School of Anthropology & Conservation

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Dr Daniela Peluso

Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Lowland South America, indigenous urbanisation, anthropology of business, gender, identity politics, kinship


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Academic Background

I am a cultural anthropologist who received my PhD from Columbia University in 2003. My research interests range from Amazonian to corporate environments and my 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 two decades I have worked in Lowland South America, mostly with Ese Eja communities in the Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon, and in close collaboration with indigenous organisations. I have been involved in various local efforts on issues relating to health, gender and land-rights. I am an Associate of People and Plants International and currently manage the Lowland South Americanists listserv - LOSAN - that provides an interdisciplinary network for European colleagues working in Lowland South America and neighbouring regions. I also serve as an elected Member-At-Large on the Board of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA).

The World Financial Center

The World Financial Center

My current research focuses on indigenous urbanisation whereby I view urbanisation as an indigenous process or strategy that may not reflect permanence but rather continuous movement between distinct environments. My early work as a medical anthropologist focused on indigenous health-care delivery systems and medical pluralism. 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, my interests led me to examine gender, the politics of reproduction and the construction of personhood. My dissertation explores identity in terms of intermarriage, relatedness and exchange between Ese Eja and others. My 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 marginalized 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, I am also interested in examining businesses from an anthropological perspective. My focus is mostly on finance and highly-skilled labour. In my teaching, I challenge students to think about the social relations that found, sustain, innovate and disrupt the dynamic webs and structures within which businesses exist. I believe that ultimately – to be relevant - an anthropology of business should replace the ‘exotic’ with the ‘enigmatic’ and inspire empowerment through that demystification

I am also a member of the Home and Sexuality Research Network.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Book section
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:
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:
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:
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:
Beckerman, S. et al. (2017). Partible paternity, the secondary sex ratio and a possible Trivers-Willard effect. Current Anthropology [Online]. Available at:
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:
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:
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.
Showing 8 of 31 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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Teaching interests: Amazonia, Lowland South America, Kinship, The Anthropology of Business, Research Methods

I usually teach on the following modules:

  • 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


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Primary Research Interests: Lowland South America, indigenous urbanisation, anthropology of business, gender, identity politics, kinship, video methodology, exchange theory and postcolonial studies.

I have worked on several long-term advocacy and research projects relevant to Ese Eja livelihoods jointly with Dr. Miguel Alexiades. My current research, in Madre de Dios, Peru, is studying the relationship between the environmental economy and indigenous urbanisation and ethnogenesis. I am examining how urbanization and the intensification of global flows of information, people and capital - as they unfold within an emergent environmental service economy - are re-shaping 'indigenous' notions of social relations, including gender, as well as notions of self and place.

Current research projects

Rethinking skill: New ethnographic perspectives on expertise

Rethinking skill: New ethnographic perspectives on expertise

Researcher: Daniela Peluso and Andrew Sanchez


Previous research projects

Value Dilemmas

Value Dilemmas

Researcher: Daniela Peluso


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I am interested in supervising PhD dissertations on issues of indigenous urbanization, relatedness, business organizations, gender, poverty, well-being and morality in the regions of Amazonia, the UK and elsewhere.

PhD Supervisions:

  • 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
  • Ruth Auger (Co-supervisor with Dr David Henig) (University 50 Year Anniversary Scholarship): The Making of the Moral Person: Food Poverty and Homelessness in Canterbury, Kent
  • Natalia Garcia-Bonet (University 50 Year Anniversary Scholarship): Debating indigenous identity at the Indigenous University of Venezuela (UIV): from idealisation to politisation
  • 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 Urbanization in Bocas del Toro, Panama: experiences and perceptions of poverty

Previous PhD Supervisions:

  • Hayder Al-Mohhamad (ESRC Studentship Quota Award): Basra - the struggle of dwelling: An ethics of everyday life. PhD awarded in 2012.
  • 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.
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I am 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:

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Last Updated: 14/02/2018