This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1996 (University of California Press, 2017)
This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1996 (University of California Press, 2017) discusses the relationship between youth, social class, and the nation-state. In this book, I demonstrate how students and professors at Guatemala’s only public university, the University of San Carlos (USAC), shaped the meaning of the middle class through their encounters with the university and Guatemalan and United States governments between 1944 and 1996, a period that included a revolution, counterrevolution, and civil war.
By showing how the very notion of the middle class in Guatemala emerged from student movements of the mid- to late-twentieth century, I place an often-marginalized region and period at the center of histories of class, politics, and protest. I argue that USAC students, called San Carlistas, altered the social space of Guatemala City through these encounters and at the same time formed a political consensus around faith in the principles of liberalism and their responsibility to lead the nation. I call this consensus student nationalism, and go on to explain the importance of political affect in its formation. In turn, I discuss how political affect relied upon historical memory and a new politics of spectacular mourning in political funerals.
Ultimately, I argue that Guatemala’s middle class and its political, cultural, social, and even emotional milieux were defined by student nationalism. Whilst research on student movements and youth culture focuses on the 1960s in the United States, France, and less often, Mexico and Brazil, my research reveals how more expansive geographical and chronological frames complicate extant understandings of the relationship between class, politics, and protest, as well as articulations between the national and the global.
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