Territoriality in Transitional Justice and Land Restitution: Guatemala’s Communities of Population in Resistance After Resettlement
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractLand and property restitution initiatives have received increasing attention in transitional justice debates, as calls have grown to examine the connections between transitional justice and broader issues of socioeconomic development. Drawing on insights from critical geography, this paper argues that land must be understood not only in terms of its economic value as a means of reparation, but also as a way for communities to contest state-making practices in the wake of violent conflict. Focusing on the experience of Guatemala’s Communities Population in Resistance of the Sierra (CPR–Sierra), a coalition of Mayan communities that fled the Guatemalan Army massacres of the early 1980s, resisted forced resettlement, and challenged the narrow, market-oriented approach of Guatemala’s post-war land restitution and reallocation schemes, I argue that the land restitution program carried out during Guatemala’s peace process constituted a multi-dimensional process of territorialization that had the effect of constraining and fragmenting possibilities for collective social organizing and coalition-building among resettled community groups. In responding to these processes, the meaning of land in restitution initiatives has been at the center of how the CPR–Sierra articulate their struggle today. In addition to its material significance, CPR communities today articulate land’s significance in symbolic and political terms as the geographic basis for an organized, nonviolent struggle against the Guatemalan state that they view as the only means of fulfilling the peace process.
Degree ProgramGraduate College