00:00    |    
00:12    |    
Catherine Docter: We are here in CIRMA in Antigua Guatemala. My name is Catherine Docter and I'm here with Christopher Lutz, who is the founder of CIRMA, and we're going to just have a conversation today a little bit to get some oral  history from Dr. Lutz, learn a little bit about who he was when he first came to Guatemala, what inspired him to help found Cirma and then what continued to inspire him to for 35 years support this institution.
00:50    |    
So, Dr. Lutz.  Officially Christopher H. Lutz, we maybe will go by Chris for the interview, tell us just a little bit, as far as timing, when did you first come to Guatemala and in what capacity?  I know you're a scholar, you're a historian, but tell us a little bit about where you did your work and I think it's in history, and then how it came to be that you came first to Guatemala.
01:22    |    
Christopher H. Lutz: Well, I did my graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wisconsin and I started there in the late '60s and by... first I did a master's degree and did a master's thesis and then it was about that time in the late '60s I had to decide on a doctoral's topic, and taking more courses and passing all the different exams, qualifying exams, etc., oral exams.  
01:57    |    
I also had to think about where to go to do field research.  That was a requirement for the program.  You couldn't just do something from documents that you could find on microfilm. 
02:09    |    
So, my professor had made a tour, he knew a number of places in the Andean region, Mexico's particularly, and he also had visited Guatemala when Joaquín Pardo was the director of the Archivo General de Centroaméricawhich I will call the AGCA if I mention it again.  And he was very impressed with what we called in the '70s, when I first arrived, the Fichero de Don Joaquín and how well organized the archive was. 
02:43    |    
And he thought that somebody could do a topic that was serious and dig through lots of material and get to it very quickly rather than having to sift through lots of large  bultos...
02:56    |    
Docter: Yes, unorganized bultos.
02:57    |    
Lutz: ...unorganized and not find what you really wanted.  Maybe like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. So that was one factor. 
03:07    |    
And the other factor was that Guatemala fit the goals of what I wanted to do.  Which was to look at a city, a colonial city in a country where, or in a region where there was a large indigenous population and where also aside from the Spanish settlers that came, conquistadores, other people came to live here as post-conquest and with them came a significant small African population imported from Africa.  Slaves.
03:44    |    
And what happened when those three groups came together, co-mingled, worked together, lived together over a number of centuries right here in Antigua.
03:58    |    
Docter: And you were already interested in these ideas?  And had your master's also been in Latin American History?
04:06    |    
Lutz: Yes, it dealt with a part of Mexico, it dealt with the Dominican missionary movement in the Mixteca alta and the response of the Mixteca to the Dominicans in the 16th century.
04:20    |    
Docter: And who was your doctoral thesis advisor?
04:23    |    
Lutz: His name was John Phelan.
04:25    |    
Docter: John Phelan, at Madison.
04:27    |    
Lutz: At Madison.  He was a child of the Berkeley School from famous faculty of (Lesley B.) Simpson, (Woodrow) Borah, and (Sherburne F.) Cook, those people.  And he was a great sort of mentor.
04:49.5    |    
Docter: And so it's sort of interesting that in a way, perhaps, the founding of CIRMA was a little bit you were thinking maybe not necessarily of yourself, but you were thinking of that next scholar who would maybe need an archive, that would be a place where they could come and do research, that was dated, that had been sort of organized because you found... and did you indeed find the fichas and all the things that helped you do your PhD?
05:20    |    
Lutz: Well, what I found actually in the case of Guatemala was that there were very few things to, if you can think of history or as like a skeleton - a human skeleton - or chronology, there were very few works studies aside from chronicles to really hang your information on.
05:44.5    |    
So, you had to do a lot of basic research yourself because not much had been done.  So, it was very time consuming and, you know, but exciting too because you felt as though you were opening a book into an area that had never been seen before, just very very exciting.
06:05    |    
Docter: So, you were mentioning sort of it was late '60s.  When did you first physically come to Guatemala?  What year?
06:12    |    
Lutz: In late June of 1970.
06:14    |    
Docter: Late June 1970?
06:15    |    
Lutz: Right during a stage of siege, it was quite dramatic.
06:20    |    
Docter: And what was going on in 1970 in June?
06:23    |    
Lutz: Well, I think the president was (Carlos Manuel) Arana and there was a stage of siege and the first days we were here there was a military parade down Sexta Avenida and we were staying right on Sexta Avenida, right in the middle of the city.
06:35    |    
But it was incredibly convenient because we were within a 5 minute walk of the archive and my wife was here, Sally, our little girl, they could go to the... there was a supermarket chain called the Sevillana.  She could go there, she could go to the Mercado Central.
06:54    |    
And one of my first experiences was going to the academia, it was then called the Sociedad de Geografía e Historia and I went with the cultural attachéand I'd never been in a country before where you had to be in a car with armed guards.  He was a diplomat and things were kind of dangerous then.
07:21    |    
He took me to this reception and we then got to meet a number of people including Francis Gall who had been... and I'm not sure if I met, I might have met one of the... I might of met Jorge Luján there, Jorge Luján Muñoz.
07:38    |    
Docter: And just for the record, tell us a little bit just briefly who those two men are.
07:42    |    
Lutz: Well Francis Gall is sort of a great scholar, geographer, and, kind of humble about it, but a compiler of this amazing work which is called the Diccionario Geográfico de Guatemala.  It came out in two smaller volumes I think maybe in the '60s and then in the late '70s and early '80s it came out in, I think four big volumes, very impressive and based on lots of work.
08:15    |    
And I was also friendly, besides from Jorge Luján Muñoz.  I was probably friendlier in those days with his now deceased brother Luis, who donated his library to the University, Francisco Marroquín.  His widow did.
08:31    |    
And Jorge was more of a historian and Luis was more of an art historian but I would say.  But Jorge is probably one... the most productive person that I can think of in the history of Guatemala, in the country or outside the country.  And while we haven't always necessarily been completely in agreement about everything politically, he's been a great supporter of CIRMA from the very beginning and...
09:04    |    
Docter: So that was 1970, that was a sort of baptism.
