Erin_BeckJane Grant Room
330 Hendricks Hall
UO campus

A Work-in-Progress Talk

“From Mobilization to NGO: The Advances and Limits of Indigenous Evangelical Women’s Collective Action in Guatemala”

Erin Beck is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oregon and a member of the CLLAS Advisory Board. If you would like to participate in this work-in-progress discussion, email the author for a full copy of the paper: beck(at)

ABSTRACT: In the mid-1980s, in the face of growing conflicts within the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Guatemala, a group of indigenous women from various Mayan ethnolinguistic groups mobilized to counter discrimination against them within the church and provide support to their peers by forming an organization called the Fraternidad de Presbiteriales Mayas (the Fraternity). A decade later, their organization formally separated itself from the church, forming an independent NGO that provided loans and classes to women from two main ethnic groups. Despite the NGO’s stated goals to combat discrimination and unify ethnic groups, women from the minority ethnic group benefited more than those from the majority ethnic group. This article examines the case of the Fraternity using insights from the study of social movements to answer two questions. First, after a period of violence in which indigenous communities were targeted by state-led genocide, how did a group of marginalized indigenous women mobilize to fight their discrimination, and why did they do so within the church? And second, among those who subsequently participated in the Fraternity, why did the minority group gain disproportionately?

This talk is sponsored by the Américas Research Interest Group of the Center for the Study of Women in Society.