I received my Ph.D. in Anthropology from St. Andrews University in Scotland where I first studied indigenous cultures and languages of the Andes. Then I went to Ecuador for my fieldwork on the contemporary indigenous movement. I worked as a consultant for eight years for various Ecuadorian non-profit organizations, UNICEF, and the Inter American Development Bank. This professional experience made me keenly aware of the complexities of contemporary postcolonial societies as well as of their implications and impacts on anthropological practice. I opted, therefore, for a more collaborative and engaged form of anthropological practice according to which the goals and scope anthropological research are designed in collaboration with the study community.
Today, I focus my research on issues of race, gender, ethnicity, contemporary indigenous movements in Latin America, and development. My interests are in the process of formation and redefinition of national identities in the Latin American context. In Ecuador I had the oppurtunity to work with a grassroots indigenous organization in the central Andes and also collaborated with indigenous activists from different national organizations on issues of indigenous rights and gender equality.
As an anthropologist interested in questions of identity formation and political action, I have examined the multifaceted ways in which identity and cultures can become tools for political struggle and the different forces that inform the process of identity formation and its constant redefinition. This work has led me to address how the complexities of global societies and economies are forcing us to rethink the significance and validity of regional studies. While incorporated in transnational flows of people, capital, and goods, each region and country in the world also maintains its own specific set of challenges and its own social and cultural identities. I see the Program in Latin American Studies at JHU as an excellent environment for exploring the ways these complexities in global and local forces and flows intersect, meet, or clash. The interdisciplinary nature of the program offers a valuable opportunity to provide our students with innovative intellectual perspectives and insights into these and other social, cultural, historical, and political complexities. Another way I envision PLAS as redefining regional boundaries is by reaching out to the local community, where citizens of Latin American countries are increasingly visible and active. I believe that such a collaboration has the potential to enrich socially and intellectually the academic community at JHU and the larger Baltimore community.