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Nicholas Copeland

Nicholas Copeland, Associate Professor

Nicholas Copeland, Associate Professor
Nicholas Copeland, Associate Professor

Department of  Sociology
524 McBryde Hall
225 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-2768 |

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

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
  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin
  • MA, University of Texas at Austin
  • BA, 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.