Since 1995 my ethnographic research has focused on the ways that native Andeans produce and negotiate “relatedness” in their interactions with each other. My first book Performing Kinship: Narrative, Gender, and the Intimacies of Power in The Andes (2008, University of Texas Press) explores the talk and actions through which kinship and gender are produced and negotiated in the rural higlands of Bolivia. The book intertwines personal narratives, gossip, folk stories, and interviews with detailed observations and descriptions of people’s actions and and interactions in Bolivia at the end of the 20th century. The book explores topics such as ideologies of family and practices of adoption and fostering, violence between women and their in-laws (both men and women), changing marriage practices, gender and ethnic identities among adolescents, and the impacts of migration to urban centers on rural communities. The book has been reviewed in several journals including American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Current Anthropology, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, and Signs.
My more recent analyses of informal and clandestine adoption in Bolivian urban spaces and the production of masculinity and ethnicity in stories of fighting ritual battles have extended this research. Reflecting on the dissolution as well as the creation of social bonds has resulted in an analysis of the narratives told by Catholics about the devil possession of recent converts to evangelical Protestants.
My current research draws upon my long-standing interests in narrative, performativity, and power in new ways by tracing the articulations of gender and family in religious discourse in Cusco, Peru and Sucre, Bolivia. Drawing on photographic/visual methodologies and narrative analyses the project aims to complicate understandings of “Andean” religion by exploring the embodied performances of gender, race, and sexuality in a context of transnational movements of people, images, ideas, and commodities. My ethnographic research is situated in multiple arenas including a home for teenaged mothers and their children and a family-run evangelical Protestant church. Rural to urban migrants, long-time urban residents, foreign tourists and volunteers, local and foreign missionaries, state officials and policy makers circulate within (and sometimes between) these spaces, requiring a rethinking of family and gender in the Andes.