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Claudia Chávez Argüelles

Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural/activist anthropology, University of Texas at Austin

Residency:September 2016 – December 2016
Past Residency:
September 2015 – May 2016

Research Project: Beyond Legal Truths: Impunity, Memory and Maya Alternative Justice After the Acteal Massacre  

Research Interests: legal and political anthropology; indigenous movements; human rights and access to justice; violence, trauma and memory


Claudia Chávez Argüelles is a Ph.D. candidate in sociocultural/activist anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, with a graduate portfolio in indigenous studies. She received a master’s degree in social anthropology from the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social and a law degree from the Instituto Tecnológico de México. As a Fulbright scholar, Chávez Argüelles’s fieldwork in Mexico was made possible through grants from the Social Science Research Council and the Wenner-Gren Foundation.

In her dissertation, Chávez Argüelles details the impunity among Maya survivors of the Acteal massacre in Chiapas, Mexico, primarily the ways the massacre has shaped survivors’ sensibilities and imaginaries of justice. Through a multi-sited ethnography, she traces the production and circulation of top-down narratives about this case in juxtaposition with the marginal trajectories of survivors’ testimonies toward embodied practices of memory. Departing from the legal construction of this massacre, her work examines the connections between delayed justice, institutional racism, counterinsurgency and the judicialization of politics in Mexico.