Croft Assistant Professor of Anthropology &
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 1848 38677-1848
Office: Leavell 116
I received my BA in biology with a secondary concentration in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1999. I stayed in Chicago (my original home) for graduate work, receiving my MA in anthropology in 2002 and PhD in 2008, both from the Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. I was awarded a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant and a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship for my dissertation fieldwork in La Paz, Bolivia from late 2003-early 2005. After completing my dissertation, I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Delaware, conducting research on interdisciplinary collaboration in multi-institutional research centers. I joined the faculty at the University of Mississippi in 2009. In 2010 I began the Bolivia Field School in La Paz. Students get hands-on social scientific and ethnographic training in La Paz and conduct original research during the program.
My research examines nationalist bioscientific and biomedical research in contemporary Bolivia and how it relates to indigenous and regional social movements. I am interested in the politics and practices of science in Bolivia, including how science became a privileged site for Bolivian investment in the midst of a widely discussed social “crisis.” I start by asking basic questions: as who is doing what in what kind of laboratories and what are their justifications for research? Many of the people in the laboratories are women from indigenous or poor backgrounds. I analyze how laboratory spaces became gendered to be “like home” and laboratory work analogized to “cooking” in Bolivia, and the implications of this for the shape and place of bioscience in the national context. I am also interested in how researchers in Bolivia self-consciously construct a field of “Bolivian science” that is related to yet distinct from both “global” scientific and “indigenous” knowledge.
I analyze these processes in my book manuscript, entitled Plural Science and Decolonizing Bolivia: Knowledge, Politics, and Emergent Identities in Bolivian Bioscience. My book focuses on an unlikely population of scientists: young people, mainly women and recent rural-to-urban migrants from humble backgrounds, in one of poorest and most indigenous nations in the hemisphere. It examines the growth of research science, specifically in bioscientific fields, in the context of the contemporary project of “decolonizing” and “refounding” the nation, a project headed by Bolivia’s (and Latin America’s) first self-proclaimed indigenous President, Evo Morales Ayma. I refer to what they do as “plural science” and use this concept to discuss new models of scientific practice that are do not fit classic discussions of centers and peripheries. I connect this to a broader trend in the Global South of decentering and localizing knowledge production for political and nationalist purposes. In Bolivia this happens both materially and ideologically; that is, via the content and practice of research coupled with the justifications for it at personal, institutional, and state levels. I claim that it isn’t that Bolivians are unaware of their geopolitical location, poverty, and lack of infrastructure. It is that they just don’t care. Universalizing, modernizing models of scientific practice are irrelevant, even unethical, to many contemporary Bolivian intellectuals. My book analyzes what they are doing instead.
Plural Science and Decolonizing Bolivia: Knowledge, Politics, and Emergent Identities in Bolivian Bioscience. (Manuscript under review.)
2011 “Sun God Pharma: Bolivian Pharmaceuticals and Symbolic Power.” Eä – Journal of Medical Humanities & Social Studies of Science and Technology 3(1):
2010 “The Localism of Bolivian Science: Tradition, Policy, and Projects.” Latin American Perspectives, 37 (3): 160-175.
2011 “Medical Practices in Bolivia: Indigenous, Western, or Natural?” Revista: The Harvard Review of Latin America
Papers in preparation or under review:
“Calibrating Translational Cancer Research: Collaboration without consensus in cross-
disciplinary laboratory meetings.” Co-authored with Steve Fifield and Regina Smardon. (under review)
“The Microsociology of Interdisciplinarity.” Co-authored with Regina Smardon and Steve Fifield. (under review)
“’Somos Autonomistas de Siempre’: University Politics & Governance in Bolivia.” (editing)
’Cameroon is Just Like Bolivia!: South-South Scientific Collaboration and the Construction of
“Methods for Teaching Methods: An analysis of an urban field school.” (drafting)
ANTH 101, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
ANTH 303, Cultural Anthropology for Majors
INST 207, Introduction to Latin American Studies
INST 314, Work, Gender, and Kinship in Latin America
INST 363/GST 363, Gender and Kinship in Latin America
ANTH 349, Medical Anthropology
ANTH 392/392, Ethnographic Field Methods Abroad/Politics and Cultures of the Andes (taught in Bolivia)