Portrait of Dr Daniela Peluso

Dr Daniela Peluso

Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology
Programme Convenor for BA Social Anthropology


Dr Daniela Peluso is a social-cultural anthropologist who received her PhD from Columbia University in 2003. Dr Peluso's research interests range from Amazonian to corporate environments and her teaching brings together divergent and similar aspects of the 'exotic' and ordinary, global and local for a contemporary understanding of and approach toward social anthropology. 

Over the last three decades, Dr Peluso has worked in Lowland South America, mostly with Ese Eja communities in the Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon, and in close collaboration with indigenous organisations. She has been involved in various local efforts on issues relating to health, gender and land-rights. Daniela is an Associate of People and Plants International, an advisory board member of Chacruna, and currently manages the Lowland South Americanists listserv - LOSAN - that provides an interdisciplinary network for European colleagues working in Lowland South America and neighbouring regions. She also serves as an elected Member-At-Large on the Board of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA) and a committee member of SHARE-Amazónica (The Historical Anthropology Society for the Support of Amazonian Education), the Centre for Biological and Cultural Diversity (CBCD) and the Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies

Dr Peluso's current research focuses on the geographical shifts of indigenous urbanisation whereby she views urbanisation as an indigenous process or strategy that may not reflect permanence but rather continuous movement between distinct environments. Daniela's early work as a medical anthropologist focused on indigenous health-care delivery systems, medical pluralism and the geography of healthcare and well-being in Amazonia. Since medical choices are a reflection of identity, and it is mostly women who are responsible for the day-to-day healthcare of children in this region, Daniela's interests led her to examine gender, the politics of reproduction and the construction of personhood. 

Dr Peluso's dissertation explores identity in terms of intermarriage, relatedness and exchange between Ese Eja and others. Her analysis offers an alternative to the usual association of Amazonian women as strongholds of 'tradition' within their communities. Although more rooted in their local regimes of production and exchange, and often more marginalised by modernity than men, it shows how women are key agents in the mediation of encounters with 'others'. This transpires primarily through their marriage to 'non-Ese Eja' and their authority in creating relatedness through alternative venues such as adoption, partible paternity, and the control of the substance that in turn enables physical and social reproduction. As mediators of relatedness and its ensuing conflicts, women exert considerable social power in broadening people's ability to create new systems of exchange and production adjacent to emerging and existing ones. 

With an experiential and academic background in business, Dr Peluso is also interested in examining businesses from an anthropological perspective. Her focus is mostly on finance and highly-skilled labour. In Daniela's teaching, she challenges students to think about the social relations that found, sustain, innovate and disrupt the dynamic webs and structures within which businesses exist. She believes that ultimately – to be relevant - an anthropology of business should replace the ‘exotic’ with the ‘enigmatic’ and inspire empowerment through that demystification. 

Research interests

Dr Daniela Peluso has worked on several long-term advocacy and research projects relevant to Ese Eja livelihoods jointly with Dr Miguel Alexiades. Her current research, in Madre de Dios, Peru, is studying the relationship between the environmental economy and indigenous urbanisation and ethnogenesis. She is examining how urbanisation and the intensification of global flows of information, people and capital – as they unfold within an emergent environmental service economy – are reshaping ‘indigenous’ notions of social relations, including gender, as well as notions of self and place.

Dr Peluso has organised several international research events for SAC, such as Conversations on Empathy: An Interdisciplinary EncounterRethinking Skill: New Ethnographic Perspectives on Expertise and Space, Place and Territoriality.



  • SE313: Relations: Global Perspectives on Family, Friendship and Care
  • SE579: The Anthropology of Amazonia
  • SE584: The Anthropology of Business
  • SE586: Ethnographies I
  • SE588: Advanced Social Anthropology I


  • SE886: Anthropological Research Methods II
  • SE889: Lowland South American Anthropology
  • SE868: Anthropological Approaches to Business


Dr Peluso is interested in supervising PhD dissertations on issues of indigenous urbanisation, relatedness, business organisations, gender, poverty, well-being and morality in the regions of Amazonia, the UK and elsewhere.

Current students

  • Matthew Day (Co-supervisor with Dr Mike Poltorak): Prescribing and producing care: The social dynamics of NHS inpatient mental health services
  • Bhokraj Gurung (Co-supervisor with Dr Mike Poltorak) (Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship): Enigma of departure: Material histories, politics of land and belonging among the Nepali diaspora in Fiji 
  • Keira Pratt-Boyden (Co-supervisor with Dr Mike Poltorak) (Vice Chancellor's Research Scholarship): Mental health activism and alternative communal healing methods in the UK
  • Boana Visser (Co-supervisor with Dr Dimitrios Theodossopoulos) (University 50 Year Anniversary Scholarship): Indigenous urbanisation in Bocas del Toro, Panama: experiences and perceptions of poverty


  • Amber Abrams (Co-supervisor with Dr Miguel Alexiades) (University 50 Year Anniversary Scholarship): Health-seeking practices and skills on the boundaries of protected areas in South Africa
  • Hayder Al-Mohhamad (ESRC Studentship Quota Award): Basra - the struggle of dwelling: An ethics of everyday life. PhD awarded in 2012.
  • Ruth Auger (Co-supervisor with Dr David Henig) (University 50 Year Anniversary Scholarship): The Making of the Moral Person: Homelessness in Canterbury, Kent. PhD awarded in 2018.
  • Natalia García Bonet (Co-supervisor with Dr Miguel Alexiades) (University 50 Year Anniversary Scholarship): To The School And Back: Intercultural Education, Identity Construction and Pemón-state relationships in Southeastern Venezuela. PhD awarded in 2018.  
  • Maria Calderón Muñoz: Gender, power and the Church: Women's participation in Small Religious Communities in Quito, Ecuador. PhD awarded in 2011.
  • Joaquin Carrizosa (Co-supervisor with Dr Miguel Alexiades) (Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies Studentship Award): THE SHAPE-SHIFTING TERRITORY: Colonialism, Shamanism and A'i Kofan Place-Making in the Amazonian Piedmont, Colombia. PhD awarded in 2015.
  • Emily Caruso (Co-supervisor with Dr Helen Newing) (ESRC CASE Studentship Quota Award): Being at the Centre: ontology, cosmology and history among the Ene Ashaninka. PhD awarded in 2012.
  • Melanie Dembinsky (Graduate Teaching Assistant Studentship) Illness, Health and Identity amongst Aboriginal Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer in Western Australia. PhD awarded in 2014.
  • Emma O'Driscoll (ESRC Studentship Quota Award): Contested identities: Shuar experiences of rural-urban migration. PhD awarded in 2015.
  • Daniel Rodriguez (Co-Supervisor with Dr Miguel Alexiades) (ESRC Studentship Quota Award): New areas of enquiry for an anthropology of isolated peoples in Amazonia: An ethnographic approach to the transnational dynamics of protection in the bi-national frontier region of Peru and Brazil.
  • Carin Tunåker (Graduate Teaching Assistant Studentship): A Different Kind of Homeless: LGBTQ Youth in East Kent. PhD awarded in 2017.


