Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj


Social anthropologist and international spokeswoman (Maya-K’iche’)
for indigenous cultures

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj is a social anthropologist and international spokeswoman who has been at the forefront of the struggles for respect for indigenous cultures. She formerly served as Executive Director of the Mecanismo de los Pueblos Indígenas Oxlajuj Tzikin (Support Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples), from 2005 through 2013.

Dr. Velásquez Nimatuj is the first Maya-K’iche’ woman to earn a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology, and she initiated the court case that made racial discrimination illegal in Guatemala. She has won numerous academic fellowships and awards for her journalism. She was a member of the Latin American Consulting Group of Indigenous Leaders for UNICEF, and participates through the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She also served as advisor on indigenous issues for the Latin American and Caribbean office of UN Women.

In addition, she possesses experience transmitting this knowledge to different collectives from a grassroots level to university students and the public. In recent years, she has taught at different public and private universities throughout the United States, notably The University of Texas at Austin, Duke University and currently Brown University. Her work has been accompanied by an intense struggle to connect, in as many ways as possible, the academic field with activism.

She writes a weekly newspaper column in elPeriódico de Guatemala, and through both her political and academic efforts seek to create viable and realistic ways to create equality for indigenous people.