This captivating ethnography reveals the immediate and persisting impact of forced family separations and the eventual reunifications in communities affected by El Salvador's civil war.
In 2005, medical student Elizabeth Barnert traveled to El Salvador to build a DNA bank for reuniting families forcibly separated during the Salvadoran Civil War. Based on fifteen years of interviews and field notes, Reunion chronicles families' experiences with military attacks, child disappearances, family separations, joyful reunions, and arduous processes of reintegration.
Barnert worked alongside Jesuit priest and Pro-Búsqueda founder Father Jon Cortina, former guerrilla fighters, and reformed gang members. Told through the voices of activists and survivors, the book accompanies young adult children seeking biological kin, including a young woman returning to El Salvador twenty years after her adoption abroad to meet her mother and brother. This groundbreaking ethnography illuminates the cycles of poverty and violence driving immigration and ongoing separations around the world. Reunion includes a foreword by renowned anthropologist Philippe Bourgois and his firsthand account of fleeing a Salvadoran military "scorched-earth" operation, with never-before-published photos and children's drawings from the war.
All book royalties of Reunion will be donated by the author to Pro-Búsqueda and related causes.
About the Author
Elizabeth Barnert is a pediatrician and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research, grounded in human rights and social action, examines children affected by violence, family separation, and incarceration.
"Barnert’s compassionate approach to her interviews helps bring to the surface many complex feelings for her subjects and, hopefully, contributes to their healing. This book, beautifully written from the heart, is an essential tool for anyone interested in recent Latin America history."
"Barnert’s book is moving, her dedication and connection to the work of Pro-Búsqueda palpable." — Jacobin