Healing Cartographies: Body Mapping by Guatemalan Women Survivors of Genocide

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Virginia Tech


In this discussion, I examine the embodied transformative memory of GuateMaya feminist groups in Guatemala and in Los Angeles. Through a decolonial feminist perspective and feminist ethnographic approach, I built intimate relationships with the grassroots groups. This presentation will explore the multidimensional ways the groups create a transformative memory opposing Guatemala and U.S. states of what can be remembered and what can’t. The groups are committed to what I call cartographies of healing, weaving memory, movement, and embodied testimonios across settler-colonial borders. The groups honor loved ones' memory by installing public altars, photos, art, and poetry. The presentation will delve into the concept of cartographies of healing and the ethnographic work I employed from 2019 to 2023. A particular method I used was body mapping to examine the embodied transformative memory of the groups and women who seek justice. Body mapping has been used with HIV-positive patients and migrant children. Latin American feminist decolonial geographers (Cabnal 2010; Zaragocin 2020, GeoBrujas 2021) are using the method of body mapping as a decolonial, counter-cartographic perspective that highlights Indigenous peoples’ lived experiences. I use the method to explore the relationships between the body, memory, and healing from intergenerational trauma. Informed by decolonial feminists, I aim to center the testimonios of GuateMaya feminist groups and be guided by a body-mind-spirit perspective to amplify the concerns, visions, and futures of GuateMaya groups across the hemisphere.



Gender, Human rights, Healing, Guatemala