Natasha Zaretsky, ph.d.

Cultural Anthropologist. Research interests include the politics of memory and human rights in Latin America; comparative genocide and Holocaust studies; undocumented migrants in the US;  Jewish diaspora in Argentina; post-Soviet Jewish community; and art and the public sphere in Cuba.


Images from fieldwork in Cuba and Argentina



WrITING and Research

Another ex-dictator passes in Latin America. Why this one matters.

April 4, 2018 [for Global Americans]

This week, Efraín Ríos Montt died from natural causes—a heart attack—at the age of 91, while living under house arrest in Guatemala City.  The former dictator ruled Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of their 1960-1996 civil war. Those years—1982-1983—marked just a short stretch of the war, but the extent of the state violence during those years is chilling.

Over 200,000 people were killed, over 80% of whom were indigenous Maya.  Over 400 villages were razed, completely destroyed.  And the Guatemalan military was found to be responsible for 93% of the killing and destruction. Indeed, the very word “war” feels like a misnomer; it has since been established that what took place in Guatemala was a genocide, meaning Ríos Montt’s death is not just significant for Guatemala, but for the Americas as a whole.

In the Land of Nunca Mas.jpg

In the Land of Nunca Más: Genocide, Human Rights and the Jewish Imaginary in Argentina 

May 17, 2018

Dartmouth College

This talk explores the legacy of “Nunca Más” (Never Again) in Argentina, the title of the truth commission report and a key emblem of the human rights movement that arose after the end of the brutal dictatorship in 1983. Specifically, I examine the idea of “nunca más” in relation to what I am calling the “Jewish imaginary”, asking how that very imaginary may have shaped civil society and human rights in Argentina.


MakING the University Great Again:

The Unintended Consequences of

Trump's Immigration Plans 

NOV. 21, 2016

[for Latin America Goes Global]

One week after Donald Trump was elected president, Washington Square filled with protesters staging a walkout from New York University (NYU), demanding that the university proclaim itself a “#SanctuaryCampus.”

As students and alumni circulate and sign petitions, these demands offer glimpses into how citizens are challenging one of the central tenets of the Trump campaign: protectionism and nativism that would build a wall and deport millions. Instead of challenging Trump directly, people are also turning to institutions and communities, such as their universities, to create spaces of protection against Trumpian immigration policy. This trend on campuses also echoes the announcements from major cities, such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco, to become sanctuary cities—local governments that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities seeking to deport migrants. It’s not a cost-free policy for these cities; their positions may very well bring a cut in federal aid under the Trump administration, yet the cities continue to argue for an inclusive vision that provides refuge for the most vulnerable.



Diaspora and Genocide

in the Americas

symposium - APril 4, 2017

On the Way (En Camino) intaglio, 60x40cms, 2001 (copyright  Mirta Kupferminc )

On the Way (En Camino) intaglio, 60x40cms, 2001 (copyright Mirta Kupferminc)

The twentieth century has been viewed as a century of genocide, periods of violent rupture that prompted waves of migration and exile from Europe to the Americas.  Yet, in their new nations, the survivors and their family members experienced periods of state violence, terror, and repression.  This symposium at Rutgers University invites scholars and practitioners working on the intersections of diaspora and genocide in the Americas to explore these questions through a multidisciplinary dialogue. (Co-organized by Emmanuel Kahan and Natasha Zaretsky)

Landscapes of Memory and Impunity chronicles the aftermath of the most significant terrorist attack in Argentina’s history—the 1994 AMIA bombing that killed eighty-five people, wounded hundreds, and destroyed the primary Jewish mutual aid society. This volume, edited by Annette H. Levine and Natasha Zaretsky, presents the first comprehensive, multidisciplinary work about this decisive turning point in Jewish Argentine history—examining the ongoing impact of this violence and the impunity that followed. Chapters explore political protest movements, musical performance, literature, and acts of commemoration.