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Nicholas Copeland

Nicholas Copeland, Associate Professor

Nicholas Copeland portrait
Nicholas Copeland, Associate Professor

Department of  History
428 Major Williams Hall, 220 Stanger St., Blacksburg, VA 24061

Dr. Nicholas Copeland is an associate professor in the Department of History.

His current projects include: Deceptive Alliances: Democracy and Counterinsurgency in Post-Revolutionary Guatemala (a book manuscript under review), and “Conflating Democracy: Countering State Violence in Neoliberal Guatemala” (an article under review at the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology).

  • Political Imaginaries
  • Governance
  • Indigenous Politics
  • Guatemala and Latin America
  • Democracy
  • Social Theory
  • Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin
  • M.A., University of Texas at Austin
  • B.A., University of Texas at Austin 
  • Northwest Arkansas Center for Worker’s Justice, former Board Member
  • American Anthropological Association
  • Latin American Studies Association
  • American Ethnological Society
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology
  • Outstanding Mentor: University of Arkansas, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland, Latin American Studies Center, 2007
  • HF Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship, 2006


The Democracy Development Machine: Neoliberalism, Radical Pessimism, and Authoritarian Populism in Mayan Guatemala. Cornell University Press, 2019

The World of Wal-Mart: Discounting the American Dream. Coauthored with Christine Labuski. Routledge, 2013

Select Journal Articles

“Regarding Development: Governing Indian Advancement in Post-Revolutionary Guatemala.” Economy and Society. 2015. 44(3)

“Mayan Imaginaries of Democracy: Interactive Sovereignties and Political Affect in Post-Revolutionary Guatemala.” American Ethnologist. 2014. 41(2): 305-319

“Greening the Counterinsurgency: The Deceptive Effects of Guatemala's Rural Development Plan of 1970.” Development and Change. 2012. (43)4:975-998

“‘Guatemala Will Never Change’: Radical Pessimism and the Politics of Personal Interest in the Western Highlands.” Journal of Latin American Studies. 2011. (43)3:485-515.

Book Chapter

2015. “Harvesting Structural Violence: Clientelist Exchange in San Pedro Necta, Huehuetenango.” In Poder local, incidencia política y gobernabilidad en los pueblos indígenas en Guatemala. Gema Sanchez Medero and Ruben Sanchez, eds. Madrid: Universidad Complutense.

  • The Future of Improvement: Remaking Development in Neoliberal Guatemala. ($6,258) Dean's Faculty Fellowship, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech, 2015.
  • (co-PI) Global Issues Initiative Grant: "Security, Inequality and Gender" ($10,000) Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment, Virginia Tech, 2013.