Skip to main content

“Green Wars: Conservation and Decolonization in the Maya Forest” by Megan Ybarra

November 20, 2017

Assistant Professor of Geography Megan Ybarra has written a new book, Green Wars: Conservation and Decolonization in the Maya Forest, which will be available in December 2017.

Global conservation efforts are celebrated for saving Guatemala’s Maya Forest. This book reveals that the process of protecting lands has been one of racialized dispossession for the Indigenous peoples who live there. Through careful ethnography and archival research, Megan Ybarra shows how conservation efforts have turned Q’eqchi’ Mayas into immigrants on their own land, and how this is part of a larger national effort to make Indigenous peoples into neoliberal citizens. Even as Q’eqchi’s participate in conservation, Green Wars amplifies their call for material decolonization by recognizing the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the land itself.

“Bold, raw, and discomforting, Green Wars plainly documents contradictions, expulsions, and abject violence in the Maya Forest. Indigenous communities, for whom peace in Guatemala never came, have been rendered illegal and criminal through acts of conservation and narco-control. To make real change, we will need to pass through the truthful darkness at the heart of Megan Ybarra’s account.”—Paul Robbins, author of Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction

Green Wars is a theoretically rich and sophisticated analysis of conservation politics in Guatemala that advances significantly our current understanding of such conflicts. Drawing on indigenous studies, feminist political ecology, and postcolonial and critical race theory, Megan Ybarra illuminates the hemispheric dynamics that created Mayan dispossession, how the Maya are typically misread, and how we might begin to forge a new future. A must-read!”—Laura Pulido, author of Black, Brown, Yellow, and Left: Radical Activism in Los Angeles

Join the Department of Geography and Latin American and Caribbean Studies for a discussion with Megan Ybarra on January 5th, 2018 at 3:30 pm in the Allen Library’s Petersen Room.