I come from the Midwest, have a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan (1970-74) and a Ph.D in cultural anthropology from Stanford University (1985-1992).

My work in Latin America started out as part of the movement to study "up" rather than "down" in the social structure. The first book I wrote was about a controversial evangelical Protestant mission called the Summer Institute of Linguistics (Fishers of Men or Founders of Empire?, 1983). When the North American religious right became involved in the Reagan administration's Contra war in Nicaragua, I sensed that the Latin American left, as well as many Latin Americanists in the U.S., were failing to deal with the many issues posed by the rapid growth of evangelical churches. The result was Is Latin America Turning Protestant? (1990). Aside from identifying which parts of the evangelical movement were helping the Reagan administration prosecute its war against the Sandinistas, the book explored the wider problem of why evangelical churches have appealed to far more Latin Americans than has liberation theology. An edited volume published in 1993 and co-edited with Virginia Garrard Burnett, Rethinking Protestantism in Latin America, provides a range of assessments by other scholars.

Since 1987 I've been doing field research on political violence and the peace process in Guatemala. Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala (1993) started out as an ethnography of an area in northern Quiché Department that suffered heavily in the violence. Based on my interviews with survivors, I found it necessary to question the left's interpretation of the war, including assumptions that have been picked up by the human rights movement. Since 1993 I've been focusing on contradictions facing the human rights movement in this same region, how human rights imagery is generated, and how it affects local peacemaking. In terms of anthropology, my work involves debates over representation, authority and identity, as well as wider debates over political correctness, identity politics and ideologies of victimization. The most recent product of this research is Rigoberta Menchú and The Story of All Poor Guatemalans (1999).

My research has been supported by the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation, Stanford University, the National Science Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, the Organization of American States, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and Middlebury College, where I have been teaching since Fall 1997.