Gladys Tzul Tzul

Gladys Tzul claims to be a direct descendant of Atanasio Tzul. Together with hundreds of others, she belongs to the sixth generation of this lineage that lives in the Paquí canton, in Totonicapán. She experienced a different sense of politics, “a collective and community one, not a liberal one in which an individual citizen exists, represented and protected by the State.” She is one of the few Latin American academics to specialize in analyzing Indigenous governance systems in Guatemala, their power relations, and the struggle that occurs between local forms of government and State authority.

With a Masters in Latin American Social and Political Studies from the Alberto Hurtado University in Chile, Tzul has followed Michel Foucault’s footsteps to arrive at a critical approach to power dynamics, the negation of the latter, or the development of a subtle microscopic power that is nothing like the political power of State apparatuses or of a privileged class, but instead the combination of small powers and institutions at another level.

Gladys Tzul brought these concepts home in her thesis, Political Configuration and Community Power in Maya Kich’e Societies, published in Chile. In directly challenging the male chauvinist configuration of community traditions, she has become critical and controversial. Although they are defended by some academics, she considers Marxist concepts of class to be out of date. Regardless, as a PhD candidate in sociology at the Benemérita Autonomous University of Puebla, in Mexico, her interests have focused on shedding light on historical and current systems of domination.