Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Jennifer F Reynolds


This article examines the governance of a Q'eqchi' Maya community located on multiple margins who are cooperatively managing several businesses. I do so by first situating this study within the context of Guatemalan history wherein cooperatives were first promoted in various economic and environmental zones only to be subsequently viewed as subversive and targeted by the military. The community within this study is located in the Izabal Department, a region far less affected by Guatemala's genocidal past. I argue that the cooperative businesses created by this community have allowed for a selective incorporation of market-based relations that mitigate the commonly experienced alienation of labor and social relations brought on by the capitalist mode of production. The projects created by the community rely upon consensus-based decision-making and reciprocal labor exchanges which mirror their established structures for interpersonal relationships and principles for communal land management. The rotational role system utilized has allowed for the distribution of the economic risks and gains inherent to business ventures creating opportunities for income generation strategies to be flexible and diversified. A lack of specialization has allowed for appropriate time management to fulfill social obligations while maintaining a subsistence-based mode of livelihood. The community being situated within a plurality of peripheries has led to the reinforcement of communal ties, values, and self-sufficiency by collectively navigating limitations. The resultant increases in autonomy and self-determination have therefore strengthened the community's ability to resist relying on external actors.


© 2013, Michael Frederic Young

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