Environmental Citizenship, Maya Cosmovision, and Cultural Rights in Guatemala

By Tim MacNeill.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The theoretical concept of environmental citizenship has been increasingly evoked in the latter part of the 20th and the early 21st centuries, just as indigenous peoples’ claims to collective rights under national and international law have gained force (Dobson & Bell 2005; Postero & Zamosc 2004). Given this congruence, and the discursive connection that is commonly articulated between indigeneity and environmental protection, it would be easy to characterize the indigenous claims to collective rights as assertions of environmental citizenship. To portray them as such, however, may be to do a disservice to the understandings and worldviews that underlie indigenous assertions of rights and culture. We must be careful in such situations to augment the concept of citizenship to include the ideas that human subjectivities are malleable and interconnected and that promoting collective claims relating to cultural rights may assure environmental protection more than the simple education of individuals and communities. This argument is founded in the ethnography of El Centro Pluricultural para la Democracia in Guatemala.

Keywords: Environment, Development, Culture, Community Development, Maya, Indigenous Movements, Guatemala, Subjectivity

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.17-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 202.521KB).

Dr. Tim MacNeill

Lecturer, Social Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Tim MacNeill teaches sociology and conducts research on sustainable development in the department of Social Sciences, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.