09:08    |    
Lutz: Yes, but I did not really get to know him until the late '70s.  If we want to go back a bit to when I actually got into the archive. I got into the archive in late June, early July of 1970, and I was here basically for about 18 months until almost Christmas of '71.
09:28    |    
And did research every day I could, even I think when the archive was closed in the evenings or late afternoons, we'd go to church archives, the parish archives.   San Sebastian, the church of Calvario, which was where they had the archives of Los Remedios, from Antigua, the Sagrario, which the archive was in this old Sagrariochurch as opposed to the Cathedral.  And then there was Candelaria.
10:04    |    
So I went to all those and worked just until dinner time, and then on Saturday mornings we had to sit in these places.  I had an assistant from the archive who I hired to work with me after hours and some of us had these Libros de Cabildoon our laps working, copying down, trying to figure out who was marrying whom from the earliest records to up until the earthquakes of July 1773 when basically Antigua collapsed.
10:37    |    
Docter: Did you go back and forth between the States and Guatemala continuing your research?
10:42    |    
Lutz: I did and I also included Seville (Spain) and often going there too, recounting data there, which is when I managed that, I think, it's hard for a lot of Latin Americans, traditionally it's been hard for, especially for Guatemalans, not too many have been able to go use the Archivo General de Indias.
11:06    |    
Docter: And is, so the Archivo General de las Indias is the very important impressive archive there in Seville, and you say it's been difficult for a lot of Guatemalans simply because it's far away, expensive to get there, etc. or were there restrictions on the archives?
11:19    |    
Lutz: No, just the financial aspects.  Later on in my generation there were a few Guatemalans who were able to study abroad and some of them did get to Seville, which made their work much more profound.
11:39    |    
And someone like Jorge Luján, Luis Luján they also had their facilities for getting there too, which enriches their work because the records in one place complement the records that exist here.
11:53    |    
Docter: Yes, because one thing that over the years of knowing you and investigating other areas, a lot of Guatemala's history is actually held by libraries outside of Guatemala or archives outside of Guatemala.  There is a lot of history obviously still in the country, but... So, you went to Seville and then spent at least a little bit of time a year in Guatemala City looking at archives and...
12:18    |    
Lutz: Yes, we came back, and you were asking about coming back.  Yes, mostly with my family we would come back for short visits.  In fact we were here two days, probably made three or four visits between the time we left in '71 and when we actually sort of came back to live in October of 1976.
12:42    |    
And we were here just two days before the terrible earthquakes of, I think, it was February 4 of '76 and we left on the 2nd.  And we'd rented a house we were going to... I was going to come back.
12:54    |    
And one of the which ties in a way, to some of the motivations for starting CIRMA.  At some point, and I'm not sure when it was, I read a piece by Tani Adams's dad, Rick Adams, Richard N. Adams about the responsibility of North American scholars to return their research to the places where they've done their work.
13:21    |    
Docter: And tell us what you mean about "return their research," what do you mean by that?
13:25    |    
Lutz: Make it available in the country where they did their field work, he was often thinking about anthropologists, but it applied to historians too.  And not just sending back maybe a copy of a dissertation but, and I don't remember now whether Rick carried it this far but the idea of translating it too and making it available linguistically to a majority population that could at least have access to it in their language.
13:57    |    
So I had this idea of being able to come back and work on a translation and I got a lot of inspiration from Jorge Luján's brother, Luis.  He was, wanted me to get it translated.  In fact, he introduced me to people who I could work with, and so that was a project.
14:18    |    
And we came back and I started that and one of the... maybe I'm jumping the gun here a little bit, but Luis also used to show me around in the library of the  Instituto de Antropología e Historia, which was in  Aurora, the park, then.  And now it's I think in the  Ex Convento de Santo Domingo.
14:43    |    
And in the library they had lots of dissertations that were given, not lots but some, by especially in the field or Archaeology.  And I remember very well that Penn State which had done all the, the Pennsylvania State University, which had done the  Kaminal Juyú project under... I can't think of his name now. Anyway.
15:14.5    |    
I remember one of his assistants, his student's was named Carson N. Murdy.  They had a very, maybe because they were right here in the city, working in the outskirts of the city.  They sent their dissertations back very faithfully.
15:34    |    
And when we went over to an area where there would be things on Tikal and that region and where Penn had worked.  And they had, and Luis was lamenting that Penn had not done that.
15:48    |    
Docter: University of Pennsylvania.
15:48.5    |    
Lutz: University of Pennsylvania.  And maybe it was something like the Germans being up in Verapaz and being feeling like they are more part of Germany than in Guatemala, or being in Tikal and being... feeling removed from the authorities here in the city.
16:04    |    
Docter: And there wasn't necessarily a sort of requirement by the government at that point that scholars had to...
16:11    |    
Lutz: There was an understanding that they should do that but it was like  obedezco pero no cumplo.  They didn't do it.  And so they were, he was disgusted with them.  And I guess that I combined those two things that what Rick Adams had been writing about and what Luis was telling me, what was going on about what researchers weren't doing, were and weren't doing, some good examples, some other bad examples.
16:41    |    
And then, probably in '77 or early '78, I met up with William Swezey who we always called just Swezey, as I was relaying earlier to Grete.  Swezey brought the idea of a research center with this name, something like Centro de Estudios Regionales de Mesoamérica from Puebla, where he was at the Universidad de las Américas.
17:16    |    
Docter: And just to go back briefly, William Swezey was an American archaeologist, right? And worked in Puebla, Mexico and throughout Mesoamerica as a Maya archaeologist.
17:29.5    |    
Lutz: Yes, he worked in... I'm not totally familiar with his archaeological work but he did... he went to college.  He was one of those sort of most adventurous, you could say rebellious, Americans that went off to Mexico rather than following... you know, sort of like Peter Gerhard.  He went off, came off to work in the field.  
17:51    |    
It's kind of like what I think I did in a way too by not teaching at a University.  And he started at Mexico City College where a lot of distinguished Mesoamerican studied and then went on to do other things and went back to graduate school. 
