizations environmental programs. In the interviews, all of the staff of AIR agree d that the organization has developed a conocimiento de g neroa gender consciousness in recent years. Luis argued that this consciousness has developed as a result of the numerous partnerships that AIR has cultivated with indig enous womens groups. From working with these womens groups, Luis and the other tenicos have witnessed firsthand how important women are to environmental protection efforts: I think so, that AIR has a gender consciousness. And now, we can say that the wom en have even taught us. We have learned a lot of things, too. Many things, right? And that is part of gender, that not only men can work. No, women also have space [to work].... And they [the women] have done great work. And we, as an institution, we know that effort, that work. William explicitly connects the development of AIRs gender consciousness with the organizations willingness to recognize womens work and to listen to their concerns. We do practical work on the issue of gender. Even though many organizations apart from AIR say that they work on gender, but for me, we have done it. Without having a gender program.... But we listen. Yes, we listen to the women, right, they talk and we listen. They tell us about their problems, or, or their suggesti ons and we try to help them.
208 Thus, for both Luis and William a big part of AIR s gender consciousness involves recogni zing the value and potential of both women and men as allies in struggles to protect the environment. This recognition is important because as I pointed out earlier, womens work and contributions in environmental movements have historically been ignored or discounted by academics and policymakers alike (UNEP 2004) Anne pointed out that a willingness to listen and incorporate the needs and concerns of both women and men is at the heart of any community based organizing effort. As she pointed out, womens voices and contributions must be included in such efforts, because to ignore them would be excluding half the community. [AIR] may hav e a gender consciousness. I would also call it a consciousness to listen. T o listen to what people might want. To listen to what would be an integral part the trees, we always put the tree nurseries at the core. But if the women, if the group wants medicinal gardens, lets do that! If they ask for stoves, more stoves, more stoves, more stoves Ill write some grants! Well build more stoves. So, I think it came that...the women came to us more than men, and we already had the mindset of listening, and then t he women asked, told us what they wanted. So we got it. Does that make sense? I want community based not to be just a clich. And it is such a clich. Im getting sick of it. But I want it to be authentic listening. Yeah. Through authentic listening and then acting on what weve heard. AIRs gender consciousness developed from a willingness to listen to all community members has fundamentally shaped the organizations projects and the ways in which it operates in two ways. First, as I have pointed out, it has allowed the organization to recognize the value and potential of women as important allies in its environmental projects. This valuation has led to AIR forming strong and lasting alliances with numerous groups of women farmers throughout Guatemala. These groups constitute the majority of the farmers that choose to work with AIR, and their collective efforts have led to the planting of nearly 4 million trees in communities throughout highland Guatemala.
209 Secondly, AIRs gender consciousness has also helped the organization to develop additional environmental programs that it likely would not have pursued had it failed to incorporate the concerns and suggestions of indigenous women. For instance, one of the organizations most successful projects the co nstruction of fuel efficient stoves was developed with the help and suggestions of indigenous women. In the case of the stoves, it was women community members who pointed out the inefficiency and environmental costs of traditional openfire methods of cook ing. They also pointed out the health problems that both they and their children had experienced as a result of inhaling smoke from open fires complaining of coughing, shortness of breath, and watery eyes. To address these problem s, AIR began working with community members to build fuel efficient stoves with chimneys in the homes of residents who desired them. These stoves only use between onehalf and onethird of the firewood of openfire cooking methods. Thus, in addition to preserving firewood, they al so help to cut down on the number of trips women must take to find firewood. In the 2006 interviews, the women reported that the number of times they had to procure firewood had been cut in half since they had the stoves built in their homes. Since 1995, AIR has constructed 750 fuel efficient stoves in the departments of Chimaltenango and Solol ; the organization estimates that these stoves help to conserve roughly 750 tons of firewood each year. The stoves project which represents an important opportunit y for environmental protectiondeveloped because of AIRs willingness to listen and incorporate indigenous womens concerns into its environmental programs. As Anne acknowledged, the stove project that was all [from] the women. If [AIR] hadn t paid attent ion to them, that would have been a missed opportunity.
210 Discussion By forming cross border alliances with AIR, indigenous women have been able to access the knowledge and resources necessary to implement and maintain environmental programs in their communities. While this transnational mobilization has helped indigenous women and their communities, it has also been a difficult process fraught with challenges and obstacles As enumerated by both indigenous women and AIR staff, some of the main chall enges include the negotiation of power and privilege across borders of race, gender, class, and nationality; the exhausting nature of emotional labor in transnational organizing; and the difficulties in securing funding. However, an examination of AIRs p artnerships with indigenous communities reveals that it is indeed possible to negotiate the daunting obstacles inherent in transnational activist work. Specifically, it is important that local and international actors identify and make use of key unifiers that can bridge social and cultural divides. For AIR, both religion and the organizations willingness to listen to community members needs have been important in helping the organization to build and maintain lasting alliances with indigenous communities in environmental protection efforts. While such unifiers by no means dismantle the power structures in which local and transnational activists are embedded, they do help these activists to bridge seemingly insurmountable divides and work across borders of race, class, gender, and nationality to achieve a shared goal and vision. By centering the needs of community members in its environmental programs, AIR has recognized the value and contributions of both indigenous women and men as allies in environmental protection efforts. In particular, AIRs work and dialogue with numerous i ndigenous womens groups has l ed the organization to develop a gender
211 consciousness which has helped to inform and shape its environmental programs. Over the years, the staff and leaders of AIR have learned to recognize that issues of the environment and environmental degradation are also womens issues. As many AIR staff members acknowledged, this gender consciousness is still growing and evolving, and some indicated that there were certain issues related to gender that they wanted to clarify. Many of th e tecnicos, for instance, had little to no understanding of why women constitute a large majority of community residents who seek out AIRs help. This dissertation aims to clarify some of these issues, and contribute to the ongoing development of AIRs gender consciousness. In doing so, this dissertation also aims to provide an instructive case study that helps not only AIR but other organizations, activists, and institutions recognize that gender as well as race and class need to be considered in the design and implementation of environmental programs and projects. One of the institutions that this dissertation explicitly addresses is the Guatemalan government. Despite being an institution that has a history of repressing or ignoring indigenous groups, the Guatemalan government has in recent years tried to incorporate indigenous groups demands into various programs and projects. In regards to environmental programs, members of Guatemalas National Forestry Institute (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, or INAB) have recently consulted AIR on how to incorporate indigenous communities in government led reforestation projects. In the following chapter, I examine how the stories of indigenous women and AIR can challenge and inform Guatemalan government policy on env ironmental issues.
