Unearthing Truth: Forensic Anthropology, Translocal Memory, and “Provention” in Guatemala

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Unearthing Truth: Forensic Anthropology, Translocal Memory, and “Provention” in Guatemala


  • Colette G. Mazzucelli Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University, USA
  • Dylan Heyden Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University, USA


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Abstract:  This article deliberately examines the search for truth after decades of conflict in Guatemala. Excavations of mass gravesites and the painstaking exhumation processes carried out by professional forensic anthropology teams continue to allow families to locate lost relatives—reclaiming truth and supporting calls for justice. For Guatemalans, the search for truth now transcends national borders, especially among migrant communities in the United States. The family remains the central unit through which the work of Guatemalan forensic anthropologists is undertaken. In an effort to engender deeper insights about these exhumation processes from a social science perspective, this analysis promotes the use of specific “tools” in Guatemalan forensic anthropology investigations. The first is an exhumations concept map, which yields important questions meant to stimulate meaningful analysis. The second, Story Maps, is a technology application with the potential to mediate digital access to the emerging Guatemalan translocal space. The research in this analysis suggests that these “tools” strengthen Burton’s notion of “provention” in Guatemala.

Keywords:  forensic anthropology; Guatemala; provention; Story Maps; transitional justice

Published:   27 October 2015


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v3i3.451


© Colette Grace Mazzucelli, Dylan Heyden. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.