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Jo-Marie Burt is associate professor of political science and Latin American studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. At Mason, she has served as director of Latin American studies, co-director of the Center for Global Studies, and associate chair for undergraduate studies. She is an affiliate faculty in global affairs, Latin American studies, conflict analysis and resolution, and women and gender studies. Burt is also a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading human rights research and advocacy organization.
Burt has published widely on political violence, state-society relations, human rights and transitional justice in Latin America. Her early research focused on state and insurgent violence in Peru, and civil society responses to violence and violent actors. This was the subject of her 2007 book, Silencing Civil Society: Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru (Palgrave), which received an honorable mention for the WOLA-Duke Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America, and which was published in Spanish as Violencia y Autoritarismo en el Perú: Bajo la sombra de Sendero y la dictadura de Fujimori (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2009; 2nd expanded edition, 2011). She is also co-editor of Politics in the Andes: Identity, Conflict, Reform (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004).
In recent years, Burt’s research has focused on the ways post-conflict societies confront demands for justice and accountability after atrocity. She engaged in research and advocacy in close collaboration with local human rights organizations in relation to several high-profile human rights trials in Latin America, including the 2009 trial of the former president of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, and the 2013 genocide trial of former dictator of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt. She organized international observation missions to these trials, prepared public reports on ongoing developments, and advocated on behalf of the rights of victims to access justice in these and other cases. As a research consultant for Open Society Justice Initiative, she writes about war crimes prosecutions in Guatemala for International Justice Monitor. She also is part of a collaborative, Verdad y Justicia en Guatemala, that publishes reports on war crimes trials in Guatemala on social media in Spanish.
Between 2002 and 2003, Burt was a member of the regional studies research team of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and her report on Villa El Salvador was incorporated into the Commission’s 2003 Final Report. In 2006, she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. In 2010, she was named the Alberto Flores Galindo Visiting Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
Burt has been an expert witness in several cases of human rights violations before the National Criminal Court of Peru, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and in immigration courts in the United States involving both asylum cases and cases of suspected war criminals who face extradition or deportation proceedings from the United States. In 2011, the Government of Peru recognized her with the Award in Merit, in the Grade of Grand Official, for Distinguished Service in Defense of Democracy, Rule of Law, and Human Rights in Peru.
Burt has received grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the United States Institute of Peace, the Aspen Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, the Latin American Studies Association Otros Saberes Initiative, the Tinker Foundation, the Institute for the Study of World Politics, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, among others.
Burt is an active member of professional associations including the International Studies Association (ISA), the Law and Society Association, and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). She was appointed as one of the program co-chairs for the LASA Congress for 2020, scheduled to be held in Guadalajara, Mexico. She was elected to serve a two-year term on LASA’s Executive Council from 2016-18, and served as co-chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Human Rights from 2016-19. She is a member of the international advisory boards of the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) and the Luz Ibarburu Human Rights Observatorio in Uruguay. Between 1995 and 2000, Burt was editor of NACLA Report on the America, the largest English-language publication on Latin America.
Burt has commented frequently on Latin American politics for various national and international news media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, Forbes, Time, BBC World, CNN, the Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, El País, PRI’s The World, PRI’s The Takeaway, NPR’s Morning Edition, McClatchey, Pacifica Radio as well as print and electronic media in several Latin American countries. She has published articles in The Nation, the Huffington Post, Truth-Out, Foreign Policy in Focus, Open Democracy, NACLA Report on the Americas, and in international newspapers such as El País (Spain), La República (Peru), El Comercio (Peru), Diario 16 (Peru), and Plaza Pública (Guatemala), among others. She has written op-eds for NPR, Americas Quarterly, the Huffington Post, Open Democracy, Al Jazeera, Animal Político (Mexico), La República (Peru), El Comercio (Peru), and El País (Spain) among others, as well as journalistic articles for NACLA Report, The Nation, The Progressive, TruthOut, and Foreign Policy in Perspective, among others.
Burt received her PhD in political science from Columbia University in 1999.
Areas of Research
- Comparative Politics
- Conflict Studies
- Genocide Studies
- Latin America
- Historical Memory
- Human Rights
- Qualitative Methods
- Political Violence
- State-Society Relations
- Transitional Justice