Amanda Grzyb's primary teaching and research interests include state violence, Holocaust and genocide studies, media and the public interest, social movements, memorials and commemoration processes, homelessness, and social justice. Her publications and community-based research focus on El Salvador, Rwanda, Nazi-occupied Europe, the United States, and Sudan. Since receiving tenure at Western in 2013, Dr. Grzyb has increasingly oriented her work toward collaborative projects with survivors of state violence, participatory and anti-colonial methodologies, and community partnerships that combine scholarly research with public and accessible dissemination outcomes (such as exhibitions, community reports, popular books, workshops, and public presentations). She is currently the coordinator of "Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador," an international network committed to documenting the history of the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992). The network's SSHRC-funded projects include partnerships with Asociación Sumpul; Comité de Memoria Historica Sobreviviente Arcatao; CRIPDES; CORDES (Chalatenango); CCR; FutureWatch; ASISAM; SalvAide; the municipalities of San José Las Flores, Nueva Trinidad, Arcatao, Las Vueltas, and Suchitoto; Dr. Harold Fallon; Dr. Arlene MacDougall, Dr. Emily Ansari, Dr. Feipe Quintanilla; Dr. Ulises Unda Lara; Evelia Macal; Reynaldo Hernández; Pedro Cabezas; Dorothee Molders; Giada Ferrucci; Beatriz Juárez; Jaime Brenes Reyes; Juan Bello; Dr. Katrina Fenicky; Ronit Jinich; Alfredo Marroquín; Luis Jaimes-Dominguez; Fatima Perez; and Maria Laura Flores Barba. Dr. Grzyb is an affiliate faculty member at Western's Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, Western's Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research, and Western's Africa Institute. She completed her Ph.D. in English at Duke University in 2007, where her training focused on African-American Literature, Theory and Criticism, and Holocaust Studies. She wrote her dissertation on literary and cultural representations of American homelessness under the supervision of Professor Houston A. Baker, Jr. She also has an M.A. in English from Duke, an M.A. in Theory and Criticism from Western University, and a B.A. in Combined Honours English and Philosophy from Western University.
Dr. Grzyb has received multiple teaching awards throughout her career, including Western's Marilyn Robinson Award for Excellence in Teaching (2012), the FIMS Award for Teaching Excellence (2012), the FIMS Award for Teaching Excellence by Part-Time Instructor (2006); Duke University's Stephen Horne Graduate Instructor Teaching Award (1999); and Western University's Teaching Assistant Excellence Award (1995-1996). She has taught 5 field courses in Poland focused on the Holocaust, 2 field courses in Rwanda focused on the 1994 Rwandan genocide; and 3 field courses in El Salvador focused on environmental social movements. In 2019-2020, Dr. Grzyb is teaching the Media Studies M.A. and Ph.D. theory course, 9100A:Interdisciplinary Foundations of Media Theory; MIT 3901F: Activism and the Mainstream Media; MIT 3931G: Century of Genocide; and MIT 3953G: Environmental Crisis in El Salvador. The latter course includes a week long field research component in El Salvador during February Reading Week 2020, which includes meetings with environmental leaders and educators across the country. This will be the fourth iteration of the course, which Dr. Grzyb teaches in collaboration with environmental leader, Pedro Cabezas, and our partners at CRIPDES - The Association for the Development of El Salvador in San Salvador.
SURVIVING MEMORY IN POSTWAR EL SALVADOR:
Dr. Grzyb is the coordinator of "Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador," an international network of survivors, scholars, community leaders, artists, filmmakers, musicians, mental health practitioners, architects, and civil society organizations committed to documenting the history of the Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992). The network's collaborative projects include community-based research and documentation, the design and construction of memorials that commemorate civil war massacres, documentary films, mapping initiatives, community books, photo and art installations, mental health interventions, graduate student training, and undergraduate field courses in El Salvador. The contributing members include nationals of El Salvador, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, England, Italy, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Mexico, Venezuela, and the United States. For the network's members, recovering wartime narratives means working in solidarity with Salvadorans, reconstructing history from the bottom-up, supporting intergenerational education, and using participatory methodologies. All of their projects are developed collaboratively to meet the needs of Salvadoran communities and seek justice and dignity for victims and survivors. In 2018, Western University awarded the "Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador" network its Humanitarian Award.
At the present time, the "Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador" network is primarily focused on a community-based research collaboration with Asociación Sumpul (Asociación de Sobrevivientes de la Masacre del Sumpul y Las Otras Masacres de Chalatenango -- Association of Survivors of the Sumpul Massacre and Other Massacres of Chalatenango). Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2018-2021), this collaboration involves the documentation and commemoration of state-sponsored massacres in the department of Chalatenango, El Salvador. In addition to strengthening the international partnership and building capacity for Asociación Sumpul, the project's primary objectives include: 1. the architectural designs for the Las Aradas Memorial Park at the site of the 1980 Sumpul Massacre, produced in collaboration with the community of survivors and led by Asociación Sumpul and Belgian/Dutch/Salvadoran architects, Dr. Harold Fallon, Evelia Macal, Roberto Urbina, and Thomas Montulet; 2. the development of an online interactive map of 60+ community-identified wartime massacres across the department of Chalatenango, led by Asociación Sumpul, Dr. Grzyb, and an interdisciplinary research team from Western University; 3. planning a national conference and commemoration in Chalatenango for the 40th anniversary of the Sumpul Massacre in May 2020.
