Hierarchies of Care: Girls, Motherhood, and Inequality in Peru. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
Palomitáy is an orphanage in highland Peru that provides a home for unmarried mothers as young as twelve years old. In their ordinary lives, these young women encounter diverse social expectations and face moral dilemmas. They endeavor to create a "good life" for themselves and their children in a context complicated by competing demands, economic uncertainties, and structured relations of power.
Drawing on a year of qualitative on-site research, this ethnography of Palomitáy's young women pays particular attention to the moral entanglements that emerge via people's efforts to provide care amid the inequalities and insecurities of today's Peru. State and nonstate participants involved in the women's intimate lives influence how the women see themselves as mothers, students, and citizens. Both deserving of care and responsible for caring for others, the young women must navigate practices interwoven with a range of a racial, gendered, and class hierarchies.
Making Families through Adoption. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. [Co-authored with Nancy Riley.]
Making Families Through Adoption provides a comprehensive look at adoption practices both in the United States and in other cultures, and a general understanding of the practices and ideology of kinship and family. The subject of adoption allows a window into discussions of what constitutes family or kin, the role of biological connectedness, oversight of parenting practices by the state, and the role of race, gender, sexuality, and socio-economic class in the building of families. While reviewing practices of and issues surrounding adoption, the authors highlight the ways these practices and discussions allow us greater insight into overall practices of kinship and family.
Performing Kinship: Narrative, Gender, and the Intimacies of Power in the Bolivian Andes. Austin: University of Texas Press.
In the highland region of Sullk'ata, located in the rural Bolivian Andes, habitual activities such as sharing food, work, and stories create a sense of relatedness among people. Through these day-to-day interactions—as well as more unusual events—individuals negotiate the affective bonds and hierarchies of their relationships. In Performing Kinship, Krista E. Van Vleet reveals the ways in which relatedness is evoked, performed, and recast among the indigenous women of Sullk'ata.
Portraying relationships of camaraderie and conflict, Van Vleet argues that narrative illuminates power relationships, which structure differences among women as well as between women and men. She also contends that in the Andes gender cannot be understood without attention to kinship. Stories such as that of the young woman who migrates to the city to do domestic work and later returns to the highlands voicing a deep ambivalence about the traditional authority of her in-laws provide enlightening examples of the ways in which storytelling enables residents of Sullk'ata to make sense of events and link themselves to one another in a variety of relationships. A vibrant ethnography, Performing Kinship offers a rare glimpse into a compelling world.