18:08    |    
But he stayed in Mexico and I think he ended up getting a Master's degree above the  Licenciatura and he was... he left Mexico somewhere in the '76, '77 over a strike at the University.  
18:29    |    
He lost his job and he came here and he more or less landed on his feet.  He had a job as a... working with the Peace Corps in Guatemala City. 
18:40    |    
And we met up somehow and we also --the chronology is not too clear now, it goes back over thirty-five years, thirty-six years.--  We met up with some Guatemalans, we met up with some other Americans who were studying more or less. 
19:00    |    
Invariably, they were, the people that I knew were historians from the archive or from just contacts.  And then he knew people in Archaeology, and it was Bill Swezey (or Swezey) who sort of had this dream of starting a some sort of a library in Guatemala.
19:22.5    |    
Docter: And I know he's passed away.  I never had the opportunity to meet him.  When did he pass away and about how old would he be today if he was alive?  Was he older than you? 
19:32.299999999999955    |    
Lutz: He would have been older than me.  He died in his, he died about... I'd say 24 years ago, roughly.
19:44    |    
Docter: And so he would probably be in his maybe late seventies or early eighties if he was alive today.
19:47    |    
Lutz: Something like that. George was very precise on dates like that and would know exactly.  I'm not sure.
19:55    |    
Docter: So, sort of with this little group of some Americans, some Guatemalans, you sort of got thinking hmm, and based on your motivations and your interests, Rick Adams' article, what you saw at Penn State, what you saw other scholars not doing, and maybe a little bit motivated by what you realized as a young scholar, you had needed or would have benefited from... 
20:21    |    
So, in a way maybe you were thinking, perhaps, about, "Well let's help make some history and make the study of history easier for the next generation."  I mean would that... does that seem... I mean, I know it goes back a ways to sort of, "What was I thinking?" 
20:41    |    
But does that seem like sort of... what felt like "Gosh, I had to sort of scrape around to figure out myhistory.  Wouldn't it be great to have a center where all sorts of materials could come could be available to scholars?"
20:58    |    
Lutz: Right, though perhaps we weren't, you're giving us too much credit.  Maybe we were thinking more about just books in those days and journals, and the things that we talk about today like JSTOR and the Internet, it didn't exist so we had to get things on paper and we had to...
21:15.5    |    
Docter: And that's a very important thing because of course we are here in 2013 and we have all gotten so used to the digital world.  We have gotten used to all of the elements that an archive library today means.  But back in the day that you were found... were sort of thinking of creating CIRMA, it was the Dewey Decimal System, it was books, it was physical things.  And scholars would go to libraries and archives in order to do their research. 
21:46    |    
They wouldn't... they didn't have computers to research online, so specially for young people today, they don't realize that that was a big shift.
21:53    |    
Lutz: Right.  So we started out by... basically when we decided to start CIRMA, we decided basically to live here, make it our residence, our home.  We got residency and all that.
22:10    |    
Docter: And the "we" was you, Sally (your wife) and Sarah and Ian (your children).
22:15    |    
Lutz: Right exactly.
22:16.5    |    
Docter: And Swezey had already decided to live here too?
22:20    |    
Lutz: He had, more or less, because he didn't find, he didn't really have any reason to stay in Mexico.  So, though I had researched on what was Santiago de Guatemala and became La Antigua, after around 1773-75, I'd only visited here on weekends really, so I didn't... I never really lived here permanently.
22:44    |    
So, it was a new experience.  And what we did was we basically brought our rather disorganized libraries that we owned ourselves, to and donated them.  And that was the beginning.
23:03    |    
Docter: So, boxes of books that you had gathered as a young scholar, graduate student... brought down and he brought his and you said "Well here's our, here's the first... here's the beginning."  Fabulous.
23:19    |    
Lutz: And this was somewhere in the spring.  I always say it was May of '78.  I don't remember if anybody... and it was over on Quinta Avenida Sur about a block above the Hotel Antigua on the east side of the street.
23:35    |    
Until this day... I was just walking by there this morning and there were two or three little buildings, very humble houses that have garages.  And the garage I remember was on the left hand side and it was one of those where we humbly started.  And probably, looking back it sounds like it was a crazy idea.
23:56    |    
Docter: So you rented a little house or was that the house where you lived? 
23:59.200000000000045    |    
Lutz: No, we rented that one.  
24:00    |    
Docter: You rented that house for this nascent library.
24:03    |    
Lutz: For this crazy idea.  Quixotic.
24:05    |    
Docter: And then you sort of told your friends "Hey! There's a library."  Or what did you do to tell people?
24:10    |    
Lutz:  Well I've forgotten how we sort of announced it.  We put out some brochures maybe, just some little brochures we were handing out and we would... people would come and visit us.
24:22    |    
Docter: And would you and Swezey, would you sort of be at the library?
24:25.5    |    
Lutz: Yes and we hired somebody, a couple... a few people to help us.  And brought bookshelves, metal  estantes.  We used to buy a lot of things from a company in Guatemala City called "Telectro" that was... where they had lights and chairs and some of the chairs were... like these chairs we're sitting in are from there, yes, from years ago.
24:55    |    
And then we moved.  The Swezeys had rented a house over on Cuarta calle sort of out about four blocks, three blocks perhaps, from the Plaza.  And... they moved somewhere else and we moved CIRMA in there, so we suddenly had more space we thought that was simply grand.
25:19    |    
Docter: That was the second location and a step up. 
25:20.5    |    
Lutz: That was the second location.  A step up.
25:23    |    
Docter: And how long was it there?
25:25    |    
Lutz: It wasn't there very long before we heard about from the family; I can't remember the gentleman's first name but his last name is Viteri, who owned the house that we are in right now.  This building.
25:39    |    
Docter: Viteri.  It was a private house.
25:42.299999999999955    |    
Lutz: Yes, it was a private house and he was a member of the, you know, the group.  He was a very well-known gentleman and he was probably older than me, maybe about my age at that time in the late '70s.
25:54    |    
Docter: And he wanted to sell?  Or you heard that he was...?
25:57    |    
Lutz: Yes, we heard it was on the market.  And actually, for some reason I wasn't able to come down; Sally came down and actually closed the deal, as it were.  We bought the house with our family funds.
