Articles about "conflict resolution"

EncArtes multimedia

Community Justice and Ritual Spectacle: A Case of Mayan Law in Guatemala

  • Carlos Y. Flores

This essay that accompanies the documentary Suk' B'anik (Correction) is based on the follow-up of a robbery case resolved by the so-called "Mayan ancestral law" in the municipality of Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala, where more than 80% of its inhabitants self-identify as Maya-K'iche'. The material seeks to delve into the collective reasons and emotions that took place in the community trial that prosecuted him. Given the constant weakness of the state justice system, in this region popular tribunals coordinated by local community mayors and supracommunal coordinations of ancestral authorities have become common to collectively prosecute delinquents or alleged delinquents and apply some type of corrective sanction to them. Such judicial proceedings take place within their own cultural understandings, often featuring highly ritualized spectacular choreographies for both local and wider consumption. Such visuality, often accompanied by community video practices, lends to the performance The participants' individual bodies are given a consubstantial status within these judicial processes, while at the same time reaffirming local power structures. In such collective scenarios, the individual body of the accused is exhibited and judicialized by local authorities in front of audiences that demand sanctions to expel evil, that which is perceived as harmful to the community. This exercise, in turn, acts as a metaphor of moral sanitation and rebalancing of a social body processing its own conflicts. As in the rituals of passage or in the theater, the popular judgments in these Maya-K'iche' communities frequently appeal to other times and spaces, even supernatural ones, which affect the effectiveness of the reorganizing message that also reinforces their own identity constructions.