Associate Professor of Anthropology
Ph.D., New York University, 1993
Office: McGraw 212
Research Interests: institutional culture, language, law and medicine, ethnoracial identity, methods, dance and human movement, Latino/as, United States and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean
My research has focused on the unintended consequences, paradoxes, and contradictions generated in the articulation and deployment of ethnoracial identity constructs, particularly in the United States and in institutional settings, where they are applied toward the reproduction of structures of inequality. Before coming to Cornell, I taught in the Puerto Rican Studies Department at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I have also done extensive field research on arts education, mental health and medical issues, and on substance abuse prevention programs in schools, penal institutions, and community-based organizations, particularly in New York City, as well as ethnohistorical research on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, focusing on Puerto Rico and Cuba, and thus involving issues of colonialism and nationalism. An ethnohistorical pet project involves the "exportation" of Puerto Rican students to Federal Indian Schools at the turn of the 20th century. My other research interests and areas of expertise include language, law, field methods, and institutional culture. I am currently engaged in archival and legal research on language rights, ideologies, and practices, which will potentially lead, among other possibilities, to a critical ethnographic examination of translation and interpretation in the US federal court system. I hold a Certificate in Dance and Movement Analysis from the Laban Centre (formerly affiliated with Goldsmith's College, University of London) and a JD from the University of Puerto Rico Law School. I practiced public interest law for eleven years in Puerto Rico, including both criminal trial practice and civil rights litigation, and danced professionally for much of that time. Beginning with my time in law, I have actively sought professional service, which I consider a significant (yet much neglected) dimension of our institutional obligations, and have occupied multiple positions in a variety of professional organizations, from the Puerto Rico Bar Association to the American Anthropological Association.
- Medicalizing Ethnicity: Constructing Latino Identity in a Psychiatric Setting. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- "Labels, Genuine and Spurious: Anthropology and the Politics of Otherness in the United States." In G. Vargas-Cetina (ed.), Anthropology and the Politics of Representation. SUNY Press.
- "Transnationalism and Migration: Locating Sociocultural Practices Among Mexican Immigrants in the United States." Reviews in Anthropology 37(1): 16-40.
- "Reflexivity and Visual Media: Entanglements as a Productive Field." (Co-authored with Frederic W. Gleach) In P.L. Sunderland and R. Denny, Doing Anthropology in Consumer Research, pp. 205-209. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
- “Language Rights.” Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinas and Latinos in the United States, vol. 2, pp. 466-472. New York: Oxford University Press.
- "Environmentalism, Identity Politics, and the Nature of 'Nature'." Latino Studies 1(1):79-89.
- "Binary Oppositions: Re-Inscribing Ethnoracial Hierarchies in Institutional Settings." Journal for Latin American Anthropology 8(2):174-195.
- "Transcending Dichotomies: How to do anthropology in real life/Transcendir les dicotomies: com fer antropologia a la vida real." Revista d'etnologia de Catalunya 20: 64-73 (Abril 2002).
- "Deceptive Solidity: Public Signs, Civic Inclusion, and Language 'Rights' in New York City (and Beyond)." In A. Laó and A. Dávila (eds.). Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York City. New York: Columbia University Press.
- "Estado actual y perspectivas de la antropología social: Mesa redonda a propósito del IX encuentro de filósofos y cientistas sociales cubanos y norteamericanos." Co-authored with Frederic W. Gleach. Debates Americanos 5-6, enero-diciembre: 160-171. Havana, Cuba.
- "Culture As Cure." Cultural Anthropology 11(1):3-24.