I'm a historian of Latin America, specializing in the social and political history of modern Panamá. I've been interested in the processes that create and change people's inner worlds, including the ways in which institutions keep people in line. I write both fiction and history, and I'm fascinated with formal experimentation, as well as with the possibility that a combination of forms of writing offers.
My dissertation, under contract with Chicago University Press, is an eccentric experiment in form and content. The work combines fictional and historical parts as it tackles three historical subjects in modern Panamá. It looks at the first years of the penal colony on the Island of Coiba (1919-1935); The rise to power of Police Chief José Antonio Remón, his presidency and assassination, and the legal turmoil that followed it (1947-58); and the work and "disappearance" of radical Father Héctor Gallego in the mountains of Veraguas (1966-71). The dissertation concentrates on the ways forms of writing, and the formal aspects of social action, have contributed to the establishment of discipline or to its undoing.
My main fields of interest are crime, law and punishment in Latin America, Liberation Theology, The Cold War, peasant studies, and the philosophy of history.
Before coming to Harvard, I completed a Ph.D. at Yale; earlier, I did an MA at Tel-Aviv University and a BA (hons.) at the University of British Columbia.
Feel free to contact me: vierba at fas.harvard.edu