Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version

Spring 2012

Thesis Advisor

Frances Barg


In recent years the municipal government of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, has come to make “development” a priority. Of particular importance to the municipality has been environmental conservation and sustainability, specifically with regards to the deteriorating condition of Lake Atitlan. To achieve this goal, the mayor of Santiago Atitlan has jumpstarted several programs such as trash removal and lake area clean ups to address the imminent danger posed to the lake and to the health of Santiago’s residents. In this paper I examine a project that has targeted laundry washing in the lake as an area for improvement through the building of pilas, or laundry washing facilities, towards the eventual goal of deterring women from washing in the lake. The municipal government believes that the pila program will protect the women from the cyanobacteria toxins as well as prevent further contamination of the lake by the women washers. The pila project has been a source of conflict and contestation, but more importantly confusion. I will explore how this confusion has been produced and what this reveals about the development process in Santiago Atitlan and the relationship between the women washers and their governing bodies.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



Date Posted: 08 June 2016


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