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Catalog Archive / Spring 2023

Long Journey to Justice
El Salvador, the United States, and Struggles against Empire

Critical Human Rights
Scott Straus and Tyrell Haberkorn, Series Editors

“This well-written and exhaustively researched work is the only book-length study of the Sister City movement. Todd documents the complexity of relations between US activists and the Salvadoran resistance, whether composed of members of El Salvador's popular movement or Salvadoran refugees residing in the United States.”
—Leigh Binford, City University of New York

As bloody wars raged in Central America during the last third of the twentieth century, hundreds of North American groups “adopted” villages in war-torn Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Unlike government-based cold war–era Sister City programs, these pairings were formed by ordinary people, often inspired by individuals displaced by US-supported counterinsurgency operations.

Drawing on two decades of work with former refugees from El Salvador as well as unprecedented access to private archives and oral histories, Molly Todd’s compelling history provides the first in-depth look at “grassroots sistering.” This model of citizen diplomacy emerged in the mid-1980s out of relationships between a few repopulated villages in Chalatenango, El Salvador, and US cities.

Todd shows how the leadership of Salvadorans and left-leaning activists in the US concerned with the expansion of empire as well as the evolution of human rights–related discourses and practices created a complex dynamic of cross-border activism that continues today.


Author. Photo credit, Name Molly Todd is an associate professor of history in the Department of History and Philosophy at Montana State University. She is the author of Beyond Displacement: Campesinos, Refugees, and Collective Action in the Salvadoran Civil War.




“By connecting us to the secret archives and intimate stories of activists, advocates, and church-goers who became part of this transnational movement, the story Todd tells offers invaluable insights for present struggles against injustice—showing us that a new world is possible, and that we have the capacity to build it.”
—Miranda Cady Hallett, University of Dayton

“Well written, well organized, and easy to read. . . . The author’s personal notes, such as her own history of activism and her interactions with both Salvadoran and US interlocutors, are interwoven skillfully and enhance the primary focus on archival and other historical documents.”
Hispanic American Historical Review

“While it is difficult to know precisely when and how national and international pressure influenced Salvadoran and related US government decision-making, Todd establishes beyond a doubt the range and passion of solidarity activism. This clearly written account of a critical period in Central American history will be of value to students of the region.”

“Well-researched and well-written. . . . [I]mportantly, the book attempts to show that this transnational social movement not only led to important political and socioeconomic changes, but also had the potential to create a more just and participatory society.”
The Americas



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Of Related Interest


Bread, Justice, and Liberty
Grassroots Activism and Human Rights in Pinochet’s Chile
Alison J. Bruey


Conflicted Memory
Military Cultural Interventions and the Human Rights Era in Peru
Cynthia E. Milton

Long Journey to Justice Book Cover.

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New in Paperback!
June 2023
LC: 2020022807 F
272 pp. 6 x 9
2 maps, 4 b/w illus.

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Paper $28.95 S
ISBN 9780299330644
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Cloth $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299330606
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