Picture of Jim Handy

Jim Handy B.A., M.A., Ph.D (Toronto)


Faculty Member in History

Arts 720

Research Area(s)

  • Capitalism and dispossession
  • Peasant Livelihoods
  • Environmental History in Central America
  • History of Development
  • Human Rights and Repression

About me


Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Distinguished Fellow Award, 2015.

College of Arts and Science, Humanities, Teaching Excellence Award, 2007

Arts and Science Students Association, Teaching Excellence Award, 2007

Winner of the J.W. George Ivany Award for Internationalization, University of Saskatchewan, 2004. 



Apostles of Inequality: Rural Poverty, Political Economy and the Economist, 1760-1860. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2022. 

Tiny Engines of Abundance: A History of Peasant Productivity and Repression. Winnipeg, Canada: Fernwood Publishing, 2022. 

Revolución en el Área Rural; conflicto rural y reforma agraría en Guatemala, 1944-1954 (translation by Oscar y Roxana Pelaez Almengor) Guatemala City: Universidad de San Carlos, 2013 

Revolution in the Countryside: Rural Conflict and Agrarian Reform in Guatemala, 1944-1954, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Gift of the Devil: A History of Guatemala, Boston, Toronto: Southend, Between the Lines, 1984.

Recent Articles, Chapters & Reports:

"The Path Back to the Future--The Enduring Legacy of the Revolution" xi-xx in Julie Gibbings and Heather Vrana (eds) Out of the Shadow: Revisiting the Revolution from Post-Peace Guatemala Austin: University of Texas Press, 2020. 

" 'The Enchantment of Property': Arthur Young, Enclosure, and the Cottage Economy in England, 1770-1840" Journal of Agrarian Change 19 (2019) 711-728. 

""The Violence of Dispossesion: Guatemala in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries" 281-324 in Sebastian Huhn and Hannes Warnecke-Berger (eds) Politics and the History of Violence in Central America New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 

" 'A Terrible Necessity': The Economist on India" Canadian Journal of History 51:2 (2016), 269-299 (with Michael Kirkpatrick

"' The Free Exercise of Self-Love': The Economist  on Ireland" Studies in Political Economy 94 (Autumn, 2014) 85-100 (with Carla Fehr).

"Food Security, Food Sovereignty: Markets and Dispossession" in Controversies in Science and Technology Vol. 4 (Oxford University Press, 2014)  (with Annette Aurelie Desmarais)

"inocencia e historia perdida en Guatemala: notas sobre la interpretación histórica de la revolución en Centroamérica" Mesoamérica 54 (2012). 137-141.

"'Drawing Forth the Force that Slumbered in Peasants' Arms': The Economist, High Agriculture and Selling Capitalism" (with Carla Fehr) , 45-61, in Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community Hannah Wittman, Annette Aurelie Desmarais, and Nettie Wiebe (eds). 2010.

"Almost Idiotic Wretchedness': A Long History of Blaming Peasants", Journal of Peasant Studies, April, 2009. 

"Guatemala: The Historical Context of Human Rights" Report prepared for the Independent Human Rights Impact Assessment of Goldcorp Inc.,
July 2008.

"Farm Labourers and Small Scale Producers in Latin America", Labour/le Travail, 55 (spring, 2005), 233-243.

“Chicken Thieves, Witches, and Judges: Vigilante Justice and Customary Law in Guatemala”, Journal of Latin American Studies, 36:3 (2004) 533-56.

“Democratizing What? Some Reflections on Nation, State, Ethnicity, Modernity, Community, and Democracy in Guatemala” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 27:53, (2002), pp.35-71.

“Reimagining Guatemala: Reconciliation and the Indigenous Accords” pp. 279-306, in Carol Prager and Trudy Grovier (eds.) Dilemmas of Reconciliation: Cases and Concepts. Wilfred Laurier University Press: Waterloo, 2003.


Recently Completed PhD Dissertations Supervised: 

Patrick Chasse "Produce More to Live Better: Cotton, Corn and Agrarian Modernization in Guatemala, 1944-1966" (2017, with Geoff Cunfer) Won best PhD dissertation in the Humanities, Fine Arts, and Social Sciences.

Rachel Hatcher, "On the Calle del Olvido: Memory and Forgetting in Post-Peace Public Discourse in El Salvador and Guatemala" (University of Saskatchewan) 2015.

Michael Kirkpatrick, "Optics and the Culture of Modernity in Guatemala City Since the Liberal Reforms", (University of Saskatchewan, 2013)--(winner of the Humanities Best Dissertation Award and the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Award for Best Dissertation).

Camilla Augustus, " Mixed Race, Legal Space: Official Discourse, Indigeneity, and Racial Mixing in Canada, the US, and Australia, 1850-1950" (University of Saskatchewan, 2013) with Jim Miller.

Jason Zorbas, "Diefenbaker, Latin American and the Caribbean: The Pursuit of Autonomy" (2009) with Janice MacKinnon.


Recently Completed MA Theses supervised:   

Melissa Davidson, "Guatemala's Market-Led Agrarian Reform: A Failure in its Own Terms" (2016). 

Dallas Posavad, "Making Your Way in the Margins: Religion, Literacy, and History in the Works of William Apess, Guaman Poma, and Captain John Swalis" (2015) 

Matt Gravlin, "The Biopolitics of Liberal Colonialism in India" 2014

Scott Silver, "Could Electoral Democracy Generate Radical Change? Debates within Guatemala's Radical Left in the 1960s" (2014)

Ciprian Bolah,   Excellent Workers but Wrong Colour of Skin: Canada's Reluctance to Admit Caribbean People as Domestic Workers and Farm Labourers" (2014) with Bill Waiser.     

Michelle Beveridge, "Identity and Solidarity in Hybrid Spaces: Narratives of Indigenous Women Political Leaders in Saskatchewan and Guatemala" (2012)

Sarah Roberts, " Debt, Sex and Aids: Dismantling the Aids in Africa Discourse' (2011) [co-supervised with Simonne Horwitz]

Tony Kaye, "Civilizing (the) Chiefs: Islam and Indirect Rule in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast' (2011), [co-supervised with Simonne Horwitz]

Carla Fehr, "The Apostle of Capitalism: The Economist from 1843-1863", (2009) 

Chris Clarke, "They were as we were: the Tupinamba, Travel Writing and the Missing 'individual' in New World Historiography" (2009)

Sarah Person, The Classical Populist Returns: The Political Style and Public Image of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez., Spring, 2007

Adam Crocker, "Images of Indigenous Rights and Environmental Stewardship: The Zapatista's Response to Conservation International and the Mexican Government in Montes Azules", Fall 2006

Jean Ruiz, "Civilized People in Uncivilized Places: Rubber, Race, and Civilization during the Amazonian Rubber Boom", Spring 2006

Rachel Hatcher, “Truth and Forgetting in Guatemala: An Examination of Memoria del Silencio and Nunca Mas.”, Fall 2005

Julie Gibbings, “Becoming Green Citizens and Other Subjects: Community Forests in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala”, Fall, 2004 (Winner of the 2004 Best Thesis in Humanities and Fine Arts award.)

Rob Scott, “Power and Progress: Community Politics in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala 1944-54”, Fall 2004

Paula Grosso, “Defining a Movement: Zapatismo in Modern Mexico”, Winter 2002.

Bradley Skopcyk, “Moctezuma's Menagerie: Managing The Beast in Pre-cortesian Tenochtitlan”, Winter, 2002


19th Century Capitalism Central America Guatemala Latin America Peasant dispossession community development environmental history human rights

I am currently working on a history of peasant productivity and livelihoods in the Caribbean in the 19th century, a history of the Panchoy Valley in Guatemala in the 18th and 19th centuries, and a general history of Guatemala.  

I welcome expressions of interest from very good graduate students working in areas dealing with peasant and Indigenous struggles in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa;  colonialism; Caribbean slavery; environmental concerns in Latin America and Africa, and examinations of development and capitalism.