Dr Peluso is available to comment on issues related to: 

  • Lowland South America: indigenous urbanisation, native federations, moral economy, gender, relatedness
  • UK: precarity, homelessness, workplaces, well-being
  • USA and elsewhere: anthropology of business, finance and the stock market

Coverage – press, reviews, blogs



  • Peluso, D., Sinclair, E., Labate, B. and Cavnar, C. (2020). Reflections on Crafting an Ayahuasca Community Guide for the Awareness of Sexual Abuse. Journal of Psychedelic Studies [Online] 4:24-33. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1556/2054.2020.00124.
    This commentary serves to reflect upon the conception and development of a set of guidelines for the awareness of sexual abuse in ayahuasca settings, an assortment of scenarios that take place in local and global settings entailing the use of a psychedelic brew known for producing visionary and purgative effects composed of Amazonian Banisteriopsis caapi (ayahuasca vine) most commonly combined with the leaves of Psychotria viridis (chacruna) or Diplopterys cabrerana (chaliponga). The globalization and diaspora of ayahuasca expertise, usage, and plant materials has broadened the diversity of individual and group interactions and geographical and social contexts in which this hallucinogenic concoction is ingested, and thus given rise to a range of possibilities which also may, despondently, include possibilities for sexual harassment and abuse. Here, the authors raise the key issues and processes that have led to formation, publication, and dissemination of the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines’ Ayahuasca Community Guide for the Awareness of Sexual Abuse, focusing specifically on the needs for such guidelines, as well as the challenges faced in collaboratively creating them. The creation of guidelines as a form of education is a task wrought with concerns, as they must first and foremost convey the fact that abuse is never the victim/survivor’s fault, and yet they must also aim to inform individuals of potential common scenarios that can lead to abuse. In this sense, guidelines themselves are held up to scrutiny, and the process of collaboratively crafting the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines’ Ayahuasca Community Guide for the Awareness of Sexual Abuse has not been an exception. The authors stress the importance of research and experience in understanding the complexities of the contexts in which potential abuse can occur, particularly around issues of consent and intercultural communication. The overall aim is one of education at all levels; not just in better informing participants but, in doing so, being part of a broader goal of changing the potential scenarios themselves.
  • Peluso, D. (2018). Traversing the margins of corruption amidst informal economies in Amazonia. Culture, Theory and Critique [Online] 59:400-418. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14735784.2018.1499433.
    This article focuses on local idioms of extra-legal economic activity among indigenous Amazonians in eastern Peru, and its overall argument is that these idioms are part of a broader context in which indigenous people are compelled by a variety of factors to act in a seemingly corrupt manner. I further suggest that within such a context these idioms are not confined to the informal economy but are also used to refer to activities that fall within the formal economy, supporting Hart’s (2009) claim that the informal economy is a way of imagining the orthodox economy. I argue that corruption within Amazonian economies is commonly perceived by non-indigenous people as contrasting with the workings of the orthodox economy without proper consideration of the economic conditions and bureaucratic structures that give rise to it. Lastly, I argue that, here, corruption can contravene bureaucracy by restoring the humanity that Herzfeld (1993) claims bureaucracy rejects through its acts of indifference toward individuals.
  • Peluso, D. (2017). Fearless girl facing Charging Bull simply restates outdated gender stereotypes. Public art and gender politics clash in corporate America. The Conversation [An independent, not-for-profit media outlet that uses content sourced from the academic and research community]. Available at: https://theconversation.com/fearless-girl-facing-charging-bull-simply-restates-outdated-gender-stereotypes-heres-why-79122.
    Kristen Visbal’s 250lb “fearless girl” sculpture recently won three Grand Prix and 18 Lions in all, making her the biggest winner in the history of the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity. The awards and accolades have credited her with challenging gender equality on Wall Street – despite her own use of gender stereotypes and the fact that the statue was commissioned by the very financial institutions the piece purports to challenge.

