Garcia, Maria Elena

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Garcia, Maria Elena


Education: College of William and Mary, B.A.; Brown University, Ph.D.


Office—Anthropology Department, Sarah Lawrence College, 1 Mead Way, Bronxville, NY 10708. E-mail—[email protected].


Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, department of anthropology, faculty member, beginning 2002; Tufts University, Mellon postdoctoral fellow, 2006-08; University of Washington, Seattle, Comparative History of Ideas Program, faculty member, 2008—.


Fulbright Dissertation Research fellowship; Dissertation Writing fellowship, Watson Institute for International Studies; Mellon Postdoctoral fellowship, Wesleyan University.


Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Education, and Multicultural Development in Peru, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2005.


Maria Elena Garcia was educated at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she earned her undergraduate degree, then followed that with her doctorate, which she earned at Brown University. Garcia serves on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York, where she became a member of the department of anthropology in 2002. Her primary areas of research and academic interest include indigenous politics, race, ethnicity, education and language policies, and the effects of globalization on culture and politics. Her research has led to her working in the highlands of Peru, as well as in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and she has also done fieldwork in the United States, working with immigrants who have arrived from Latin America. Garcia has been honored with a number of fellowships and grants, including the Fulbright dissertation research fellowship, a dissertation writing fellowship from the Watson Institute for International Studies, and a Mellon Postdoctoral fellowship at Wesleyan University. Garcia is also the author of Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Education, and Multicultural Development in Peru, which resulted in part from her extensive research and fieldwork in the region.

Making Indigenous Citizens addresses the innovative policies that were set in motion in Peru during the late 1990s. At that time, the country was coming out of a fifteen-year period of civil war, during which approximately 70,000 people had been killed. Many of the dead were from the country's highlands, and speakers of the native Quechua language. Afraid that the language would die out entirely, and with it a vital portion of the Peruvian heritage, the government determined that something must be done to preserve their culture. Several reforms were enacted to help maintain the diversity of the nation, including a law that stated that all school children would be learning Quechua in addition to Spanish. However, much to the surprise of the innovators who considered this a brilliant plan, the parents who already spoke Quechua argued against the reform. Garcia analyzes this response, as well as the way that Peru had essentially subdivided into two separate nations, each with a culture of its own. Rather than attempting to determine what the Quechua-speakers would consider an appropriate action to promote the maintaining of their language, the government and other officials simply moved forward with what they thought was best. This behavior only drove a deeper wedge between the groups. Miguel LeSerna, in a review for the Canadian Journal of History, remarked that "Making Indigenous Citizens is a valuable contribution to Andean studies. Maria Elena Garcia effectively challenges scholarship that only examines large-scale social movements. Garcia validates the local-level actions that lay between these large-scale mobilizations and everyday forms of peasant resistance."



Canadian Journal of History, March 22, 2006, Miguel La Serna, review of Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Education, and Multicultural Development in Peru, p. 172.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2005, review of Making Indigenous Citizens, p. 75.


Sarah Lawrence College Department of Anthropology Web site, (April 17, 2008), faculty profile.

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Garcia, Maria Elena

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