Document Type


Publication Date



Recent research argues that globalization in Latin America sometimes results in the homogenization of culture and loss of indigenous identity. This paper, however, explores how Q’eqchi’-Maya market women in San Juan Chamelco, Guatemala, generate Q’eqchi’ personhood by embracing the conflicts of value introduced by the confrontation of globalization with longstanding Q’eqchi’ values. I argue that in Chamelco, market women are mediators of value who participate in global capitalism to reinforce the categories that structure indigenous life. Q’eqchi’ women engage in marketing activities not only to accrue capital resources, but also to maintain local values, centered on the junkab’al or “house,” or “family.” In doing so, they convert the money and commodities exchanged in the market into kinship and Maya personhood. They do so by sustaining local junkab’als, providing them with products necessary for survival, and by constructing marketing as an occupation practiced by their ancestors. When faced with globalization, Chamelco’s market women harness capitalism to reproduce longstanding Q’eqchi’ values, rather than lose them to global capitalist ones. This research contributes to the growing literature on globalization in Latin America by revealing how Maya communities interface with global ideals to perpetuate, rather than alienate themselves from, indigenous values and categories.

Publication Title

The Global South