The first-ever recipient of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research’s Genocide Prevention Research Fellowship is Vanessa Belén Meneses, a PhD candidate from the Complutense University of Madrid. The Genocide Prevention Research Fellowship asks for proposals that advance research on cultural and societal dynamics that precipitate or deter genocide.
In her studies and other work, Meneses focuses on researching and advocating for Latin American social justice, specifically for women and indigenous communities. During her stay at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, she analyzed testimonies in the Visual History Archive of indigenous women who suffered rape and sexual violence during the Guatemalan Genocide and the cultural, psychological and social impacts of such violence. She examined how rape was used as a weapon of war during the counterinsurgency policy and how racism was an adjunct to these violations. By using the Visual History Archive, Meneses deepened her investigation into the daily and systematic practice of rape during the conflict and its true purpose as a way to dehumanize, humiliate and terrorize the Mayan population. Meneses intended for her research at the USC Shoah Foundation to contribute to her previous work with the NGO Team GUAM interviewing people who have participated in the defense of indigenous communities as part of the ongoing fight for justice in Guatemala. She hopes to demonstrate how the systematic practice of rape during the genocide will aid in the fight for the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence in Guatemala.
Cuerpos mancillados y sexualidad trucada: Violencia sexual a las mujeres mayas durante el conflicto armado en Guatemala (2016) and Tejiendo una memoria común del conflicto armado en Guatemala (2017).