Call for Papers: Genocide and Resistance in Guatemala

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 5:00pm

USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research invites proposals for its 2016 International Conference: “A ‘Conflict’? Genocide and Resistance in Guatemala.” The conference will be held Sept. 12-14, 2016, at the University of Southern California.

December 2016 will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Guatemalan peace accords that ended more than thirty years of civil war in 1996. The Guatemalan state’s official war against leftist guerillas provided a convenient cover for a campaign of selective killing of leaders and members of the opposition, for example students, teachers, priests, doctors, nurses, union organizers, lawyers. Widespread targeted killings in the late 1970s and early 1980s laid the groundwork for the massive genocidal campaign against the Maya rural population. This genocidal campaign consisted of systematic mass murder, deprivation of resources and mass displacement, and reached its apex in the regime of General Efrain Rios Montt.

In 2013, a national court in Guatemala City convicted the former dictator of the international crime of genocide carried out under his command. While the genocide conviction of a former dictator by a national court made international history, the trial was nullified on a technicality within two weeks of the conviction on the heels of a massive “No Hubo Genocidio” (There was No Genocide) public relations campaign supported by powerful national economic interests and the Guatemalan Army Veterans Association.

Since the Guatemalan genocide requires systematic and interdisciplinary study, the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research (CAGR) convenes an international academic conference bringing researchers from all disciplines as well as the fields of Latin American Studies and Genocide Studies to advance the discussion of “Genocide and Resistance in Guatemala.” The conference will be organized by Wolf Gruner, CAGR founding director, and Victoria Sanford, founding director of the Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies (CfHRPS) at Lehman College, City University of New York.

We invite papers that address questions such as: How did systematic mass violence in Guatemala unfold and what were the driving factors? In what forms did resistance against mass violence occur? Which conditions and factors enabled people to oppose persecution and murder? What role did resources, location and displacement play internally for the Communities of Populations in Resistance and externally for refugees in Mexico and elsewhere? What commonalities can be identified in the rural and urban experience, and how did they differ? How did the mass violence slow down? Did mass violence stop or was it transformed into new types of violence? What roles did gender, ethnicity, religion and/or political opinion play during the period of mass violence and resistance?

We appreciate case studies on the society in general and on specific areas, as well as on groups and individuals, whether from Maya communities, urban ladino groups, army, civil patrol, guerrillas, or civil society organizations. Since one aim is to enhance our understanding of how to resist genocidal processes, we also seek contributions that might use the Guatemalan case to discuss resistance in a more theoretical way, drawing from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, history, philosophy, anthropology and critical legal studies.

The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research is dedicated to advancing new areas of interdisciplinary research on the Holocaust and other genocides. One area of research addresses the fundamental question of what enables people to oppose or resist racist ideologies, state discrimination practices, or the active participation in mass atrocities. Other research interests include Research on Violence, Emotion and Behavioral Change and Digital Genocide Studies.

The University of Southern California provides unique research resources: the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive with nearly 52,000 interviews from survivors and eyewitnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Holocaust and Genocide studies collection, and a new Genocide archive.

We welcome abstracts and presentations in English and Spanish. Please send a CV and a one-page abstract of the proposed paper before September 10, 2015 to

Some travel support available for those from developing countries or those with special circumstances. Please include your travel request with your abstract.