PhD, Johns Hopkins University
MA, Johns Hopkins University
MA, University of Arizona
BA (Honours), University of Toronto
Anthropology; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; Religion; Revolution; Political Ecology; Political Theology.
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J1P3
416 736 2100
I am an associate professor and former director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean. From 2013-16 I served on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In 2016-17 I was a Faculty Fellow at the Charles Warren Center for American History at Harvard University.
A political and historical anthropologist, I study the formation of political and moral agency in situations of conflict or crisis, using theoretical tools drawn from the anthropology of religion, actor-network theory, feminist anthropology, and political ecology. I work in Latin America, to date in agrarian communities in Guatemala and Chile, but increasingly I am interested in other kinds of collectives, particularly those formed around contemporary art, chronic illness, and mystical and popular Catholic tradition.
With Diane Nelson, I co-edited War by Other Means: Aftermath in Postgenocide Guatemala (Duke UP, 2013), a collection of papers addressing the legacy of 36 years of massive state violence in an aftermath characterized by both neoliberal restructuring and attempts at transitional justice. My monograph The Good Road: Conscience and Consciousness in a Post-Revolutionary Mayan Village in Guatemala is forthcoming with Duke University Press. In it I show how revolutionary consciousness raising, Catholic traditions of moral thought, and indigenous experiences and concepts of community briefly converged to produce a Mayan revolutionary consciousness; how the Guatemalan state’s genocidal response to Mayan mobilization for revolution forced them apart again; and how this history shapes contemporary Mayan projects for the future.
My current project examines a dam conflict in the remote Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia, where energy companies and multimillionaire private conservationists have very publicly clashed over the future uses to which this “last frontier” should be put. I explore how gauchos living in river valleys draw on their history as the heroic pioneers who made this difficult terrain productive and the material legacy of this history in different forms of private property as resources for building collective responses to the dam proposal, both in favor and against.
My work has been supported by grants from the Fulbright Institute of International Education, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, among others.