Polly Lauer

By William & Mary

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The Relationship between Grassroots Community Radio and Maya in Guatemala & Chiapas, Mexico 

The intention of this project is to investigate the relationship between grassroots community radio and assertions of indigeneity in Maya communities in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. It will focus on how issues facing local groups have shaped the causes and the identity they mobilize around, and how these have been presented through radio broadcasts about cultural identity, rights, and according action. Moreover, it will consider how radio, in spreading these cultural messages, can be a tool of social, economic, and political empowerment. The study will fall within the frame of the last fifty or so years, following radio’s introduction and popularization within communities in the 1960s up to the turn of the century. Tracing how conceptions of indigeneity and relationships with Maya identity have changed within populations due to circumstances of time and space, the thesis will explore the parallel evolution of broadcasts and social movements. In doing so, it will emphasize both divergences and similarities between the Indigenous Peoples of highland Guatemala and Chiapas, whose shared geography and origin stories have been split by the national boundary. In order to complete this research, I will travel to Guatemala and Chiapas to volunteer at local radio stations.

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