Stratification, religion, and migration in the Western Highlands of Guatemala : a demographic and sociological analysis of two indigenous populations and perceptions of social issues
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The anthropologist Velásquez Nimatuj undertook her study of the K’iche’ of the Western Highlands of Guatemala as both a personal and scientific mission to better understand the interweaving layers of systematic oppression, which include race, class, and gender (2002:35–6). Her work described these layers of oppression from outside the indigenous community as well as within the community. My dissertation complements her work by examining the social position and attitudes of two indigenous K’iche’ communities in the Highlands. I examine stratification, religion, and migration in three separate chapters, describing the demographic context of the K’iche’ communities and how they fit into the wider local, national, and global context. My case study is unique, in the sense that it controls for race-ethnicity, but the towns have different socio-economic structures. The second part of each chapter examines differences in attitudes toward stratification, politics, the economy, and migration issues, both local and international. My hypotheses in each chapter states that the influence of the socio-economic organization of the town in which the respondents live will influence their attitudes toward social issues more than their religious denomination, sense of God’s presence, or whether the respondent belongs to a migrant household. Liberation theologians synthesized the lives and struggles of Latin America’s poor with both religion and science. Their goal was to give inspiration to the multitudes of Latin Americans who lived in extreme poverty, and to give space in society for changes in socio-economic structures of oppression and exploitation. In my chapters, I focus on how private property has been used to create the social structures now in existence. My research is based on a sample survey of 224 respondents, divided between San Cristóbal and Zunil. This study uses quantitative analysis, but it borrows from qualitative research and comparative historical sociology to establish the social context of the two towns and the social position of the respondents. The dissertation reviews relevant social research on stratification, religion, and migration, which provides the sociological context for each chapter.