212 CHAPTER 7 CHALLENGING OFFICIAL DISCOURSES: USING THE STORIES OF INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND AIR TO INF ORM POLICY DESIGN AN D IMPLEMENTATION So what, then, are the political implications of this study? How might the stories and experiences of indigenous women and AIR be used to inform environmental policy design and development in Guatemala? These are particularly important questions for a n (eco) feminist action research project such as this. Action researchers emphasize the need to bri dge the gap between theory and practice, and to link research with policy and positive social change ( Fals Borda 2008; Greenwood and Levin 1998; Reason and Bradbury 2008). As Orlando Fals Borda (2008) contends, action researchers are guided by a praxis inspired commitment, a practical struggle for social transformation (30). In the previous chapter I explored how the story of the partnership between indigenous women and AIR may be used to inform environmental activist and advocacy work. In thi s chapter I continue to bridge the research/practice/policy divide by highlighting the ways in which the stories of indigenous women and the AIR team may also inform environmental policy specifically Guatemalan forestry policy. In doing so, this chapter of fers a way of linking the personal stories of local actors with national level politics and practices. I begin this chapter with an overview of national forestry policy in Guatemala, and a discussion of the countrys government led reforestation programs the Program of Forestry Incentives (Programa de Incentivos Forestales, or PINFOR), and the Program of Incentives for Smallholders of Land with Forest ry or Agroforest ry Potential (Proyecto de Incentivos para Pequeos Poseedores de Tierras con Vocacin Fores tal o Agroforestal or PINPEP). I then move on to discuss the underlying assumptions embedded within Guatemalan forestry policy, drawing in large part from interviews
213 conducted with representatives of the National Forestry Institute (Instituto Nacional de Bosques, or INAB), as well as the Secretary of Planning and Programming for the Presidency (Secretaria de Planificacin y Programacin de la Presidencia, or SEGEPLAN) Both INAB and SEGEPLAN have primary responsibility for the design and implementation of forestry policy in Guatemala.1A critical discourse analysis reveals that at least four major (and problematic) assumptions guide forestry policy as developed by INAB and SEGEPLAN. First, officials within these institutions pursue a topdown approach to national forestry management largely neglecting the needs and concerns of local citizens in the design of forestry programs and policies. Second, officials tend to characterize rural and indigenous communities as problems to be dealt with rather than allies in environmental protection efforts Third, officials view deforestation and related environmental problems as recent In this section, I employ critical discourse analysis as outlined by Nancy Naples (2003) in order to analyze how government officials talk about deforestation and forestry policy in Guatemala. As Naples maintains, a critica l discourse analysis of how government officials talk about public policy allows for important insight into the values and beliefs that guide political processes. Such an analysis also exposes the weaknesses and contradictions in public policy, and thus c reates a space for critiquing and challenging policy design (Naples 2003:279) Thus, as Foucault (1978) contends, discourse transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart it (101). 1 INAB has primary responsibility for the design and implementation of forestry law in Guatemala. SEGEPLAN is a general office that has responsibility for coordinating policy development between the various ministries of the government
214 problems that are largely the result of agricultural expansion in general, ignoring the ways in which historical patterns of inequality and t he appropriation of indigenous land and resources have been major contributors to deforestation in Guatemala. Finally, the programs and policies designed by both INAB and SEGEPLAN operate within a prodevelopment framework; officials tended to talk about economic development in wholly positive terms, ignoring the ways in which this process has contributed to environmental degradation and further exacerbated social inequalities in Guatemala. In this chapter I also draw from interviews with indigenous women a nd AIR staff in order to c ritiqu e each of the major assumptions outlined above. Following the overview of Guatemalas forestry policy and programs, the chapter follows a point counterpoint format in which the testimonies of indigenous women and AIR are presented as challenges to the official discourses of INAB and SEGEPLAN representatives. Presenting the critiques and challenges of indigenous women and AIR staff as a way of talking back to INAB and SEGEPLAN officials is particularly relevant for this pr oject because in recent years officials from both institutions have contacted AIR for advice on designing national forestry policy and reforestation programs. This chapter thus constitutes a direct response to these institutions. The overall goal of this c hapter is to draw from the concerns critiques, and suggestions of indigenous women and AIR in order to begin developing effective environmental programs and policy that recognize indigenous women and men as important allies in local, regional, and national efforts to protect the environment. Background: Guatemalas National Forestry Law, PINFOR, and PINPEP Guatemalas Forestry Law (10196) was passed in October 1996 following the signing of the Peace Accords. As stated in Article 1 of the law its primary objective is to
215 reduce deforestation; promote reforestation; increase the productivity of existing forests so that they realize their economic and biological potential; to conserve Guatemalas forestry ecosystems; and to promote an improvement in the quality of life for communities who rely on forests for goods like firewood and timber. The law promotes sustainable logging of national forests, and requires companies and citizens alike to obtain permits for both commercial logging as well as dom estic use of trees (for firewood or building construction) and to replant a certain number of trees for every one that has been cut. Perhaps the most notable aspect of t he 1996 Forestry Law is that it created the Nat ional Forestry Institute (INAB), an aut onomous institut e with responsibilities for the design, implementation, and enforcement of national forestry programs and policies INAB operates within the Ministry of Agriculture, Grains, and Food (MAGA), one of thirteen ministries that are directly supervised by the executive branch of the Guatemalan government. As stated on INABs website, the mission of the institute is to execute and promote national forestry policies and to facilitate access to technology and forestry services...for all actors in th e forestry sector, through the design and promotion of strategies and actions that generate a greater economic, ecological, and social development in the country (INAB 2010a ). While INAB promotes conservation of forest resources, it also promotes sustainable logging, a practice which many indigenous communities oppose because it has turned forests into another resource for national and multinational corporations to exploit (Larson 2008) Both the Forestry Law and INAB have been met with some resentment and opposition from indigenous and rural commu nities. As noted by Anne Lar son (2008), a
216 number of indigenous residents associate INAB with two evils, namely [commercial] logging and the enforcement of burdensome regulations for the poor (42). The requirement of permits for firewood use is particularly burdensome for rural indigenous residents, who have used trees as firewood for centuries. AIR tecnico Miguel Lopez was particularly critical of this part of the law, noting that most indigenous and rural residents are not even aware of its existence. Furthermore, he said that it criminalizes those who depend upon the forest for their livelihoods, pointing out that residents do not understand why they are suddenly in violation of the law when they are only cont inuing to do what they have done for generations. Since 1998 INAB has been engaged in a process of decentralization, working with local governments to establish munici p al forest offices (OFMs) As of 2005, OFMs had been established in 116 out of 330 muni cipalities throughout Guatemala (Larson 2008; Larson and Barrios 2006). The OFMs have responsibility for enforcing national forestry policy at local levels. Their main duties involve the issuance of permits for firewood and logging, local enforcement of the national Forestry Law, as well as assisting residents to become involved in the governments main reforestation programs PINFOR and PINPEP. PINFOR was established in 199 6 as an incentive program to encourage landholders to reforest parts of their land. Once registered with INAB, landholders are paid for a period of up to five years for the reforestation and sustainable management of their land. The main goal s of this program are to maintain and improve sustainable forest produc tion and to improve overall natural regeneration in Guatemala. The program aims to reforest 285,000 hectares by 2017 ( I NAB 2010 b )
217 While the goals of PINFOR are admi rable, the program is not without its weaknesses. First the process of applying and re gistering for this program is lengthy and complex. Landholders must provide numerous documents, including their land title, a detailed plan of action for reforestation, and proof that their land is qualified to be forested (i.e., the terrain is not too r ocky, steep, or otherwise unsuited for forests). The application must then be evaluated and approved, a process which can take several months. Overall, the process can be quite cumbersome and daunting for landowner s to pursue. A second weakness is that IN AB does not provide any training or financial assistance in the reforestation process itself Rather, applicants are expected to invest their own resources to initiate the reforestation or forest management activities, with INAB technicians supervising ( Ferroukhi and Echeverria 2003:91). In this way PINFOR marginalizes many small scale landowners who lack both the technical knowledge and financial resources necessary to design, implement, and maintain reforestation project s. Finally, the incentive program only lasts for a period of up to five years for a given area. Thus, after five years there are no further financial incentives for a landowner to continue participating in the reforestation program. These combined weaknesses have meant limited success for PINFO R F r om 1998 through 2009, PINFOR reforest ed a total of 94,151 hectares throughout Guatemala; h owever, nearly 60% of this land is concentrated in the department s of El Pet n and Alta Verapaz, where the government has reforested 56,477.90 hectares, mostly in national parks (INAB 2010b) In contrast, only 10.4% of this land (9,812 hectares) is located in the western highland departments of Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Quich Solol and Totonicap n departments with predominantly indigenous populations (ibid. ).
