About me

¡Hola!

I am an ethnographer of contemporary Colombia interested in researching (de)militarized rural landscapes, post-conflict politics and economics, and multispecies relations of aid and care.

I am currently the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Irvine. I work in the Department of Gender and Sexualities Studies with professor Jennifer Terry (this is her latest book; Attachments to War).

My doctoral dissertation, “Trust in Scales: Humanitarian Demining and Peace Laboratories in Rural Colombia,” addresses rural ecologies of life (and death) as they are occupied by heterogeneous war forces and by the complex political economy of what is termed “post-conflict.” This ethnography is based on two years of fieldwork in the “Pilot Project of Humanitarian Demining,” a peace initiative that brought guerrillas and army soldiers together to work in the removal of improvised landmines planted in peasant villages during the decades-long war.

My work is inspired by diverse scholarly fields, especially ethnographic theory, feminist science and technology studies, critical humanitarian studies, and political ecology.

My research has been supported by grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the University of California President’s Office, the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI), and the Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies Dean’s office at UC Davis.

Dissertation committee: 

Marisol de la Cadena (Chair). Here is the link to her powerful book, Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds.

Caren Kaplan.  Here you can find her latest book, Aerial Aftermaths: Wartime from Above.

Javier Arbona. Visit his website for his latest publications and blogs.


Curriculum Vitae; Cultural Studies at UCD; Academia Profile; Research

Research Interests

Anthropology of Violence and Peace, Ethnographic Theory,  Feminist Science and Technology Studies, Feminist Political Ecology, Critical Humanitarian Studies; land mines and IEDs, politics and practices of min-contamination and humanitarian demining, technologies and tools of war and peacemaking.

Suspicious Landscapes

Suspicious Landscapes: Humanitarian Demining and Peace Laboratories in Rural Colombia

My current project, Suspicious Landscapes: Humanitarian Demining and Peace Laboratories in Rural Colombia, is an ethnography study of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and mine clearance in times of suspended war and peace. With the aid of ethnographic concepts, I explore experimental practices of political reconciliation built around humanitarian efforts to demine territories formerly ravaged by wars. Empirically, I study the relations between anti-personnel mines, former foes (guerrilla members and soldiers from the Colombian army), war-affected peasant communities, and demining experts –including mine-sniffing dogs.

This research is based on two years of fieldwork among participants in a Pilot Project for Humanitarian Demining. Touted as a ‘peace laboratory,’ the Pilot Project was an initiative to experiment “on the ground” the possibility of an alliance between enemies that were still at war. It hoped to create relations of trust, collaboration, and reconciliation among them and peasants trapped in the middle of the crossfire. Through this joint work, they were to create and escalate relations of trust, collaboration, and reconciliation among them. The humanitarian and political goal of the demining project was to remake rural landscapes and re-enable peasant life. My research demonstrates that these efforts were fraught with tensions, challenges, and aporias. Troubles abound, and (war) residuals may remain. What reconciliation, development, and peace may become is, therefore, still at stake. The possibilities are unfinished.

Check my future research project, Senses in Translation.

Senses in Translation

Senses in Translation: Multispecies Assemblages for War Remnant Detection

Based primarily in Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, two countries with growing dog demining industries, this project is a comparative analysis of the limits and possibilities of perception that enable human–dog assemblages to clear heterogenous war-contaminated territories. Empirically, I will conduct participant observation with various lay practitioners and their canines at the International Canine Demining Center of the Colombian National Army and the Global Training Center of the demining organization Norwegian People’s Aid. I will follow these practitioners and their dog partners as they experiment with practices, infrastructures, and technologies for the detection of explosive devices. Specifically, my project will address how humans and dogs use this set of apparatuses to translate and communicate the sensory worlds that each of them inhabits to optimize their joint detection labor. Through this ethnographic research, I am interested in exploring the emergence of a shared multispecies sensorial sphere.

Check my current research project, Suspicious Landscapes

Teaching

Pedagogical practice:

My teaching approach is rooted in the same feminist commitments that motivate my research: critical and collaborative interrogation of knowledge production and ethical practices through which we understand, produce and unravel the complex and entangled world in which we live. My pedagogical practice has three main objectives:

  1. to provide engaging and collaborative spaces for active and critical learning.
  2. to develop critical thinking through assignments that focus on close reading and creative writing.
  3. to incorporate a diversity of voices and perspectives that broaden students’ academic and social abilities.

Experience:

I have taught lower and upper-division courses in a variety of programs: Anthropology, Women & Gender Studies, American Studies, and Spanish.


Courses I envision teaching:

  • Warfare Underground: Mines and Humanitarianism Reconsidered
  • Everyday Warfare and Militarized Landscapes
  • Ethnographies of (Post-)conflict and Development
  • Technologies and Practices of Aid: Global Structures of Humanitarianism
  • Feminism, (un)armed conflicts, and humanitarianism.
  • Multispecies Relations: Race, Sex, and Animals
  • Anthropology of the Senses
  • Latin American Ethnographies

I’m working on future classes syllabi. You will find the link here soon.

For more on past teaching please see C.V.