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Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Paja Faudree

+1 401 863 2638, +1 401 383 4171
Giddings House 109


Downloadable CV

Paja Faudree

Associate Professor of Anthropology


Paja Faudree is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Brown’s Department of Anthropology.  Professor Faudree received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in linguistic and socio-cultural anthropology, and came to Brown following a Harper-Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Chicago.  In addition to Watson, she is affiliated with numerous units on campus, including the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Haffenreffer Museum, the John Carter Brown Library, Native American and Indigenous Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Theatre and Performance Studies, and Development Studies. Her research has received numerous awards, including grants from the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Fulbright IIE, American Philosophical Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Fulbright-Hays. Professor Faudree is also a published poet and playwright, and holds an MFA from Brown's literary arts program. 


My research clusters around the following themes:

1). Revival, Indigeneity, and Language Politics in Latin America: I have conducted extensive research on indigenous social movements anchored in cultural and linguistic revival.  Publications include Singing for the Dead: The Politics of Indigenous Revival in Mexico (Duke, 2013) and articles in American Anthropologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Anthropological Quarterly, and Semiotica.

2). The Political and Semiotic Economies of Drugs and Traditional Medicines: I also examine how connections among people, words, and things collectively shape global trade in drugs.  For example, I recently published an article on “magic mushrooms” in Comparative Studies in Society and History, and am now completing the book Magic Mint: How Salvia Became One of the World’s Newest “Drugs” (Duke, forthcoming).

3). Music, Performance, and Indigeneity: A third area of research concerns how people use performance, music, and language to conceptualize indigenous identity in a globalized world. Publications include articles in Annual Review of Anthropology, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and Popular Music and Society, and in a special issue of Language and Communication, which I co-edited.

4). Indigenous Writing and Mesoamerican Ethnohistory: I have also published research on how linguistic difference shaped encounters during the conquest and colonization of the New World. This includes articles in Ethnohistory, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, and Colonial Latin American Review, and chapters in the volumes Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Anthropology and Global Latin America.

5). Medical Translation and Miscommunication: Finally, I am now conducting new research on some of the problems caused by how linguistic diversity is managed (and mismanaged) in medical settings. This work will culminate in a book tentatively titled When Translation Fails: The Costs of Medical Miscommunication. 



Under contract Magic Mint: How Salvia Became One of the World’s Newest

“Drugs.”  Durham: Duke University Press.

2013 Singing for the Dead: The Politics of Indigenous Revival in

Mexico. Durham: Duke University Press.

  • Winner of the 2014 book prize awarded by the American Anthropological Association’s Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

  • Named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association

  • Reviewed in American Ethnologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Americas, American Anthropologist, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Choice, Anthropos, and Journal of Folklore Research, among other venues

Edited Journal Issues

2015 The Social Life of Diversity Talk, a special issue of the journal Language and Communication, 41: 1-88.  Co-edited with Becky Schulthies.

Peer-Reviewed Articles, in Journals

2016 “Between Aspiration and Apathy: Shifting Scale and the ‘Worlding’ of Indigenous Day of the Dead Music.” Popular Music and Society.

2015 “Tales from the Land of Magic Plants: Textual Ideologies and Fetishes of Indigeneity in Mexico’s Sierra Mazateca.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 57(3): 838-869.

2015 “Made in Translation: Revisiting the Chontal Maya Account of the Conquest.”  Ethnohistory 62(3): 597-621.

2015 “What is an Indigenous Author?: Minority Authorship and the Politics of Voice in Mexico.” Anthropological Quarterly 88(1): 5-35.  

2015 “Why X Doesn’t Always Mark the Spot: Contested Authenticity in Mexican Indigenous Language Politics.”  Semiotica 203: 179-201. 


In recent years, I have taught the following courses:

“Sound and Symbols: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology” (ANTH 0800)

“Language and Medicine in Practice” (ANTH 1311)

“Language and Power” (ANTH 1810)

“From Magic Mushrooms to Big Pharma: Anthropology of Drugs” (ANTH 1880)

“When Words Collide: Language in Colonial Mesoamerica” (ANTH 2520) 

“Linguistic Theory and Practice” (ANTH 2800)