    The statue, which was placed in front of Arturo Di Modica’s iconic “charging bull” – a minimalist three-and-a-half ton bronze sculpted bull that marks New York’s financial district – on International Women’s Day, has been at the centre of debates ever since. Their juxtaposition has spurred discussion about workplace gender equality as well as art that mostly ignore the political economy of the surrounding financial institutions that directly and indirectly brought them together.
  • Beckerman, S., Lizarralde, M., Peluso, D., Yvinec, C., Harris, N., Parker, D., Walker, R. and Hill, K. (2017). Partible paternity, the secondary sex ratio and a possible Trivers-Willard effect. Current Anthropology [Online] 58:540-543. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/692984.
    Partible paternity, the belief that a child can have more than one biological father, is widespread in lowland South America. An analysis of demographic data sets from four lowland tribes (Aché, Barí, Ese Eja, and Surui) reveals a systematic variation in the sex ratios of live births with respect to the number of fathers to whom the births are attributed. Births attributed to only one father show a sex ratio that is unexceptional for South America; births with two fathers are highly male biased, while children with three or more are female biased. This pattern may be a manifestation of a phenomenon predicted by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which proposes that, in many circumstances, females in good condition might bias their offspring toward males, while those in poor condition would produce a preponderance of females. If, as suggested below, a woman with a husband and a single extramarital lover tends to be better cared for before and during a pregnancy than other women, this difference might result in the improved maternal condition required by the Trivers-Willard hypothesis for excess males, while women who accept two or more lovers might be preponderantly those who are already in distress, thus tending to produce female biased offspring.
  • Peluso, D. (2017). The Ethnography of versus for Question in an anthropology of/for Business. Journal of Business Anthropology [Online] 6:8-23. Available at: https://rauli.cbs.dk/index.php/jba/issue/view/728/showToc.
    This is the lead article in a special-themed edition of the Journal of Business Anthropology entitled: Anthropology of Versus Anthropology for Business: Exploring the Borders and Crossovers Between an Anthropology of Business and Anthropological Consultancy (Guest Editor: Daniela Peluso)
  • Alexiades, M. and Peluso, D. (2016). La urbanización indígena en la Amazonia. Un nuevo contexto de articulación social y territorial = Indigenous urbanization in Amazonia: a new context for social and territorial articulation. Gazeta de Antropología [Online] 32:1-22. Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10481/42869.
    La idea generalizada de la Amazonia como una región compuesta principalmente por poblaciones bosquesinas está desactualizada: una gran parte de la población indígena o rural vive o está fuertemente vinculada a los centros urbanos. Dicha tendencia no implica necesariamente un proceso de éxodo o abandono de los espacios rurales o una simple desterritorialización; más bien instaura un nuevo régimen caracterizado por la movilidad, la diversificación económica, y un patrón residencial y de apropiación territorial multisituado, distribuido y dinámico. Una consiguiente mayor articulación simbólica y material a lo largo del extenso y complejo interfaz urbano-rural se evidencia en nuevos procesos de transformación y coproducción a nivel corporal, social, étnico, ambiental y territorial. Situada en los márgenes de la modernidad neoliberal, dicha coyuntura muestra a la vez ciertas tendencias históricas y culturales, característicamente amazónicas.