218 In 2002 and 2003 INAB organized a series of forest policy roundtables in which government representatives met with a number of civil society organizations, community leaders, and national and international ex perts in order to evaluate Guatemalas forestry sector and develop a new National Forestry Plan (Hurtarte, et al. 2006) AIR was one of the organizations consulted during this time. One of the major concerns brought up during these meetings was that INAB had not done enough to integrate small scale farmers in its reforestation projects. From the policy roundtables INAB developed a new National Forestry Plan in which the institute pledged to m ake its forestry and reforestation programs more inclusive. The primary aim of the plan is to achieve sustainable forest and environmental management so that by the year 2012 the development of the Guatemalan forest sector will be based on principles of sustainability, thus contributing to human well being and economic, social and environmental development; to landuse planning; and to the shaping of a forest culture within the country through participatory management by all the stakeholders (Programa Forestal Nacional de Guatemala 2003). One of the programs that developed following the roundtable discussions in 2002 and 2003 is PINPEP Launched in 2006, PINPEP specific ally targets sm allscale landowners (identified as landowners with 15 hectares of land or less) for participation in government led reforestation programs. The general objective of the program is to address problems of deforestation as well as poverty and hunger by prov iding economic incentives for landowners to participate in reforestation projects. PINPEP also aims to accomplish the following: to increase the participation of smallholders in forestry management; to foster gender equality through encouraging women to participate in
219 reforestation programs; to generate employment and income in rural areas through participation in forestry management; and to strengthen the links between local and national leadership (INAB 2010c ). PINPEP operates in much the same way as PINFOR by providing economic incentives to encourage smallholders to participate in either reforestation or agroforestry programs, or to protect existing forests on their land. PINPEP offers the greatest economic incentives for establishing tree plantations, without crop integration. Participants receive a lump sum of money at the end of their first year of participation, and the incentive program lasts for up to three years for each area of land. Currently, PINPEP has reforestation and agroforestry projects in 79 municipalities in the departments of Zacapa, Chiquimula, Baja Verapaz, El Progreso, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Chimaltenango, Huehuetenango, Quiche, Solol Totonicapn, Quetzaltenango and San Marcos In these departments, the program has helped to reforest a total of 13,103.5 hectares from 20072009 (ibid.). To date, it is too early to evaluate the longterm success and sustainability of PINPEP. From an initial review of the programs goals, it seems that PINPEP is making concerted efforts to targe t small scale farmers and that the program is concerned with connecting reforestation and poverty reduction efforts. Additionally and from an ecofeminist perspective it is also admirable that PINPEP is conscientious about encouraging womens participatio n in government led reforestation programs. While PINPEP may look good on paper, there is some evidence that the program may lack efficacy when put into practice. Some studies have shown, for instance, that many rural and indigenous communities have put up a wall of resistance to INABs involvement in forestry management both in regards to the administration of Forestry
220 Law through OFMs and the implementation of programs like PINFOR and PINPEP (Larson 2008; Larson and Barrios 2006) Anne Larson (2008) attribute s this resistance to communities resentment of the Forestry Law and its burdensome regulations, as well as a general distrust of the Guatemalan government on the part of indigenous and rural communities (Larson 2008) This resistance is a major reason why, as of 2005, INAB had only managed to establish OFMs in 116 out of 330 municipalities throughout Guatemala (ibid.). In addition to the lack of public trust, I argue that certain other weaknesses also limit the efficacy of both PINFOR and PINPEP in providing longterm, community based solutions to the problem of deforestation in Guatemala. I argue that t hese weakness es are based on faulty assumptions that guide PINFOR and PINPEP assumptions which also emerged from interviews with the government officials responsible for designing the programs In the following section, I discuss each of these assumptions in detail, and also offer counterarguments based on the narratives of indige nous women and AIR staff and leaders. TopDown vs. Community Based Approaches By law, forestry management is centralized in Guatemala. The 1996 Forestry Law entitles the statethrough INAB to the management and protection of forests and forestry resource s in Guatemala. While the law also has provisions for decentralization, municipal forestry offices ultimately do not have much power in the creation of forestry policies and/or programs like PINFOR and PINPEP. Thus, the design of forestry law remains largely controlled by the state, with municipal offices having responsibility for monitoring and enforcing community compliance with the law.
221 Overall, this structure is very much top down in its approach to forestry management and conservation. It entrusts t he design, implementation, and enforcement of forestry policy and programs to state officials and technical experts with community residents expected to adhere to and abide by the regulations. Thus, while PINPEP is touted by INAB officials as a communi ty based program, it in fact is a program that was designed by a handful of government officials and technical advisors following a series of closeddoor roundtable discussions in 2002 and 2003. Only about 450 representatives of NGOs and national and international forestry experts were invited to participate in these roundtabless C ommunity members and smallholding farmers the target of the PINPEP initiative were conspicuously absent from the discussions (Hurtarte, et al. 2006). According to INAB officials, this top down approach to forestry management is warranted because most rural residents do not unders tand the importance and/or technical aspects of sustainable forest management. Both the SEGEPLAN delegates and INAB representatives viewed the Forestry Law as an important tool for promoting sustainable management of forests in Guatemala, and that what is needed is better education of the public to help them understand the importance of the Forestry Law and how it applies to them. As the national SEGEPLAN delegate argued, In the highlands we have beautiful forests and the people are not able to understand that the forest is a resource that is being lost. We may not see it now, but [we will] in the future. So we need people to understand that the law is there to protect this precious resource. The r egional representative of INAB, Ed win Periera concurred that education is important for ensuring public compliance with the Forestry Law. Periera pointed out that
222 INAB works with community organizations and NGOs to develop programs to educat e citizens about the Forestry Law and how it applies to them. He explained, We have to help the population to understand the [Forestry] Law, to comply with the Law.Because the Law is like, like a guide for sustainabl e forest management. We have develop ed extra curricular programs for children, for women, for people, for all levels of the population on the theme of sustainable management and the Law. The emphasis on educating communities about national policy and progr ams (as opposed to incorporating community members concerns and suggestions in policy design) reflects INABs top down, paternalistic approach to forestry management. Such an approach has resulted in a disconnect from the reality of deforestation and its impact on rural and highland communities. In these communities, residents are keenly aware of the prevalence of deforestation and related environmental problems. As I have pointed out throughout this dissertation, such problems have a direct impact on highland residents everyday lives and work, so it is highly doubtful that they are unable to understand the dangers posed by deforestation. Furthermore, the fact that AIR has received hundreds of requests for assistance with reforestation projects is further evidence that highland residents are concerned with protecting the forests that they have long depended upon for food, shelter, and other resources. Considering this, it is unsurprising that many highland residents tend to view INAB as an elitist institution; indigenous residents in particular perceive INAB officials a s arro grant and unconcerned with reaching out to indigenous communities (Larson 2008). According to AIR tecnico William Santizo the negative perception of INAB is a major reason why the instutition has failed to establish municipal offices in a large majority of municipalities in Guatemala. As he noted,
223 The law requires that the people comply with the policies written by the state. But the state does not listen to what the people need or want, and the people do not trust the state. INAB is supposed to be decentralized but in reality this is not the case the communities do not have a lot of power, they dont have a voice in the process [of policy design].... So if the state does not reach out to the people, then the people think why should we worry about reachi ng out to the state? Itzapa is one of the communities that has refused to work with INAB. Elena Siquinajay noted that INAB officials have repeatedly contacted her and other indigenous leaders about establishing a municipal office in Itzapa. She said that s he has adamantly refused their offers, noting that INAB has a reputation for not respecting indigenous traditions in regards to forestry and natural resource management. She explained that, We do not trust them. Because in reality they do not care about helping us only about improving their statistics and their salaries. So I tell them that we have been working with AIR to reforest Itzapa, so we do not need their help. AIR works with us and listens to us, but INAB no. In order to engage in effective community outreach and establish reforestation that are truly community based, INAB would do well to actually incorporate community members in the design and development of its programs and policies. The institution could do this in a number of ways. For instance, INAB could host another series of policy roundtables in which community representatives both women and men are asked to participate. This would ensure that the needs and concerns of community members are voiced at a national level and are considered i n public policy design. Another strategy would be to follow the model of AIR s community based programs, and assist community members with the materials and technical aspects of reforestation and forest management, but leave the actual management of these programs up to the community members themselves. Regardless of the strategy, what is important is for INAB to establish and maintain an open and respectful dialogue with communit y members and program participants. As I have argued earlier dialogue and a w illingness
