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Title: Agency in the shadow of a co-opted state : territory, difference and democratisation in post-war Guatemala
Author: Illmer, Patrick Josef
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 4866
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines a new form of agency for change that has surfaced in rural areas of post-war Guatemala around the defence of territory and natural resources. I argue that this new form of agency emerges in the shadow of a state co-opted by elite factions and manifests distinct qualities from previous expressions of revolutionary and democratic activism. It is localised and characterised by varied aspects of what I call ‘difference’, an antagonistic stance based on locally embedded political, economic and cultural meanings which challenges the elite-promoted reordering of relationships and spaces. This ‘difference’ is enacted through the ‘defence of territory’, which expresses a socio-political and cultural attachment to particular physical spaces and has instigated collective resistances to the implementation of projects linked to the exploitation of natural resources. The thesis analyses this form of agency through two case studies, one among indigenous communities in the Northern Quiché, the second among primarily non-indigenous communities in the municipalities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc. As this research demonstrates, given the firm integration of conventional channels of democratic participation into the patterns of state co-option, the primary aim of these struggles is the re-appropriation of decision-making processes and the carving out of spaces, in which their ‘difference’ can evolve. In the context of a co-opted state, these local expressions of agency create spaces in which fragile, embryonic forms of collective interaction and deliberation that represent a condition for democratic processes, are kept alive. However, their non-linear articulations and specific local character are also a testament to the complexity of the construction of democratic processes in countries like Guatemala.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Agency ; Collective action ; State co-option ; Elites ; Natural resources ; Ethnicity ; Difference ; Democracy ; Guatemala