Who Counts?: The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide
Diane M. Nelson is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and the author of A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala; she is also the author of Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala and coeditor of War by Other Means: Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala, both also published by Duke University Press.
A Life’s Worth
This chapter explores how “development” increasingly means “free trade” and resource extraction via transnational corporations. In Guatemala the 1996 peace accords accompanied new regulations encouraging exploitation of “natural resources,” unleashing a rush for the new El Dorado. In 2005 a Canadian company inaugurated an open-pit gold mine in the indigenous province of San Marcos. In response, when local residents held a consulta, or referendum, in which 98 percent rejected the mine, the province became the epicenter of what is now a national movement to make (mainly) indigenous people count—as in “matter”—through the technique of counting: adding them up. It...