224 to incorporate community members needs and concerns are central to the formation of longterm alliances that are crucial to environmental protection efforts. Indigenous Communities as Problems vs. Indigenous Women and Men as Allies INABs top down approach to forestry management has hindered the institutions ability to recognize indigenous women and men as potential allies in reforestation efforts. Instead, incentive programs like PINFOR and PINPEP target small scale landowners as problems to be dealt with. These programs are based on at least two flawed assumptions: first, that small scale landowners and farmers are major contributor s to deforestation in Guatemala; and second, that landowners will reforest their land only if they are presented with an economic incentive for doing so. According to INAB officials, the major cause of deforestation in Guatemala is l avance de la frontera agr cola, or the advance of the agricultural frontier. Both national and regional representativ es noted that in recent decades, the growth of small scale farming h as posed a particular threat to Guatemalas forests According to the national INAB representative, the increasing number of minifundias in the highlands has been associated with illegal deforestation and the nonsustainable use of forests. Edwin Periera elaborated, explaining that, The growth in population in the highlands has resulted in agricultural exploitation. The necessity for basic grains results in t he cut ting of trees and then they [the families] may introduce one cow, two cows, chickens. And of course many families in the highlands do not have the resources to buy a stove, so they need firewood. So they are always using forest resources. By framing deforestation as a recent probl em that is largely the result of the expansion of small scale farming, INAB officials de facto frame small scale farmers the majority of whom are indigenous as contributors to the problem of deforestation in Guatemala. This characterization is a form of blaming the victim that places responsibility for
225 deforestation on those who are most directly impacted by it. It is an argument that bypasses historical analys e s of deforestation as a problem rooted in the colonization of indigenous land and resources and unequal land distribution. Furthermore, characterizing small scale farm ing as an obstacle to sustainable forestry management ignores the historical role that small scale, indigenous farmers have played in natural resource management, and also absolves lar gescale landowners and other power elites o f any responsibility for deforestation in Guatemala. AIR tecnico Miguel Lopez was very critical of INABs approach to sustainable forest management noting that the lack of land not small scale farmingwas the major cause of deforestation in highland Guatemala: The farmers are not the problem! They are not the problem. They have to farm to eat is it a crime to eat? Of course not. But these programs [PINFOR and PINPEP] that INAB promotes, eh, in the eyes of INAB the farmers are the problem, but in reality the lack of land is the problem. This is certain. Both PINFOR and PINPEP are modeled on the assumption that small scale farming and farmers are obstacles to sustainable forestry management. By offering economic incentives to farmers, PINFOR and PINPEP turn reforestation and forestry management into a business transaction, in which the state pays off farmers to plant or maintain forests on their land. This model overlooks the numerous other incentives that rural and indigenous communities have for reforesting or sustainably managing their land. As I have pointed out throughout this dissertation, such incentives includ e the protection of soil, crops, and water resources; traditional indigenous respect for the land a nd natural resources; as well as indigenous womens motivation to protect the environment for their families and communities. By failing to recognize these other (noneconomic) incentives, PINFOR and PINPEP also fail to appreciate rural and indigenous
226 resi dents as allies in sustainable forest management, rather than problem s who must be paid off to plant trees. Two of AIRs tecnicos, Miguel and William, were both employed by MAGA (the Ministry of Agriculture, Grains, and Food, of which INAB is a branch) b efore working with AIR. They also worked closely with INAB, and both were critical of INAB a n d MAGA s approach sustainable forestry management. Miguel, who is indigenous, pointed out that INABs failure to recognize indigenous farmers as allies in environm ental protection efforts was a major reason why he left government employment to work with AIR. They [INAB] do not talk much with the people, so they do not recogni ze all the opportunties for working with the people. So, for example, with the indigenous co mmunity, as you know, we have many reasons a lot of motivation for protect ing our environment our land. But many times the state does not recognize this. They think, Oh, we have to pay them to plant trees, to work on the part of the environment, but in reality this is not the case! We want the people want to protect the land. They just need to a little bit of help to do so. As Miguel and the other staff of AIR contend, it is important for any institution involved in environmental protection to maintain open dialogue and involvement with local communities. By involving community members in policy and program design, state officials and advocates alike are more likely to recognize the many incentives that community members might have for participating in environmental protection efforts. As I pointed out earlier, community participation in environmental policy design can also lead to the development of policy that is more inclusive and effective. AIR is one organization that has adopted an approach to environmental management that is truly community based. Working with primarily indigenous communities, AIR encourages the participation of indigenous women and men in the design and implementation of reforestation and other environmental projects. Respect for indigenous communities
227 and a willingness to dialogue and learn from community members have helped AIR to recogniz e indigenous women and men as important allies in its e nvironmental programs. The alliances between AIR and local communities are based not on economic incentives but on a deep understanding of the importance of environmental management and protectionboth for local communities and society more generally. Over all, AIRs practice of fully involv ing community members in reforestation projects has helped to strengthen the relationships between AIR and local communities, which has ultimately aided the organizations reforestation efforts not only are community memb ers more willing and eager to work with AIR, but they are more willing to participate in and maintain programs that they themselves design. Thus, I again emphasize the link between community involvement and the efficacy of environmental programs: in order to ensure the longterm success and sustainability of environmental policy and programs, local community residents women and men alikemust be involved and incorporated at all stages of policy and program design. This is a truly community based approach, and one that is most likely to ensure both community compliance and the longterm maintenance of environmental programs Deforestation as a New Problem vs. Deforestation as the Result of Historical Appropriation of Land and Resources A third problematic assumption that emerged from interviews with government officials was the notion that deforestation in Guatemala i s a fairly recent problem linked to population pressure and the spread of small scale agriculture. INAB o fficials contended that the PINFOR and PINPEP initiatives aim to stop the cycl e of deforestation by encouraging landowners sustainable management of their own lands. However, n either of these programs addresses what I have argued is the root cause of
228 deforestation in highland Guatemala: a highly unequal land distribution system that is the result of centuries of appropriation of ind igenous land and resources To recap from Chapter 2, centuries of elite takeover of the best agricultural land in Guatemala has left rural (primarily indigenous) populations with only small plots of land to farm in highland areas. Within highland communities, these plots are passed from on e generation to the next and divi ded amongst a familys children. Thus, minifundias (small farms) become microfundias (very sma ll farms) As these farms many of which are less than 0.7 hectares do not yield enough crops for adequate subsistence, families are left with little option but to clear forested areas to plant additional crops. This has led to increased deforestation of hi ghland areas, and the undermining of traditional agreements on the use and management of community forests (for more on this, see Katz 2000b) When asked about the link between unequal land distribution and deforestation, government officials conceded that land inequality constitutes a major problem in Guatemala, but that this problem is beyond the scope of INABs objectives and responsibilities Officials instead noted that the government program FONTIERRAS (Fondo de Tierras) has primary responsibity for overseeing land reform in Guatemala. Implemented in 2001, t h e FONTIERRAS program utilizes a marketbased approach to land reform in which the government grants low interest loans to individuals or collective groups to help them purchase or rent additional land However, as noted by Garoz and Gauster (2004), implementation of this program has been very patchy, and its success in promoting widespre ad land access has been limited. As of 2009, a total of 19, 450 individual s had received credit to purchase 93, 022 hectares (FONTIERRAS 2009). This
229 equates to an average of 4.8 hectares per family an amount that represents roughly half the area necessary for adequate familial subsistence. The program for renting landstarted in 2004 has seen a bit more success, with a total of 180, 802 individuals receiving loans to rent 125,808 hectares. This equates to an average of only 0.7 hectares per family. However the granting loans to rent or purchase land hardly equates to meaningful land reform. Despite FONTIERRA S efforts, Guatemala still retains one of the highest levels of land inequality in the world, and evidence indicates that the level of inequality has increased since the implementation of neoliberal development policies. C urrently, the Gini coefficient for land inequality in Guatemala is 0.85, higher than it has ever been (Wittman and Gei sler 2005). Furthermore, nearly half of the land owned by the top 1 % of largescale landowners land can be classified as terreno baldioempty or unused land (ibid.). D espite the fact that both INAB and FONTIERRAS are housed within the Ministry of Agriculture, Grains, and Food (MAGA), there has been very little collaboration between the tw o programs. According to the SEGEPLAN delegate, they are both autonomous institutes within the government, and each one has its separate goals: INAB for the forestry sector, and FONTIERRAS for land access. Both the inefficacy of FONTIERRAS and the disconnect between FONTIERRAS and INAB constitute major obstacles to longterm sustainable forestry management. In order to break the cycle of deforestation in highland Guatemala, it is imperative that state programs recognize and address deforestation as a problem rooted in a history of land appropriation and unequal land distribution. Incentive programs like PINFOR and PINPEP are merely quick fixes that do not address the root causes of much of the