26:10    |    
Docter: And so, your family bought this house that we're in today and that was what year?
26:17    |    
Lutz: I'd probably say the wrong date.  It was probably '79, I'm guessing.  And I think it was $100,000 at that time.  It seemed like quite a lot of money in those days, but it needed some work.  And we'd had a house renovated that was actually sort of just... it was just sort of in ruins and we sort of rebuilt a house on the... I guess you could say, the foundations of an old house down sort of near the Hotel Antigua.
26:53.5    |    
And we'd had an interesting experience working with Augusto Vela, the son of David Vela, that was the director of, the publisher editor of El Imparcial.  And so when this was bought, this... a lot of the same crew and the same  maestro de obra came up here and they made this... we don't really say it in English but... a edificio asísmico.
27:28    |    
So but that was the big concern, of course, especially a few years after the big earthquake, we didn't want something that was going to fall down.
27:37    |    
Docter: So, you had a body of books at that point.  Did you have any films, photographs, maps?
27:45    |    
Lutz: We had probably a few maps and Mitchell came along in those days, Mitchell Denburg, and about '79-'80.  He loves to tell the story, it makes me sound like a cheapskate, but he was on a stipend of like a $100 a month.
28:09    |    
Docter: That was his big salary.  To do what?
28:12    |    
Lutz: To just take photos and develop them and copy photos even, too.  And bring them back to us.  And we would store them.
28:25    |    
Docter: And that was sort of the beginning, right? Of the Fototeca, which was this Guatemala photographic archive.  And I think maybe even in those days was it that he went even to Germany to photograph other photographs kept in other archives, augmenting CIRMA's photographic...
28:42    |    
Lutz: Right.  That was a trip that we organized with the Guatemalan historian Julio Castellanos Cambranes and the North American geographer Oscar Horst and with Mitchell.  And we had connections in Hamburg and in Bremen, in Hanover, and we went to all those places and Mitchell did basically... I guess what he did, I guess he made what they call internegatives, just hundreds and hundreds...
29:17    |    
Docter: ...of German collections of Guatemala?
29:21    |    
Lutz: Right.
29:22    |    
Docter: And just for the record, Mitchell Denburg is an American who came to Guatemala I think '73, we'll, confirm.  Was it '73? Do you know?
29:30    |    
Lutz: I don't know if he was around that early.  I think it was maybe a little later, but we didn't really meet up until the late 1970s.
29:39    |    
Docter: And he was a professional photographer, he went to photograph...
29:41    |    
Lutz: He went to the Museum School in Boston.
29:44    |    
Docter: Boston. And (he) grew up in New York but was already here.  So you connected with him or maybe he found you, and then had this fabulous job of $100 a month.  And so technically he was sort of the founder, if you will, of the Fototeca. So that's when you moved from books and maybe some maps into saying "Oh, the image photography is also something very important for history."
30:07    |    
Lutz: Right, and the closest thing we had to what now would be called the  Archivo Histórico was something that we dreamt up in those days, the vertical files.  We called them the  Archivos verticales, I think they call them now, I'm not sure that... I think that was the term that we used.  And there were just big metal filing cases with ephemera.
30:30    |    
Docter: Documents, papers, that weren't bound?
30:32    |    
Lutz: Documents, photocopies of things, manuscripts, all... any number of pieces of things that as sort of inveterate collectors we thought shouldn't be thrown away, you know fall into the dustbin of history, as they say.
30:51    |    
Docter: Because in a way, as a researcher, yes of course you want to read books, but things like documents, etc...  Today CIRMA is sort of structured in three components and maybe you can talk a little bit about the development of the third component.
31:08    |    
But the first was the books which, as you just shared with us, sort of started from your and Swezey's private, your own book collections.  And then grew with probably donations and other people's collections and maybe things that you bought and returned to Guatemala.
31:23.5    |    
Then the Fototeca, in the sort of maybe 1980s, '79-'80s, something like that with Mitchell Denburg, a photographer who was also interested in history and anthropology, so then that started a photographic archive.
31:38    |    
And then the third component, I think it was '97 perhaps, under the director then, Tani Adams...
31:44    |    
Lutz: Tani Adams, exactly.
31:45.5    |    
Docter: And maybe a catch all, but talk a little bit about what is the... what we call the historic archive; so you have the library, the Fototeca and the historic archive.  What was the idea behind the historic archive?
32:03    |    
Lutz: I think in that case we didn't want in any way compete with any existing sort of a national entity like AGCA ( Archivo General de Centroamérica) or any other archive that might exist mainly in Guatemala City.  But we felt there were a lot of things that perhaps should be preserved, protected.
32:29    |    
And one of the most obvious things that came right up immediately, was when, I don't remember the date exactly, when El Imparcial ended, and their morgue, their copper collection, their full run of paper, newspapers, all that came up for sale.
32:53    |    
Docter: I think, and just to clarify, El Imparcial, it was a very important Guatemalan newspaper.  I'm pretty sure 1922 to 1986-85.  So, '85 closes and then maybe several years later it, the morgue as you mentioned, which is for a newspaper it's sort of everything that the newspaper held, right?
33:18.5    |    
It's the photographs, the copper plates, the newspapers themselves, the archive of the newspaper, that's... that came up for sale?
33:27.299999999999955    |    
Lutz: Yes, it came up for sale and Tani heard about it.  I wasn't... I was in the States.  And we came up with the funds to buy that.  And that was one of the core beginnings of the, I'd say, of the Archivo Histórico.
33:44    |    
And then some things, I don't remember when  El Gráfico closed, but some things associated with  El Gráfico, and of course they... both of those, included things that were then sort of -- applied to the... for the Fototeca.
34:00    |    
Docter: Right, so some photographs and so then the photographs...
34:02    |    
Lutz: Periodical photos, newspaper photos rather, that became part of those collections.
34:7.5    |    
One of the things I should add too about the library was that there were a lot of people of good will who donated things all along and one of the things in the spirit of returning research, never done it as well or systematically as it could have been done, is to have people who would be visiting here or we knew were here in the country or specifically using facilities here to have them...
