Born in 1962, Marc Becker holds a B.A. degree in History and Peace Studies from Bethel College, as well as an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Modern Latin American History from the University of Kansas. He has taught in the History and Latin American Studies Departments at Kansas State University (1987-97), Illinois State University (1997-98), Gettysburg College (visiting professor, 1998-99), and Truman State University (1999-present). In addition to his professorial duties, Becker has been an Executive Committee member for the Steering Committee of Historians Against the War.
In 1980, while he was a student at Freeman Junior College in South Dakota, Becker refused to register with the Selective Service System and fled to Canada to avoid prosecution. “[T]o register for the draft,” he later explained, “would be inconsistent with the style of life that I want to lead and a violation of the Judeo-Christian ethics that I base my actions on.”
In September 2000, Becker chaired a panel at a major Marxism 2000 conference which was held at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Becker is a co-founder of NativeWeb.org, an Internet resource that compiles “information from and about indigenous nations, peoples, and organizations around the world.” In Becker’s calculus, indigenous populations have been repeatedly exploited and abused by industrialized Western countries, particularly the United States. As he wrote in 2003, for example:
“Christopher Columbus is a classic grade-school hero—and one that is built on a very tall pile of lies…. We are told that Columbus discovered America, but yet with people living in this hemisphere for tens of thousands of years he discovered it only in the sense that a robber might be said to ‘discover’ cash in a bank vault…. From an Indigenous point of view, far from being a hero Columbus symbolically represents the destruction of cultures, languages, and belief systems. He took lands and livelihoods away from people, and subjugated them to slavery, foreign rule, and an alien culture. His conquest meant the negation, denial, and oppression of the identity of a people. His imperialism was designed to deprive people of the resources needed to survive, condemning them to a life of poverty in a world of plenty.”
Becker has long objected to Americans’ celebration of Columbus Day, contending that the nation that eventually grew out of the explorer’s 15th-century transatlantic venture has been a force for monstrous evil over the course of the past 500+ years. “Columbus’s actions,” he wrote in 1991, “launched an era of modern colonialism, rape, pillage, genocide, cultural destruction, slavery, economic and environmental devastation.”
Becker fondly recalls his participation in a number of early-21st-century protests against Free Trade talks in Latin America and “Western intrusion” in Ecuador. Of his experience at one such demonstration in 2002, where his actions were met with tear gas by Ecuadorian officials, Becker says: “For me, the impact of having been tear gassed was such that I lost my fear. They can do this, but they can’t kill us, and we come back even stronger.”
In 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2011, Becker was a presenter and participant at the World Social Forum.
In October 2008, Becker joined several thousand college professors, students, and academic staffers in signing a statement “oppos[ing] the demonization of Professor William Ayers,” the former Weather Underground Organization terrorist who had come under considerable media scrutiny as a result of his longstanding ties to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Over the course of his professional life, Becker has edited seven books and is the author or co-author of seven others: Mariátegui and Latin American Marxist Theory (1993); A Particular Resistance: A Solidarity Delegation Report Back on Social Justice Movements in Oaxaca (2007); Global Democracy and the World Social Forums (2008); Indians and Leftists in the Making of Ecuador’s Modern Indigenous Movements (2008); Historia Agraria y Social de Cayambe (2009); Pachakutik: Indigenous Movements and Electoral Politics in Ecuador (2011); and Pachakutik! Movimientos Indígenas, Proyectos Políticos y Disputas Electorales en el Ecuador (2015).