A historical look at a case of violence

A new book by Boston College Associate Professor of History Sylvia Sellers-García opens with a disturbing account of events that occurred one morning in Guatemala City in the summer of 1800. A surveyor and mapmaker opens his study window to find a pair of severed breasts resting on a lily pad on his windowsill. In The Woman on the Windowsill: A Tale of Mystery in Several Parts (Yale University Press, 2020), Sellers-García not only offers an engaging criminal case study, but also traces how this event became a watershed moment in Guatemalan history that radically changed the nature of justice and the established social order. According to Sellers-García, this case increased attention to crime that resulted in more forceful policing and reflected important policy decisions not only in Guatemala but across Latin America.

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