Celebrating the Work of Professor Diane Nelson, 1963-2022

Diane Nelson

Celebrating Diane Nelson

Diane Michele was born in Oxford, Ohio in 1963 to Donald N. and Lois E. (Genn) Nelson. In 1980, Diane began her lifelong relationship with Latin America as an AFS exchange student in Mexico. At Wellesley, as a National Merit Scholar and cultural anthropology major, she first visited Guatemala, where she would continue to study for over four decades. As a Ph.D. student in anthropology at Stanford, she continued her focus on indigenous Guatemalan life-worlds. Diane joined the anthropology faculty at Lewis and Clark in 1996. A life- changing inspiration to many students, she was named Oregon College Teacher of the Year in 1998. Her first ethnography, "A Finger in the Wound," was published the following year. Diane moved to Duke in 2001; built a “glo-cal” community of activists, scholars, and students; and published many articles. Her voice stays with us in the books she since published: "Who Counts? The Mathematics of Death and Life After Genocide" (Duke University Press 2015), "Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala" (Duke University Press, 2009), and "A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala" (University of California Press, 2009). At the time of her death, Diane was working on a project entitled "Riparian Worlding: Mayan Life and Anti- Extractivism," focused on political ecology, river ecosystems, and indigenous knowledge. One of her students sums up the sentiments so many have felt in her passing: “Thank you so much for teaching us that kindness is political, that self-care is a method, and that we all matter.” Diane is survived by her partner, Mark Driscoll; parents, Lois Nelson and Donald and Judith Nelson; sister, Erika Nelson (Steven Townsend); brothers, Brian Nelson (Natalia Vergara) and Philip Nelson (Kana Mizuguchi); sixteen nephews; and four nieces.

Sponsors at Duke University: Department of Cultural Anthropology, Center for Latin American Studies (CLACS), the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke Global Affairs, Department of Romance Studies