Beatriz Manz

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Beatriz Manz

Beatriz Manz is a former professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and author of Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror, and Hope.


Beatriz Manz was born in rural southern Chile. Her training is in anthropology and her "Latin American roots have shaped much of my framework and my research interest in rural communities".

The focus of my research has been contemporary Mayan communities in Guatemala. My book Refugees of a Hidden War: the Aftermath of Counterinsurgency in Guatemala examined the displacement and human rights abuses committed by the military against indigenous rural communities. My latest book, Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror and Hope (University of California Press 2004) details the experiences of a village deep in the northern rainforest of Guatemala next to Mexico’s Chiapas Lacandón region. This village, settled in the early 1970s was destroyed by the military in 1982. A grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation allowed me to take a year off to write the book. My research interests have broadened to examine issues of memory, grief, and trust. The increasing numbers of Guatemalan undocumented immigrants to the United States induced me to explore cross-border issues and to develop an undergraduate course called The Southern Border. Together with graduate students, we published a report on undocumented Guatemalans residing in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Given my concerns for human rights and justice, I have been involved with several international, and US-based non-governmental institutions, such as the UNHCR, UNDP, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Center for Justice and Accountability. I have testified before the U.S. Congress about human rights abuses in Guatemala, and have written opinion pieces for the New York Times and other newspapers. I am also involved in court asylum cases. I recently appeared at the Audiencia Nacional (Spain’s National Court) to provide expert testimony in the Guatemala Genocide case.
I was the Chair of Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies from 1993-1998, and was Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies from 2006-2009. I have organized several colloquium, among them "Environment, Political Ecology and Development," and more recently, "Memory, Conflict and Transitions."[1]

Mixing with Bachelet and Biden

Beatriz Manz (right) with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet
Beatriz Manz (left) with Vice President Joe Biden (right)

Beatriz Manz was honored with an invitation to the inauguration of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, in March 2014.

In addition to rubbing elbows with Chile’s elite, she met Vice President Joe Biden. Manz told of this exchange:

I said, “I am Beatriz Manz from Berkeley.” Biden said “Oh, you must be a radical” I responded: “Of course I am a radical!”[2]

Harley Shaiken was there too.