    The generalized view of Amazonia as predominantly rural is outdated: a large part of the rural and indigenous population either lives in or is strongly linked to urban centres. Such a trend does not signify rural exodus, abandonment or straightforward de-territorialization, however but rather reveals the onset of a new regime characterized by a highly diversified livelihood and subsistence strategy with accompanying levels of circular mobility, multi-sited and distributed forms of settlement and territoriality. A greater degree of connectivity and increased symbolic and material exchanges along a large, complex urban-rural interface is reflected in multiple and simultaneous processes of corporeal, social, ethnic, environmental, and territorial transformation and co-production. Situated at the margins of neoliberal modernity this new juncture reveals certain historical continuities and cultural trends which we deem characteristically Amazonian.
  • Peluso, D. (2015). Children’s Instrumentality and Agency in Amazonia. Tipiti: Journal for the Society of Lowland South America [Online] 13:44-62. Available at: http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1197&context=tipiti.
    Several scholars (Behar 1996, Fabian 1996, Marcus 1999, Marcus and Fischer 1986, Myerhoff
    1978, Rosaldo 1989) demonstrate how intimacy brings to the forefront questions of
    subjective bias, personal expectations and emotions, and unequal power relations inherent in
    the anthropological fieldwork encounter – precisely the central targets in many of the critiques
    of the qualitative research methods that we champion. Perhaps it is for this reason
    that some anthropologists shun reflexive ethnographic writing (Salzman, 2002, Robertson
    2002), as it falls on what is already considered “murky” ground – a soil still nurturing ongoing
    debates over issues of authority and representation and the possibilities of demarcating
    subjective-objective experiences. In this article, I argue that, instead, it is precisely by incorporating
    reflexive approaches that the production of knowledge, which is rarely crafted in
    isolation, gains greater transparency allowing more consideration to be given to power relations
    and other epistemological frames of reference within which the researcher and anthropology
    are inevitably embedded. As such, analyzing forms of knowledge that intimate field
    relationships produce exposes both the underbelly of our methodology as well as the underpinnings
    of our theories and practices. By focusing on children’s instrumentality as a way to
    examine these issues, this article contributes to literatures on personhood, relatedness, secrecy,
    parenting, children and childhood studies.
  • Peluso, D. (2015). Circulating between Rural and Urban Communities: Multi-sited dwellings in Amazonian frontiers. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology [Online] 20:57-79. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/jlca.12134.
    This article argues that processes of indigenous urbanization in Amazonia differ from other types of migrations in the region. Indigenous migrations rarely signify full-time absences or dislocations from communities of origin nor necessarily the permanent moving to towns, but rather individuals positioning themselves in various degrees as potentially indigenous urbanites, creating a wide series of active links between cities and communities. By indigenous urbanization I refer to both the increased presence of indigenous peoples in cities as well as the growth of cities due to indigenous populations and argue for more nuanced attention to unique aspects of indigenous urbanization processes. After providing an overview of the various relationships and residence arrangements that link different indigenous Ese Eja communities to their closest urban centers in Amazonian Peru and Bolivia I turn my attention toward one community and town, describing some of the detailed and nuanced interactions, attitudes and dynamics associated with a combined and complex rural-urban existence. I focus in particular on the ways in which people craft urban and rural aspects of self, and the strategic interactions that these positionalities might entail across different types of communities and towns as individuals fashion themselves both as ‘urban’ subjects and as ‘indigenous others’. Furthermore, this paper contributes to debates that reconsider the relationships between the city and the rural in emerging literatures on indigenous cosmopolitanism arguing that lived experiences of navigating cityscapes need to feature more prominently in Amazonian ethnographies.
  • Alexiades, M. and Peluso, D. (2015). Introduction: Indigenous Urbanization in Lowland South America. Indigenous Urbanization: the circulation of peoples between rural and urban Amazonian spaces [Online] 20:1-12. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jlca.2015.20.issue-1/issuetoc.
    Introduction to special-themed journal: Indigenous Urbanization: the circulation of peoples between rural and urban Amazonian spaces. This introduction provides an overview of indigenous Urbanisation in Lowland South America
  • Tunåker, C., Bride, I. and Peluso, D. (2015). The Social Hubs Project: Exploratory real-world research – students as researchers and experiential learning. The Social Hubs Project: Exploratory real-world research – students as researchers and experiential learning [Online] 8:1-12. Available at: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/index.php?journal=jldhe&page=index.
    This case study describes an experiential approach to teaching and learning that has been successfully employed at the University of Kent. It offers a way for engaging students across disciplines in real-world research and in situ learning experiences that allow them to build various skills sets and take on responsibilities whilst making a valuable contribution to their University community. The Social Hubs project, akin to approaches such as Participatory Action Research (PAR) and including ‘students as researchers’, employed anthropological methods for gaining valuable insights about social space on a university campus while also providing key student learning experience and career-building employment.
  • Peluso, D. (2014). Shajaó – histories of an invented savage. History and Anthropology [Online] 25:101-122. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2013.822372.
    Through multiple stories about Shajaó, an untold history of the Peruvian Amazon unfolds. This article, based on extensive archival research and fieldwork, brings together multivocal accounts about an Ese Eja man who allegedly killed a Catholic priest in 1932 and who, despite the large-scale expeditions sent out to capture him, was not apprehended until 1942. Through ongoing tales of Shajaó, the intersubjective ways in which memory is shaped and employed to influence and make sense of sociopoltical contexts is revealed in the exchanges between a notable “savage” and various economies in different historical settings—the rubber boom, extractivism upheld by debt-peonage, Catholic missionization and today's environmental service economy. This exploration questions the construction, reproduction and transformation of the multiple, though not always shared, experiential and interpretive frameworks that shape the historical consciousness of individual and collective memories over time. It also suggests that “disremembering”, in archival and oral accounts, reflects a critical political awareness of history's valid flexibility. Here, narratives are rewoven so that history continues to be told in ways that ensure that “Shajaó stories” never truly end.
  • Peluso, D. and Al-Mohammad, H. (2012). Ethics and the “rough ground” of the everyday: The overlappings of life in postinvasion Iraq. HAU : Journal of Ethnographic Theory [Online] 2:42-58. Available at: http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau2.2.004/192.
    Beyond the stories of collapse, devastation, and moral uncertainty in Iraq’s recent history there are tales of connections, relations, and the entanglements of lives which are named in forms such as friendship and family, and modes of comporting to others such as care, attention, and even love, which have yet to become part of how one thinks and writes about life after the invasion. In this article the authors draw attention to a picture of the lives of Iraqis as caught not merely in the forms and structures of tribal obligations and sectarianism, and the violence and destruction of terror, but also in the rough ground of mundane affairs and encounters. We argue that in the overlappings and relations of lives and intentionalities resides an intercorporeal ethics of the rough ground of the everyday. An ethics of the rough ground of the everyday is one understood not only in terms of the ways in which life is open to the pain, suffering, joy, and ennui of others, but in terms of how in the entanglements and relations of lives with other lives in the everyday, lines of care and concern emerge, are fostered, and also frayed.
  • Peluso, D. (2011). Anthropology and the Workplace: An Innovative Partnership between a University and a Pharmaceutical Company. Anthropology News [Anthropology Newsletter. November Issue] 52. Available at: http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/toc/an-table-of-contents-november-2011-volume-528/.
    Now, more than ever, business and businesses have become an inextricable part of our social, cultural and political lives. Whether through wide-scale privatization or the increasing degree to which individual and social identity is built on patterns of consumption, the ineludible certainty is that the market is everywhere and we, academia included, are part of it. Moreover, corporations themselves are growing, some becoming so large as to appear to be like societies, or small worlds with many 'countries.’ Simply put, anthropology cannot afford to ignore businesses, and indeed, should be engaging with them more extensively and intensely.
  • Peluso, D. (2011). Steven Lee Rubinstein (1962-2012). Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America [Online] 9. Available at: https://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://scholar.google.co.uk/&httpsredir=1&article=1145&context=tipiti.
    The sad news of Dr. Steve Lee Rubenstein’s sudden and unexpected death at the age of 49 took
    us all by surprise. In fact, as I write this, months after Steve’s passing, I am still grappling with
    the notion that he is gone from this world, as we know it. In some ways, Steve was only at the
    beginning of his career with many large ideas still unleashed and yet he had already achieved
    more than most do in one lifetime. As friends and colleagues of Steve’s we have spent the last
    few months exchanging stories about his extraordinary mind, wit and generosity. Students have
    come forth to talk about how much he changed their way of reading texts and seeing the world,
    identifying him as the one person from their experience in higher education who actually made a
    difference to them, teaching them not only about anthropology but about life. Colleagues, young
    and old, have benefitted from his intense and heartfelt academic exchanges, and enjoyed his
    constructively critical and magnanimous manner. Steve was an interlocutor par excellence. As
    South Americanists we experienced first-hand his commitment to community building by
    bringing people and ideas together, never simply promoting himself. We have all watched him
    hold court in the lobbies of all the various conferences we attended. Wherever Steve sat became
    a magnetic hub, an intellectual watering hole across and beyond our discipline.
  • Peluso, D. (2007). Los "suenos de nombre" de los Sonenekuinaji: una mirada desde el perspectivismo multinatural. Amazonia Peruana 31:141-158.
  • Peluso, D. (2006). ’For export only’: Ayahuasca tourism and hyper-traditionalism. Working Paper Series (Hyper-Traditions and"Real" places) 189:482-500.
  • Peluso, D. and Alexiades, M. (2005). Indigenous Urbanization and Amazonia’s Post-Traditional Environmental Economy. Traditional Settlements and Dwelling Review 16:7-16.
    This article examines the makings of post-traditional environments through processes of urban ethnogenesis among the Ese Eja, an indigenous Amazonian group living in the border areas of Peru and Bolivia. We argue that the use of "tradition" as social currency by the environmental service sector, particularly by a thriving international ecotourism industry, has exacerbated processes of urbanization, dislocation, and social and ecological alienation of indigenous peoples. We examine how far an Ese Eja "past" is selectively reinvented through discourse and appropriated by "participatory" projects and development. This unearthing and reburial of history is then used to "authenticate" the present and its environmental agenda in a postglobal world of environmental moral righteousness.
  • Peluso, D. (2005). ’That which I dream is true’: dream narratives in Amazonian community. Dreaming (special edition): Anthropological Approaches to Dreaming [Online] 14:107-119. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1053-0797.14.2-3.107.
  • Peluso, D. and Alexiades, M. (2005). Urban Ethnogenesis Begins at Home: The Making of Self and Place Amidst Amazonia’s Environmental Economy. Traditional Settlements and Dwelling Review [Online] 16:1-10. Available at: https://doi.org/DOI not available.
  • Peluso, D. (2003). Variabilidad y Cambio en los Nombre Personales en una Sociedad Ingena Amazonica. Amazonia Peruana 28-29:103-124.


