Jeffrey Gould’s To Die in This Way and Diane Nelson’s A Finger in the Wound mark a turning point in Central American scholarship. Along with the work of Charles Hale and Carol Smith, these are among the few studies conducted by United States scholars to examine seriously, and successfully, the dialectical relationship between national politics and indigenous identity. Despite the fact that Central America’s complex historical and cultural legacy demands innovative comparative and multi-disciplinary work, both historians and anthropologists have remained intensely parochial. In general, historians have hesitated examining Central American society in relation to similar regions— Latin American or otherwise—and have almost unanimously refused to engage with theoretical perspectives being used to understand the interrelationship between popular consciousness and state formation. Anthropologists, with a few notable exceptions, likewise remain tied to local ethnographies, unable to examine how indigenous culture informs state formation....

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