- X – One of the harder things to include in a historical examination of contemporary conflicts is the tension between divergent renderings of the past in varied sources, especially the historical memory of the people whose lives are being depicted. Grandia patiently works through the maze of remembrances and fashions a sympathetic scholarly account of how plantation agriculture, ranching, development projects, and conservation schemes created a cumulative set of constricting pressures on Q’eqchi’ Maya society. In doing so she is able to trace how each historical period was viscerally experienced in the region and more abstractly represented abroad by the interested and affected parties.
- Xvi – While environmental anthropologists rightly call for more studies about indigenous livelihood changes after displacement from protected areas (West, Igoe, and Brockington 2006: 252), I found I wanted to examine how prior livelihood changes caused by earlier displacements created the conditions for current Q’eqchi’ evictions from parks. Focusing only on the conflicts with parks ignores the enduring history of enclosure of Q’eqchi’ common lands from the colonial period through to contemporary neoliberalism—as well as the ongoing Q’eqchi’ resistance to plantations, pastures, and development plans.
- Xvii – Purportedly preserving common land for the good of humanity, biodiversity conservation has taken over territory that indigenous people might have managed quite sustainably were it not for other land inequities and corporate enclosures
INTRODUCTION: COMMONS PAST
- 5 – Rather, Q’eqchi’ experiences of enclosure can teach us something about the consequences of privatizing our own public commons—not only land and public spaces, but also water, the atmosphere, educational systems, social services, even the human genome. Q’eqchi’ tenacity in reclaiming land in order to maintain the independence of their farming livelihoods may, I hope, also teach us something about resistance to the excesses of corporate capitalism.
- 20 – They are also beholden to a broader World Bank paradigm of “green neoliberalism.” Fusing techniques of enclosure with belief in the “free market,” green neoliberalism seeks to open nature and communities that depend on natural resources to outsiders—whether governments, NGOs, or foreign investors (Goldman 2006: 184). Welding two seemingly contradictory ideas, economic growth and environmental conservation, green neoliberal logic argues that the best way to save nature is to privatize it and let the market decide its value.
- 28 – The concluding chapter explains how the recurring dispossessions of Q’eqchi’ people can deepen our understanding of other contemporary struggles to defend the commons and everyday life against corporate enclosures. Although much of this book has a grim focus on historical repetitions, it ends on a hopeful note. If enclosure is permanent, then so, too, will be societal responses to processes of enclosure. Recognizing enclosure as a perpetually contested process gives us a multitude of alternatives in the here and now not only for defending the material commons but also for strengthening the social commons of democracy.
CHAPTER 1 – Liberal Plunder: A Recurring Q’eqchi’ History