From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala was engaged in a brutal civil war that left more than 200,000 people dead. For Richard Ashby Wilson, the two years he spent in the country during that turbulent period permanently changed the trajectory of his research career.
During the conflict, the Guatemalan military conducted a host of human rights violations, especially against Mayan citizens. Wilson traveled there in the 1980s to study Mayan ethnic and religious identity but soon shifted his focus to studying human rights violations in the context of armed conflict and its aftermath.
Now the Gladstein Distinguished Chair of Human Rights, Wilson has spent the last 30 years studying how societies deal with human rights violations with a focus on the legal processes used to address a legacy of mass atrocities.