  • Alexiades, M., Huajohuajo, G., Mamiyo, R., Peluso, D., Pesha, V. and Tirina, G. (2005). Ejjahuejjaquijji Ebiojonequi Semeno Ese Ejjaja: Para Conocer Nuestras Remedios Del Monte. Bolivia: CIRABO.
  • Alexiades, M., Huajohuajo, G., Huajohuajo, M., Mamio, R., Quioshe, R., Peluso, D., Pesha, V. and Tirina, G. (2004). Ejabawejakiji Ebiohoneki shemeño Ese Ejaha Sowiho =: Para Conocer Los Remedios Del Monte. Puerto Maldonado: FENAMAD.

Book section

  • Peluso, D. (2020). Aumento (Lowland South America). In: Global Encyclopaedia of Informality. UCL Press. Available at: http://www.in-formality.com/wiki/index.php?title=Aumento_(Lowland_South_America).
    The following scenario regarding timber and logging operations illustrates how the use of ‘aumento’ is used as euphemism for corruption. Lowland South Americans provide logging companies with illegal wood as ‘an aumento’, a top up to their current provisions (often tied to sustainability regulations). In turn, Amazonians receive their own ‘aumento’ for providing this service through the form of a cash payment (for wood that often does not go through formal regulatory channels). While the payment they receive for this is less than the open market rate, they consider this favourable as they have been able to sidestep the cumbersome and discriminatory bureaucracies and legalities of providing such wood. In turn the logging companies are able to purchase cheaper wood and avoid the extra costs associated with sustainable logging without jeopardising their eco-status.
  • Peluso, D. (2017). To be Seen or Not to Be Seen! Marriage Choices among Ese Eja of the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon. In: VALENTINE, P., BECKERMAN, S. and ALÈS, C. eds. The Anthropology of Marriage in Lowland South America: Bending and Breaking the Rules. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, pp. 55-70. Available at: http://upf.com/book.asp?id=BECKE002.
    Amazonian marriage unions are most commonly described and analyzed in terms of whom one marries rather than how one marries. Irrespective of change, these dimensions are consistently entrenched in Ese Eja community sociality and politics. With wavering intensity in time and place, Ese Eja couples have long been choosing to initiate their marriage, either publicly, hamatijawiaki, or secretly, ejakewawanaki. By comparing the different ways in which marriages commence, this chapter addresses the unspoken relationships between the individual and the group that Ese Eja marriages reflect, including the power relations in which marriages are embedded. In discussing public marriages, I emphasize how marriage is legitimized by what Ese Eja call “seeing”; the public involvement of kin and neighbors in the union. Contrastingly, in secret marriages, couples are united without any agreement or public acknowledgment from either side’s family. Here, I argue that secret marriages tend to fail because of the way that power is construed within indigenous Amazonian communities, given the absence of a central authority or state. Individuals who marry in secret deprive their family and neighbors of speech, action, and exchange, thereby revealing and challenging the underlying mechanisms of power. Despite their poor outcomes, secret marriages, like extra-marital affairs, persist and present a means for individuals to bask in a short-lived reprieve from group authority. Finally, the various ways in which marriages are initiated further accentuate the importance of marriage as a process that mediates contemporary economic cooperation, production, and regeneration and often mark their success or failure.
  • Peluso, D. (2016). Global Ayahuasca: An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. In: The World Ayahuasca Diaspora: Reinventions and Controversies. Labate, B.C., Cavnar, C.& Gearin, A.K. (eds). London, UK: Routledge, pp. 203-221. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/The-World-Ayahuasca-Diaspora-Reinventions-and-Controversies/Labate-Cavnar-Gearin/p/book/9781472466631.
    This chapter examines issues surrounding the viability and desirability of recent entrepreneurs and entrepreneurships aiming to create effective measures of 'transparency' 'efficacy' and 'safety' with regards to the increasing participation in the ayahuasca sessions that take place in local and global settings. It raises critical questions about the methods through which such initiatives seek to identify those legitimate authorities, actors, voices and criteria or can in turn deem certain practices and actors legitimate and others not. This takes place in environments where there are marked disjunctures between what transpires in the spoken, visible and unspoken, invisible worlds particularly amidst great inequality. Whereas such enterprises may make sense from a market perspective, they make little sense within the broader social, political and cultural contexts in which ayahuasca practitioners live and operate.
  • Peluso, D. (2014). Ayahuasca’s attractions and distractions: examining sexual seduction in shaman-participant interactions. In: Labate, B. C. and Cavnar, C. eds. Ayahuasca Shamanism in the Amazon and Beyond. Oxford University Press, pp. 231-255. Available at: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/academic/history/events/9780199341207.do.
    This article will provide an overview of the predicaments of ayahuasca tourism in a regional Amazonian capital, Puerto Maldonado, Peru and its environs, as a contribution toward understanding how ayahuasca tourism is a rapidly growing set of enterprises in which participants and shamans become global tourists or visitors within their own towns, countries or abroad in an explosion of diverse encounters. Within these transnational settings, the paper examines the relationships between sex, seduction, and gendered power relations in the context of ayahuasca rituals in historical, symbolic, and practical terms. Through an analysis of local and global narratives, the paper also engages with Amerindian epistemologies and theories of perspectivism, countertransference, and “the male gaze” to examine local concerns and interactions between shamans, their apprentices, and ayahuasca participants, and how they variably position themselves as authorities, intermediaries, and gendered individuals. As such, the adoption and reinvention of ayahuasca rituals in its various forms within new encounters is part of the ongoing challenges that ayahuasca usage and practices face.
  • Peluso, D. (2013). The "daughter of the dead" – shifting social order in Ese Eja urban encounters. In: Fine-Dare, K. ed. Remembering Steven Rubenstein. Lulu Press, pp. 28-36. Available at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/kathleen-fine-dare/remembering-steven-rubenstein/paperback/product-21231319.html.
    In memory of Steven Lee Rubenstein
  • Alexiades, M. and Peluso, D. (2009). Plants ’of the Ancestors’, Plants ’of the Outsiders’: Esa Eja History, Migration and Medicinal Plants. In: Alexiades, M. ed. Mobility and Migration in Indigenous Amazonia: Contemporary Ethnoecological Perspectives. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 220-248. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=AlexiadesMobility.
    In this chapter we present evidence to suggest that Ese Eja medicinal plant knowledge can be more productively understood as historically contingent. We suggest that the ways in which Ese Eja think, talk about and interact with many medicinals reflects recent historical, social and ecological transformations. Specifically, we propose that the concatenation of twentieth-century downriver migration, sedentarisation and heightened involvement with agriculture and market-based forest extractivism is reflected in how plants are used, both symbolically and materially.
  • Alexiades, M. and Peluso, D. (2003). La sociadad Ese Eja: Una aproximacion historica a sus origenes, distribucion, asentamiento y subsistencia. In: Castillo, B. H. and Altamirano, A. G. eds. Los Pueblos Indígenas De Madre De Dios: Historia, etnografía Y Coyuntura. Lima: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), pp. 91-110.
  • Alexiades, M. and Peluso, D. (2002). Prior Informend Consent: the anthropology and politics of cross cultural exchange. In: Laird, S. ed. Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge: Equitable Partnerships in Practice. London: Earthscan Ltd, pp. 221-227.
  • Peluso, D. and Boster, J. (2002). Partible Parentage and Social Networks among the Ese Eja. In: Valentine, P. and Beckerman, S. eds. Cultures of Multiple Fathers: The Theory and Practice of Partible Paternity in South America. Florida, USA: University Press of Florida, pp. 139-159.

