Dr Julie Gibbings

Senior Lecturer; Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Background

I am a historian of Modern Latin America and Indigenous histories of the Americas more broadly. My research examines histories of social struggles over the geographic knowledges, political modernities, and racial inequalities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly in Guatemala. Before arriving in Edinburgh, I was a faculty fellow at Yale University's Agrarian Studies Program and taught at the University of Manitoba (Canada).

I was born and raised in the western Canadian prairies as a settler in Treaty 4 territory of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda, and the homeland of the Métis/Michif Nation. I completed my doctoral studies in History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

At Edinburgh, I am the Director Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and a Senior Lecturer in the History of the Americas.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History

Undergraduate teaching

Indigenous Peoples and Revolution in Modern Latin America

Cartography, Territory, and Indigeneity

Postgraduate teaching

Narrating Native Histories

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

Areas accepting Research Students in:

I am currently accepting students interested in Modern Latin America (19th and 20th centuries), and would supervise a wide-range of topics including indigenous histories as well as histories of labour and capitalism, race and racism, as well as histories of cartography and political violence in Latin America. Please feel free to contact me to discuss a proposed topic.

Research summary

Places: 

  • Latin America

Themes: 

  • Culture
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Medicine, Science & Technology
  • Politics
  • War

Periods: 

  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Current research interests

I am a historian of Modern Latin America, and the indigenous Americas more broadly. My transdisciplinary research centres on the nexus of race, gender, and class exclusions, especially the experiences of Indigenous peoples and the histories of science and technology. I am currently researching the history of Indigenous and state cartographic technologies and knowledges in Cold War Guatemala. I am the PI on an AHRC funded grant "Komon Sajb’ichil for Ixil Cartographies during the Cold War: Knowledge Exchange for Intergenerational Justice." This is an interdisciplinary and collaborative research project with Ixil University and the Ancestral Authorities, with postdoctoral fellow Dr. Alejandro Flores and Co-I Feliciana Sitpo'p Herrera. Our research is modelled on the lxil practice of Komon Sajb’ichil (New Dawn through Community). The Komon Sajb’ichil is a communal ritual that begins every spring, when it is time to plant a new field of maize. Upon the request of an Ixil family, the entire community works in rotation through the night to complete ancestral ceremonies until the sajb’ichal (new dawn), when the whole community awakens to plant corn. This is a communal labour rooted in Maya principles of solidarity and reciprocity to cultivate a new beginning and ensure prosperity for all. Grounded in the theory and method of Komon Sajb’ichil, our collaborative research project seeks to remember Ixil cartographies––the ways they navigated, understood, and represented places––in the midst of insurrection, state terror, exile, and refuge, to prepare for a new future. More recently, I was also awarded an AHRC fellowship for my allied project "Cold War Cartographies: Geographic Knowledge and Technology during the Guatemalan Civil War (1945-1996)." In this project, I examine the history of state and non-state geographic knowledge and technologies during the Latin American Cold War in Guatemala, and the role these knowledges played in both counter-insurgency terror and megadevelopment. My writing has received awards including the James Alexander Robertson prize and the German History Society Best Article Prize.

Past research interests

My first book manuscript, Our Time is Now: Race and Modernity in Postcolonial Guatemala (Cambridge University Press, 2020) analyzes how historical time itself was at the center of political struggles over the meaning of modernity among diverse actors ranging from Q'eqchi' Mayas to German settlers and their mixed-race offspring. In highlighting the many meanings and potency of time, this book also disrupts linear historical narratives and modern notions of human agency and causation. I also recently edited (with Heather Vrana, University of Florida), Out of the Shadow: Revisiting the Revolution from Post-Peace Guatemala (University of Texas Press, 2020), which centers on Guatemala's revolution of 1944-54, one of the most important events in Latin American history. Showcasing cutting edge new research by senior and junior scholars from the global north and south, this edited volume sheds new light on the many revolutions that were fought over during Guatemala's "Ten Years of Spring" and their enduring legacies.