Officially launched in June 2012, in the framework of the 3rd Young Americanists’ Days, the Central America center is hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Costa Rica (UCR), in San José, Costa Rica.


Discover in 180 seconds the thesis of Léa BERNARD, coordinator of the Central America center (2021-2024) PhD student at the EHESS (ED 286).

PhD dissertation topic : « Going up in smoke. Uses and representations of the copal tree in the agroforestry of the Q'eqchi' of the lowlands (Petén, Guatemala) », under the direction of Perig PITROU

The thesis of the coordinator of the Central America center of the Institute of the Americas focuses on the uses and representations of the forest of the Maya Q'eqchi' communities that inhabit the lowlands of the Petén, following recent migrations from the highlands of Alta Verapaz (Guatemala). She is particularly interested in the relations with the copal tree (Protium copal), whose sap is extracted by hand to produce a resin which, when consumed during therapeutic and agroforestry rituals, allows for the establishment of exchanges with entities of nature, whose intervention seems indispensable to the smooth functioning of agroforestry activities. The study of the modalities and stakes of these exchanges aims to shed light on how the relationship with the forest space and the entities, human or not, that inhabit it concentrates, beyond ecology, identity, economic, political and religious issues. The data on which the thesis is based are produced through an ethnographic survey of 12 discontinuous months in Q'eqchi' communities, mainly in Petén and, secondarily, in Alta Verapaz, Izabal (Guatemala) and Toledo (Belize). The Central American scope of the center is consolidated by the promotion of scientific activities around the subjects of agroforestry, ecology and territory.


To contact the center :

Référentes locales

Isabel AVENDAÑO FLORES (UCR) et Charlotte IVERN (Ambassade de France au Costa Rica)

Référent scientifique local

Consult the thesis topics of former coordinators of the center

Laura HENRY (coordinatrice de 2017 à 2020), Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3

« La patrimonialisation du cacao au Costa Rica et en République Dominicaine. Qualification territoriale, développement durable et dynamiques sociales » sous la direction de Sébastien Velut.



Sofia GUEVARA (coordinatrice de 2014 à 2017), Universités de Paris Est et de Paris Nanterre
« De l'instabilité de la notion du risque en milieu urbain. Habitants et gestionnaires face aux inondations à Barrio Luján et la Carpio (San José, Costa Rica) », sous la direction de Jean-Pierre Levy.


 Catherine LACAZE (coordinatrice de 2011 à 2014), Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès 
« Le processus d'héroisation de Francisco Morazán en Amérique Centrale (1842-1942) » sous la direction de Michel Bertrand. 

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