Gladys Tzul on Indigenous Governance and State Authority in Guatemala

The driving force of the history of Indigenous peoples in Latin America is the struggle for territory. This is something that has been difficult for the traditional academy to comprehend. If we examine peoples’ uprisings throughout history – in the colonial era, the liberal moment, currently – they have always been for the defense of territory. For its defense, but also for the drive for territorial sovereignty and self-government.

Gladys Tzul claims to be a direct descendant of Atanasio Tzul. Together with hundreds of others, she belongs to the sixth generation of this lineage that lives in the Paquí canton, in Totonicapán. She experienced a different sense of politics, “a collective and community one, not a liberal one in which an individual citizen exists, represented and protected by the State.” She is one of the few Latin American academics to specialize in analyzing Indigenous governance systems in Guatemala, their power relations, and the struggle that occurs between local forms of government and State authority.

You can read the full interview with Oswaldo J. Hernández, translated by Sandra Cuffe, here on Upside Down World.

Categories: Indigenous peoples, Land

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