informal economies and markets, agrarian issues, gender relations, quinoa, culture and food, Latin America, Andean region, Peru; transnational and transracial adoption, U.S., anthropological theory and methods
Professor Emeritus Linda Seligmann is a sociocultural anthropologist who has worked in the Andean region of Latin America for over forty years. She studied at Pomona College (BA, Anthropology), The Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin (MA, Anthropology and Spanish-American Literature) and at the University of Illinois-Urbana (PhD, Anthropology). She specializes in agrarian issues, Quechua culture, gender relationships, and the dynamics of the informal economy in the Andes. She also completed a comparative research project on transnational and transracial adoption and changing faces of American families in the U.S. (Broken Links, Enduring Ties: American Adoption across Race, Class, and Nation [Stanford, 2013]). Her most recent publication is a 42-chapter volume edited with Kathleen Fine-Dare, The Andean World (Routledge, 2018), which offers a comprehensive overview of Andean lifeways. Her other books include Peruvian Street Lives: Culture, Power, and Economy among Market Women of Cuzco (University of Illinois, 2004), which was named as an Anthony Leeds Honor book by the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology; an edited volume, Women Traders in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Mediating Identities, Marketing Wares (Stanford, 2000), and Between Reform and Revolution: Political Struggles in the Peruvian Andes, 1969-1991 (Stanford, 1995), as well as numerous articles and book chapters.
Dr. Seligmann has been a Fulbright Fellow and also received grants from the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Inter-American Foundation, the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Foundation, Tinker Foundation, and the Organization of American States, and she received the Outstanding Scholar Award in 2005 from the College of Arts and Sciences at George Mason.
Seligmann is fluent in Spanish and Quechua. She served as Contributing Editor on "Highland Ethnology" to the Handbook of Latin American Studies and has published political analyses in local and national newspapers and journals, including The Washington Post. She has also appeared on the The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and With Good Reason (NPR). She was the section editor and member of the Board of the Society for Latin American Studies, served on the editorial board of the Journal of Latin American Studies, and as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology (2015-2018).
Funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Seligmann is currently doing research on quinoa, a substance that has been of significance to the livelihoods and well-being of Quechua inhabitants in the Andes for centuries. She is seeking to uncover how the place, value, and meanings of quinoa are undergoing transformations in light of the demand for it internationally as a super-food, taking special account of gender ideologies, labor, household social reproduction, and differing aesthetics with respect to food and cuisine as these dynamics unfold.
After serving as the Associate Director of the National Resource Center of the Latin American and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1988-1990), Seligmann became a Faculty Fellow in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University for a year. She held an assistant professorship at James Madison University (1992-1994) and then joined the Department at George Mason University as assistant professor of anthropology (1994-1995), associate professor of anthropology (1995-2002), professor (2002-2018), and professor emerita (2018-). She also served as Director of the Center for the Study of the Americas at George Mason (1995-1997), Director of the Anthropology Program (2002-2006), and Director of the Graduate Program in Anthropology (2005-08, 2010-13).
Dr. Seligmann current project, funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, looks at quinoa as a substance that has been of significance to the livelihoods and well-being of Quechua inhabitants in the Andes for centuries and seeks to uncover how the place, value, and meanings of quinoa are undergoing transformations in light of the demand for it internationally as a super-food, taking special account of gender ideologies, labor, and household social reproduction as these dynamics unfold. More broadly, she is interested in researching and writing about the remarkable and multifaceted challenges of households that are pursuing agrarian livelihoods—including the cultivation of quinoa—in the twenty-first century.
2021 Quinoa: Food Politics and Agrarian Life in the Peruvian Andean Highlands. Under contract, Univ. of Illinois Press.
2018 The Andean World (co-edited with Kathleen Fine-Dare). London: Routledge.
2015 La vida en las calles: Cultura, poder, y economía entre las mujeres de los mercados del Cuzco. Lima: IEP. [transl. of Peruvian Street Lives]
2013 Broken Links, Enduring Ties:American Adoption across Race, Class, and Nation. Stanford:Stanford University Press.
2004 Peruvian Street Lives:Culture, Power, and Economy among Market Women of Cuzco. Urbana:University of Illinois Press, ("Interpretations of Culture in the New Millennium" series). Cited as an Anthony Leeds Honor Book.
2001 Women Traders in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Mediating Identities, Marketing Wares (edited volume). Stanford:Stanford University Press.
1995 Between Reform and Revolution: Political Struggles in the Peruvian Andes, 1969-1991. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
2019 “Innovations in Ethnographic Methods.” (with Brian P. Estes). American Behavioral Scientist, pp. 1-22. (in press).
2014 “Between Story-Telling and Critical Analysis: Going Native and Crossing Borders.” Anthropology and Humanism 39(1):10-17.
2013 “Occupying the Center: Handicraft Vendors, Cultural Vitality, Commodification, and Tourism in Cusco, Peru.” (with Daniel Guevara). Built Environment Special Issue, “Marketplaces as an Urban Development Strategy.” 39(2): 203-23.
2009 “The Cultural and Political Economies of Adoption Practices in Andean Peru and the United States. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 14(1): 115-139.
2014 “Markets.” Pp. 120-141. In Blackwell Companion to Urban Anthropology, edited by Don Nonini. Oxford:Blackwell Publishing Co.
2013 “The Politics of Urban Space among Street Vendors of Cusco, Peru.” Pp. 115-36. In Street Economies, Politics, and Urban Social Movements in the Global South. Karen Tranberg Hansen, Walter Little, and B. Lynne Milgram, eds. Santa Fe: School of American Research.
2012 “Traditions and Transitions:From Market Women in the Andes to Adoptive Families in the U.S.“ pp. 123-37. In The Restless Anthropologist: New Fieldsites, New Visions. Alma Gottlieb, Ed. Univ. of Chicago Press.
2012 “Contested Spaces: Street Vendors in the Andean Metropole of Cusco, Peru.” pp. 117-34. In Anthropology in the City: Methodology and Theory. Edited by Italo Pardo and Guiliana B. Prato. Ashgate Press, Urban Anthropology Series.
2009 “The Politics of Knowledge and Identity, and the Poetics of Political Economy: The Truth Value of Dividing Bridges.” In Border Crossings: Transnational Americanist Anthropology. Kathleen Fine-Dare and Steven L. Rubenstein, eds. Pp. 34-43. University of Nebraska Press.
2008 “Agrarian Reform and Peasant Studies:The Peruvian Case.” In A Companion to Latin American Anthropology, Deborah Poole, ed. Pp. 325-351. Oxford:Blackwell Publishing.
Invited Discussant, “Traders in Motion: Networks, Identities, and Contestations in the Vietnamese Marketplace.” Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Leipzig/Halle, Germany, Sept. 25-26, 2014.
Keynote speaker, “Localizing Globalization:Gendered Transformations of Work in Developing Countries.” Norwegian Research Council and the Department of Anthropology, University of Bergen, Norway. October 31st - Nov. 1st, 2013.
“Handicrafts, Tourist Guides, and Native Cuisine in Cusco, Peru: Cultural Vitality and Commodification.” Session: Tourism, Solidarity, and Imperialism in Latin American-U.S. Relations. Annual meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, San Francisco, CA, May 23-26, 2012.
“The Politics of Urban Space among Street Vendors of Cusco, Peru.” Street Economies, Politics, and Urban Social Movements in the Global South. Invited Session of Society for the Anthropology of Work. American Anthropological Association Meetings. New Orleans, Louisiana, Nov. 2010.
Diane Rehm Show, Washington Post, Pacifica News
Sapiens, "What's the Cost of Quinoa?" December 4, 2018.
With Good Reason Interview, National Public Radio, "Adoption in America" Nov. 23, 2013.