Billie Jean Isbell

Professor Emerita


I served as the director of the Andean program for Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development from 1990 until 2002.

I also served as director of the Latin American Program at Cornell from 1987 to 1993 and again in 2001-2002.

I have been a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a Chercheur Assocíe, CNRS, École des Hautes Études, Paris France.

I have received awards and grants, fellowships and grants from: Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright, MacArthur, NEH, and A Ford Training Grant for Interdisciplinary Training of Graduate Students. The most recent grants include an Institute for the Social Sciences grant (2006) and two Faculty Innovation in Teaching grants from the office of the Provost (2005, 2007) and a grant from Olin library to create digital web site (2005) resulting in the following websites:

  1. A Virtual Tour through Time and Space: Lessons from Vicos, Peru
  2. A grant from Olin Digital Collection to create a site for Isbell's work

I am currently serving on the Inter-American Grassroots Development Fellowship selection committee.

Most recently, I have taught courses on:

  • Cornell Law School: Truth and Reconciliation in Democratizing Societies
  • Dept. of Anthropology Courses: Sex and Gender, Social Movements in Latin America and a Writing Seminar on Human Rights.
  • Cuisine, Production, and Biodiversity in Peru: offered over the last 6 weeks of Fall semester and a Winter Intersession field trip to Peru followed by 6 week course in spring.
  • Art in the Modern World Summer 6 week session.

My current book project is: Gender Journey to the Land of Neither Nor.

Research Focus

Ethnography and fiction; The Slow Food Movement; Innovative technologies for teaching Issues of global development



    • Lessons from Vicos.  Anthropology in Action.  16:41-54. 2009

    • Public Secrets from Peru 2003
  • BOOK

    • Finding Cholita.  Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 2009
    • Para defendernos : ecología y ritual en un pueblo andino.  Cuzco: Centro de Estudios Regionales Andinos Bartolomé de las Casas. 2005

    • Cornell Returns to Vicos, 2005.  Vicos and Beyond: A Half Century of Applying Anthropology in Peru. Ed. Bolton, Ralph .  Lanham: Md.: AltaMira Press. 283-307. 2011
    • Written on My Body.  Violence: Ethnographic Encounters. Ed. Ghassem-Fachandi, Parvis.  London: Berg Press. 15-34. 2009
    • Protest Arts from Ayacucho, Peru: Song and Visual Artworks as Validation of Experience.  Quechua Expresivo: La Inscripción Voces Andinas. Ed. Delgado, Guillermo.  Schechter, John Mendell . 237-262. 2004
    • You Can Make a Difference: Human Rights as the Subject Matter for a First-Year Writing Seminar. Local Knowledges, Local Practices: Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell. Ed. Monroe, Jonathan.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 90-98. 2003