Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Latin American Studies


Steven Volk


History education, Post-conflict Guatemala, Education reform, History curriculum, Role of teachers


Between 1960 and 1996 Guatemala experienced a horrific civil war and genocide that left the country divided. In the years after the conclusion of this war, Guatemala's history of conflict has remained the subject of intense debate, particularly among those who hold political and social power. To consolidate the narrative of the civil war and its causes, the government passed a series of education reforms that highlighted the importance of social studies education for building a new and peaceful nation. This study examines the impact of the education reforms on Guatemalan schools using historical scholarship and ethnographic research. Based upon personal observations of three high school, social studies classrooms in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, this study finds that despite political efforts to silence Guatemala's histories of war and inequality, social studies teachers do, in fact, teach these contentious histories in subtle and sometimes unexpected ways. In these moments, the social studies classroom becomes as a space for teachers to insert their own voice and perspective into dominant narratives of the past, thereby bringing the "past" into the "present."