Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Betsy Konefal

Committee Members

Richard Turits

Silvia Tandeciarz


Between 1981 and 1996, the Guatemalan military maintained a paramilitary system of “civil patrols” throughout rural Guatemala. During the years of 1982-1983, the period of most intense state violence during the Guatemalan civil war, the military systematically committed massacres in hundreds of rural communities, at times committing acts of genocide against the Maya populations of the affected areas. Following this violence, the military forced nearly every rural community to form a civil patrol composed of the community’s adult men, in turn forcing each patrols’ members to augment military operations and personally fight leftist guerrillas. The creation of civil patrols in an atmosphere of intense state violence restructured the foundations of the relationship between state, rural and Maya societies within Guatemala, and largely contributed to the profound and continuous violations of the human rights of peasants and Mayas between 1981 and 1996. This thesis analyses these processes and phenomena, with a particular focus on the racial dynamics of repression and violence.

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