Book uncovers effects on Guatemala after 1954 coup

The world of anthropology will now see what Appalachian State University has to offer with assistant professor of anthropology, Timothy J. Smith’s, recent co-editing of the book entitled “After the Coup: An Ethnographic Reframing of Guatemala 1954.”

The volume, which looks at the repercussions of the 1954 coup, stems from an academic conference in 2005 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Smith was the associate director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

An ongoing process since the conference was held, Smith was responsible for the logistical aspect of compiling the book as well as editing the manuscript with his co-editor, Abigail E. Adams of Central Connecticut State University.

After collecting the papers that were to be included, they individually reviewed each one and provided the in-between work to ensure all meshed accordingly.

The result is an academic book that has received outstanding reviews since its official release a mere three weeks ago.

“This collection by some of the leading figures in the field takes a nuanced viewed of anthropology and history in addressing the timely issue of what the 1954 Guatemalan coup and its aftermath can tell us today,” said Edward F. Fischer, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University. “It is destined to become a standard reference on the subject.”

The book takes a ground-level view of the coup, which ousted the democratically elected Guatemalan president, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, by the U.S. government.

The ousting of Arbenz was the second time the U.S. government had a role in the removal of a foreign government, after 1953’s coup that removed Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh.

“There are parallels with modern day,” Smith said. “The U.S. government didn’t foresee the public’s response, which is similar to what we’re seeing in the Middle East today.”

While many Appalachian students may have a faint idea of what’s currently going on in the Middle East, Smith was taken aback by his students’ lack of knowledge of U.S. intervention in Latin America.

“I would begin my classes with Rigoberta Menchù’s 1992 Nobel Peace Prize as a launch pad into discussion about U.S. intervention and its repercussions and the armed conflict of the 70s and 80s,” he said. “But it was surprising to me how little students knew about the topic.”

But, he has found that students at Appalachian seem to be more aware of worldly matters and the study abroad opportunities at Appalachian are unparalleled to any other university he’s worked at.

“I’ve found that students not only have more of an interest in world affairs, but also a sincere interest in making a difference and doing something that would make the world a better place.

Story: LENA ALOUMARI, Lifestyles Reporter