Sylvia Sellers-GarciaFeb 2, 2022
The Woman on the Windowsill
A Tale of Mystery in Several Parts
Yale University Press 2020
On the morning of July 1, 1800, a surveyor and mapmaker named Cayetano Díaz opened the window of his study in Guatemala City to find a horrific sight: a pair of severed breasts. Offering a meticulously researched and evocative account of the quest to find the perpetrator and understand the motives behind such a brutal act, this volume pinpoints the sensational crime as a watershed moment in Guatemalan history that radically changed the nature of justice and the established social order.
In The Woman on the Windowsill: A Tale of Mystery in Several Parts (Yale UP, 2020), Sylvia Sellers-García reveals how this bizarre and macabre event spurred an increased attention to crime that resulted in more forceful policing and reflected important policy decisions not only in Guatemala but across Latin America. This fascinating book is both an engaging criminal case study and a broader consideration of the forces shaping Guatemala City at the brink of the modern era.
Elspeth Currie is a PhD student in the Department of History at Boston College where she studies women’s intellectual history in early modern Europe.