230 deforestation that is occurring today in Guatemala. In order to stop the cycle of slashandburn farming and the environmentally destructive advance of agriculture, it is imperative that the Guatemalan state recognize and develop programs to address the interrelated nature of social exclusion, land inequality, and the ongoing destruction of forests Programs that allow for government purchase and redistribution of unused land are thus important ways to address both the social inequalities and many environmental problems confronting Guatemala today. Development as a Beneficial Process vs. Development as Neocolonialism In addition to overlooking the connection between unequal land distribution and deforestation, government officials also failed to acknowledge the role that development plays in exacerbating environment al degradation in Guatemala. Rather, officials framed development as a wholly positive process, a way to make Guatemala more competitive in the global economy, as well as a way of combating poverty within the country. Even INAB officials contended that allowing international timber companies access to forests in Guatemala could be beneficial for the countrys economy if commercial logging is done in a sustainable manner, in accordance with the law. This characterization of development is at odds with how many indigenous activists and organizations view the process as an assault on their land, resources, and way of life that constitutes a form of neocolonialism. Representatives of both SEGEPLAN and INAB viewed the recently passed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) as an accord that would ultimately benefit Guatemala at both international and national levels. According to the regional SEGEPLAN delegate, at the international level CAFTA will help Guatemala to become more competitive in the global market As the delegate explained, Guatemala is trying
231 to position itself as a major player in the global agricultural export sector, and CAFTA helps to facilitate this. As she noted, [CAFTA] integrates our country into the world market. It gives us access to international resources and encourages businesses to invest in Guatemala. She went on to argue that free trade also benefits small scale farmers by allowing them access to the export market; thus, the small producers can sell their crops not only in local markets but international markets as well through contractors, and they can augment their income. However, she also noted that she had many doubts in regards t o the environmental consequences of CAFTA, saying that the regulations are very vague. INAB officials viewed CAFTA as benefical for both the agricultural and forestry sector, and the national representative noted that in many ways trees are like another crop for Guatemala. As he explained, if we manage the process of development in a sustainable way, then it can help us to realize the economic potential of Guatemalas forests. Both he and Edwin Periera pointed out that Guatemalas forestry law provides for strict regulation of commercial logging, and mandates that companies can only log in certain areas and during certain hours of the day. Furthermore, companies are required to plant a certain number of trees for every one that they cut. However, Edwi n Periera also conceded that it can be difficult to enforce the Forestry Law at all times, and that the timber industry often engages in illegal logging practices, either cutting more trees than permitted or failing to replant trees when required to do so. Overall, government officials characterization of development in positive terms contrasts with the narratives of the many indigenous activists presented in this dissertation. As women like Juana, Elena, Luvia, and others have revealed, the
232 development pr ocess has led to greater environmental degradation of their local communities exacerbating problems of deforestation, soil erosion and mudslides, and the overuse of harmful agrochemicals. As Luvia pointed out, The government always talks about how this process of development benefits us. But we have not seen the benefits. We are still very poor, and now we have all these [environmental] problems, too. So, my question is: who benefits? Elena was similarly critical, and also noted that those who stand to benefit from the development process comprise a very small group. As she contended, It [development] is a process by the rich and for the rich. They are the ones who benefit. And we are the ones who suffer. The poor, the rural and indigenous population suffers. And the environment too. All, all for the benefit of the rich. The concerns and critiques of indigenous women who work with AIR are shared by indigenous activists at national levels. It is noteworthy that many indigenou s organizations protested in Guatemalas capital city immediately before and after the ratification of CAFTA in 2005. Shortly afterwards, the National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (Coordinadora Nacional de Organizaciones Campesinas, or CNOC) publi shed a document on Alternati ve Development of Indigenous and Peasant Agriculture (2006) which critiques the western neoliberal development model as unsustainable and incapable of generating a better quality of life for rural populations (8). This document characterizes development as a form of neocolonialism as it has led to the further appropriation and degradation of indigenous land and resources. Unlike INAB and SEGEPLAN officials, the authors of the document view development (as it is currently practiced) as a direct cause of environmental degradation in Guatemala. The authors call for a new paradigm of development that is based on principles of environmental and social sustainability, and one that is inclusive of women and men of all sectors of society.
233 Discussion I n this chapter, I have attempted to bridge the gap between activism and policy by presenting the narratives of indigenous women, AIR staff, and other activists as a way of challenging the problematic assumptions embedded within Guatemalan environmental pol icy and political discourse. Namely, these assumptions include a belief in the efficacy of topdown approaches to environmental policy and forestry management; the notion that indigenous and rural populations pose problems to sustainable forest management; the idea that deforestation is a recent problem linked to the expansion of small scale farming; as well as the characterization of dev elopment as a beneficial process for all of Guatemala. Ultimately, these faulty assumptions have hindered the ability of government institutes and environmental programs to address and remedy deforestation and related environmental problems in two major ways. First, the government has failed to recognize the links between deforestation, unequal land distribution, and unsustainable development practices. Thus, the governments main reforestation initiatives PINFOR and PINPEPfunction only as quick fixes that do not address some of the major underlying causes of deforestation and related environmental problems in Guatemala. Secondly, the government has also failed to recognize and incorporate indigenous and rural residents as allies in environmental protecti on efforts. INAB and SEGEPLANs top down approach to forestry management has meant that the concerns and suggestions of community members are not incorporated in policy design and implementation. This has led to a disconnect between government and local communities that has hindered INABs ability to establish municipal offices and work with communities in sustainable forestry management. This disconnect has also meant that INAB has missed important
234 opportunities to form alliances with rural and indigenous communities in environmental protection efforts. Overall, I contend that the governments inability (or unwillingness) to address both the causes and possible solutions to deforestation in Guatemala is a major reason why the nation continues to have one of the highest rates o f deforestation in the world. In order for the Guatemalan government to establish effective and longterm solutions to the problem of deforestation, it must work with local communities to address the underlying causes outlined above. Additionally, government programs should be integrated so that there is more dialogue and collaboration between various institutes. For instance, if it is understood that deforestation is linked with unequal land distribution, then it is possible to link t he work of the FONTIERRAS program with INAB. Whatever strategies the government pursues, it is imperative that it work with local communities in the development of effective, inclusive, and longterm solutions to the myriad environmental problems confronti ng Guatemala today.
235 CHAPTER 8 CONCLUSION: WHAT CAN WE LEARN? In 2010, AIR was invited to participate in the Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) Over the course of two weeks in April 2010, representatives of indigenous organizations from around the world convened at UN headquarters in New York to discuss topics of indigenous identity, cultural rights, climate change, and sustainable development A central theme that emer ged from the was how intersections of indigenous identity, gender, and class impact indigenous communities experiences of and responses toenvironmental degradation and climate change. I attended the UN PFII session as a representative of AIR For our organization, the session offerd an important opportunity to link the local with the global to recognize the ways in which indigenous womens environmental work with AIR in Guatemala is linked with indigenous womens involvement in environmental movements arou nd the globe. This connection was particularly evident at one of the final meetings on indigenous women and climate change. During this meeting, a representative of the Asian Indigenous Womens Network spoke about the need to recognize both diversities and similarities in stories of indigenous womens environmental activism. She explained that each story has lessons to teach, noting that, While each of our stories might have different plots, characters, and locations, it is also important that we learn t o recognize the lessons that can be taken from each.... By learning from each other, we can build solidarity and alliances at local, national, and global levels in shared struggles against environmental degradation and climate change. While I acknowledge t hat t h e story of the partnership between indigenous women and AIR is unique in many aspects, I also argue that it offers important lessons that can
236 inform not only academic scholarship, but activist work and policy development as well. In this conclusion I highlight some of the broader implications of this locally focused ecofeminist project. One lesson has been on the importance of using an empirically based, intersectional analysis to examine the connections between neoliberal development, environmental degradation, and gender, race, class. As I discussed in chapter 1, such an analysis has been lacking within both the environmental social sci ences and (eco)feminist studies while the environmental social sciences have neglected the topic of gender, feminis t studies have largely ignored environmental analyses, and ecofeminist scholar ship has failed to provide much in the way of empirical evidence for its theoretical assertions. I argue that these gaps constitute major blind spots within the respective bodi es of literature I n failing to recognize the concrete ways in which various various macrolevel processes and structures interact to shape human environment relations, these blind spots have impeded the abilities of academics to recognize the complexity of the social dimensions of environmental issues. A primary goal of this dissertation was to address these gaps: through an empirically based, sociological ecofeminist analysis, this dissertation has highlighted the interconnections between macrolevel process of development and environmental degradation, structures of gender, race, and class, and the local experiences and environmental activism of indigenous women in Guatemala. In utilizing a sociological ecofeminist analysis this project has revealed that environmental degradation in highland Guatemala is not a gender, race, or class neutral process. Rather, as evinced through the testimonies of indigenous women, local problems of deforestation, soil erosion, mudslides, and
237 agrochemical overuse have had a direct impact on the largely agricultural (and largely impoverished) indigenous communities that depend upon the land for food, shelter, and income. These environmental problems have not only material but cultural consequences for indigenous Maya as they also destroy the land and resources that many Maya consider sacred. Furthermore, environmental degradation is also a gendered process in that it directly impacts work done by indigenous women within highland communities including farming and gathering firewood and water. Against these various interrelated problems, indigenous women have mobilized around their identities as caregivers and mothers of the community, forming an alliance with a transnational organization in order to protect the land that their families and communities depend upon for survival. Overall, this empirically based ecofeminist analysis highlights the salience of race, class, and gender in shaping how individuals and communities experience and respond to local environmental degradation. I argue that it is important for academics whether environmental social scientists or (eco)feminist researchers to adopt similar analyses that recognize how inter connected macrolevel processes and structures of power and privilege shape local experiences. Only through such analyses is it possible to develop a fuller understanding of the complexity that shapes humanenvironment relations and social responses to envi ronmental problems. A s a feminist action research project, this dissertation addresses itself not only to academics but activists as well. Thus a secondand relatedlesson pertains to the importance of link ing theory with activism. This lesson is of parti cular importance for ecofeminist scholars, who in recent years have focused much of their work on
238 developing philosophical reflections on the womenenvironment connection rather than empirical analyses grounded in the actual, day to day experiences and act ivism of women around the world. I argue that in failing to ground their theoretical analyses in womens environmental activism, ecofeminist scholars risk developing theory that is distanced from and of little relevance to the millions of activists women and men alike who are mobilizing to protect their local environment and communities. For this particular project, I have made a concerted effort to bridge the gap between theory and activism by highlighting the voices and experiences of indigenous women act ivists and their allies. An intersectional analysis grounded in the everyday experiences of indigenous women has revealed how their environmental activism is connected to issues of gender, race, and class. As the women of Mujeres Unidas explained, they link their local environmental activism to both the indigenous and womens movements. They characterize their activism as a way of caring for the indigenous community by protecting the land that the community depends upon for both material and cultural survival. In this way, they are ideologically connected to the Guatemalan indigenous movement, which mak es the defense of Mother Earth a central part of its activist agenda (CNOC 2006; CUC 2008). Mobilizing a ro und their identities as mothers of the indigenous community, indigenous women also challenge the Guatemalan womens movement to recognize environmental issues as womens issues. Finally, the women have also encouraged the transnational environmental o rganization AIR to incorporate an awareness of the links between race, class, and gender in its reforestation projects. Through developing connections with national and transnational environmental, indigenous, and womens organizations, and in drawing
239 from the ideas of the indigenous and womens movement to inform their environmental work, the women of Mujeres Unidas situate their environmental activism at the nexus of the larger indigenous, womens, and environmental movements. In this way, the indigenous women profiled in this dissertation demonstrate the ways in which various social movements and causes can inform local activism. They also demonstrate how different movements and causes may overlap and develop connections in terms of shared goals and values. T he narratives of the indigenous women activists presented in this dissertation push academics and activists alike to recognize the importance of maintaining a mutually beneficial dialogue between theory and activism. I argue that such a dialogue strengthens academic scholarship by ensu ring that it is timely and attuned to the latest developments in social movement organizing; conversely, this dialogue can also benefit activists by providing them with a relevant theoretical platform that can justify inf orm and motivate their activism. Furthermore, this dialogue can also help academics and activists alike to consider the ways in which various social movements m ay be connected through shared goals, values motivations, and strategies I n this way, both ac ademics and activists are better equipped to identify and understand shared points of interest between social movements that may in turn facilitate the development of alliances and/or coalitions between movements and movement actor s. The story of indigeno us womens partnership with the Alliance for International Reforestation also offers a lesson on both the necessity and difficulty of mobilizing across borders to achieve shared goals. As I noted in Chapter 6, w hen community activists lack the financial, social, or and/or political resources necessary to achieve
240 their goals, it may be necessary for them to mobilize beyond their local borders and seek outside assistance. In the case of Mujeres Unidas, it was neces sary for Elena and the other women to form an alliance with AIR in order to realize their goals of planting a better future for their local community. This alliance has entailed the sometimes difficult negotiation of power and privilege across borders of gender, race, class, and nationality. However, both indigenous women and AIR staff identified important unifiers that have helped to bridge social and cultural divides namely through dialogue, listening, and religion. It is also through these unifiers t hat AIR and indigenous womens groups have been able to learn from each other. This dissertation represent s both an outcome and a continuation of this ongoing learning process In order to continue to move this process forward, I plan to share the results of this dissertation with both the indigenous women participants and AIR staff. In doing so, I hope to clarify issues of confusion or uncertainty that participants identified in the interviews particularly in regards to the gender question in AIRs envir onmental work By initiating and participating in this dialogue between indigenous women and AIR staff, I hope to contribute to the ongoing conscientization of participants myself includednot only in regards to gender, but the links between gender, race, and class in environmental work. This conscientization may in turn lead to the development of stronger alliances between AIR and local indigenous womens groups. Of course, this dissertation has implications not only for participants, but for any activist s and organizations who regularly work across borders. As such cross border work is often necessary to combat both local and global problems, it is also necessary to learn how to bridge social and cultural divides and build solidarity amongst diverse
241 groups. Drawing from the experiences of indigenous Guatemalan women and AIR staff, this dissertation offers some practical suggestions and strategies for how to accomplish this. Finally, this dissertation also offers practical lessons in regards to policy development and implementation In Chapter 7, I detailed how the stories and experiences of indigenous women and AIR may be used to challenge and inform Guatemalan environmental policy specifically forestry policy. I emphasize d the importance of maintaining dialogue between government officials and community members, and incorporating the needs and suggestions of community members in public policy and design. In this way, government officials can develop policy that not only addresses the problem at hand (in this case, deforestation), but can also do so in a way that incorporates community members needs (instead of ignoring them or worse, criminalizing the community members themselves). In C hapter 7 I also reiterated the importance of an intersectional analy sis: just as it is important for academics and activists to recognize the links between processes of neoliberal development, environmental degradation, and race, class, and gender, so is it important for policymakers to do the same. In doing so, policymakers are better equipped to recognize the underlying connections and causal factors between social and environmental problems. In the case of Guatemala, I have argued that deforestation in highland regions is linked to the historical appropriation and exploi tation of indigenous land and resources, and has been exacerbated in recent years as a result of neoliberal development policies. Thus, it is important for officials within both INAB and SEGEPLAN to recognize the links between deforestation, unequal land distribution, and
242 neoliberalism in order to develop policies and programs that address these interrelated issue s. Furthermore, an awareness of the gendered, racialized, and classed dimensions of environmental issues also hel ps government officials to identi fy and develop strategies to incorporate potential allies in environmental programs. By recognizing the ways in which women and men within rural indigenous communities are impacted by environmental degradation, INAB and SEGEPLAN officials are better equipped to develop strategies to reach out to indigenous communities and incorporate community members in environmental program and policy design. This approach is quite different from the top down approach presently pursued by the Guatemalan government in re gards to forestry management, which treats indigenous and rural residents as problems and sometimes criminals rather than allies, and has resulted in a disconnect between state institutions and local indigenous communities. While I note the various contri butions this project offers to feminist scholarship, activist work, and policy design, I also believe it is important to acknowledge the projects limitations what it does not offer. In taking note of these weaknesses, I also suggest how they might be addressed in future research. One limitation of this project is that much of its analyses and conclusions are based on a small sample size of indigenous Guatemalan women. As I discussed in Chapter 3, the primary sources of data f or this project are the oral histories conducted in 2009 with the ten leaders of Mujeres Unidas for the oral histories. These oral histories are supplemented by archival research that included data from interviews conducted in 2006 with 31 indigenous women (eight of whom were interviewed again for the oral histories). Part of this small sample size is due to the fact that I was specifically looking
243 to interview the leaders of indigenous womens groups who were working with AIR. In 2006, AIR was working with five groups of indigenous women in the departments of Chimaltenango and Solol and so I along with other AIR staff and volunteers interviewed the leaders of these groups as part of AIRs efforts to collect information for its annual report. The ten oral histories conducted with the founders of Mujeres Unidas, on the other hand, constitute a theoretical sample, a type of sample used by qualitative researchers in order to elaborate, qualify, and develop theoretical propositions (Charmaz 2006; Emerson 2001). Thus, while some may argue that this small sample size means that the results are not generalizeable to all indigenous women in Guatemala (or anywhere else, for that matter), I contend that generalizeability was not the intent of this project. Rather, this project was about highlighting the narratives and experiences of indigenous women to explore how the connections between gender, race, class, and the environment shape everyday lives, realities and activism Drawing from the narratives of indigenous women to elucidat e these connections, this project makes important contributions to the development of ecofeminist theory, and feminist theory more generally. R elated limitations have to do with the projects focus on womens activism in only one region (highland Guatemala) and work with only one environmental organization (AIR). Despite the fact that women form a majority of the membership of environmental organizations around the world (UNEP 2004; Warren 2000), I was only able to focus on the case of indigenous Guatemalan womens work with AIR due to both time limitations and financial constraints. These constraints prevented me from engaging in comparative studies on womens environmental activism with other organizations in
244 other contexts studies which might qualify and/or enrich the conclusions of this dissertation. Taken together, the limitations of this project point to possible areas of future research. In order to elucidate certain themes that emerged from this project for instance, the salience of gender, race, and class to environmental activism it would be helpful to conduct comparative studies across borders of gender, race, class, and nationality. Researchers could, for instance, develop studies that involve indi genous Guatemalan men as well as women, to compare gendered differences in how individuals experience and respond to environmental degradation. Another theme that has emerged from this project has been the ways in which the ideas and goals of various social movements may converge to inform local level activism. As I discussed in Chapter 5, the community environmental activism of Mujeres Unidas has both organizational ties and ideological links to national and transnational environmental, indigenous, and womens movements.This theme has important implications for how social movements might converge at local, national, and transnational levels. Thus, future research might address this topic, and examine how the goals, values, and strategies of various social movements overlap, in order to identify shared points of interest that might facilitate the development of alliances and/or coalitions between movements. Finally, much more research is needed on womens involvement in environmental organizations in general. As I have argued throughout this dissertation, women of all races and classes play important roles in local, national, and transnational environmental movements. While their work has been acknowledged by a number of
245 important multilateral institutions, including the UN, the FAO, and WEDO, academics have been slow to study this area (Banarjee and Bell 2007; Eaton and Lorentzen 2003). It is important when conducting this research that academics remain attentive to the ways in which intersections of gender, race, and class inform womens environmental activism. It is also important that researchers situate the local within the global, as Chandra Mohanty (2003) reminds us, so that we can understand how womens everyday experiences of environmental degradation, and their local environmental activism may inform larger social movements. As Mohanty argues, it is important that Activists and scholars...identify and reenvision forms of collective resistance that women, especially, in their different communities enact in their everyday lives. It is their particular exploitation at this time, their potential epistemic privilege, as well as their particular forms of solidarity that can be the basis for reimagining a collective liberatory politics for the start of this century (2003:236). In this di ssertation, I have highlighted the narratives of indigenous Guatemalan women in order to show how the gendered, racialized, and classed dimensions of environmental degradation shape their day to day lives I have also drawn from the narratives of indigenous women and their allies to explore how the women are mobilizing across borders to build solidarity in a collective resistence against the environmental degradation that threatens their families and communities. As the women of Mujeres Unidas attest, env ironmental degradation is both a local and global problem; thus, working to protect la Madre Tierra for future generations is truly a shared responsibility. Through a locally focused, globally situated study of indigenous womens environmental activism i n Guatemala, this dissertation offers contributions to both feminist and ecofeminist scholarship, as well as practical advice for activist and policy work. I n this respect, this dissertation represents one step on the road to understanding how the environm ental activism of women around the world might
246 contribute to a collective envisioning of a socially and environmentally conscious liberatory politics in the 21st century.
247 APPENDIX A ORAL HISTORY INTERVI EW GUIDE (ENGLISH) 1. First of all, can you tell me if you are from here (Itzapa)? Have you always lived here, or did you come here from another place? (if another place, ask her: from where? Why did you decide to come to Itzapa?) 2. Can you tell me a little about your childhood? Can you recount a typical day for me from that time (for example, at what time did you wake up, what type of responsibilities did you have in your house or in the field, your experience in school, etc.)? 3. Returning to the hear and how, could you describe how a normal day is for you (for example, at what time do you get up, what responsibilities do you have in the house and in the field? Do you have children? Do they help you (how?) ? Do you have a husband? Does he help you (how?) ? Do you work outside the house (for a salary)? What type of work do you do? When did you begin this work and why? DO you work a lot in the field? What type of work do you do in the field? How many days each week do you work in the field? How many hours each day? When did you start this work and why? 4. Now, I would like to ask you about your community and the environment. Can you tell me how the environment in and around Itzapa has changed since your childhood? When did you realize that there were environmental problems in your community? What were these problems? Which problems worried you the most? In what ways did these problems affect you? Your work? Your responsibilities? In what ways were other people in your family and community affected by these problems? 5. When did you decide to join the group Mujeres Unidas por Amor a la Vida? What motivated you to join this group? Was there a specific event that motivated you to join this group? What type of work does the group do? In your words, can you describe the goals of Mujeres Unidas, and how the group achieves these goals? 6. Do you believe that it is important for indigenous women to work together in Guatemala? Why? Do you feel that environmental problems affect indigenous communities in Guatemala? How? Do you feel that indig enous women suffer from discrimination, and in what ways? You know that the majority of the groups that work with AIR are made up of indigenous women. Why do you think this is the case? 7. Why did your group (Mujeres Unidas) decide to work with AIR? Can you describe to me the beginning of the alliance between your group, Mujeres Unidas, and AIR (for example, who were the group members that decided to contact AIR? How did you all recruit more women in your community to help you? How did the tecnicos help you to establish a tree nursery?)? Has your group obtained any benefits from working with AIR? What are the benefits?
248 8. You know that the AIR team is very diverse: there are women, men, Kaqchikeles, ladinas and ladinos, and North Americans. Do you think there is any difficulty in working with people from other places or other cultures? At any point, have you felt any form of discrimination in your work with AIR? If so, then what happened and how was the situation resolved? 9. Do you have any suggestions or i deas on how AIR can improve its work with community groups, and in particular with indigenous womens groups? 10. I understand that your group, Mujeres Unidas, believes in the importance of womens rights. Do you consider yourself a feminist? What do you think about feminism in general? I would like to thank you for your time and generosity, and for your work with AIR. Thank you, too, for your patience with my Spanish!
249 APPENDIX B ORAL HISTORY INTERVI EW GUIDE (SPANISH) 1. Primero que nada, puede decirme si usted es de aqu (Itzapa)? Ha vivido siempre aqui o vino a vivir aqu ? (si otro lugar, preguntala: de donde? Por que decidi venir a Itzapa?) 2. Puede decirme un poco sobre su niez? Puede contarme como era un dia normal de esa poca (por ejemplo, a que hora se levantaba, que tipo de responsabilidades tenia en su casa o en el campo, su experiencia en la escuela, etc.)? 3. Volviendo al aqu y ahora, podria contarme como es un dia normal para usted (por ejemplo, a que hora se levanta, que responsabilidades tiene en su casa y en el campo)? Tiene usted nios o nias? le ayudan (como?) ? Tiene esposo? El le ayuda ( como?) ? Trabaj a usted fuera de su casa (para un salario)? Que tipo de trabajo hace? Cuando empez este trabajo y porque? Trabaja usted mucho en el campo? Que tipo de trabajo hace en el campo? Cuantos dias cada semana trabaja en el campo? Cuantas horas cada dia? Cuando empez este trabajo y porque? 4. Ahora, me gustara preguntarle sobre su comunidad y el medio ambiente. Puede decirme cmo el medio ambiente en y alrededor Itzapa ha cambiado desde su niez? Cuando realiz usted que haban problemas de medio ambiente en su comunidad? Cuales eran estos problemas? Qu problemas le preocupaban ms? De que forma stos problemas le han afectado a usted? Su trabajo? Sus responsabilidades? De que manera otras personas en su familia y en su comunidad fueron afectadas por estos probl emas? 5. Cuando decidi usted formar parte del grupo Mujeres Unidas por Amor a l a Vida? Que le motiv formar parte de este grupo? Pas algn evento especfico que le motiv a formar parte del grupo? Que tipo de trabajo hace el grupo? En sus palabras, me podra describir las metas de Mujeres Unidas, y de que forma el grupo logra estas metas? 6. Cree usted que es importante que mujeres indgenas trabajen juntas en Gatemala? Por qu? Siente usted que los problemas ambientales afctan a las comunidades indgenas, y cmo? S i ente usted que las mujereas indgenas sufren de discriminacin, y en qu forma? Usted sabe que la mayoria de grupos que trabajan con AIRES con formados por mujeres indgenas. Por que cree que esto es as? 7. Por qu su grupo decidi trabajar c on AIRES? Puede describir el comienzo de la alianza entre su grupo, Mujeres Unidas, y AIRES (por ejemplo, quienes eran los miembros de su grupo que decidieron contactar AIRES? Como ustedes recultaron a mujeres en su comunidad para ayudarles? Como los tecni cos les ayudaron para establecer un vivero?)? Su grupo ha obtenido algunos beneficios de trabajar con AIRES? Cuales son los beneficios?
