I was trained as a historian of Latin America, and I wrote my dissertation on the social and political history of modern Panamá. More broadly, though, 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.
This year, I will be teaching a course on Buddhism and mindfulness, and the ways in which they have been appropriated in the West. I have been practicing various forms of Buddhist meditation for about a decade, and deepening my knowledge of Buddhist texts while doing so.
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.
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