Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Eastern Michigan University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Texas / Austin
The Stolen Hour: Meeting Time, Talk and Social Cohesion in an Ixil Mayan Community

I will take an ethnography of speaking, discourse analytic approach to understanding the social processes through which the Grupo de Mujeres por la Paz, a community based organization of Ixil Mayan women in Guatemala, is constructing cohesion among its members. As long hours spent talking during meetings are the main activity that constitute this group, I will focus my analysis on the various types of talk occurring at these meetings. This study will contribute much needed understanding of how communities remake themselves after periods of genocide. Much has been written about the process of genocide as one which aims to destroy not only individuals but communities as well, but little work has been done examining the process of social reconstruction after the violence has lessened. Such an account would contribute not only to our general understanding of such social processes but would also challenge the dominant narrative within Guatemala that state sponsored violence has destroyed Mayan potential for building community. To the contrary, this work will show a Mayan community using a perceived shared history of violence as a basis of social cohesion as expressed through collective narratives told during group meetings. As such, this study adds a much needed data based, linguistic anthropological analysis to current literature examining the construction of historic memory. Through this project, I will demonstrate the application of the tools of the ethnography of speaking to questions of broader theoretical significance in anthropology rather than as primarily ethnographic and descriptive. As a result, this project will contribute not only to theoretical advancement in linguistic anthropology which can be applied to a wide array of social situations, but it will also deepen understandings of social processes underway in Guatemala.