By Kevin Lewis O'Neill
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Additional info for City of God: Christian Citizenship in Postwar Guatemala
The battle between the government and the guerrillas was at first articulated through the language of class conflict. In the 1960s, however, ladinos recruited Maya communities an introduction 17 ONeill_Intro 7/27/09 1:50 PM Page 18 through a narrative that included ethnicity and also emphasized Guatemala’s fight for freedom of organization, land rights, and democracy. The government’s response to these demands was absolutely brutal, especially between 1978 and 1982. 25 Global awareness of such systematic, large-scale human rights violations forced the Guatemalan government by the mid-1980s to adjust its tactics so that it could continue receiving international aid.
As Victoria Sanford reports: “Between 2001 and 2006, while the female population [in Guatemala] increased by eight percent, the female homicide rate increased by more than 117 percent” (2008, 21). In Guatemala City the problem has proven more pronounced; hundreds of women have become the victims of gender-based violence, such as brutal sexual assaults, torture, and rape— all with near absolute impunity. According to Amnesty International (2006), only fifteen murders of women resulted in convictions between 2002 and 2004, and of the some six hundred women murdered in 2005, only two cases resulted in convictions.
It is an ethnography of a prominent neoPentecostal mega-church, and of the faithful who work tirelessly to carve out for themselves (and for their nation) what it means to live a good Christian life in a complicated world. At the same time, it is also, necessarily, a study of the city in which this moral drama takes place—the increasingly poor, multiethnic, and exceedingly dangerous zonas of postwar Guatemala City. And, finally, at its most theoretical, this book is an extended argument about the relationship between Christianity and citizenship.