Edited journal

  • Peluso, D. (2017). Anthropology of Versus Anthropology for Business: Exploring the Borders and Crossovers Between an Anthropology of Business and Anthropological Consultancy. Peluso, D. M. ed. Journal of Business Anthropology 6.
    This is a special themed edition for the Journal of Business Anthropology
  • Peluso, D. (2015). Indigenous Urbanization: the circulation of peoples between rural and urban Amazonian spaces Peluso, D. M. ed. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology [Online] 20:1-229. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jlca.2015.20.issue-1/issuetoc.
    Guest Editor for a special themed edition of The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (JACLA) entitled: Indigenous Urbanization: the circulation of peoples between rural and urban Amazonian spaces


  • Peluso, D. (2015). Traversing and Translating High Finance. Anthropology Today [Online] 31:21-21. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-8322.12180.
    Symposium/workshop held on 25 April 2015 at the Royal Anthropological Institute.
    This workshop, held at the Royal Anthropological Institute, went beyond charting the frontiers of corporate investments by forming bridges between disparate terrains that might otherwise seem unconnected, and proposing new methodologies for exploring and communicating such links. Anthropologists, artists, accountants, hacktivists, economists, journalists, former brokers and educators traced their ideas and methods as they imaginatively and rigorously made links geared toward making visible the frequently invisible workings of finance. Presentations informed by conceptual and performative art and exhibits focused on themes of financial secrecy and transparency that arose throughout the workshop, entreating participants to focus on current global predicaments such as the economic crisis – not solely on its effects, but also importantly, its causes.
  • Peluso, D. (2009). Neil L. Whitehead and Robin Wright (eds.), In Darkness and Secrecy: The Anthropology of Assault Sorcery and Witchcraft in Amazonia. Journal of Latin American Studies [Online] 41:199-200. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022216X08005427.
    (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), pp. 327, £17.50, pb.


