Jo-Marie Burt

Jo-Marie Burt

Jo-Marie Burt

Associate Professor

Comparative politics, Latin America, political violence, human rights, transitional justice

Jo-Marie Burt is associate professor of political science and Latin American Studies at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading human rights research and advocacy organization. Dr. Burt has published widely on political violence, human rights and transitional justice in Latin America.

Dr. Burt’s early research focused on state and insurgent violence in Peru, and civil society responses to violence and violent actors. This was the subject of her 2007 book, Silencing Civil Society: Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru (Palgrave), which received an Honorable Mention for the WOLA-Duke Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America, and which was published in Spanish as Violencia y Autoritarismo en el Perú: Bajo la sombra de Sendero y la dictadura de Fujimori (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2009; 2nd expanded edition, 2011). She is also co-editor of Politics in the Andes: Identity, Conflict, Reform (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004).

In recent years, Dr. Burt’s research has focused on the ways postconflict societies confront demands for justice and accountability after atrocity. She has engaged in research and advocacy in relation to several high-profile human rights trials in the region. For example, she reported on the 2009 Fujimori trial in Peru and the 2013 Rios Montt genocide trial in Guatemala, organized international observation missions to these trials, and advocated on behalf of the rights of victims to access justice in both instances. Currently, as a research consultant for Open Society Justice Initiative, she writes about war crimes prosecutions in Guatemala for International Justice Monitor.

Dr. Burt was a researcher for the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 2006, she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), and she returned the PUCP in 2010 as Alberto Flores Galindo Visiting Professor. An active member of professional associations including the International Studies Association, the Law and Society Association, and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), she was elected in 2016 to serve a two-year term on LASA’s Executive Council. Dr. Burt has received grants and fellowships from Open Society Foundations, the United States Institute of Peace, the Aspen Institute, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, the Latin American Studies Association Otros Saberes Initiative, the Tinker Foundation, the Institute for the Study of World Politics, and the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, among others.

Dr. Burt has served as an expert witness in human rights cases in courts in the United States, Peru, and before the Inter-American Court for Human Rights. She is a member of the international advisory boards of the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) and the Observatorio Luz Ibarburu, which monitors human rights prosecutions in Uruguay. Between 1995 and 2000, Dr. Burt was editor of NACLA Report on the America, the largest English-language publication on Latin America. In 2011, the Government of Peru recognized Dr. Burt with the Award in Merit, in the Grade of Grand Official, for Distinguished Service in Defense of Democracy, Rule of Law, and the Promotion of Human Rights in Peru.

Dr. Burt has commented frequently on Latin American politics for various national and international news media, including BBC World, CNN, The New York Times, Time, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera, Democracy Now, El País, Pacifica Radio as well as print and electronic media in several Latin American countries. She has published articles in The Nation, The Huffington Post, Truth-Out, Foreign Policy in Focus, Open Democracy, NACLA Report on the Americas, and in Latin American newspapers such as La República (Peru), El Comercio (Peru), Diario 16 (Peru), Plaza Pública (Guatemala), among others.

Selected Publications

Dr. Burt's research publications include:



Courses Taught


Latin American Government and Politics

Political Violence and Revolution in Latin America

Human Rights and Transitional Justice in Comparative Perspective

Power and Politics in the Andes

Latin American Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives


Comparative Politics Graduate Seminar

State-Society Relations in the Developing World

Politics and Society in Latin America


Ph.D. in Political Science, Columbia University, 1999

B.A. in Political Science, Magna Cum Laude, College of the Holy Cross, 1986

In the Media

In Guatemala, Victims Commemorate the Third Anniversary of the Genocide Verdict, The Huffington Post, May 18, 2016

Peru Elections 2016: Back to the Future?,  AULA-American University Latin America Blog, April 7, 2016

Guatemala Opens Landmark Sexual Violence Trial Against Former Military Officers, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) commentary, February 22, 2016

The Ghosts of Past Violence Haunt New President of Guatemala, The Huffington Post, January 17, 2016

Latin America’s Lesson for the U.S.: Prosecute the Torturers, The Nation, December 12, 2014 

A New Genocide Trial in Guatemala? The Huffington Post, December 30, 2014

Historic Verdict in Guatemala's Genocide Case Overturned by Forces of ImpunityNACLA Report on the Americas (Summer 2013)

The bones tell the story: The search for Peru's missing, Al Jazeera, March 30, 2013

Still waiting, [human rights prosecutions in Peru] e-misférica (an online journal of the Hemispheric Institute of performance and politics at New York University) 7:2 (2010). 

Peruvian Precedent: The Fujimori Conviction and the Ongoing Struggle for Justice, co-authored with Coletta Youngers, NACLA Report on the Americas 43:2 (March 2010).