34:35    |    
And this is done in some places, that you have people sign more or less a contract which says "When I finish my research I will donate one copy of my dissertation or when I turn it into a book or if I do some articles, I will send the offprints, the  separatas to you," and maybe you could say, "You should also send one to the  Biblioteca Nacional or the  Archivo or the  Biblioteca of the AGCA," as part of... in the spirit of returning the research.
35:09    |    
Docter: And building the body from which the next generation of scholars can better understand Guatemala and then write perhaps even better books about the whole... yes.
35:21    |    
Let me just go back briefly, that notion of competition; you were conscious and you've spoken about that in the past, to not want to compete, if you will.  Meaning you didn't want to be trying to buy or get certain materials that the national archive of the country would also want and maybe should have.
35:44    |    
Obviously, this issue of you American born, US scholar, you always sort of had to tread lightly on the fact that you had crafted a private library, if you will.
35:57.69999999999982    |    
Lutz: Right.
35:59    |    
Docter: Were there any times that were awkward?  Or that you had to sort of sit down and say "Gosh, we really want that, we feel it's essential, we worry that maybe even some other archive would try to get it and then it would be stolen."  Because as we know, in a lot of countries, including Guatemala, a lot of national archives have gotten looted, have gotten burned, have gotten etc.
36:22.5    |    
So, talk a little bit about that issue which is a real issue of you being a foreigner but being deeply committed to the history of Guatemala, to the degree that for thirty-five years you've supported this archive.
36:38    |    
Lutz: Well, there's another sort of whole, sort of parallel history about that, actually, that we could probably spend hours and hours talking about regarding incidents.
36:50    |    
And one incident that came up just to give an example had to do with finding some folios from one of the  Libros de Cabildo, the fourth one, the cuarto Libro de Cabildo begins in 1553, I believe.
37:13    |    
Docter: And the Libro de Cabildo is this sort of town hall records for this city.
37:20    |    
Lutz: Right, the minutes.  This was in the, I believe, in the early '90s.  It was after Swezey had died and Steve Elliott was the interim director between Swezey, and when Swezey died, and when Tani took over in the mid '90s.
37:38    |    
And we found these for sale in the United States and there were... We returned them through purchase from the foundation that, my family foundation, for a couple thousand dollars, $2000 we were able to buy these eight folios.  And there were a couple of other folios for sale for $125,000, which had Bernal Díaz del Castillo's autograph.
38:06    |    
Docter: Because the signature was very valuable.
38:08    |    
Lutz: Yes, the signature was valuable. So... and they were from the same series and we asked the gentleman, "the gentle man" (in quotes) if we could have at least photocopies of those to complete the book in the  Archivo.
38:27    |    
And so through Jorge Luján Muñoz and Steve Elliott and Todd Little-Siebold, we... he was around; we tried to figure out if these were indeed from the Libro de Cabildo.  We proved that they were, they had the same wormholes going through them, etc. etc. and the dates and the pages were missing.
38:54    |    
And so there was a ceremony and they were returned and then not so much later, unfortunately, the director of the archive, apparently, and his wife thought, since there was a market for these things in the States, they would find some things with autographs of famous people... and especially treaties from the 19-- and they put them up for sale.
39:19    |    
Docter: And this was the director of the National Archive in Guatemala City?
39:22    |    
Lutz: The AGCA, yes.  And we were involved in discovering that and it ended up, the director lost his job, the wife was jailed in the United States in a sting operation.  It was a disgrace.
00:00    |    
Docter: Wow.
39:42    |    
Lutz: And then there was a time when here at CIRMA, in Tani's time, when a person who I won't mention by name, but he died and some of his family gave a lot of their... his papers.  Some of them were very valuable in their  Archivo Histórico and they went through them and they found any number of things that pertained to the church.
40:07    |    
And so about 1,200 items were returned.  They weren't all priceless documents but in all there were about 1,200 items that were... and this is... Unfortunately there's a tradition of things migrating, you might say, from people's jobs to their personal libraries.
40:28    |    
And it happens a lot of places, not just here.
40:31    |    
Docter: So, it's 1976, you and your family: wife Sally, two children, have moved to Antigua, they are at school, you are living here; go back a little bit to the States '76, '77, '78, '79, '80.  So, your life is here, you're doing your own research perhaps, continuing writing, your work as a historian, you're involved with CIRMA.
40:59.80000000000018    |    
Tell us a little bit about what those years were like and then talk a little bit about what happened to you and your family in 1981.
41:10    |    
Lutz: Well, I was deeply involved in actually this idea of getting my dissertation, which was really large, too big to end up published, translated and published.  So I worked with some translators and one of them was Arturo Taracena's grandfather.  His name was Arriola; he's a grand old man of letters in Guatemala.
41:39    |    
I can't think of his full name.  On his mother's side I believe, Arturo's mother side, his mother's father... And I worked with a Panamanian woman and she was the main translator.
41:53    |    
And so, we tried to get that published and we made connections with historians, anthropologists, archaeologists.  Things were moving along and I also, because I'd always had an interest and empathy for the Mayan population, even though my research was more on the creation of the Ladino in Guatemala, 
42:27    |    
which is this sort of forgotten group, in terms of origins of who they are and where they come from.  And that was really my fascination.  I was concerned about conditions under which the Maya lived and mainly the rural population.
42:52    |    
So, if you want to jump to '81, I guess the main reason why I got in trouble, as it were, was because, well CIRMA was considered to be sort of a strange phenomenon here because I think maybe as you eluded to in our conversation or here on tape...
43:17    |    
Americans, foreigners, often come and they have plans and they, without patting myself or Swezey patting himself on the back, they are often looking out for doing things themselves and making money and then stealing something and then leaving or something. 
43:36.5    |    
And so people are very suspicious and in the country depending on what your ideology was, people to the right thought we must be communist, we must be sort of the part of the international communist conspiracy.  And people on the left thought we were probably CIA.  And so we were between a rock and a hard place.
44:00    |    
We could do nothing right.
44:02    |    
Docter: CIA or communist.  You said "No, we're just historians."
44:04    |    
Lutz: It was one or the other.  There was nothing in between. And so I think some of those suspicions still persisted.  
44:11    |    
And then I was, it's not politically correct but, Swezey was more interested in Indians of the past, what we cynically called dead Indians.  And that was not politically particularly controversial.
44:28    |    
I was... became quite interested in... I studied Kaqchikel, got interested in, got to know people like Enrique Sam Colop and his wife, Irma.  I was starting to get, later on, got involved in things having to do with scholarships for the Maya.
44:44    |    
And I also got involved through my Kaqchikel teacher with helping set up a community center in Patzicía which we helped to fund and we worked with a very unusual group originally from Tennessee called "Plenty".
45:05    |    
They had a big, it was called "the farm," it was a huge commune and we never had any contact with them at all except we were at the celebration of the opening of the community center.
45:14.5    |    
And I got involved with some projects in San Antonio Aguas Calientes and this seemed to, in some people's mind, seemed to connect me as being communist because I was... I wanted to do things for indigenous communities.
45:32    |    
And then I also got involved through the Maestro Mayor here in the building, this building and then our house, who was a wonderful man from Sumpango named Castelo Puc, until this day his son works with Mitchell on development projects and forestry all over Guatemala.  His name is Abel.
45:54    |    
And Castelo asked Swezey and me if we would sort of give some sort of status to this local co-op that was still working to support light industry and artesanías in Sacatepéquez and it was run through  Cáritas.
46:18    |    
And that was apparently considered, at some point, Cáritas was labeled as a group that was feeding, literally a conduit, of food and materials to the guerilla in the late '70s, early '80s.
46:34    |    
And since we were officers of this organization... Swezey, I always thought, was a little bit more, he liked to take command so he became president and I stood in as treasurer.  And so after we left, we found this out, we had people all over our house looking for me because we had some death threats, we were supposedly getting death threats here in Antigua because I was... because I was considered to be a communist.
47:04    |    
And so we left the country in January of '81 and in... a few months later, men came over the wall of our house in the middle of the night and they were masked and carrying weapons, big weapons, long rifles, maybe machine guns, I don't know.  And they went through our house and they were looking for the man who helped, who worked with Cáritas.
47:30    |    
And they wanted a photo of me.  And I wasn't there, thankfully.  I wouldn't be here probably now if I'd been there.
47:37    |    
I did come back into the country once and I spent a weekend in the city and I stayed with our old friend Cherri M. Pancake, who was the curator of the Museo Ixchel, because I wanted to meet up with Swezey.
47:54.5    |    
He always thought I was exaggerating about why I left but we had little children and I didn't--and he didn't even believe that story had happened.  But we heard it from the people who lived in our house.  Anyways, these kind of things happen like that.
48:07    |    
Docter: Well it's interesting, yes, 1981 obviously we are now in 2013 and we've just lived through the very compelling and traumatic genocide trials of Ríos Montt, well, of his leadership period of 1981-1982.
48:25    |    
So, it was I think a very very violent difficult time for the country.  And, so I think your story is a sort of interesting one on a national level as well as how it pertained to you personally with CIRMA.
48:42    |    
So, here you were, historian who had founded CIRMA, who had made an effort, who was working with it, continuing, and then because of death threats, you had small children and a wife, you say "We got to go."
48:55    |    
So, you go back to the States January of '81.  When did--Did you continue sort of coming back and forth?
49:1.1900000000000546    |    
Lutz: Not at all.
49:1.699999999999818    |    
Docter:  Not at all, yes.
49:2.5    |    
Lutz: Except for that one sort of little low key visit I made to the city. 
49:08    |    
Docter: In which year?
49:09    |    
Lutz: In about February - March of '81, I came back and Swezey came to the city to meet me and I didn't want to come to Antigua.  I was, perhaps I was cowardly, I don't know.
49:20    |    
Docter: Well it's scary.  I mean, my Gosh.
49:22    |    
Lutz: I was just being cautious.  But we also took publications with us in the sense of we wanted things to continue.  We'd started a journal with one of our supporters, Julio Castellanos Cambranes, in '80 and we wanted to continue that and Cherri was working with it.
49:44    |    
Docter: And which is the journal?
49:46    |    
Lutz: It's called Mesoamérica and it still exists but we're not... we haven't been publishing it now for a few years.  They're now in their about 55th issue.  We were doing it...
49:58    |    
Docter: But you guys started that journal and it's a journal about...
50:01    |    
Lutz: It's about the region, Southern Mesoamerica, and it was also part of our plan to return research.  And then as more and more people in the region here became, studying more abroad, were getting more engaged in the fields,
50:18    |    
it was more like regional studies, sociology, a multidisciplinary journal and so we had more and more authors from the region: from Costa Rica to Mexico and sometimes Europeans, and probably more North American authors because of our contacts.
50:40    |    
And so it went on, now the editors are... one is Jordana Dym, who teaches at Skidmore (College), in New York state and Christophe Belaubre, who teaches at Toulouse.  And now it's probably going to go on to Tulane actually.
50:56    |    
Docter: Terrific.  Well, let's move a little bit forward into the '80s.  You're living back in the States with your family, you continue to... because again, that was an interesting transition.  Leaving the country, you could have said "OK, I'm finished with that country" or "I'm finished with CIRMA" or... but you continue through your family's foundation funding CIRMA to keep CIRMA going even though you physically are no longer here.
51:23    |    
So, '81 you leave, so '82, '83, '84 into the '80s you're in the States but you keep track.
51:30.5    |    
Lutz: Yes and we set up a sort of sister entity called Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies, which was named after a family foundation called the "Plumsock Funds" that my father and step mother started in 1959, I think.
51:44    |    
And we had an office and that was the publication office where we published the journal up until the in the 2000s in Vermont and then we published any number of translations of books into Spanish by mostly authors who wrote in English, but occasionally in other languages.
52:09    |    
Docter: And also just to touch on leadership for the record, CIRMA started with you and Swezey, if you will, maybe as the leadership co-directors...