The network's other projects include: collaborative research on civil war music and the development of a music archive, led by Dr. Emily Ansari (Music History, Western University); a short documentary film, Norberto Amaya [Songwriter], made in collaboration with filmmaker Juan Bello (Triana Media), Dr. Grzyb, Dr. Ansari, and Norberto Amaya; the ongoing development of community-based mental health interventions for civil war survivors, led by Dr. Arlene MacDougall (Schulich School of Medicine, Western University), Dr. Katrina Fenicky (Psychiatry Resident, London Health Sciences Centre), and Ronit Jinich (Lead Facilitator, Mindfulness Without Borders); the “Memorias Submergida/Submerged Memories” oral history project, led by Dr. Felipe Quetzalcoatl Quintanilla (Hispanic Studies, Western University) and the Association of Tereseńos, which focuses on memories of the history of the community of Santa Teresa de Potonico that was destroyed by a dam project in Chalatenango in the 1970s; and photo exhibitions and refugee memory conversatorios/workshops in repopulated communities of El Salvador, including Las Vueltas (2019), Sitio Cenícero (2018), and Copapayo (2018).
Prior to the formal establishment of the “Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador” network, Dr. Grzyb and a team of researchers from Western worked in collaboration with the Municipality of Suchitoto, Dr. Molly Todd (Montana State University), Angelita Velasquez, Reynaldo Hernández, Alfredo Marroquín (Executive Director of SalvAide), Dr. Emily Ansari (Western University) and the late Dr. Meyer Brownstone (former Director of Oxfam Canada) to organize a pilot photo exhibition and refugee memory workshops in the community of Milingo in January 2017. Inspired by Dr. Brownstone's photos of the Salvadoran refugee camps in Honduras in the 1980s, the pilot project was funded by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2016-2018), Montana State University, and Western University. The idea for the pilot project was jointly developed by Dr. Grzyb, Rosa Rivera Rivera (Arcatao’s Historical Memory Committee), and Dr. Todd in Arcatao, El Salvador in November 2015. A community photobook, Memoria Viva: : Fotografias y Testimonios Sobre la Vida en La Virtud y Mesa Grande, 1980-1992 / Photographs and Testimonies About Life in La Virtud and Mesa Grande, 1980-1992 (San Salvador: Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, forthcoming 2019), is a major outcome of this project.
Selected media coverage of the network's activities: “Víctimas de massacres buscan impulsar Turismo histórico en El Salvador,” Inter Press Service (August 2017); “Mapping memories nets team Humanitarian Award,” Western News (November 2018); “London researchers want to recover El Salvador’s forgotten past,” CBC News (August 2018); “Con fotos, mapas y música, Proyecto canadiense busca recuperar memoria de sobrevivientes de masacres en El Salvador,” Radio Canadá Internacional (April 2019); “Equipo multidisciplinario internacional en pro de la “Memoria Histórica” salvadoreña,” Diario Co Latino (May 2019); “A call for solidarity: Survivors of the 1980 Sumpul River Massacre in El Salvador inch closer to justice,” The X FM (February 2018);
For a full list of partners and network members, please see the “Surviving Memory in Postwar El Salvador” website.
BY CHANCE ALONE:
From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Grzyb worked closely with Holocaust survivor, Max Eisen, to support the completion of his Holocaust memoir, By Chance Alone (HarperCollins 2016). The memoir was one of five finalists for the 2017 Taylor Award for non-fiction and was the winner of the CBC Canada Reads competition in 2019. In addition to editing all of the draft chapters, Dr. Grzyb also wrote the historical Afterword.
Dr. Grzyb maintains a strong record of service and she is committed to the preservation of collegial university governance at Western. She has served for many years as an elected Senator in Western University's Senate, where she actively engages in discussions and debates on the senate floor. She is a long-serving Board member, Steward, and Communications Committee member for the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA), and she is currently one of UWOFA's trustees on the CAUT Defence Fund. She is the Chair of Western's Academics Without Borders Committee, and a long-serving member (and past Chair) of Western's Rhodes Scholarship Review Committee. She has served on the Advisory Board of the Africa Institute, as well as many other university-level and faculty-level program and ad hoc committees.
Outside of Western, Dr. Grzyb has served on the advisory board of Canada's National Task Force for Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (2009-2012). From 1997 to 2001, she was director of a summer program for children living in New York City Homeless shelters, an experience that continues to impact her understanding of the world. She has also served on the board of directors at Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness in London since 2005, and held the position of board chair from 2012-2016 and co-chair from 2019-present. She served as an international federal election observer in El Salvador in 2014 and as an international observer at two municipal popular consultations on metallic mining in El Salvador: Arcatao (November 2015) and Cinquera (February 2017). In June 2019, she joined a small research team (including Dr. Ainhoa Montoya, Dr. Michael Berghoeff, Dr. Bernie Hammond, and Pedro Cabezas) in Honduras to investigate government repression and human rights abuses against farmers and environmental activists in the Tocoa region.