Mayan Constitutionalism in Guatemala

Lunch seminar with Stener Ekern, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo.

Photo: Stener Ekern



Sign up for the seminar (free and open to all — lunch (sandwiches) will be served)


Community self-rule is part and parcel of the Mayan cultural heritage, from the two republics of colonial times until today's indigenous rights. In Totonicapán (picture), the local K'iche' Mayan authorities have survived the state's formal abolition of its political status in 1947 and its juridical powers in 1987, only to bounce back during the last decades and reacquire state-guaranteed powers in 2002 and 2012. This seminar discusses the social processes that produce the observed institutional resilience with a focus on how the "orders" (consignas) that govern the communities during the same decade have been reformulated in the form of written constitution-like documents.


Stener Ekern is Associate Professor at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo. He is a social anthropologist with field work experience from Nicaragua (1984-5) and Guatemala (2000-). He has also worked with international cooperation for development (the Norwegian Programme for Indigenous peoples) and consultancy (evaluations of organizations in Central America). Currently he is working on judicial pluralism and political anthropology.

Published Nov. 16, 2015 5:56 PM