  • Auger, R. (2017). The Making of the Moral Person: Homelessness in Canterbury, Kent.
    This thesis examines homelessness in Canterbury during a period of continuing and changing government austerity measures. The key research question asks: what does it mean to be homeless and how does homelessness shape the moral person?
    I answer this question by engaging with the current debates on the anthropology of morals and ethics. Using Fassin's (2015) moral economies as an overarching framework, this thesis explores how and why ideas of morality come into being. To examine how ethical practice unfolds within the sphere of the moral economy of homelessness, this thesis incorporates Lambek's (2015) concept of the ethical as a quality that is intrinsic to human life. In doing this, I suggest ways in which those who are moralised against understand and act upon the issues that confront them as they shape their moral personhood.
    Based on 15 months' ethnographic fieldwork at a local day centre for homeless peoples, this thesis will argue that heterogeneity within homelessness contextualises the ways in which ethical practices are manifest. It will further argue that homeless peoples shape their moral personhood through the same processes as non-homeless peoples.
    In focussing on the everyday decision-making of informants, this thesis will consider the socio-economic-political processes that such individuals participate in and the tensions between moralising agendas and individual actions. In examining the tensions between moral expectations and ethical decision-making, this thesis will foreground how informants seek to live and act within their own criteria of what is right and good.
    This thesis provides a unique exploration of lives that are subject to moralising discourses by both non-homeless and homeless peoples. It contributes to anthropological literatures on homelessness in the twenty-first century and offers insights into wider debates in social anthropology, applied anthropology and urban anthropology as well as the anthropology of morals and ethics. Drawing on related disciplines in the social sciences, it further contributes to literatures in sociology, human geography and social policy.
  • Garcia Bonet, N. (2017). TO THE SCHOOL AND BACK: Intercultural Education, Identity Construction and Pemo?N-State Relationships in Southeastern Venezuela.
    This thesis explores the relationship between the state and Pemon people of La Gran Sabana, in Southeastern Venezuela, through the lens of state-driven projects such as bilingual intercultural education and extractivism. I examine these relationships in the light of two broader twenty-first century processes; one global- multiculturalism and the paradigm of intercultural education- and one national- Hugo Cha?vez's Bolivarian Revolution.
    The Bolivarian government has probably lead the most effective project of state expansion in Venezuelan modern history, reaching out to the most peripheral areas of the nation and incorporating their population into the Venezuelan State. Throughout this thesis I argue that despite the Revolution's claims to celebrate internal diversity and pluralism, this process of state expansion has been driven by an extractivist agenda, associated with two different, yet complementary, commercial extractive projects; oil and gold. As such, its ultimate aim remains to ensure the state's control over the territory, and the resources on it, by establishing control over its inhabitants. The collapse between the state and indigenous people enacted in the Revolution's dominant discourse, therefore, outlines new forms of 'national indigeneity', and has the effect of prescribing people's possibilities to lay claims both to a Venezuelan citizenship and to 'legitimate' indigenous identities.
    Within such broad global predicaments, my research engages with key debates in anthropology about the relationships between Amerindian groups and the state, in terms of representation, interculturality and identity politics, illustrating how local responses to the processes of state expansion reflect complex interactions between multiple elements; gender, personal trajectories and identity construction, for example. The thesis also engages with the Lowland South American and Latin American literature about Amerindian strategies for counteracting the state's centralising (predatory) action, by outlining the multilateral, sometimes contradictory responses of local actors to the consecutive expansions and contractions of the state's extractivist and administrative frontiers. As the cases narrated in this thesis demonstrate, some individuals have actively sought to increase their political participation, embracing the opportunities for enfranchisement provided by the revolutionary government. Others have opted instead for a 'partial' retreat from the state's foregoing expansive motion. I argue that these movements towards reversal are associated with the state's inability to act as redistributor of resources and, as such, are the result of the general political and economic crises facing the country in the last few years.
  • Tunåker, C. (2017). The Paradox of Progress: LGBTQ Youth Homelessness in South East England.
    This thesis examines the experiences, circumstances and difficulties faced by young homeless people residing in hostels in the county of Kent, South East England, especially those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ). My research suggests that there is an increase in LGBTQ youth homelessness due to young people 'coming out' at younger ages than before and encountering difficulties in their family homes that lead to their homelessness. I refer to this as 'the paradox of progress'. Due to political advances in gay rights and an increased media presence of charismatic LGBTQ proponents, youth are changing their outlook on sexuality and gender identity, but paradoxically due to generational differences, some meet adversities at home. Yet, this research also shows that an ensuing prevalence and increase of LGBTQ youth in homeless hostels across the county is a significant concern that thus far has been overlooked.

    In this thesis I demonstrate that youth homelessness is distinct from adult homelessness and is often misunderstood. Using data obtained through anthropological fieldwork over a period of one year, combined with my professional experience as a support worker working in local homeless hostels for over eight years, I examine and analyse the structural violence and inequalities that young people encounter as they attempt to cope with their homelessness caused by various factors such as deprived family backgrounds, class and a housing crisis that has predominantly affected disadvantaged youth. The long-term dedicated ethnographic fieldwork approach of my research has enabled me to glean insights about current ideas about home, homelessness, and also experiences of young people who live in difficult circumstances, subsequently enabling this research to challenge contemporary understandings of and responses to youth homelessness.

    Homeless youth navigate their lives in localities where ideas of 'home' hinge upon idealised heteronormative family life trajectories and generalised stigmas of youth homeless as beggars, rough sleepers or substance misusers and as culpable for their own predicaments. In this thesis, I discuss how the lack of or slim options for housing and support available to homeless youth in Kent, reflect upon how the State and the general public homogenise and stigmatise youth who are from working class backgrounds, thus creating further disadvantages that subject them toward structural violence. The anthropology of youth literature (e.g. Wulff 1995, LeVine and New 2008, Peluso 2015) suggests that the agency of young individuals should not be underestimated or subsumed under broader adult studies but that their lives ought to be studied in their own right. My ethnographic data contributes to such literature and further engages the anthropology of home, gender and sexuality to understand the issues that come together to comprise contemporary youth homelessness in Britain.

    Ethnographic research is well suited to explore intimate topic such as sexuality and homelessness, and thus far anthropologists have not studied LGBTQ youth homelessness. To date, the monitoring of sexual orientation and gender identity in the voluntary sector uses unrealistic figures that obscure the severity of LGBTQ youth homelessness. Subsequently LGBTQ individuals are not recognised by funding bodies and the State as a significant population and therefore resources are not allocated to alleviate their challenges and/or support them. This thesis argues that a prominent reason for LGBTQ youth homelessness is the paradox of progress; that the broader political advances in LGBTQ rights are not yet resonating in the reality and lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals in Kent. Young people who are both homeless and a sexual or gender minority, experience exclusion by living outside of the norm in terms of their sexuality/gender identities, as well as living outside of normative institutions such as, the educational system, home and the family. Furthermore, I suggest that conflicting generational views toward 'alternative' sexualities and genders contribute to the increasing numbers of LGBTQ youth in homelessness services.

