Latin American Studies Professor to Deliver Fenwick Fellow Lecture

Posted: April 24, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

Jo-Marie Burt
Jo-Marie Burt
Photo by Evan Cantwell

Jo-Marie Burt, assistant professor of government in the Department of Public and International Affairs, this week will deliver the Fenwick Fellow lecture, titled “Settling Accounts with Torturers: Seeking Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in Postwar Peru.”

Burt’s presentation will be held on Wednesday, April 26, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Johnson Center Library Instruction Room.

Burt is the 2004-05 recipient of the Fenwick Fellowship, which is awarded to one or two faculty members each academic year. The fellows research a project that advances knowledge and utilizes the University Libraries’ resources. The program gives recipients a furnished office in the Fenwick Library on the Fairfax Campus and an award of $1,800.

“I’ve been doing research on Peru for 15 to 20 years,” says Burt, who teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level classes on Latin America. She initially went to Peru in 1986 for independent research after she received her BA. She lived there for two years and returned to live in 1989 and 1992-95.

“I was always interested in human rights in general,” says Burt. Much of her research to be presented next week deals with Shining Path, a Maoist insurgent group that was active through much of Burt’s stay in Peru. “I was interested in how Shining Path interacts with poor people in urban areas.”

Burt’s presentation will also cover truth commissions in Peru. Truth commissions are government-sanctioned and aim to document events during a particular period. Burt says truth commissions often serve as an alternative to the judiciary. “Holding human rights violators accountable is problematic…an alternative is a truth commission. It will document what happened.”

One of the goals of Burt’s research and presentation is to inform individuals about Peru’s violent past. “I wanted to do something that makes people aware of the atrocities in Peru.”

Burt received her BA from the College of Holy Cross, and her MA, MPhil and PhD from Columbia University.

For more information, contact Kelly Jordan at or 703-993-3712.

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