52:19    |    
Lutz: He was a co-founder, that's one thing that we shouldn't say that I was the founder.  He was equally the co-founder and more so the idea was his brainchild so I give him full credit.  I would say I was the, I went along with him and I was inspired by it, but he had the--it was his dream, basically.
52:39    |    
And I made it, was able to help him fulfill it.
52:42    |    
Docter: Right, which is an important component, I mean you can have ideas and sometimes ideas need a little bit of money to happen. 
52:44    |    
Lutz: Right.
52:44    |    
Docter: And then the next director was Steve Elliot?
52:52.5    |    
Lutz: That's right.  He was, he worked with Swezey.  He helped Swezey a lot, when Swezey was not healthy, not doing well in the late '80s.  And then we kept him on as interim director.  And I would say one thing I was going to mention is that each director that we've had has had a different sort of emphasis.
53:13    |    
And I think that Grete is the first person who's not had a, sort of, maybe an academic axe to grind, as it were.  She's not...
53:27    |    
Docter: An anthropologist or a linguist.
53:28    |    
Lutz:  She's not an anthropologist, an archaeologist, she's not, I mean I'm a historian.  I always was pushing history for the publications from afar.  Swezey was definitely doing archaeology in the most uncomfortable time in the '80s, early '80s in rural areas.
53:46    |    
Steve was doing linguistics that you eluded too, and he had worked very closely with Nora England who is another like David Stuart... Nora is at Texas and she is a MacArthur Fellowship winner, a genius grant.
54:06    |    
And she started OPMA which worked, which was really part of CIRMA for years, worked under the wing of CIRMA as you might say.  And then Tani, was, became more concerned about, she felt we should do...
54:17    |    
Docter: Tani Adams was the next director.
54:18.5    |    
Lutz: Tani Adams came in... In between Steve Elliot and Tani, Guisela Asensios's sister or I guess it was her aunt, Margarita Asensio, was... also did a great job of holding things together until we could get Tani to come.  And Tani did, sort of professionalized CIRMA in many ways.
54:43    |    
She started the Archivo Históricoand she did some impressive publications with...
54:50    |    
And she wanted to, I think, emphasize that it was a Guatemalan institution, because it had had a reputation in some of the earlier years as being too gringo.  As sort of a hangout for students and scholars and...
55:09    |    
Docter: And she indeed was Guatemalan born though American father, German...
55:13.5    |    
Lutz: I'm not sure where she was born but she's a Guatemala mom and American father.
55:19    |    
Docter: And so, and she was the director of CIRMA for about what, eleven years until maybe '90?
55:25    |    
Lutz: No, from mid '90s until 2007 I think.
55:29    |    
Docter: OK, 2007 or something like that, and then Lucrecia de Paniagua took over again as a sort of that interim director but that lasted for about 5-6 years...
55:39    |    
Lutz: 5-6 years.
55:40.5    |    
Docter: And then today, bringing it up to the present.
55:43    |    
Lutz: And then we had J. T. Way, coming in also as an interim director, after Lucky.
55:47    |    
Docter: J. T. Way, who is also a historian, an American historian who lived here for several years and now is a associate professor, I think titled, at Georgia State University.
55:57    |    
Lutz: Georgia State University.  In Atlanta.
55:59    |    
Docter: And now bringing it up to very current, we just hired Dr. Grete Pasch.  And I think that's an important component to think about as throughout CIRMA's history you've had some scholars that are foreign; you've had some scholars that are Guatemalan, and you've had some that are maybe like Lucrecia de Paniagua, who didn't have a say PhD so maybe isn't considered a scholar.
56:28    |    
But you've looked for people to hold the fort, if you will, to continue the effort, to continue having an archive, having a place for scholars to come to.
56:39    |    
Probably as we all know with institutions there's ups and downs and moments when things are good, things are bad, affected by the governments, affected by its own self.
56:52    |    
Tell us a little bit about what you, from the beginning or if it's evolved in the recent past.  What do you think the strengths of CIRMA are and what would you like to see CIRMA be today?
57:07    |    
And blue sky in it, what would you like to see CIRMA be in the future?
57:15    |    
Lutz: So, it's a tall order but I can try.  I think the strenghts, when you talk about the strengths, I think it's hard not to also mention that while there are strengths there are also deficiencies which, I'm well aware of in everywhere.
57:38    |    
So, but, I think today perhaps with the digital revolution that perhaps the library is less relevant than perhaps it was, definitely when it was 30, 25-30-35 years ago.
58:05    |    
But I think that it's still, that the library could be, I guess the word would be used is: be like a portal or a place that can have access and make known to people what's available in... all over the world.
58:25.5    |    
Especially, things that aren't necessarily just sitting there on the Internet that would be perhaps, we would have access to through say institutions with which we're beginning to develop relationships abroad.
58:41    |    
I think the Archivo Histórico is particularly relevant and necessary, especially that as a lot of people know... the archive in Guatemala city, the AGCA, is kind of bursting at the seams and they even refuse to take things that they just can't, they don't have the room.
59:02    |    
Docter: Space, yes.
59:04    |    
Lutz: And everybody probably needs to digitize, scan and make things available in that way.
59:13    |    
But I think there are also lots of things that the National Archive which, would not collect, like personal papers and we are getting into that.  I guess that point that we were...
59:25    |    
Docter: And CIRMA has some presidential papers, right? I think there's five presidents that CIRMA has some or copies of their personal papers.
59:34    |    
Lutz: Are there five? Are there really?  I know about two but maybe you know about more.
59:39    |    
Docter: Well, between two and five. Let's put it that way.
59:42    |    
Lutz: I think what we're doing is trying to approach other people because we want to have balance.  We want to have... I mean it would be wonderful to have Estrada Cabrera's papers if there are anywhere that aren't in the archives or if they haven't been lost or sold out of the country.
01:00:03    |    
Ydígoras, Ubico; we've made some connections with some descendants of some former presidents and maybe something would come of that.  And it's a shame that that material is not preserved. 
01:00:24.5    |    
Docter: Right. And accessible.
