Diane Michele Nelson
Professor of Cultural Anthropology
I began fieldwork in Guatemala in 1985 exploring the impact of civil war on highland indigenous communities with a focus on the more than 100,000 people made into refugees and 200,000 people murdered in what the United Nations has called genocidal violence. Since then my research has sought to understand the causes and effects of this violence, including the destruction and reconstruction of community life (Guatemala: Los Polos de Desarrollo: El Caso de la Desestructuracin de las Comunidades Indigenas CEIDEC1988). In A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincentennial Guatemala (University of California Press 1999) I describe the relationship between the Guatemalan state and the Mayan cultural rights movement. When asked about indigenous organizing many Guatemalans call it "a finger in the wound." How do material bodies those literally wounded in 35- years of civil war, and those locked in the fear-laden embrace of sexual conquest, domestic labor, mestizaje, and social change movements relate to the wounded body politic? My work draws on popular culture like jokes, rumors, global TV, and subjugated dreams of a "new race" as well as contemporary theories of political economy, subject-formation, the post-colonial, memory, and ethnic, national, gender, and sexual identifications. It explores the relations among Mayan rights activists, ladino (non-indigenous) Guatemalans, the state, and transnational contexts including anthropologists. My new project grows from my interests in cultural studies and cyborg anthropology and explores science and technology development in Guatemala and Latin America more generally. I am focusing on laboratory and clinical research on vector and blood-borne diseases like malaria and dengue and the intersection of this knowledge production with health care in the midst of neo-liberal reforms and popular demands.
Nelson, D. M. Reckoning: The Ends of War in Guatemala. Duke University Press, 2009.
Nelson, D. M. A Finger in the Wound: Body Politics in Quincenntenial Guatemala. University of California Press, 1999.
Nelson, D. M., and Carlota McAllister. “Aftermath: Harvests of Violence and Histories of the Future.” War By Other Means Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala, Duke UP, 2013.
Nelson, D. M. “100% OMNILIFE: Health, Economy, and the End/s of War.” War By Other Means Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala, Duke UP, 2013.
Nelson, D. M. “Mayan Pyramids.” The Guatemala Reader, edited by Levenson Grandin and Levenson Oglesby, Duke University Press, 2011.
Nelson, D. M. “Los efectos especiales del horror.” Re-Pensando La Violencia, edited by Julian Lopez García and Santiago Bastos, University of Cordoba, Spain, 2010.
Nelson, D. M. “Los Efectos Especialdes de los "Mecanismos del Horror".” Guatemala, Violencias Desbordadas, edited by D. M. Garcia, Julian Lopez et al., Universidad de Cordoba, 2010, pp. 153–83. Open Access Copy
Nelson, D. M. “The Cultural Agency of Wounded Bodies Politic: Ethnicity and Gender as Prosthetic Support in Post-War Guatemala.” Cultural Agency in the Americas, edited by Doris Sommer, Duke University Press, 2005, pp. 28–28.
Nelson, D. M. “Life During Wartime: Guatemala, Vitality, Conspiracy, Milieu.” The Anthropologies of Modernity: Foucault, Governmentality, and Life Politics, edited by J. X. Inda, Blackwell Press, 2005.
Nelson, D. M. “’Yes to Life = No to Mining:’ Counting as Biotechnology in Life(Ltd) Guatemala.” The Scholar and the Feminist Online, Oct. 2013.
Nelson, D. M. “Vitamin.” Somatosphere: Science, Medicine and Anthropology, Oct. 2013.
Nelson, D. M. “Banal, Familiar and Enrapturing: Financial Enchantment after Guatemala’s Genocide.” Women’S Studies Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 3–4, Dec. 2012.
Nelson, D. “Pirates, robbers, and mayan shamans: The terrible and fine allure of the spirits of capital.” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 39, no. 3, Nov. 2012, pp. 437–58. Scopus, doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.39.3.0437. Full Text
Nelson, D. M. “Pirates, Robbers, and Mayan Shamans: The Terrible and Fine Allure of the Spirits of Capital.” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 39, no. 118, 2012.
Nelson, D. M., and D. M. Members of Occupy Chapel Hill. “Her Earliest Leaf’s a Flower.” Cultural Anthropology Hotspots (On Line). Occupy, Anthropology, and the 2011 Global Uprisings., 2012.
Nelson, D. M. ““The Power of Sweetness” Commentary.” Current Anthropology, vol. 51, no. 5, Oct. 2010.
Nelson, D. "The Reconstruction of Mayan Identity". Dec. 1991.
Nelson, D. M., and Carlota McAllister. War By Other Means Aftermath in Post-Genocide Guatemala. Duke UP, 2013.
Nelson, D. “Letter from the Field: From Inside the Guatemalan Coup.” Stanford Anthropology Newsletter, Nov. 1994.