How can we quantify the immediate and lingering impact of genocide on local populations?

Using a novel approach, Diego Alburez-Gutierrez reconstructed the demographic history of the population affected by the mass killings of the Maya Achi people over the last 60 years. This project, the first in-depth quantitative study of the genocide in Guatemala, has evident historical significance.

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Why did you choose Germany as a research destination?

Germany has a fantastic research infrastructure and there are few better places for doing fundamental research. After finishing my PhD in London, I applied for a position at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, which is one of the top institutions in my field worldwide.

What was your first impression of Germany, the German culture and its people?

Germany can be a great place to live. I particularly enjoy the high quality of life and the great public infrastructure. The German people I have met are very open and warm. The traditional German cuisine is not very vegetarian-friendly, but it is increasingly common to find meat-free alternatives. =)

Did you encounter any difficulties while settling in in Germany?

Whereas German society is generally open, living in a small city like Rostock (where I am based) can be challenging for foreigners at times. For example, meeting people outside of the work environment requires an additional effort and some knowledge of German. You may be overwhelmed by German bureaucracy at first, but after some time everything starts making sense.

Do you have tips for other international researchers who are thinking about coming to Germany or cooperating with researchers in Germany?

If you are from outside the EU, I suggest looking into the "Blue Card" residence permit for highly-skilled workers. The scheme has many benefits for eligible candidates. Also, having at least a basic command of German is probably a good idea, even if you're moving to a large metropolitan city like Berlin.  

Short and crisp: What is your favourite

  • German word: Not a word, but a phrase: "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.", especially when said by Angela Merkel as she stepped down from the CDU's leadership.
  • German dish: Cheese and pear "Flammkuchen"
  • piece of German culture: Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte" (The Magic Flute) opera


Find out more about Diego Alburez-Gutierrez and his research project on the Latest Thinking website: