About me

utz wa lej
utz wa lej

I’m a Latin Americanist and cultural anthropologist with a Ph.D.  in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis.  My dissertation research, based on multi-sited ethnography in Guatemala, investigated the effects of new Mayan literacy practices on popular conceptions of history and identity.

I’m especially interested in historical memory activism, the movements for bringing war criminals to trial, and the ways in which younger generations of Guatemalans have become invested in social justice and confronting the difficult past, despite the lack of formal history education in schools.  Through sharing the results of my dissertation research, I hope to demonstrate some of the unique strengths of ethnography for studying collective memory.

In future research, I hope to engage in the emerging field of virtual/digital ethnography, and this blog serves as a foray into practicing the conventions of communication through social media. As an academic, I spend a lot of my time reading and writing; however, blogging requires a different set of literacy practices than the papers and articles I’m used to.

This blog is a tool with several intended uses:

  • to share and solicit ideas about anthropology, collective memory, and other research interests — including my own work as well as materials and resources that look useful for teaching purposes
  • to stay in contact with former students (at least, the ones who find anthropological musings interesting enough to subscribe!)
  • to build relationships and share knowledge in the ways that only ‘new media’ can enable
  • to share and solicit advice about academic workflow strategies — everything from cloud storage hacks to citation software preferences

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anthropological musings on life, workflow, & academia