Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj

Spring 2017 Mellon Visiting Professor

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj is a journalist, social anthropologist, and international spokeswoman. She has been at the forefront of struggles for respect for indigenous cultures. She was Executive Director of the Mecanismo de Apoyo a Pueblos Indígenas Oxlajuj Tzikin (Support Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples) (2005-2013). Dr. Velásquez Nimatuj is the first Maya-K'iche' woman to earn a doctorate in Social Anthropology and she initiated the court case that made racial discrimination illegal in Guatemala. She has won numerous academic fellowships and awards for her journalism.She was a member of the Latin American Consulting Group of Indigenous Leaders for UNICEF and participates in the UN through the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She also served as advisor on indigenous issues for the Latin American and Caribbean office of UN Women (2014-2015).She is the author of Pueblos Indígenas, Estado y Lucha por Tierra en Guatemala (AVANCSO 2008) and La pequeña burguesía indígena comercial de Guatemala  Desigualdades de clase, raza y género(AVANCSO-SERJUS 2002). She writes a weekly newspaper column in el Periódico de Guatemala and through both her political and academic efforts seeks to create viable and realistic ways to create equality for indigenous people and a truly democratic and participatory democracy in Guatemala. 

Dr. Velásquez Nimatuj will offer two courses during the Spring semester.. The first, Indigenous Resistance & Revolution: Mexico and Central America is open to undergraduates only. The second course, Indigeneity, Ontology, Epistemology, & Anthropology, is restricted to upper level undergrads and graduate students. Both classes will be taught in English. See course descriptions below:


  • Indigeneity, Ontology, Epistemology & Anthropology
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About the Mellon Visiting Professorship

Funding from an endowment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allows the Duke Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies to host visiting professors from Latin America and the Caribbean on a regular basis.

The consistent presence of visiting professors and artists from Latin America and the Caribbean serves to strengthen our course offerings (especially for undergraduates), stimulate international and interdisciplinary collaboration, and enhance our visibility as an outstanding center for research and teaching about the region. In particular, this program enables CLACS to establish enduring intellectual and institutional partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean. It helps us to establish new relationships and strengthen existing ones as part of ongoing exchanges with institutions of excellence in higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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