Keynote Speakers


Todd Whitmore:

Todd David Whitmore employs ethnographic methods -- for instance, participant observation and the open-ended interview -- to raise theological questions.  He has spent a year and a half on the ground in northern Uganda and South Sudan, with most of that time spent living in Internally Displaced Persons camps, asking the question of how people in the midst of extreme poverty and armed conflict sustain hope.  Professor Whitmore is currently working on a theologically-oriented book-length manuscript arising from this research.  In addition, he is in the process of editing over 300 hours of interviews with IDP camp residents as part of his project, Acholi Voices: Democratizing the War Testimony of Northern Uganda, which is also to come out as a published volume.  He also writes extensively on Catholic social teaching.

In light of his view that a researcher's love of and solidarity with his or her field subjects must extend beyond the production of academic goods (books and articles), Professor Whitmore has co-founded and is President of a non-governmental organization, PeaceHarvest (, which combines agricultural training with peacebuilding in northern Uganda and South Sudan.



Dominga Sic Ruiz:

The Notre Dame Theology Department and the Common Good Initiative are pleased to present a screening of Discovering Dominga, the PBS documentary about Dominga Sic Ruiz's life and activism. Ms. Sic Ruiz will be present to host the screening and lead discussion afterwards. For more information on the Discovering Dominga screening and discussion, please see the event page, here

In March 13, 1982, Denese Becker was a nine-year-old Maya girl named Dominga Sic Ruiz living in the highlands in Guatemala, when the Guatemalan army entered the village of Rio Negro. By the time the soldiers left, hundreds of people, including 70 women and 107 children, had been massacred and dumped in a mass grave. They became part of the estimated 4,000 to 5,000 men, women, and children killed in the Rio Negro area by military forces from 1980 to 1983. The Rio Negro villagers had been marked as "insurgents" for resisting their forced removal to make way for a World Bank-funded dam.

Two of the people murdered were Denese's mother and father. Denese was able to survive by hiding out in the forest with her baby sister for two weeks; the baby was not able to survive the ordeal. Denese was moved to an orphanage in Guatemala City and later adopted by an American family in Iowa, where she subsequently grew up.

After living nearly 20 years in America, Denese returned to Guatemala to learn more about the murders of her family members and to seek justice for the perpetrators.