A public lecture by Vaclav Masek (PhD student in Sociology, University of Southern California)
2022 Beth and Arthur Lev Student Research Fellow
(Join us in person for this lecture or attend virtually on Zoom)
Organized by the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research
Previous studies have led us to believe that Indigenous activists avoid the difficult past as a site of trauma. During 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Guatemala, Vaclav Masek discovered that Indigenous environmental activists were turning to the past to draw on memories of victory and resilience in the face of struggle. After situating the Guatemalan case within the larger landscape of Indigenous environmental movements worldwide, he will discuss how his work bridges Indigenous studies with theories of social movements, collective memory, and culture to develop a framework for understanding the mechanisms that mobilize in violent contexts.
Focusing on the research he conducted during his month as the 2022 Lev Student Research Fellow at the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research, he will discuss how the testimonies by survivors of the Guatemalan genocide that are housed in the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive - particularly the content and narrative arc of the testimonies - are central to discerning the continuities and ruptures of Indigenous resistance and popular urban social movements in the past through the present. Through memory work, the problematic past becomes a source of strength and power for coalition-building, deployed to frame an alternative imagined future. In this talk, he will reflect on the implications of this study for Indigenous, social movement, and collective memory studies and consider how this work provides an avenue for understanding how social movements collectively imagine futures that account for memories of the past.
Lecture image is a photograph of Rosalina Tuyuc, Maya Kaqchikel survivor of the Guatemalan genocide, being interviewed in San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala. Her testimony, recorded by FAFG (the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala) is part of the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive.