Student-Curated Exhibit Remembers Those Impacted by Guatemala’s “Dirty War”

An exhibit of Jonathan Moller’s photographs in Lutnick Library focuses on Guatemalan resistance, culture, and community amidst one of Central America’s most violent conflicts.

As hundreds of students pass through Lutnick Library this fall, a somber reminder of conflict in Central America has been greeting them. Our Culture is Our Resistance: Repression, Refuge, and Healing in Guatemala, a student-curated exhibit on view until Dec. 3, features 40 black-and-white images captured by photographer Jonathan Moller in the 1990s and early 2000s in Guatemala.

The images, which span six walls in the library, are drawn from Moller’s book of the same name, which gathers a collection of 147 portraits he made over the course of a decade in the country. The images, largely of indigenous Mayan peoples, and supporting texts focus on communities uprooted in the country’s “dirty war,” a civil conflict that raged for 36 years before its end in 1996. 

Moller visited campus on Friday, Nov. 17, for an exhibit opening talk, highlighting his work in Guatemala as well as Peru and Cuba. After the talk, community members enjoyed pupusas and tamales sponsored by the interdisciplinary Latin American, Iberian, and Latinx Studies program.

Photographer Jonathan Moller discusses his work during his Nov. 17 visit to campus. Photo by Sumita Lacey ’26.

This exhibit, which has toured the U.S. for the past 20 years, came to Haverford with the help of Associate Professor of Spanish Ariana Huberman. Huberman, who is also the faculty director for Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC), was initially contacted by Moller and immediately sought out students who would be interested in curating the exhibit. 

She recruited Thaiana Zandona ’26, an international student from Brazil, who completed a CPGC internship this summer with Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, a nonprofit Guatemalan advocacy organization. Huberman also asked Lucy Corrie-Tannen ’26, who was enrolled in her “Writing the Jewish Trajectories in Latin America,” class last spring. Jorge Paz Reyes ’24, an international student from Honduras who is focusing his senior thesis on Central America, was the third student Professor Huberman reached out to.

For Paz Reyes, the exhibit fits in perfectly with the ideas he was already exploring. “I was trying to bring more Central American representation to campus,” he says. “I thought it was really interesting, the idea of an exhibit on the civil war [in Guatemala] and the treatment of indigenous communities. So, when Professor Ariana told me, I jumped in.”

Students worked with Sarah Horowitz, curator of rare books and manuscripts and head of Haverford’s Quaker and special collections, and Library Conservator Bruce Bumbarger, to secure the exhibit space. The curatorial team also secured funding from multiple offices, including Haverford’s Libraries, CPGC, VCAM, and the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.

In addition to Guatemala, Moller has published books on Peru’s internal conflict and youth in Cuba. More recently, his 2021 book covers the Black Lives Matter movement through photographs from Denver, Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

While the exhibit will close in early December, Paz Reyes is confident this will not be the end of Central American representation in Lutnick. “I hope in the future there are more projects that showcase the Central American identity,” he says.