The Forensic Academy (FA) is a project created by Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala in partnership with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR). The FA is a training program intended to educate and empower South-based activists and practitioners who work in the field of enforced disappearances. The training consists of an online self-paced program and in-person capacity-building workshops in Guatemala and Rwanda, where participants gain direct experience in applying forensic anthropology, archaeology, and genetics to identify the remains of people who are victims of political conflict and return them to their families, with a strong focus on developing participatory and holistic interventions.
This report contains the results of a research study conducted by CSVR to evaluate the strengths and limitations of the FA to inform future academies. Data for the research study was collected through focus groups with participants and mentors of past FAs, interviews with CSVR, who facilitated the FAs, and project documents including reports, evaluations, and participant project proposals.
The research study found that the FA has had a significant impact on the participants and facilitators of the project. Participants emphasized the value of the practical skills they learned through the workshops, as well as the meaningful interactions they had with the families of the disappeared. In reviewing the data, five core themes were found throughout: hope, connection and humanization, justice, mental health and psychosocial support, and logistical and structural challenges.
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