S H A N N O N S P E E D A N D X O C H I T L L E Y VA S O L A N O
Introduction
Human Rights and the Maya Region
Imodel
n recent years, in a process many have come to refer to as globalization, the
of neoliberal democracy has spread throughout Latin America.
Concurrently, human rights have become a concern of both states and their
populations, and they have emerged as a key discourse in the renegotiation
of the relationship between states and indigenous people, who regularly
deploy human rights discourse to legitimate their positions and to pursue
their goals. Perhaps nowhere is this clearer than in the Maya regions of
Chiapas and Guatemala, where in the past two decades indigenous social
movements have been engaged in an ongoing negotiation with the state and
where the presence of multinational actors has brought human rights
to notable prominence. But the question of how indigenous peoples are
understanding, appropriating, and engaging with the nonlocal discourse of
human rights, as well as the e√ects of its increased presence on indigenous
identities and cultures, have not been su≈ciently studied or understood.
The contributors to this volume explore the experience of the Maya
region to shed light on broader questions about human rights and indige-
nous peoples today. As a diverse group of academics, activists, and indige-
nous people with long experience in Mexico and Central America, they
bring a variety of perspectives to discussions centered around three inter-
related questions: What is the relationship between globalized discourses
such as human rights and local cultures? How are human rights working
within the neoliberal state? In what ways do local appropriations of human
rights discourse and the spaces opened by human rights discourse and its
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