Added: May 7, 2016 – Last updated: May 7, 2016


Author: David Carey Jr.

Title: I Ask for Justice

Subtitle: Maya Women, Dictators, and Crime in Guatemala, 1898–1944

Place: Austin, TX

Publisher: University of Texas Press

Year: 2013

Pages: 363pp.

Series: Louann Atkins Temple Women & Culture Series 33

ISBN-13: 9780292748682 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781477302101 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History | 19th Century, 20th Century | American History: Guatemalan History



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Author: David Carey Jr., Department of History, Loyola University Maryland


  List of Illustrations, Maps, and Tables (p. ix)
  Foreword by Pablo Piccato (p. xiii)
  Acknowledgments (p. xxiii)
  Introduction: Justice, Ethnicity, and Gender in Twentieth-Century Guatemala (p. 1)
  Chapter 1. Dictators, Indígenas, and the Legal System: Intersections of Race and Crime (p. 27)
  Chapter 2. "Rough and Thorny Terrain": Moonshine, Gender, and Ethnicity (p. 56)
  Chapter 3. "Productive Activity": Female Vendors and Ladino Authorities in the Market (p. 90)
  Chapter 4. Unnatural Mothers and Reproductive Crimes: Infanticide, Abortion, and Cross-Dressing (p. 118)
  Chapter 5. Wives in Danger and Dangerous Women: Domestic and Female Violence (p. 153)
  Chapter 6. Honorable Subjects: Public Insults, Family Feuds, and State Power (p. 191)
  Conclusion: Emboldened and Constrained (p. 225)
  Appendices (p. 240)
  Notes (p. 263)
  Glossary (p. 295)
  Bibliography (p. 299)
  Index (p. 327)


»Given Guatemala’s record of human rights abuses, its legal system has often been portrayed as illegitimate and anemic. I Ask for Justice challenges that perception by demonstrating that even though the legal system was not always just, rural Guatemalans considered it a legitimate arbiter of their grievances and an important tool for advancing their agendas. As both a mirror and an instrument of the state, the judicial system simultaneously illuminates the limits of state rule and the state’s ability to co-opt Guatemalans by hearing their voices in court.
Against the backdrop of two of Latin America’s most oppressive regimes—the dictatorships of Manuel Estrada Cabrera (1898–1920) and General Jorge Ubico (1931–1944)—David Carey Jr. explores the ways in which indigenous people, women, and the poor used Guatemala’s legal system to manipulate the boundaries between legality and criminality. Using court records that are surprisingly rich in Maya women’s voices, he analyzes how bootleggers, cross-dressers, and other litigants crafted their narratives to defend their human rights. Revealing how nuances of power, gender, ethnicity, class, and morality were constructed and contested, this history of crime and criminality demonstrates how Maya men and women attempted to improve their socioeconomic positions and to press for their rights with strategies that ranged from the pursuit of illicit activities to the deployment of the legal system.« (Source: University of Texas Press)


Hochmüller, Markus. CROLAR - Critical Reviews on Latin American Research 4(1) (2015): 18-20. – Full Text: CROLAR (Free Access)

Konefal, Betsy. The American Historical Review 119(4) (2014): 1320-1321. – Full Text: Oxford University Press (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of Guatemala