• “Inglorious and Unchained: Thoughts on the Impossiblity of Justice”

    I have been engaged in a lively discussion about Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, “Django Unchained.”   Writing a piece, but here is a glimpse

    I had a different reaction to “Inglorious Basterds” than did some of my friends, and I did see “Django.” It is intriguing to me that Tarantino has now written and directed films about two of the most notorious expressions of atrocity: the Holocaust, and slavery in the US. In the first film, that enduring question of “why did the Jewish people go like lambs to the slaughter” was broached. The film uses fiction to stage a revenge for historical grievances. Transitional justice goes outside liberal frameworks? Understands the lex talionis that may fuel fire in many bellies? In Django, the hideous plantation owner played by Leonardo Di Caprio addresses the submission question, falling back on the same sort of phrenology explanations that drove the Eugenics movement and ideas of Aryan superiority. We see both “Hollywood violence” — ketchup-coated scenes that produced laughter in the audience I was with — and scenes involving the whipping, torture and branding of slaves. The audience was silenced, some covering their faces with their hands, others watching and not moving one bit. The difference was stark, painful, and deeply moving. The white plantation owners played by Don Johnson and Di Caprio did not seem distanced by time, but reminded me of several Republican candidates in 2012. Indeed, on the way to the cinema — I kid you not — we passed by a car stalled on the side of the road, windows festooned with the Confederate flag in flames. So we have untidy legacies, open-endings, and a director who throws it in our collective faces. I did not feel that Tarantino banalized either atrocity; rather, he brings in an audience who will not necessarily read about either historical horror, insists on the Primo Levian grey zone, and makes the audiences sit there and contemplate a how one human being can look at another like (again resorting to Primo Levi) a creature on the other side of thick glass. Bravo to Quentin.

  • “Past Imperfect: Talking about Justice with Former Combatants in Colombia,” forthcoming


    This article is forthcoming in Legacies of Violence, Alexander Hinton and Devon Hinton, eds. Duke University Press.

  • “Reconstructing Masculinities: The Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration of Former Combatants in Colombia”


  • More information about the forced sterilizations in Peru

    I have spoken with women who were subjected to these sterilizations, as well as nurses and doctors who participated in the “Ferias de AQV,” referring to sterilizations done in a group setting.  I will be posting more articles on this important issue.  These human rights violations are not included in Peru’s Integral Reparations Plan.

    A question to ponder: Why have these documented cases of forced sterilization, carried out by the Peruvian government via the Ministry of Health (MINSA) not resulted in genocide charges?


  • Vijay Prashad: Deaths of children that don’t make the news

    Powerful op-ed, and certainly the international aspect of this issue has haunted me since the shootings in Connecticut. I lament the hierarchy of value in which some lives “matter more” than others. I abhor the armed violence our government exports across the globe. There is also the shameful role the US plays as the number one arms merchant in the world. Drone attacks justified on abhorrent ethics reflect the bankruptcy of audit culture. Perhaps if we can find a way to point to the common threads that unite these various manifestations of militarization, ethnic and racial discrimination, the weapons industry and the politicians that vote wrong on these issues time and again, then perhaps we can more effectively channel the grief and outrage we all feel at present.


  • Denouncing the use of torture by the US government


    For more information and a searing collection of testimonies, see


  • Short video about sexual violence and reparations in Peru

    It is vitally important to continue drawing attention to the issue of reparations for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in Peru — both women and men.  The Victim Registry (RUV) is under-funded and under-staffed.  Videos such as this one, produced by COMISEDH, are one step. I advocate short “spots”  on the television and radio as well, directed not only to women (who habitually bear the narrative burden for sexual violence) but to the broader society. The spots could include a few questions: Where are the men who committed these violations?  What were they told to do by their superiors? Have they ever spoken with anyone about the sexual violence they committed? The sexual violence they suffered themselves?

    Let’s make this issue one everyone shares, not just the women who survived these brutal actions.

  • Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays….

  • Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru