Saturday, June 30, 2007

::[cloud forests]::

for the latter half of my research, i've been conducting interviews in alta verapaz, the cloud forest region of guatemala. while based in the city of coban, i've been visiting surrounding villages to discuss dispute resolution practices with local leaders. because it's rainy season, billowing clouds normally drape the hills, and brief but fierce storms thunder past during the afternoons. i do take advantage of the sunny hours to take a few pictures, however.

one of my interviewees demonstrates her impressive weaving skills at her loom as her daughter looks on...or up.

like father, like son. a young one aspires to a grown man's work.

i took a break to visit semuc champey, which boasts several limestone tiers of warm, spring-fed waters. after climbing up to this lookout, i took a relaxing soak in the pools. i also went caving in nearby kanbah, which involved scrambling up subterranean waterfalls and swimming through underground rivers, led only by the flickering and unreliable light of a handheld wax candle!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

::[moys in guate]::

my parents and two younger brothers, phil and matt, came down to guatemala to visit me for a few days! i introduced them to some friends, led them through marketplaces, lakes, and winding mountain roads (much to the dismay of my carsick-prone father), then topped the trip off by scaling the active volcano pacaya and getting up close and personal with molten lava. i'll post the videos and images of that fiery adventure once i get the chance to edit them. until then, a couple snapshots...

my friend nikolas, a traditional weaver and the president of his city's security council, introduces my family to his mother before his wife and daughter join us for lunch in santiago atitlan.

amused by our hotel room's fireplace, the moy family invents its own version of "pyro-charades" - basically, images are drawn in the air with a flaming stick while family members guess what is being depicted. for more pyrotechnics, check out our gallery of fire art!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

::[greetings from guatemala]::

over the past few weeks, i've been conducting research on the indigenous and state legal systems in guatemala. no real consensus exists regarding the limits and competencies of indigenous law in guatemala, even though the peace accords of 1996 make specific reference to its formal recognition. still, the country remains in a state of de facto judicial pluralism; two forms of law are practiced simultaneously, as indigenous authorities maintain and carve out ad-hoc spaces for their practices. i've been looking into how these systems coexist on the ground, in hopes of identifying some best practices for future coordination between them.

to get a feel for the situation, i spent my first few weeks here interviewing specialists and activists in guatemala city. i followed this up with a couple weeks of conducting a case study of indigenous and state authority relations in santa cruz, el quiche, supplemented by visits to key informants in solola. i am now finishing off with a comparative study in coban, alta verapaz.

during the course of my research, i've had the chance to travel a bit and take a few photographs along the way, whether of friends, associates, marketplaces, or landscapes. here are a few of my many snapshots!

sunrise over atitlan, a crater lake ringed by volcanoes.

girls playing hopscotch in santa cruz de la laguna, a village on the shores of lago atitlan.

a view of the ruins of tikal, an ancient mayan city, from the top of the great pyramid of mundo perdido. the forest has since consumed this former metropolis; several temples are still buried in the undergrowth.

a farmer surrounded by his produce in chichicastengango marketplace.

guatemala city, seen from the highway exiting the capital.

maria and milica preparing dinner in their home. this sweet and generous family put me up during my stay in nahuala, and made sure i was more than welcome and comfortable. i only left last week, but i miss them already!

detail of the handwoven sash, shirt, belt, and rodillera (woolen skirt) of a nahualan man in traditional dress.

a group photo with the members of DEMI, a legal defense clinic or indigeous women, with whom I worked very closely during my time in santa cruz. i owe them quite a lot for introducing me to interviewees, showing me around, and being wonderful friends.

in every city, you'll see young boys carrying black wooden footrests, looking to polish the shoes of passing pedestrians. a few kids in nebaj took an interest in my camera and i let them play with it for a while. there were some natural photographers in the bunch!

measuring out miltomates for sale in solola's friday market, when the entire plaza is awash in the red and black of the huipiles worn by the women in the area.