Professor, Geography and Ethnic Studies
Ph.D. State Univ of New York, Buffalo, 1977
Regional focus: Latin America
I was born in rural southern Chile. My training in anthropology and my Latin American roots have shaped much of my framework and my research interest in rural communities.
The focus of my research has been contemporary Mayan communities in Guatemala. My book Refugees of a Hidden War: the Aftermath of Counterinsurgency in Guatemala examined the displacement and human rights abuses committed by the military against indigenous rural communities. My latest book, Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror and Hope (University of California Press 2004) details the experiences of a village deep in the northern rainforest of Guatemala next to Mexico’s Chiapas Lacandón region. (http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10121.html) This village, settled in the early 1970s was destroyed by the military in 1982. A grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation allowed me to take a year off to write the book. My research interests have broadened to examine issues of memory, grief, and trust. The increasing numbers of Guatemalan undocumented immigrants to the United States induced me to explore cross-border issues and to develop an undergraduate course called The Southern Border. Together with graduate students, we published a report on undocumented Guatemalans residing in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Given my concerns for human rights and justice, I have been involved with several international, governmental and non-governmental institutions, such as the UNHCR, UNDP, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Center for Justice and Accountability. I have testified before the U.S. Congress about human rights abuses in Guatemala, and have written opinion pieces for the New York Times and other newspapers. I am also involved in court asylum cases. I recently appeared at the Audiencia Nacional (Spain’s National Court) to provide expert testimony in the Guatemala Genocide case.
I was the Chair of Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies from 1993-1998, where I remain active. I have organized several colloquium, among them "Environment, Political Ecology and Development," and most recently, "Memory, Conflict and Transitions."
El Paraíso en Cenizas: Una odisea de valentía, terror y esperanza en Guatemala, México: Fonde de Cultura Económica, 2011.
"Central America: Patterns of Human Rights Violations," United Nations HIgh Commissioner for Refugees. Protection Information Section, May 2008.
"The Continuum of Violence in Post-war Guatemala," Social Analysis, Vol. 52, Number 2, 2008. Reprinted in The Anthropology of War. Alisse Waterston, ed. Berhahn Books, Oxford, 2008.
Declaración. Audiencia Nacional, Madrid, España. 29 de mayo, 2008 [Testimony, Guatemala Genocide case, National Court, Spain}.
Paradise In Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror, and Hope. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
"Reflections on Remembrance: Voices of an Ixcán village," In What Justice? Whose Justice? Fighting for Fairness in Latin America. Susan Eckstein and Timothy Wickham-Crowley, editors. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.
"Mexicanization: A Survival Strategy for Guatemalan Mayans in the San Francisco Bay Area," with Xochitl Castañeda and Allison Davenport. Migraciones Internacionales, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, Baja California. Vol 1, Number 3, July-December, 2002.
"Terror, Grief, and Recovery: Genocidal Trauma In a Mayan Village in Guatemala," In, Annihilating Difference: The Anthropology of Genocide, Alex Hinton, Editor. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.
"Gendered Work: Female Labour in Pipfruit Production in New Zealand and Chile," (with Paul Spoonley). New Zealand Geographer, Vol. 57, 1, 2001.
Guatemalan Immigration to the Bay Area, (with Xochitl Castañeda, Allison Davenport, Ingrid Perry-Houts, Cecile Mazzacurati) Berkeley: Center for Latino Policy Research, 2000.
"La Importancia del Contexto en la Memoria" in De la Memoria a la Construcción Histórica. Beatriz Manz, Elizabeth Oglesby, José Gracía Noval, Guatemala: Asociación para el Avance de las Ciencias Sociales, (AVANCSO): vol. 3, 1-22. 1999.
"The United Nation's Peace-Building in Guatemala," (with Amy Ross) Peace Review Vol. 8, Number 4 , 1996.