Liza Grandia


Position Title
Associate Professor


Associate Professor, UC Davis since 2012.            

B.A. summa cum laude, Yale University, 1996
Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 2006
Postdoc in the Program in Agrarian Studies, Yale University, 2006-07

UC Davis affiliations:

  • Director of the Indigenous Research Center of the Americas (IRCA)
  • Associate director of the Native American Language Center (NALC)
  • Affiliated with Community and Regional Development (CRD), International Agricultural Development (IAD), Hemispheric Institute of the Americas (HIA), and Human Rights Studies (link)

Research interests:

Q'eqchi' Maya; Belize & Guatemala; peasants, and agrarian change; pesticides; toxics in everyday life; corporate trade and globalization; foreign aid and empire; biodiversity conservation; political ecology and environmental justice; the politics of cancer; and theories of the commons.

DOWNLOAD her CV (updated July 2022)


  • Office:  2419 Hart Hall, please be fragrance free when you visit
  • Tel: 530-752-0357, Fax: 530-752-7097​
  • Email:
  • Skype: lizagrandia
  • Student hours, via telephone: sign up here via Calendly, Thursdays, 4-6 pm 



Join the Q'eqchi' Scholars Network: Facebook group and/or the listserv

Fragrance Free UCD:  Facebook page and Scent-sitive Aggies discussion group .  See brochures about safer laundry and personal care products.

Courses Taught (with syllabi and Facebook groups)

Books and films:

Grandia’s first two books concern the agrarian struggles of the Q'eqchi' Maya, Guatemala's second largest indigenous group.

1.  Tz'aptz'ooqeb' (published in Spanish in 2009 by one of Guatemala's leading social science research institutions, AVANCSO) explores the recurring dispossession of the Q'eqchi' people over the past five centuries by the Church, coffee, cattle, conservation, charity, and corporate trade.

2.  Enclosed: Conservation, Cattle and Commerce among the Q’eqchi’ Maya Lowlanders (2012, University of Washington Press) examines in more detail how and why this indigenous group has been driven into conflict with biodiversity conservationists as a result of neoliberal trade and infrastructure projects financed by international development banks across the region.

A film derived from these, "Territory: The Path to our Roots" ("Li Qana'aj: Li B'e Re Xtawb'al li Qaxe"), documents how Q'eqchi' smallholders are losing their parcels to African palm plantations and cattle ranchers in the wake of land administration projects.

Always returning her research to Q'eqchi' communities and leaders, her booklet "And Where To Work?" in Spanish and Q'eqchi', co-authored with community organizers, helped mobilize 159 Q'eqchi' villages in the ACDIP peasant federation into new strategies for territorial defense.  Markus Zander (with GIZ) authored a bilingual Spanish/Q'eqchi' agrarian history of San Luis, "Testimonio de Vida Q'eqchi'" drawing heavily from my Spanish book.  


Liza Grandia has collaborated with ProPetén in Petén, Guatemala since 1993 in the areas of reproductive health, organic agriculture, ethnobotany, gender equity, environmental justice, and agrarian reform and since over the last decade with ACDIP, the Indigenous Peasant Association for Integrated Development of Petén

Across the border in Belize, Dr. Grandia accompanied Maya communities as an expert witness in two constitutional land cases in 2007 and 2010 that resulted in historic rulings in favor of the Q'eqchi' and Mopán Maya plaintiffs. To encourage such collaborative activism between academics and indigenous communities, Dr. Grandia coordinates the Q'eqchi' Scholars Network. Anyone interested in joining this listserv should contact her by email.

Through the Indigenous Research Center of the Americas, she worked with cartographer and graduate students to develop a collaborative map of the historical context of the Dakota Access PipelineDOWNLOAD THE STANDING ROCK MAP IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT  or​ Share on social media. 

In her civic life, she founded and coordinates the Woodland Coalition for Green Schools, serves on her town's sustainability advisory committee to the city council, and raises awareness about the hazards of toxics in everyday life as "Professor Canary." 

Recent blogs -short takes on my research and activism

Major Reports / Monographs:

Articles and chapters

Recent blogs about community-engaged work and public scholarship:

  • 2022.  "From Risk to Vulnerability: Living Through Long Covid." Environment and Society. March 17.
  • 2022.  "What's In a Name:  How Public Scholarship is Inspiring the People of Guatemala to Fight for Their Land and Future."  UC Davis, Public Scholarship and Engagement, March 17.
  • 2022.  "Caves, Cacao, and Conservation Corridors." UC Davis, Public Scholarship and Engagement, forthcoming.

Some op-eds:

• LA Times, January 17, 2019, "Guatemala's democracy is under assault. Again."

• Globe Post, January 14, 2019, "As Guatemala's coup unfolds, US must act to prevent humanitarian crisis."