    This thesis contributes to the limited ethnographic studies available regarding youth homelessness in anthropology. It also aims to offer insights to broad literatures in social, political, economic and applied anthropology, the anthropology of youth, the anthropology of care, kinship studies, the anthropology of Britain and the anthropology of home and homelessness. Additionally, it has the potential to be of interdisciplinary interest, as it draws on insights from the disciplines of sociology, human geography as well as literature from queer and gender studies. Finally, this research will inform homelessness and housing policies and facilitate a better understanding of the under-researched topic of LGBTQ youth homelessness. The outcomes of my research suggest that policy makers in voluntary and government agencies need to employ a culturally sensitive approach to housing policy for youth and young individuals who identify as LGBTQ and those that are homeless.
  • Carrizosa, J. (2015). The Shape-Shifting Territory: Colonialism, Shamanism and A’I Kofán Place-Making in the Amazonian Piedmont, Colombia.
    This research attempts to bring into a serious dialogue critical ethnography and postcolonial historiography to analyse the Kofan indigenous peoples of the Colombian amazon frontier and the transformations of their socio-spatial practices and cosmographies in a long durée perspective. The thesis is chiefly focused on problematizing "indigenous territory", the notion that is taken for granted by a diverse range of actors, including the Colombian state, indigenous activist, as well as analysts. The ethnographic exploration presented unpacks the ways in which the Kofan people constructs and perceives the territory as complex and 'shape-shifting' in a context of historical violence, colonization, missionization, cocaine production, sorcery and militarization.
  • O’Driscoll, E. (2015). Contested Identities: Urbanisation and Indigenous Identity in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
    This thesis is a study of indigenous urbanisation and ethnic identity in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Taking as its focus Shuar urban residents of the rainforest city Sucúa, it argues that urban indigenous residents feel simultaneously more and less ‘indigenous’ than their more ‘rural’ counterparts.
    On the one hand, the experience of living in a multiethnic city, on the ‘boundary’ of the Shuar ethnic group (Barth 1969), increases urban Shuar residents’ awareness of their ethnic identity, as Shuar and as ‘indigenous’. Furthermore, they want to identify as indigenous, as they are aware of the value that is placed on this identity by, for example, international organisations, NGOs, environmental activists, eco-tourism agencies, and indigenous political leaders. On the other hand, indigenous identity in urban areas is formed via a ‘play of mirrors’ (Novaes 1997) as a result of which urban Shuar are exposed to a variety of contradictory perspectives on what it means to be ‘indigenous’. These tend towards romanticisation and exoticisation of indigenous peoples as ‘ecologically noble savages’ (Redford 1993), creating the image of a ‘hyperreal Indian’ (Ramos 1992) that urban Shuar cannot hope to emulate. This leads many urban Shuar residents to feel that they are ‘not indigenous enough’. Nevertheless, with increased international migration and rising levels of education and professional achievement, a new urban indigenous middle class is acquiring the economic, cultural and social capital (Bourdieu 1984) to throw off the ‘burden of heritage’ (Olwig 1999) and determine for themselves what it means to be ‘indigenous’. Finally, I argue in this thesis for an anthropology of Amazonia that addresses the significant changes which are taking place in Amazonian peoples’ lives. If we continue to depict Amazonian groups as isolated, small-scale societies existing in an eternal ‘ethnographic present’ (Rubenstein 2002) we risk ignoring or misrepresenting the very real challenges and transformations that are increasingly facing our informants.


  • Peluso, D. (2020). Gendered geographies of care: women as health workers in an indigenous health project in the Peruvian Amazon. Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America.
    This article examines how women as primary gatekeepers for well being became involved as health promoters in a local indigenous health care project in the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios, Peru. Here, I provide a case study of the processes and transitions that the project underwent from its inception to its eventual inclusion of indigenous women health promoters into its programs among indigenous communities from the mid 1980’s through the early 1990’s, at a time when western primary health care was even less accessible then it is today. The article begins with an overview of Madre de Dios and a general discussion of the links between health and gender. It then calls attention to women’s invisibility in daily primary healthcare and examines how and why women were initially neglected in health care delivery strategies while examining the progression and extent of their involvement, their role in health resource management, and the difficulties they faced as leaders vis-à-vis broader political structures such as the native federation and local government. Overall, the project succeeded in broadening the definition of health to include ideas of well-being, ‘living well’ and conservation as a set of relationships with the environment and its care - areas in which women undeniably hold key positions. In examining geographical natural resource maps by charting ideological and gender-based practices upon it, this article discusses a gender balanced approach to processes legitimizing indigenous healthcare practices. This research suggests that the overlooking of women’s roles in community health is embedded in local and global gendered politics of health care that tend to ignore that care practices are embedded in daily social relations. Furthermore, the problems that the omission of women as health promoters raises offers a general critique of the indigenous health agent approach to healthcare in Amazonia.
  • Peluso, D. (2019). Ese Eja Epona: El Poder Social De La Mujer En Mundos Múltiples E híbridos. Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Práctica.
  • Peluso, D. (2019). Turning a blind eye: the complicit trespassing of ‘Chinese walls’ in financial institutions in New York. Critique of Anthropology [Online]. Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/coa.
    This article examines the ways in which ‘Chinese walls’ – that is, information barriers within financial institutions – are constituted and subverted by acts of trespass within large investment banking firms in New York. While Chinese walls positively serve to prevent corruption and fraud, they simultaneously entice legal, semi-legal and illegal forms of trespassing. My analysis shows that some trespassing is based on non-verbalised and embodied exchanges of information that are not in and of themselves illegal. Referred to as playing ‘the game’, the result of these forms of trespass is that the Chinese wall becomes an ‘effect’ or fiction. At other times, trespassing can cause inconvenient suspicion, encouraging those who operate amidst these walls to participate strategically in various aspects of willful blindness. Together, these examples reveal the conceptual and material relationships between ‘seeing’ and ‘knowing’, thereby highlighting the complexity of information flows in financial institutions and demonstrating how the critical regulation of financial capitalism is sometimes weakened.
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