Guatemala Exploration Seminar

The Shifting Terrain of Human Rights in Contemporary Guatemala.

Angelina Godoy, UW Jackson School of International Studies and LSJ Program

Between 1960 and 1996, an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans lost their lives, the majority of them Mayan peasants massacred by agents of their own government; in 1999, a UN-sponsored truth commission concluded that the country had witnessed a genocide. Today, human rights concerns remain paramount: while survivors struggle for justice in the country’s beleaguered court system and before international institutions, a fragile civil society still reeling from the ravages of war is now grappling with new challenges posed by globalization, neoliberal development, and new foreign policy dictates (such as the US’ wars on drugs and terrorism). This interdisciplinary seminar explores how scholars, aid workers, policymakers and human rights advocates seek to address the legacies of genocide while adapting to confront new challenges. In addition to regular instruction in the classroom by both Prof. Godoy and Guatemalan experts, students will visit human rights-relevant sites in the rural highlands, speak with survivors of the scorched earth campaign, and learn from those working on their behalf.

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