The Catholic University of America

Maria-Amelia Viteri, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Associate Researcher and Professor, FLASCO/Ecuador

Where are you from?

I am originally from Quito, Ecuador.

Educational background

I did my B.A. in Linguistics at Catholic University in Quito, Ecuador followed
by a Master's Degree in Social Science with a concentration on Gender Studies
at the Latin American School for Graduate Social Studies (FLACSO), also
located in Quito, Ecuador.  I came to the U.S. six years ago with my daughter
Simone (now 10) to work on my Ph.D. on Cultural Anthropology with a
concentration on Race, Gender and Social Justice at American University thanks
to a Hall of Nations Scholarship.  I also studied German at the University of
Vienna, Austria in 1990.

Your discipline/research and accomplishments

I am currently working on a book that expands my dissertation research on
Diasporic Latinos living in the D.C. area and the conflations of race,
ethnicity, gender, sexuality, positionality and identity marked by a border
crossing framework through a critical analysis of cultural and interpretative
translation.  This research has extended to El Salvador and Ecuador.  I speak
from a situated space as a transnational myself, moving between the geo-
political spaces of the U.S. and Ecuador through research and teaching as an
Associate Professor and Researcher at FLACSO/Ecuador (Latin American School
for Graduate Social Studies).  I have recently incorporated art-action,
multimedia and film as additional tools that bring the audiences closer to the
local community as well as students and activists in issues related with
immigration, gender, identity, sexuality, citizenship in Ecuador and in the
U.S.  My publications are both in English and Spanish.  My current research
work looks at the political economy of food and nostalgia among the Ecuadorian
population in NYC.  Together with Aaron Tobler and thanks to Cambridge
University Press’ interest, I have recently co-edited a book that takes a
multi-disciplinary, international approach to post- 9/11 politics entitled
“Shifting Positionalities: the (Local and International) Geo-Politics of
Surveillance and Policing”.  I have also directed and produced a documentary
that will be shortly screened in different venues in New York City entitled
“Bodies:  Borders:  The Journey”.  The documentary re-draws the classroom, the
theater and the city’s geography (Quito) calling into question space,
positionality, entitlement and inequality in relation to gender and sexuality.

Obstacles to overcome along the way?

Finding the best of 'two worlds', in my case the United States and Ecuador and
navigating these two worlds in order to combine languages, knowledge, networks
to further social justice issues around immigration, gender and sexuality in
particular.  Conjugating family life and the academic field while finding a
healthy balance.

Mentors/Role models who encouraged you

There are many wonderful mentors and role models along my journey in the academe.  My mentors/role models come first from my family, particularly my parents (passed away) and my sister Rossana.  Currently my parents in law, my cousin Betty, my husband David and my daughter Simone have been instrumental in the developing of my career.  My mentors in the academic field go as far back as my B.A. and M.A. thesis advisors in Ecuador to the wonderful professors, researchers and colleagues I have worked with most recently, both in Ecuador and the U.S. (particularly those at American University and Catholic University, Washington D.C.)

What do you do for fun in leisure time?

As I am interested in art broadly defined, we enjoy as a family touring the
galleries as well as finding art exhibits and installations including social
justice theater.  I enjoy travelling as well as the outdoors, from kayaking to