Strange Bedfellows: Catholic-Civil Alliances and their Unintended Outcomes in Revolutionary Guatemala, 1943–1996


ACLS Fellowship Program




This project examines the invisible confluence of transnational projects initiated by foreign Catholic missionaries and secular government officials from the United States, Canada, and Europe. In the 1950s and 1960s, Catholic missionaries appeared as barriers to the spread of Communism. By the late 1970s, however, the Guatemalan military came to identify Catholic missionaries and Maya Catholics as communists and a key force behind the country’s growing guerrilla movement. Maya Catholics and clergy became targets of military repression. “Strange Bedfellows” explains this apparently dramatic contradiction by revealing the conflict between the interests of the country’s elite and Catholic missionaries’ efforts to facilitate Maya engagement in Guatemalan national politics and economics.