Institute News

Guatemala Conference Preview: "Repression and Resistance"

This series will highlight each of the panel discussions at the Center for Advanced Genocide Research’s upcoming conference "A ‘Conflict?’ Genocide and Resistance in Guatemala,” September 11-14, 2016, at the University of Southern California.

UCLA Latin American Studies Professor Bonnie Taub will moderate the panel “Repression and Resistance” on the first full day of USC Shoah Foundation’s Center for Advanced Genocide Research’s conference, “Conflict? Genocide and Resistance in Guatemala.”

The session will feature two panelists  — Betsy Konefal and Sandra Gruner-Domic.

Konefal is an Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Her work focuses on modern Latin America, particularly race and ethnicity, human rights, and oppositional politics. She has done extensive fieldwork in Guatemala, Mexico and Ecuador, including a Fulbright Fellowship she completed in Ecuador on indigenous organizing.

At the conference, Konefal will discuss Maya repression and resistance from the 1970s to the 1980s. Though the Guatemalan Genocide is considered to have occurred in the early 1980s, Konefal argues that the Mayas themselves, particularly community leaders, felt targeted by the state and its counterinsurgency practices as early as the 1970s, and that this perception that they were under attack contributed to growing resistance to government-sanctioned persecution.

Gruner-Domic is a consultant for USC Shoah Foundation doing research on Guatemalan immigrants in Los Angeles. She has previously been a lecturer at California State University Long Beach and USC in international studies, sociology, and gender studies. She received her degrees in Berlin, and has written about Latin Americans in Germany.

During the “Repression and Resistance” session, Gruner-Domic will focus on the participation of women in acts of resistance before, during, and after the genocide. Using interviews taken by the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation in collaboration with USC Shoah Foundation, as well as interviews she did herself with Guatemalan immigrants in Los Angeles, Gruner-Domic explores how peasant women used or flouted traditional gender roles to survive during the violence and, in some cases, fight back.