“Half a Million or $1000 an ounce: Mining, Metrics, and Dubious Equivalencies in “Post” War Guatemala”

Please join us for the first NAIS Speakers’ Series talk of the Spring:

Diane Nelson

“Half a Million or $1000 an ounce:  Mining, Metrics, and Dubious Equivalencies in “Post” War Guatemala”

Tuesday, January 22

12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Hackett Room, LLILAS (SRH 1.313) at UT Austin


Throughout the Americas “development” increasingly means “free trade” and resource extraction via transnational corporations, even for apparently progressive regimes like Morales in Bolivia and Correa in Ecuador.  This talk explores the impact of a mountain-top removal open-pit mine in the western highlands of Guatemala and the efforts by local Mayan peoples to count in these vast, powerful transactions of money and ore.  The tiny town of Sipakapa decided to hold a “good faith” referendum to register their refusal of the mine’s destructive effects and thereby became the epicenter of what is now a national movement to make (mainly) indigenous people “count” (as in matter) through the technique of counting (adding them up).


Diane M. Nelson is a professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University.  She wrote A Finger in the Wound:  Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala, (University of California Press) and Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala (Duke University Press), co-edited War By Other Means: Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala (forthcoming Duke University Press). She is presenting work from her latest book, which is in progress.



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