Maria Fernanda Escallon
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)
Dr. Maria Fernanda Escallón is a socio-cultural anthropologist and archaeologist interested in cultural heritage, race, diversity politics, ethnicity, and inequality in Latin America. Prior to joining the department, she was a 2015-2016 Dissertation Fellow in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her 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. Her research and teaching interests include identity politics; poverty and inequality in Latin America; cultural diversity; heritage ethics; race and ethnicity; UNESCO, and cultural diplomacy. Her current book project examines whether heritage declarations are useful instruments to attend to broader issues of economic inequality, territorial rights, and political participation for Afro-descendant groups. Based on multi-sited ethnographic research in Colombia, Brazil, and UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, her work shows that while heritage recognition brings visibility to the cultural practices of Afro-descendants, it also masks the deep-seated struggles of minorities, and cements categorical boundaries within and between ethnic groups. Maria Fernanda’s research has received support from a variety of sources, including the Social Sciences Research Council, the Fulbright Program, the Mellon Foundation, and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She co-edited a thematic number of the Journal Antipoda and her most recent work appears in Heritage in Action: Making the Past in the Present. Before starting her doctorate, Maria Fernanda worked in sustainable development and heritage policy-making for non-governmental organizations and Colombian public entities, including the Ministry of Culture and the District Secretary of Culture and Tourism.