Understanding women’s struggles for justice, healing and redress: A study of gender and reparation in postwar Guatemala


Project Summary:

This eight-year feminist action research project examined a group of Mayan women’s collective struggle for justice in the aftermath of harm suffered during the height of Guatemala’s genocidal violence in the early 1980s, a harm these protagonists contend is irreparable yet must be redressed. The project was a collaboration with Professor M. Brinton Lykes (Boston College), along with research partner the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG). Crosby and Lykes co-authored the book Beyond repair? Mayan women's protagonism in the aftermath of genocidal harm (Rutgers University Press, 2019), published in Spanish as Más allá de la reparación: Protagonismo de mujeres mayas en las secuelas del daño genocida (Cholsamaj, 2019; translated by Megan Thomas).

Project Description:

In Beyond repair? Alison Crosby and M. Brinton Lykes explore a group of Mayan women’s collective struggle for justice in the aftermath of harm suffered during the height of Guatemala’s genocidal violence in the early 1980s, a harm these protagonists contend is irreparable yet must be redressed. Drawing on eight years of feminist participatory action research (PAR), the book examines how Mayan women’s protagonism has been shaped through dialogic interactions with intermediaries, including Mayan, ladina, mestiza and transnational activists, feminists, lawyers, psychologists, interpreters, and the authors as researchers. Crosby and Lykes trace how intermediaries accompanied Mayan protagonists in the performance of a “community of women” outside of their local geographic communities, as a space from which to enact actions for redress and engage in knowledge co-construction. In analyzing protagonists’ engagement with a Tribunal of Conscience, a paradigmatic legal case of sexual violence as a crime against humanity and a state-sponsored National Reparations Program—actions framed as “transitional justice”—as well as the authors’ PAR process, the book addresses a central tension between indigenous struggles to redress social suffering rooted in structural colonial violence and dispossession, and the tendency of Western rights-based regimes to individuate acts of harm and generate racialized gendered spectacles of pain and suffering, accentuated in cases of sexual harm. Crosby and Lykes consider the challenges and possibilities of decolonial feminist research praxis within such terrain.

Project Type:
Funded

Project Role:
Principal Investigator

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Month
Year
Start Date:
Apr
2009
End Date:
Oct
2013

Funder:
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Year Project Started:
2009

Collaborator:
Professor M. Brinton Lykes

Collaborator Institution:
Boston College

Collaborator Role:
Research Collaborator

Funder
Amount
(e.g type 1000 for 1,000)
1
Standard Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
85226
2
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
45000
3
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