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Lynn Stephen

Lynn Stephen profile picture
  • Affiliation: fixed term enduring faculty
  • Title: Philip H. Knight Chair, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Anthropology
  • Additional Title: Graduate Faculty in Ethnic Studies, Participating Faculty in Latin American Studies, Women's and Gender Studies
  • Phone: 541-346-5168
  • Office: 316 Condon Hall
  • Office Hours: Office hours are held by Zoom on Wednesdays 12 noon - 2 pm. or by appointment. Please email me if you want to see me during regular hours or for an appointment.
  • Affiliated Departments: IRES
  • Interests: Gender, race and ethnicity, migration, indigenous peoples, Americas, legal pluralism, social memory, testimony, gender violence
  • Curriculum Vitae


B.A., Carleton College (1979); Ph.D., Brandeis (1987)



Lynn Stephen is Philip H. Knight Chair, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Anthropology, and a participating faculty member in Indigenous Race, and Ethnic Studies (IRES), Latin American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). She founded the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS, and served as director for 9 years (2007-2016), served as chair of the Department of Anthropology from 2001-2004, and was a co-coordinator for the Americas in a Globalized World “Big Idea,” Strategic Initiative at the University of Oregon from 2009-2011. She was president elect and president of the Latin American Studies Assosciation (LASA) from June 1, 2018 - June 1, 2019. She currently served as past president from June 2019-June 2020.

The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is the largest professional Association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. With over 12,000 members in up to 90 countries, nearly 60 percent of whom reside outside the United States, LASA is the one association that brings together experts on Latin America from all disciplines and diverse occupational endeavors, across the globe.

Lynn Stephen's scholarly work centers on the impact of globalization, migration, nationalism and the politics of culture on indigenous communities in the Americas. She engages political-economy, ethnohistory, and ethnography to create a hemispheric lens on major challenges faced by indigenous peoples  and others (out-migration, tourism, economic development, and low-intensity war) and their creative responses to these challenges. Her work highlights indigenous epistemologies and their theoretical and methodological relevance to advancing our knowledge of human-environmental connectivity. She has also produced ground-breaking analysis on gender, economic development, gendered violence, asylum and migration, globalization and social movements, indigenous autonomy, and the history of Latinx communities spread across multiple borders through her concept of transborder communities and migrations. She has a strong commitment to collaborative research projects that produce findings accessible to the wider public and her work includes films such as Sad Happiness: Cinthya’s Transborder Journey ( and websites (see as well as scholarly publications.

She is currently engaged in two projects. The first is a book manuscript she recently finished, Stories that Make History: Remembering Mexico through Elena Poniatowska’s Crónicas, Under contract with Duke University Press. What roles do testimony and testimonial reading and writing play in creating emotional connection across time and generations and in influencing historical memory? My book project on Poniatowska’s crónicas (often described as testimonial narratives) addresses how contemporary crónica writing and publishing intersect with key political events in Mexico (repression, social movements, indigenous rebellions, earthquakes) through the creation of emotional connections wrought not only through the act of narration but also through its extension to a wider public who can identify with the experience and are moved by it. Winner of the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor, Elena Poniatowska is one of Latin America’s most beloved writers and with others promoted the crónica as a popular genre in Mexico.

Her second research project is collaboration with Dr. Erin Beck (Political Science, UO) and Dr. Gabriela Martínez (Journalism and Communication, UO), exploring access to gendered justice for indigenous women in Guatemala and Mam indigenous refugee women in the U.S.  What are the structural opportunities and challenges that facilitate and impede indigenous women’s access to gendered justice in Guatemala and the U.S? This project explores this question through comparative research on two routes to gendered justice that some indigenous Guatemalan women have used: specialized courts for Crimes of Femicide and other Forms of Violence Against Women in Guatemala and gender-based asylum in U.S. immigration courts. Fieldwork is ongoing in several locations in Guatemala as well as in the state of Oregon in the U.S. Recent publications from that work include, "Fleeing Rural Violence: Mam Women seeking Gendered Justice in Guatemala and the U.S." Journal of Peasant Studies 46:2, 229-257, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2018.1534836, January 2019. "Gendered Violence and Indigenous Mexican Asylum Seekers: Expert Witnessing as Ethnographic Engagement." Anthropological Quarterly, 91(1): 321-358, Winter, 2018, Indigenous Women and Violence: Feminist Activist Research in Heightened States of Injustice, edited by Lynn Stephen and Shannon Speed. Forthcoming with University of Arizona Press


Stephen has authored or edited 12 books, three special journal issues and over 80 scholarly articles. Recent books include We are the Face of Oaxaca: Testimony and Social Movements (Duke University Press, 2013; published in Spanish in 2016), Otros Saberes: Collaborative Research on Indigenous and Afro-Descendent Cultural Politics (Charles R. Hale co-editor, School for American Research Press, 2013) and Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon (Duke University Press, 2007). She has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for Humanities, the Center for U.S.- Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, The Mexican Academy of Sciences, as well as grants for research and development grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Ford Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Inter-American Foundation. She has also won national and international honors and book prizes from professional associations.

With colleagues, UO graduate and undergraduate students, Stephen built “Latino Roots,” a fifteen panel traveling exhibit (, bilingual book and 52 short documentaries that have reached more than 50,000 people in Oregon (see Her commitment to mentoring Latino and Native American and other minority students to diversify the academy was recognized by the University of Oregon with the 2010 Martin Luther King Jr. Award for contributions to equity and diversity. As co-coordinator for the Otros Saberes (Other Knowledges) Project of the Latin American Studies Association, she raised funds for and mentored research teams of afro-descendent and indigenous community members and academic researchers in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico. She is currently working as a core committee member of AAA to develop the next large public education project of the American Anthropological Association titled, World on the Move: 100,000 Years of Human Migration.

Research Interests

Ÿrights claiming (human, indigenous, women’s)

Ÿintersectional analysis: gender; race, ethnicity, class

Ÿautonomy, nationalism, and globalization

Ÿtestimony, time, social and historical memory

Ÿcultural and political relations of power

Ÿsocial movements

ŸMexican migration

ŸNative peoples and indigenous epistemologies

Ÿtransnational/transborder cultures, movements, communities

Ÿcollaborative research

ŸPrimary research carried out in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and the U.S.



social theory; ethnographic methods; ethics and epistemologies; immigration, race and gender; Latino history and ethnography, oral history and documentary film-making; anthropology of chocolate; indigenous peoples; Latin American Studies