About

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. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading human rights research and advocacy organization.

The Ojo que Llora memorial to victims of the Peruvian armed conflict.

Dr. Burt has published widely on political violence, state-society relations, democratization, human rights and transitional justice in Latin America. Her early research on the Peruvian civil conflict analyzed the failure of democratic government to curb the Maoist-inspired Shining Path insurgency, and how Alberto Fujimori, a political outsider who was elected president in 1990, seized on that failure to construct an authoritarian regime that became one of the most corrupt regimes on the planet. 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, Dr. Burt’s research has focused on the ways postconflict societies confront demands for justice and accountability after atrocity. She has developed collaborative research and advocacy projects with international and national organizations in Latin America. She has served as an international trial monitor to several high-profile human rights trials in the region, including the 2007-2009 Fujimori trial in Peru and the 2013 Rios Montt genocide trial in Guatemala. She organized a series of international conferences and international delegations to observe these trials. (See Dossier Fujimori for project materials.)  She directed a two-year collaborative project with local partners to study comparative transitional justice policies in Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador, which resulted in the publication, Transitional Justice in the Aftermath of Civil Conflict: Lessons Learned from Peru, Guatemala and El Salvador. The project coordinated peer-to-peer exchanges with human rights litigators, representatives of victims’ organizations, prosecutors, and judges as well as training workshops. Currently, Dr. Burt researches and writes about war crimes prosecutions in Guatemala for International Justice Monitor, a project of Open Society Justice Initiative.

Dr. Burt has been awarded grants or 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 Inter-American Foundation, the Tinker Foundation, the Institute for the Study of World Politics, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, among others.

A Maya Ixil woman observes the genocide trial in Guatemala City, 2018.

Dr. Burt is an active member of professional associations including the International Studies Association, the Law and Society Association, and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). In 2016, she was elected to serve a two-year term on LASA’s Executive Council and chaired the Human Rights Committee. Dr. 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 (Volume 5, Chapter 2.16). 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, Dr. Burt was editor of NACLA Report on the America, the largest English-language publication on Latin America. She has served as an expert witness in human rights cases in courts in the United States, Peru, and before the Inter-American Court for Human Rights.

In 2006, Dr. Burt was a Fulbright Scholar at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). In 2010, she returned to the PUCP as the “Alberto Flores Galindo Visiting Professor” at the Department of Social Sciences and taught a course on comparative transitional justice processes. In 2011, the Government of Peru recognized Dr. Burt with the Award in Merit, in the Grade of Grand Official, for Distinguished Service in Defense of Democracy, Rule of Law, and the Promotion of Human Rights in Peru. Her 2016 article, “From heaven to hell in ten days: The Guatemala genocide trial”, published in the Journal of Genocide Research, received the Best Academic Article award from the Recent History Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

Dr. 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, Time, BBC World, CNN, PRI’s The World, PRI’s The Takeaway, NPR’s  All Things Considered  and Morning Edition, The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, El País, Proceso (Mexico), and Pacifica Radio, as well as print and electronic media in several Latin American countries. She has published articles in The Nation, The Progressive, NACLA Report on the Americas, The Huffington Post, Truth-Out, Foreign Policy in Focus, Open Democracy, and in international newspapers such as El País (Spain), La República (Peru), El Comercio (Peru), Diario 16 (Peru), and Plaza Pública (Guatemala), among others.

Dr. Burt received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University in 1999.