Nicholas Copeland


Nicholas Copeland

Assistant Professor


524 McBryde Hall 
225 Stanger Street 
Blacksburg, VA 24061


(540) 231-2768


Department Membership



  • Political Imaginaries
  • Governance
  • Indigenous Politics
  • Guatemala and Latin America
  • Democracy
  • Social Theory

Professional Activities

  • Northwest Arkansas Center for Worker's Justice, former Board Member
  • American Anthropological Association
  • Latin American Studies Association
  • American Ethnological Society
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology


  • Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin
  • M.A. University of Texas at Austin
  • B.A. University of Texas at Austin 

Research Interests

    Awards and Honors

    2011 Outstanding Mentor: University of Arkansas

    2007 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland, Latin American Studies Center

    2006 HF Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship

    Selected Publications


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

    Book Chapters

    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.


    "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.

    Sponsored Research

    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.

    Additional Information

    Current Projects:

    • Deceptive Alliances: Democracy and Counterinsurgency in Post-Revolutionary Guatemala (Book manuscript under review)
    • Conflating Democracy: Countering State Violence in Neoliberal Guatemala (under review at the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology)