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Michelle Bigenho

Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies

Michelle Bigenho, Professor of Anthropology & Latin American Studies, holds a B.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles in political science and Latin American studies; a "magister" in anthropology from the Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Perú; and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Cornell University. Her current research interests include indigeneity, cultural and intellectual property, transnational cultural work, indigenous heritage, folklorization processes, and the politics of culture. Based on fieldwork in Peru, Bolivia, and Japan, her conceptual inquiries address intimacies in relation to political subjectivities, race in national imaginaries, ritual analysis as applied to nation-states, performance and performativity, embodiment and memory, phenomenological approaches to the political, and the law in everyday life.

Bigenho has authored two monographs, Intimate Distance: Andean Music in Japan (Duke 2012), which received the writing prize from the Latin American Studies Association—Asia and the Americas Section; and Sounding Indigenous: Authenticity in Bolivian Music Performance (Palgrave 2002).  Her other publications include numerous chapters in edited volumes and articles in peer reviewed journals, some of which are available on

She has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, Fulbright IIE, and the Whiting Foundation, as well as fellowships from University of Cambridge’s Centre of Latin American Studies and University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute. She has headed up an NSF-funded collaborative project entitled “Cultural Property, Creativity, and Indigeneity in Bolivia,” with Henry Stobart (Royal Holloway University of London), Juan Carlos Cordero (Bolivia) and Bernardo Rozo (Bolivia).

Music performance on the violin has formed a significant part of Bigenho’s ethnographic approach. She has participated in over fourteen recordings with the Bolivian ensemble, Música de Maestros.

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