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Maria Fernanda Escallón

Maria Fernanda Escallón profile picture
  • Title: Assistant Professor
  • Phone: 541-346-5042
  • Office: 356 Condon Hall
  • Office Hours: Appointments by email request
  • Affiliated Departments: Folklore Program
  • Website: Website


B.A. in Anthropology, Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia (2003)

M.A. in Anthropology - Archaeology Track, Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia (2004)

M.A. in Anthropology - Archaeology Track, Stanford University (2009)

Ph.D. in Anthropology,  Stanford University (2016)

CV Summary

I am a socio-cultural anthropologist and archaeologist interested in cultural heritage, race, diversity politics, ethnicity, and inequality in Latin America. Prior to joining the Anthropology Department at the University of Oregon, I was a 2015-2016 Dissertation Fellow in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. My work examines the consequences of cultural heritage declarations and draws attention to the political and economic marginalization of minority groups that occurs as a result of recognition.

Based on multi-sited ethnographic research in Colombia, my current book project examines the consequences of cultural public policy on marginalized communities and minority groups. Specifically, my research traces how the declaration of cultural practices of Afro-Latino communities as “heritage of humanity” may further marginalize already vulnerable community members and leave structural racial inequities intact. I am particularly interested in understanding how and why certain multicultural policies that are ostensibly inclusive, can end up replicating, rather than dismantling, inequality and segregation across Latin America. 

My second major research project is a long term ethnographic and archival study of the way in which the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is operationalized. Specifically, I am examining how communities are represented within the UNESCO system by tracing the inner workings of non-governmental organizations as governing bodies of the UNESCO 2003 ICH Convention.

My research has received support from a variety of sources, including the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Social Sciences Research Council, the Fulbright Program, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. My most recent work appears in Cultural Anthropology, the International Journal of Cultural Property and the International Journal of Heritage Studies. 

Before starting my doctorate, I worked in sustainable development and heritage policy-making for non-governmental organizations and Colombian public entities, including the Ministry of Culture and Bogotá’s Secretary of Culture and Tourism.

Research and teaching interests

Race and ethnicity | identity politics | cultural governance | rights and citizenship | poverty and inequality | Latin America | post-colonial studies, cultural diversity | African Diaspora in the Americas | multiculturalism | UNESCO and cultural diplomacy | intangible cultural heritage | politics of recognition | ethnographic methods | heritage ethics | cultural public policy making | human rights | cultural and intellectual property | tourism


ANTH 685 | Professional Writing Seminar (Winter Term 2020)