Mayan Women Survivors Speak: The Gendered Relations of Truth Telling in Postwar Guatemala


Crosby, Alison, and M. Brinton Lykes. 2011. “Mayan Women Survivors Speak: The Gendered Relations of Truth Telling in Postwar Guatemala.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 5 (3): 456–76. 

Authors: Alison Crosby, M. Brinton Lykes


Truth telling in response to massive violations of human rights is a gendered sociopolitical and cultural construction. It is also inherently relational and necessitates multidimensional engagement between state and civil society. Drawing on two years of feminist participatory action research, this article explores the significance of civil society-initiated truth-telling processes in Guatemala, in particular the 2010 Tribunal of Conscience for Women Survivors of Sexual Violence during the Armed Conflict. It seeks to clarify how local, national and transnational webs of relationships, and the speech acts and silences they simultaneously engender, inform processes of transformation from victim to survivor, or reinforce or reify victimization. The article examines the conditions under which indigenous women whose identities are deeply situated within local Mayan communities can narrate truth outside of those contexts, how the multiple spectators who are on the receiving end of those processes relate to ‘the pain of others’ and implications for future truth-telling processes.

Topics: Gender, Women, Indigenous, Justice, International Tribunals & Special Courts, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict, Sexual Violence, SV against Women Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2011

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