Anthropology of Latin America and Caribbean 2012

Update: This post from January 2012 became part of a series about teaching anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean. The series includes:


An anthropological perspective on Latin America and the Caribbean tends to emphasize

  • the history of indigenous peoples in the Americas prior to European presence, and a continuation of native influence and projects into the present
  • the diversity of peoples across and within national borders–how differences of ethnicity, race, class and gender are constructed, maintained, and entangled with inequalities
  • a long history of migration and movement, within and beyond national borders, and human creativity under adverse circumstances

In preparation for teaching a “Peoples and Cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean,” course, I reviewed web-posted syllabi of anthropology courses. Below are some of the resources I found across several courses, with an emphasis on films by anthropologists and overview books: a list of excellent articles and ethnographies would be enormous! One of the best reading lists I found was a 2010 Anthropology of Latin America course by Dr. Marta Magalhães.

In 2011 we lost two prominent anthropologists of Latin America. See the previous post for tributes and a bibliography for Elizabeth Brumfiel, and see Fernando Coronil: “where people can dream their futures without fear” for some reflections and bibliographic links.

Anthropology Journals and Sections on Latin America and Caribbean

The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (JLACA) is a peer-reviewed journal of anthropological research on Latin America and the Caribbean, which is published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The journal maintains a broad definition of geographical remit and includes diasporic populations. This inclusion is aimed at allowing systematic, fertile, and intellectually stimulating comparisons, which have not been sufficiently explored in publications about the region. As a publication of the American Anthropological Association, JLACA ‘s mission is to provide a venue for anthropologists (sociocultural anthropologists, social archaeologists, sociolinguists, ethnohistorians etc.)–as well as for scholars of cognate disciplines–who are engaged in the critical study of social and cultural processes in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

Anthropological Films on Latin America and Caribbean

Transnational Fiesta 1992, Paul Gelles and Wilton Martinez
Until recently, it was widely assumed that Native communities throughout the Americas would be absorbed into the mainstream or otherwise disappear. But 500 years after the beginning of the Conquest, indigenous peoples are asserting their presence and identity with renewed vigor. This remarkable video illustrates this by exploring the multicultural and transnational experiences of a family of Peruvian Andean immigrants living in Washington, D.C. The video documents their lives in Washington and follows them as they return to their home town in Peru to sponsor the annual fiesta of the village’s patron saint. The North American members of their extended family, as well as other migrants, also participate in the fiesta, where the complexities of cultural identity, religious syncretism, interethnic marriages, migration, and racism all converge.

The Global Assembly Line, Lorraine W. Gray, 1986
Traveling from Tennessee to Mexico’s northern border, from Silicon Valley to the Philippines, The Global Assembly Line takes viewers inside our new global economy. A vivid portrayal of the lives of working women and men in the “free trade zones” of developing countries and North America, as U.S. industries close their factories to search the globe for lower-wage workforces. We take a rare look at the people who are making the clothing we wear and the electronics goods we use–as well as the business decisions behind manufacturing–on the global assembly line. Emmy Award and Blue Ribbon winner.

Anthropology Overview Books on Latin America and the Caribbean

The Anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean, Harry Sanabria
The first single-authored comprehensive introduction to major contemporary research trends, issues, and debates on the anthropology of Latin America and the Caribbean. The text provides wide and historically informed coverage of key facets of Latin American and Caribbean societies and their cultural and historical development as well as the powerful role of power and inequality in this development.

Race and Sex in Latin America, Peter Wade
The intersection of race and sex in Latin America is a subject touched upon by many disciplines but this is the first book to deal solely with these issues. Interracial sexual relations are often a key mythic basis for Latin American national identities, but the importance of this has been underexplored. Peter Wade provides a pioneering overview of the growing literature on race and sex in the region, covering historical aspects and contemporary debates. He includes both black and indigenous people in the frame, as well as mixed and white people, avoiding the implication that “race” means “black-white” relations. Challenging but accessible, this book will appeal across the humanities and social sciences, particularly to students of anthropology, gender studies, history and Latin American studies.

A Companion to Latin American Anthropology, Deborah Poole
Comprised of 24 newly commissioned chapters, this defining reference volume on Latin America introduces English-language readers to the debates, traditions, and sensibilities that have shaped the study of this diverse region. Contributors include some of the most prominent figures in Latin American and Latin Americanist anthropology. Offers previously unpublished work from Latin America scholars that has been translated into English explicitly for this volume. Includes overviews of national anthropologies in Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Brazil, and is also topically focused on new research.


To cite: Antrosio, Jason. 2012. “Anthropology of Latin America and Caribbean.” Living Anthropologically website, https://www.livinganthropologically.com/latin-america-caribbean-2012/. Originally posted 7 January 2012 on the Anthropology Report website, http://anthropologyreport.com/latin-america-caribbean. Revised 3 December 2017.


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