Paula Cuellar Cuellar

CFD Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies

Paula Cuellar Cuellar is a CFD Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies. Her doctorate from the University of Minnesota is in history major and human rights minor. Specifically, she focuses on modern and contemporary history of Latin America, as well as in violence perpetrated in the region during the 20th and 21st centuries. In addition, she holds a Law degree from the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas,” an LL.M. in International Human Rights from the University of Notre Dame, an Ms.C. in Human Rights and Peace Studies from the University of El Salvador, and a postgraduate diploma in Human Rights and Democratization Processes from the University of Chile.

Her dissertation is on sexual violations committed by the security forces and the insurgency against women and girls during the Salvadoran armed conflict. In addition, she studies post conflict societies in Latin America and its transitions to democracy, focusing primarily on the right to truth and truth commissions from a gender perspective. Also, she investigates disappearances in Mexico and Central America, predominantly concentrating on how disappearances affect the economic and social rights of the relatives of those disappeared. Finally, she analyses genocide in Central America, especially scorched earth operations as genocidal practices, and its impacts on women and girls. Overall, her research situates at the intersection of modern and contemporary Latin American history, human rights, and women and gender issues. Her research is characterized by three overarching themes. First, she is interested in how human rights violations perpetrated in the continent during the Cold War impacted people’s lives, as well as why, in its aftermath, large sectors of society insist on forgiving and forgetting, bypassing the victims’ demands. Second, she approaches history by engaging the voices of those in the social margins like women, peasants, migrants, as well as victims of egregious human rights violations through oral history methods. Third, she revises master narratives that have been predominant in westernized and patriarchal cultures and tries to rewrite history from those marginalized by the mainstream discourses.

Throughout her career, she has taught at the University of Minnesota, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, the University of El Salvador, and the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas.” Among the classes that she has taught are “Human Rights in Central America and Mexico through Films,” “International Human Rights Law,” “Women and Gender in Latin America,” and “History, Politics and Culture of Soccer in the Americas.”

While pursuing her Ph.D. she also worked at the Observatory on Impunity and Disappearances sponsored by FLACSO Mexico, the University of Oxford and the University of Minnesota. Before her Ph.D. she worked for the Supreme Court of Justice of El Salvador as the Director of the International Assistance Unit, and as a judicial clerk for the Constitutional Chamber. Finally, she has published several articles, book chapters, and op-eds in refereed journals, books, and newspapers.


  • PhD, University of Minnesota
  • LLM, University of Notre Dame
  • MA, University of El Salvador
  • LLB, Central American University