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Editors’ Introduction


This special section focuses on genocide and related mass violence in Latin America. Clearly there is a long history of genocide of indigenous peoples, from the arrival of Columbus and other conquerors to the present day. Perpetrated first by European colonial powers, particularly Spain and Portugal, genocidal activities continued in postcolonial settler states following the revolutions of the nineteenth century. Government shifted from Europe to local Euro-American, as well as in some cases indigenous, elites, who shared economic and thus political power with imperialist international actors—including, in many cases, the United States and some of its large corporations. Human-rights abuses continued. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Cold War–era National Security Doctrine, as well as state- specific tensions and agendas, played out in various Latin American contexts in a new round of repression, genocide, and other forms of mass violence. The Guate- malan Genocide of the 1980s and systematic killings and general military repression under dictatorships in Chile and Argentina in the 1970s and 1980s are perhaps the best-known cases, but others abound.