Past Features

April 6, 2009 (Vol. 9, No. 6)

Lehman Professor Wins 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship

Victoria Sanford
Professor Victoria Sanford

Lehman Anthropology Professor Victoria Sanford is one of six CUNY professors to win the esteemed 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. The 85th annual competition recognized 180 out of 3,000 applicants from the U.S. and Canada for their "stellar achievement and exceptional promise for continued accomplishment." Results of the competition were announced on April 9.

Professor Sanford joins several Lehman faculty members who have been recipients of this honor, including Distinguished Professors Billy Collins, who is a former U.S. Poet Laureate, and John Corigliano, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Academy Award, and three Grammys.

Professor Sanford will use the award to work on her new book, The Land of Pale Hands, which will examine post-conflict violence, social cleansing, and feminicide in Guatemala. A human rights activist and scholar, she focuses her research on collective memory, community reconstruction, human rights and international humanitarian law during internal armed conflicts. She has conducted extensive field research with Maya communities in Guatemala and Colombia, and with indigenous peace communities in Colombia, as well as with refugee communities in Ecuador.

"It's an honor to receive this award, and it is wonderful to have the support of Lehman College and the community in order to make the most of the opportunity to write this book," said Professor Sanford. "I am thrilled that the Guggenheim Foundation recognizes the importance of this kind of work in Guatemala." She added that she would like her work to increase the possibility of national and international justice for war criminals who have committed crimes against humanity and continue to act with impunity.

"We are extraordinarily proud of Professor Sanford's award, which she has earned for her outstanding work in the area of human rights and genocide studies," said Lehman Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Papazian. "She represents the excellence that has long characterized Lehman's faculty, and her work is a natural extension of Lehman's most cherished values and traditions."

The author of Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala and Violencia Y Genocidio en Guatemala, Professor Sanford received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and has worked with Central American refugees since 1986, when she founded and directed a refugee legal services project representing Central American asylum seekers. She has been a Fulbright Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute on Violence and Survival at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and has received a Bunting Peace Fellowship from Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, a U.S. Institute For Peace grant, a Rockefeller Fellowship for research on violence, a MacArthur Consortium Fellowship, and an Early Career Award of the Peace Society of the American Psychological Association.

Visit her website to learn more about her work.

Hear an interview about her work, conducted in 2008 with Lehman senior Jenniffer Efthymious.

Hear Professor Sanford's reaction to the Guggenheim Award and her plans for further research.