01:00:26    |    
Lutz: Because you see what happens, we have, we all have stories, I'm sure, and maybe some of the people who are filming us today have stories, or Grete, of families that had distinguished people in their families and they die and maybe their children, maybe their grandchildren see something there that they think can be sold, make some money.
01:00:51    |    
And it starts crumbling this collection that was treasured by this grandfather or great grandfather, slowly sort of disintegrates and pieces go off here, pieces go off there, and it's national patrimony really.  It's not just the heritage of that family really and it's a tragedy that that doesn't get preserved.
01:01:20    |    
And we can maybe do something about that especially with digitization when we don't have to store it all.
01:01:25    |    
Docter: Right and even do not have to necessarily own the originals.  If families who have photographic collections or important papers; the notion of a digital document for CIRMA is actually a very compelling interesting thing.
01:01:40    |    
I think one of the things that you've been a big advocate of is to preserve the originals, the book, the map, but as well transitioning into more contemporary times.
01:01:53    |    
And as you mentioned a little bit and maybe we wrap up talking a little bit about this, CIRMA, it's one entity of physical space in this old colonial house in a colonial village in the western highlands of Guatemala.
01:02:10    |    
Digitally now we can connect with places like the Latin American Library at Tulane, the Benson Library at University of Texas, Austin, the Library of Congress, the Bancroft, Green Library at Stanford. 
01:02:24    |    
Is that, do you think, going to be part of CIRMA's collections, if you will?  Expanding the amount of material but just digitally.  So that those objects, the originals, may remain in those libraries.  But the newly, and maybe excitingly, scholars through CIRMA's portal, or maybe through just the internet--because those are two questions that we, you know...
01:02:50    |    
People will get access to materials that even probably you as a young scholar 35-40 years ago, wouldn't have been able to traipse around the world in that depth to actually see everything.
01:03:03    |    
Lutz: I'm hoping that that will happen.  The sad fact is we think we're so modern now but really there are a lot of, we do not even know where things are.
01:03:13    |    
No one's done really, as far as I know, a systematic study and this is just for Guatemala.  We've been discovering this over the last years because we discovered, through some people we've actually published, a Dutch scholar whose work is well known at the Universidad Francisco Marroquín,
01:03:34    |    
Florine Asselbergs and The Lienzo de Quauhquechollan were tipped off on very wonderful Guatemalan documents in the Hispanic society of America in New York.
01:03:48    |    
And were Jorge Luján Muñoz and his wife Cristina Zilbermann de Luján, had visited there and they had no idea that these materials were there.  They were there to see a Goya painting or a Velasquez and look at Spanish titles.
01:04:05    |    
George had been there a number of times, George Lovell, my colleague and coauthor.  So we discovered the Libros de Cabildo, segundo y tercero, covering the, going from the  libro viejo to the one that the folios were stolen from and were for sale in the United States and when we filled that gap,
01:04:25    |    
but just a tip from another Dutch scholar who is a friend of Florine's who lives in Oaxaca.
01:04:31    |    
Docter:  It's a great story I'm ready for the movie.
01:04:34    |    
Lutz: Yes, but anyway so we can play this role that's not necessarily, I think the role is much more international now and reaching out and making connections as you were eluding to.  And I think it is very exciting and I'm not enough up on the technology in terms of information science to know what the future will bring.
01:05:05    |    
But hopefully we can be a part of it in some way with the cooperation of and help from another institutions.
01:05:18    |    
Docter: Now we're going to sort of wrap it up, probably five more minutes or so.  Is there anything that came up for you that you thought "Oh, the researcher in the future should know about," that we didn't touch on today? 
01:05:35    |    
Something that you feel "Gosh, I want people to know in 50 years who are looking at this tape or listening to my voice, why I did what I did."  And why you did it for so long.  I mean it wasn't just a short commitment.  It's been 35 years of a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of effort.
01:05:53.5    |    
Lutz: And I hope to do it after I'm dead.  
01:05:58    |    
Docter: He keeps working after he's dead too.
01:06:01    |    
Lutz: Leaving money that can help it be probably stronger than it is now, because we operate kind of in some ways aren't on a shoe string now, and so that's a concern of mine is how to make it.
01:06:16    |    
Docter: To have the legacy continue.
01:06:18    |    
Lutz: But I think it can because I'm trying to make that possible through family--not family planning, financial planning.
01:06:29    |    
Docter: Financial planning.
01:06:29    |    
Lutz: I guess I would say though that I'm always interested in social history and I think rather than always focusing on what the elites are doing, we should do more with not elite history and what is going on in the Mayan world, what's going on in the Oriente and non-indigenous communities that are kind of forgotten.
01:06:58    |    
Docter: Sort of untold stories.
01:07:00    |    
Lutz: All these, all these that Eric Wolf talked about the "People without history."  There's all this history that is there, it is there.  But it's only without because it hasn't been uncovered and brought out.
01:07:13    |    
Docter: Well I think all these things are very inspirational and that hopefully the young Guatemalan and international scholars that have already been inspired by you will continue to be inspired.
01:07:26    |    
So many other books that I've gone through, they are dedicated to you as you know.  So, you've been a hugely influential person in social sciences during your lifetime and obviously with CIRMA and hopefully continuing onward,
01:07:40    |    
you continue to help this country look at itself in a coherent way to tell all of its stories, to tell all of its stories of all its peoples. And I think it's a very important legacy that you've brought and I know you're not the type of guy that wants to sort of pat yourself on the back,
01:08:00    |    
but it's one of the unique institutions that exist in Guatemala and the length of time that you've committed to it and the innovations that you've brought to it are something that really have added to the country as a whole. So...
01:08:14    |    
Lutz: I guess it is just because I really love Guatemala and I'm very persistent.
01:08:20    |    
Docter: Well, thank you for the conversation.
01:08:22    |    
Lutz: Not so much brilliance.
01:08:24    |    
Docter: Well, a little brilliance too.  Thank you for talking to us today.
01:08:29    |    
Lutz: Thank you. Thank you all.
01:08:31    |    





Nuestra misión es la enseñanza y difusión de los principios éticos, jurídicos y económicos de una sociedad de personas libres y responsables.

Universidad Francisco Marroquín