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Division Chair

2022/2023 Senate Leadership

Nancy Postero (Anthropology)

Nancy Postero is a socio-cultural anthropologist whose work has focused on the intersection of race, politics, and the environment in Latin America. After 10 years as a criminal defense and immigration attorney in Arizona, and 4 years as a radio documentary maker for NPR, she received her PhD in Anthropology from UC Berkeley in 2001. She has been here at UCSD since then, teaching in Anthropology, Human Rights, and International Studies, while undertaking many leadership roles related to these areas. She was a co-founder of the Human Rights program, and now serves as Co-Director of the Human Rights and Migration program. In 2016, she became a co-founder and Director of the International Institute, a multi-disciplinary organization encompassing social sciences, humanities and natural sciences. She directs the Institute’s Global Indigenous Peoples Faculty Group, and was a co-PI of the International Institute’s 2018-19 Mellon Foundation funded Sawyer Seminar, Claiming the City: Urban Citizenship, Hybrid Cultures, and Governance in the Modern Era. She also initiated UCSD’s first Scholar at Risk project, finding funding for a post-doctoral fellowship for a scholar in exile from Turkey. Recently, she joined the Anthropology Department’s Climate Change Interest Group.

For the last twenty-five years, she has carried out research in Bolivia, where she has followed the efforts of Indigenous people to gain sovereignty over their lands and resources. Her first monograph, Now We Are Citizens (Stanford University Press, 2007) traced the neoliberal multicultural era, when Indigenous groups began organizing and seeking recognition from the state. Making comparisons between the Bolivian case and the rest of Latin America, she collaborated with Leon Zamosc (UCSD Sociology) on a 2004 edited volume, The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America , and with Mark Goodale (U Lausanne) on a 2013 edited volume, Neoliberalism, Interrupted: Social Change and Contested Governance in Contemporary Latin America.

Her most recent single-authored book returned her focus to Bolivia. The Indigenous State: Race, Politics, and Performance (UC Press 2017) traces the administration of Bolivia’s first Indigenous-led government. Ushered into power by a surge of “resource nationalism”, Evo Morales was elected president in 2005, promising to overturn neoliberal policies, decolonize Bolivia’s society and government, and return the benefits of Bolivia’s national resource extraction to the people. The book traces the ways this emancipatory politics was transformed over the decade, as the state continued the extractivist development model of previous governments, privileging hydrocarbons, and more recently lithium exploitation. Her newest project is co-editing a Routledge Handbook on Indigenous Development, examining the thorny topic of development from the perspective of Indigenous communities across the globe. Working with Indigenous co-editors from Guatemala and New Zealand, she has assembled a team of mostly Native scholars and activists who are rethinking Indigenous futures. Her researchhas been supported by the Mellon Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation, Hellman Family Foundation, and Riksnakens Jubileumsfond (Sweden), among others.

Postero has served at the Academic Senate level on the Graduate Council, the Committee on Committees, and as interim San Diego Divisional Representative to the UC Assembly, as well as range of university committees including the EVCs 2020 Summer Task Force on Budget Planning Guidance, the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship selection committee, the Hellman Awards Committee, the Institute for International and Comparative Area Studies (IICAS) Board of Advisers, the International Studies Program Advisory Committee, and the Dean of Social Science’s Task Force for the Future.

Senate Leadership