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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2015 Abstracts

The Triple Discrimination of Indigenous Mayan Women Today

Amanda Salgado, Weber State University


In 1983, Rigoberta Menchu, the first indigenous Mayan-Quiche Nobel Peace Prize recipient, shared the terror and the abuse that she and millions of other indigenous people in Guatemala were experiencing during the country’s 36-year Internal Armed Conflict. In her book Me llamo Rigoberta Menchu y así me nació la conciencia, she discusses how the indigenous population was frequently viewed and treated as inferior by the Ladinos (those of mixed indigenous and European heritage), and was therefore subjected to a great deal of discrimination, which was reflective of the legacy of the country’s colonial past. The purpose of this research was to examine within a Postcolonial framework, if postcolonial structures were still in force in Guatemala, and if and how they continued to affect the indigenous population, particularly Mayan women living in rural areas. Methodology included analysis of newspaper articles, journals and documents, as well as a two-week field experience, talking to Mayan women. The result shows that while the political situation of Guatemala has improved since the time of the publication of Menchu’s book, many of the conditions and practices that promote discrimination against the indigenous population have continued and are still visible today, reflective of a Postcolonial society that values European descendants more than their neighbors. For instance, the educational system now takes into account indigenous languages, and Mayan spirituality is not persecuted, a first since the Spanish Conquest. Nevertheless, indigenous women continue to experience a triple discrimination because based on their sex, social status, and ethnicity. The goal of this research is to promote greater awareness of these issues.