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Anti-Colonial Texts from Central American Student Movements 1929–1983

Edited by Heather A Vrana

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Collects more than sixty foundational documents from student protest from the frontlines of revolution

Few people know that student protest emerged in Latin America decades before the infamous student movements of Western Europe and the U.S. in the 1960s. Even fewer people know that Central American university students authored colonial agendas and anti-colonial critiques. In fact, Central American students were key actors in shaping ideas of nation, empire, and global exchange. Bridging a half-century of student protest from 1929 to 1983, this source reader contains more than sixty texts from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Costa Rica, including editorials, speeches, manifestos, letters, and pamphlets. Available for the first time in English, these rich texts help scholars and popular audiences alike to rethink their preconceptions of student protest and revolution. The texts also illuminate key issues confronting social movements today: global capitalism, dispossession, privatization, development, and state violence.

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Notes on Translations
Notes on Sources
Further Reading
1. Central American Modernities, 1929-1944
2. Enduring Militarism, 1952-1959
3. Dependency, Development, and New Roles for Student Movements, 1960-1981
4. Revolution and Civil War, 1966-1981
5. Revolutionary Futures, 1976-1982

About the Author

Heather Vrana is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida. She is also the author of This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1983 (University of California Press). Her articles and reviews have appeared in the Radical History Review, Journal of Genocide Research, Ethnohistory, e-misférica, and Journal of Latin American Geography. She is co-editor of Revisiting the Guatemalan Revolution (forthcoming). Her new research is on disability in Central America.


Heather Vrana’s anthology, Anti-Colonial Texts from Central American Student Movements, 1929-1983 is an exceedingly important contribution to the scholarship and in particular the pedagogy of Central American history. The texts reveal two overarching themes across the decades. First, there is a striking coherence and continuity to anti-imperialist (or anti-colonialist) thought emanating from both students and administrators and, before 1960 from various political tendencies. That thought, often inspired by Central American nationalism, was linked, in turn, to a fierce devotion to university autonomy. Yet, as the texts make extremely clear, students made no effort to isolate the university from the struggles of workers, peasants, and marginalized sectors. Often poignantly, the students demanded their physical and moral integration into the broader society. The students’ high level of communication with relatively uneducated sectors of the citizenry was remarkable and will prove highly instructive to American and British university students. Vrana has done an excellent job of digging through a number of often difficult archives in order to present this wide array of well-translated texts from the five Central American republics.

- Jeffrey L. Gould, Indiana University Bloomington

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