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The Road Towards Superación: the Role of Development in Constructing and Mediating an Indigenous Subjectivities in Guatemala City


This thesis examines how development provides a site for particular performances of indigeneity in Guatemala. It explores what is produced by NGO governmentality amongst a group of indigenous students participating in private scholarship programs in Guatemala City. The thesis draws on existing literature as well as on ethnographic material to analyze three different outcomes when indigenous students engaged with development NGOs that are trying to “empower” them and enable them to superarse, or overcome their conditions. First, an example of Hale’s “indio permitido” (permitted indian); second, one of the erasure of indigenous identity, where success means assimilation into mainstream white/non-indigenous society; finally, a “third space” where indigenous actors become agents of their own development. This latter comprises the main focus of the project by analyzing how this “third space” looks in three different ethnographic works—Nelson (1999); Smith-Oka (2013); Radcliffe (2014)—as well as in independent research among two university scholarship programs in Guatemala City.

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