Due to its murderous past dominated by state-sponsored violence during nearly forty years of insurgency, I feel strongly that Guatemala should be read as a major case to understand Latin America and the Global South through the critical lens of archives, culture, historical memory, and urban spaces, to name a few examples.
Guatemala is representative of other countries in Central/Latin America and beyond, especially as we understand "Global South" as a contemporary replacement for "Third World" to talk about economically-disadvantaged nations that have been negatively impacted by corporate and military interests, often to the financial benefit of more-developed nations. My research trips to Guatemala have inspired me to think more deeply about the possibility of fieldwork in the humanities and place-based cultural criticism in/on the Global South; Guatemala (as any Latin American country) is both a place to be and a research problem.
For these reasons, I believe that Guatemala has much to contribute to contemporary Latin American Cultural Studies. Here, I present an article about the Historical Archive of the National Police (AHPN) in Guatemala City, a key site in unlocking violent traces of the recent past. The article appears in a special issue of Istmo: Revista virtual de estudios literarios y culturales centroamericanos edited by Tatiana Argüello (Texas Christian University) and Juan Duchesne-Winter (University of Pittsburgh) and was awarded a prize for best published article in the humanities at Michigan State. Currently, I am co-editing a special monograph of Istmo with John Petrus (Grinnell College) about queer and trans perspectives from Central America and the Central American diaspora in the United States. This work ties into the next wave of my research, which focuses on how LGBTQ+ people affirm their right to space in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
In tune with my research interests, I translated twelve entries (poems and biographical data) in Women's Poetry of Protest and Resistance: Honduras (2009-2014) (Casasola, 2015), published in response to urban violence generated by the 2009 U.S.-sponsored coup in Honduras. The book won the best multi-author translated poetry book at the 2018 Latino Book Awards. In addition, shortly after the English translation of the anthology was launched, contributor and editor Lety Elvir was granted asylum in the Netherlands after receiving death threats in Honduras for her women's rights advocacy and literary critiques of the government. To this end, a cornerstone of my research is to ensure that it resonates with the broadest audiences possible, academic or otherwise.
With this in mind, in May 2019, I gave a podcast interview as part of Episode 20 of Collaborative Edges with my colleagues Rocío Quispe-Agnoli (Michigan State University) and Osvaldo Sandoval (Colgate University). Our discussion of violence, trauma, and representation generates possibilities for the exploration of new platforms for academic exchange beyond the traditional print text.