Through the Lenses of Q’eqchi Maya: (Re)Framing the Story of Development in a Guatemalan Indigenous Community Through Participant-Created Photographs

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2016-08-24

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Abstract

The question of evaluations of development projects has been widely debated within the field of international development, with scholars and development practitioners calling for increased community-driven evaluations. However, there has been a paucity of research in community-led project evaluations, and a largely absent investigation utilizing visual anthropology/sociology methodologies.

This paper seeks to shift this power by giving voice to the intended beneficiaries of an eco-tourism project in a rural indigenous Guatemala village. Through photographs taken by community members and corresponding interviews, this paper shows the way in which community members have and continue to reframe the idea of development in their village. Specifically, my analysis reveals how residents see changing forms of access, how they reframe ideas of beauty and modernization, and how they reframe their relationship to the land through Western conservation and private property ideals. This research thus provides an alternative narrative to the Western NGO’s evaluations and knowledge production, especially in respect to development and indigenous knowledge. By showing how community members are reframing the story of development, this paper demonstrates the usefulness of using participatory documentary photography in community-led evaluations, and helps balance the playing field by providing a much-needed alternative narrative of project evaluation.

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Funk, Lara (2016). Through the Lenses of Q’eqchi Maya: (Re)Framing the Story of Development in a Guatemalan Indigenous Community Through Participant-Created Photographs. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/12678.


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