250 8. Sabe usted que el equipo AIRES es muy diverso: hay mujeres, hombres, Kaqchikeles, ladinas y ladinos, y norteamericanas. Piensa usted que hay alguna dificultad en trabajar con personas de otros lugares o de otras culturas? En alguna ocasin ha sentido usted alguna forma de discriminacin en su trabajo con AIRES? Si ha sucedido, que pas y como resolvi la situacion? 9. No s gustara, y nos servira mucho para mejorar nuestro trabajo, que nos diera algunas sugerencias o ideas de como AIRES puede mejorar nuestro trabajo con los grupos, principalmente con grupos de mujeres indgenas? 10. Yo creo que su grupo, Mujeres Unidas, cree en la importancia de los derechos de la mujer. Se considera usted defensora de la equidad de gnero, y por que? Que piensa usted sobre el tema de feminismo? Me gustara agradecerle por su tiempo y generosidad, y por su trabajo con AIRES. Muchas gracias tambien por su paciencia con mi espaol!
251 APPENDIX C AIR STAFF INTERVIEW GUIDE (ENGLISH) 1. First of all, when did you begin working with AIR? 2. How d id you get involved with the organization? 3. Why did you decide to work with AIR? 4. What are your responsabilities with AIR? 5. In your words, could you describe the goals of AIR, and how the organization works to realize these goals? 6. The majority of the people who work in AIRs reforestation projects are indigenous women. En your opinion, why do you think this is? Do you believe that AIR has a gender consciousness? If so, when did this consciousness develop and why? 7. The AIR team is a team of much diversity. We are formed of men, women, ladinos, ladinas, Kaqchikeles, North Americans, etc. Do you think there is any difficulty in working with people of other cultures, races, or of the other gender? Why or why not? 8. Have you ever experiences any form of discrimination in your work with AIR? In what ways? (If yes, ask: How did you resolve the problem?) 9. In your opinion, how might AIR improve its work? 10. Is there anything else you would like to add? Thank you very much for your time and generosity, and for your work with AIR!
252 APPENDIX D AIR STAFF INTERVIEW GUIDE (SPANISH) 1. Primero que nada, cuando empez a trabajar con AIRES? 2. Como se involucr con la organizacion? 3. Por que razones decidi trabajar para AIRES? 4. Cuales son sus responsabilida des con AIRES? 5. En sus palabras me podr a describir las metas de AIRES y de que forma la organizacion realiza estas metas? 6. La mayoria de las personas que trabajan en los grupos de reforestacion con AIRES son mujeres ind genas. En su opinion, por que piensa que esto es as ? Cree que AIRES tiene un conocimiento de g nero? S si, cuando desaroll este conocimiento y por que? 7. El equipo de AIRES es un equipo de mucha diversidad. Estamos formado por hombres, mujeres, ladinos, ladinas, Kaqchikeles, norteamericanas, etc. Piensa que hay alguna dificultad en trabajar con personas de otras culturas o razas, o de otra g nero? Por que o por que no? 8. Ha usted experimentado alg n tipo de discriminacion en su trabajo con AIRES? De que forma? (Si si, pregunt ale: Como resuelve el problema?) 9. En su opinion, de que manera puede AIRES mejorar su trabajo? 10. Algo m s que quiere a adir? Muchas gracias por su tiempo y generosidad, y por su trabajo con AIRES!
2 53 APPENDIX E GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE (ENG L ISH) 1. In your opinion, and with your experience, what are the major environmental problems in the Guatemalan highlands? 2. In what ways has the advance of economic development (for example, through CAFTA) affected the environment in Guatemala (specifical ly in highland areas)? 3. In what ways do environmental problems impact rural populations in Guatemala? How might these problems impact the work and way of life of small scale farmers in Guatemala? 4. Currently, what are the major obstacles to sustainable development in Guatemala? 5. In what ways is the Guatemalan government working to solve environmental problems, particularly problems of deforestation? Do you think these programs/policies are sufficient? Which programs have had the most success and why? 6 Many people (including academics, public officials, etc.) believe that it is important to consider the needs and realities of rural indigenous populations in the design of conservation and reforestation projects. D you think this is done in Guatemala? If so, how doe the government manage multiculturalism in these areas? 7. There are also many academics who believe that it is equally important to consider the needs and realities of indigenous and rural women in the design of conservation projects. How does the government manage the theme of gender in the design of conservation and reforestation programs? 8. What are the priorities that need to be addressed in order to resolve environmental problems in Guatemala? 9. Would you like to add anything more about what we have discussed? Thank you for your time!
254 APPENDIX F GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE (SPANISH) 1. En su opini n, y con su experiencia, cuales son los problemas ambientales mas importantes existentes en el altiplano occidental de Guatemala? 2. De que manera el avance del desarollo econ mico (a traves del TLC, por ejemplo) ha afectado al medio ambiente en Guatemala (especificament el altiplano)? 3. De que manera los problemas ambientales afectan la poblaci n rural en Guatemala? De que forma cons dera usted se ha afectado el trabajo y la forma de vida de los agricultores y agricultoras? 4 Actualmente, cuales son los mayores retos para lograr el desarollo sostenible en Guatemala? 5 De que forma el Gobierno de Guatemala trabaja para lograr solucionar los problemas ambientales, principalmente los forestales? Cuales son los programas que han logrado mayor xito y por qu ? (preguntala/o sobre PINFOR y PINPEP) 6 Mucha gente (como los academicas/os, los oficiales p blicos) cree que es importante considerar las necesidades y realidad de las poblaciones rurales ind genas al dise ar los proyectos y programes de reforestaci n y de conservaci n. Piensa usted que esto es hecho en Guatemala? Como manejan la multiculturalidad en estos as ntos? 7 Tambien muchas academicas/os creen que es igual de importante considerar las necesidades y realidad de mujeres ind genas al dise ar los proyectos de conservaci n. Como maneja el gobierno el tema de g nero en el diseo de programas de conservacion y reforestacion? 8 Que factores considera usted prioritarios para resolver los problemas ambientales en Guatemala? 9 Quisiera aadir algo mas sobre lo discutido? Gracias por su tiempo!
255 APPENDIX G SIMPLIFIED NETWORK VIEW SHOWING LINKS BE TWEEN CODE FAMILIES AND THEORET ICAL CODES Smaller boxes (located at the base of the diagram) represent codes and code families. They are grouped under the larger boxes which represent theoretical codes. The shaded boxes represent the groups of participant s to wh om the codes pertain. Please note that this is a simplified diagram designed only to give the reader a visual understanding of how the codes are linked, and how codes and code families informed theoretical codes.
256 APPENDIX H RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COMMUNITY GROUPS, AI R, AND AIRS DONORS
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268 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Rachel Hallum Montes received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Florida in 2010. She is currently employed at the Manhattan offices of Cicatelli Associates Inc. (CAI) where she does research and evaluation of domestic and international public health programs. Her research interests include i ntersections of gender, race, and class as they relate to public health and environmental issues ; transnational feminis m; and ecofeminis m In addition to her professional work, Dr. Hallum Montes also volunteers with the Alliance for International Reforestation (AIR), a nonprofit organization that works with residents of Guatemala and Nicaragua to establish local agroforestry and reforestation projects.