Following the end of the thirty-six year civil war in Guatemala, Mayan migration to the United States surged. Over the past decade, the character and patterns of border crossing have profoundly changed in response to the increasing militarization of the border, post-9/11 concerns with security, and the rise of the deportation regime. In this talk, I outline some of the shifts that have occurred in transnational community life, probing interconnections between economics and rights, and ethnographically demonstrating some of the clusters of meanings that develop around politicized legal discourses and practices like security. These have come to redefine priorities for migrants and home communities in ways that reshape transnational landscapes and migratory patterns and lives.
Jennifer Burril is a sociocultural political anthropologist broadly interested in questions of power, structural and political violence, political economy, and the construction of inequalities. She conducts research in Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, on migration, security, human rights and the state.
Her monograph, Maya After War: Conflict, Power and Politics (University of Texas Press 2013), is based on two decades of fieldwork in Guatemala. From the back cover: Guatemala’s thirty-six-year civil war culminated in peace accords in 1996, but the postwar transition has been marked by continued violence, including lynchings and the rise of gangs, as well as massive wage-labor exodus to the United States. For the Mam Maya municipality of Todos Santos Cuchumatán, inhabited by a predominantly indigenous peasant population, the aftermath of war and genocide resonates with a long-standing tension between state techniques of governance and ancient community-level power structures that incorporated concepts of kinship, gender, and generation. Showing the ways in which these complex histories are interlinked with wartime and enduring family/class conflicts, Maya After War provides a nuanced account of a unique transitional postwar situation, including the complex influence of neoliberal intervention.
Her current research examines the nexus of migration and security-making practices and considerations among migrants in the US and the communities from which they hail in Central America and Mexico, and how concepts of rights and generation figure in these. Another research interest is the contemporary state and modes of belonging and citizenship.
Her research has received external support from Fulbright, Wenner Gren, Programa de Investigación de Migración y Salud (PIMSA) and the Gerda Henkel Foundation.
She has published Maya After War: Conflict, Power and Politics in Guatemala, University of Texas Press (2013) http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/burmay.html and Central America in the New Millennium: Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy, edited with Ellen Moodie, Berghahn (2013) http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=BurrellCentral