University of Oregon

Symposium on Archives and Human Rights Set for Oct. 24

archive symposium imageInternationally known speakers and panelists will be on hand for a symposium on archives and human rights on Thursday, Oct. 24, on the University of Oregon campus. “From Silence to Memory: Archives and Human Rights in Guatemala and Beyond” will also offer a screening of a recent documentary film on human rights in Guatemala. The symposium will reflect the connections between the preservation of archives, the construction of collective memories, and the fostering of a culture of human rights in Guatemala and elsewhere.

The symposium will kick off at 3 p.m. in Knight Library’s Browsing Room with a book presentation and panel discussion of From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the National Police Historical Archive, a report on the Guatemalan National Police archive and the efforts by Guatemalan citizens to use it to overcome decades of silence and impunity over human rights abuses. Carlos Aguirre, professor of history at the UO, wrote the foreword to and edited the English version of the report, which is available digitally from the UO Libraries at

The panel session will explore the history and importance of the archives and the From Silence to Memory report in the context of the human rights movement. Stephanie Wood (University of Oregon) will chair the panel, with Jean Franco (Columbia University), Alberto Fuentes and Gustavo Meoño (National Police Historical Archive, Guatemala), and Kent Norsworthy (University of Texas, Austin) serving as panelists.

At 4 p.m. in the Browsing Room, Trudy Peterson, consulting archivist and former Acting Archivist of the United States, will deliver a talk entitled “The Role of Archives in Strengthening Democracy and Promoting Human Rights.” Her presentation, which is part of the Philip H. Knight Dean of Libraries Distinguished Speaker Series, will explore how archives and archival material help individuals and societies deal with civic trauma caused by military actions and dictatorships. A reception will follow Peterson’s talk.

At 6 p.m. in 221 Allen Hall, a screening of the documentary film Keep Your Eyes On Guatemala by Gabriela Martínez, associate professor in the UO’s School of Journalism and Communication, will conclude the symposium. The film tells the story of the National Police archives and its intertwinement with the complexities of past human rights abuses, the dramatic effects the archives have had on specific individuals, and present-day efforts to preserve collective memories and bring justice and reconciliation to the country. The film features interviews with victims, relatives, human rights activists, lawyers, archivists, and forensic anthropologists whose combined efforts shed light on the tragic history of Guatemala but also offer hope for the future. The film trailer can be viewed at

All events are free and open to the public.

The symposium is made possible through support from the University of Oregon Libraries, Network Startup Resource Center, Latin American Studies Program, School of Journalism and Communication, College of Arts and Sciences, Oregon Humanities Center and Office of International Affairs.


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