Sustainability Science

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 655–667 | Cite as

Place attachment and social–ecological system sustainability examined through the voices of indigenous Guatemalan women

  • Lilly BriggsEmail author
  • Richard Stedman
  • Marianne Krasny
Special Feature: Original Article Sense of Place in Social - Ecological Systems: From Theory to Empirical Exploration
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Special Feature: Sense of Place in Social - Ecological Systems: From Theory to Empirical Exploration


Through a social–ecological systems (SES) lens, this qualitative study investigates how place attachment is manifested among young Q’eqchi’ Maya women of Guatemala. Q’eqchi’ women have positive and negative feelings toward social and ecological attributes of their SES, conceptualized as “magnets” and “anchors.” This research was part of a larger project that also studied the impacts of a program called “Women, Agroecology, and Leadership for Conservation” (WALC), which seeks to promote female empowerment and build capacity among Q’eqchi’ women. We analyze findings related to both place attachment and WALC impacts on participants. This analysis is then used to explore implications for long-term sustainability of the biocultural diversity within the Q’eqchi’ Maya SES. Examinations of international development efforts such as WALC cannot fully transcend embedded issues related to the perpetuation of historical colonialist narratives, the imposition of foreign worldviews and assumptions, and power. We argue that while we must better confront these issues, it is equally important that we do not neglect the prevalence and positive impacts of these programs.


Place attachment Social–ecological systems Biocultural diversity Indigenous women Guatemala 


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education ProgramCornell Lab of OrnithologyIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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