Susan Helen Ellison is a sociocultural anthropologist whose current research centers on the politics of foreign aid, democracy promotion, judicial reform, and conflict in Latin America. She is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wellesley College.
Ellison’s ethnographic research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation, Jacob K. Javits Foundation, and Tinker Foundation. In 2013, Ellison was awarded Brown University’s Joukowsky Dissertation Prize in Social Science. She also received the 2013 Elsa Cheney Award from the Gender and Feminist Studies section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) for her paper, “The Conflictual Social Life of an Industrial Sewing Machine.”
Prior to beginning doctoral research in anthropology, Ellison lived and worked in Bolivia from 2001-2005 while facilitating a national network of Bolivian grassroots and non-profit organizations that were mobilizing in response to neoliberal economic restructuring policies and historical forms of socio-political and economic exclusion. Her work focused heavily on indigenous movements and environmental justice issues related to the mining sector and water privatization. Ellison received her MTS from Harvard Divinity School in 2007 with a focus on liberation and feminist theologies, and religion and political movements.
Dr. Ellison is currently working on her book manuscript, Mediating Democracy: The Politics of Conflict Resolution in Bolivia. Based on 17 months of ethnographic research in foreign-funded legal aid centers, conflict resolution programs, and the criminal courts in El Alto and La Paz, the book project reveals how the unfolding (geo)politics of conflict resolution programs have become entangled with Andean kinship practices, regional political tactics, and postcolonial governance projects alike.