Meet the Fellows: 2018 Newcombe Fellow Amy Kennemore

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship fosters the original and significant study of ethical or religious values in all fields of the humanities and social sciences. The 2018 class, announced by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, includes Amy Kennemore, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at University of California, San Diego. Amy’s dissertation, titled Searching for Indigenous Justice: Navigating the Value of Legal Pluralism in the Uncertain Terrain of the Bolivian Andes, examines the historical conditions that have facilitated a recent emphasis on the value of indigenous justice as the new moral-ethical foundation of the Bolivian state and society.

Amy tells the orgin story of her research focus:

My interest in Indigenous justice was sparked during my first study abroad trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, in the summer of 2006 for a Spanish emersion language program. During my stay, the city erupted in turmoil, as indigenous teachers and activists protested to get better supplies for their schools in the face of often-violent state retaliation. I was struck by the various ways in which inequality manifested itself in people’s daily lives, but also how indigenous activists continued to work to shape the world around them in meaningful ways. Upon returning from this trip, I decided to pursue an academic career to better understand the workings of power, race, and historical forces that shaped this moment, as well as indigenous politics in the region more broadly.

In my studies I’ve been inspired by a particular emphasis on “engaged” research among a growing network of legal activists and anthropologists across Latin America, which seeks to legitimize and bolster alternative notions of justice through a combination of empirical ethnographic research, critical social theory, and collaborative research that privileges local actors’ knowledges and political interests. I’ve found this approach useful in my own research on new forms of legal pluralism in Bolivia, understood not only as a mechanism of emancipatory politics for marginalized groups but also as a means to construct a more just society through the incorporation indigenous values into the heart of the very nation-state. This shift in the value of indigenous justice has generated new dilemmas for research on indigenous activism and politics, which I take as a central object of study to understand emerging forms of governance in relation to a “search” for justice unfolding in various contexts in recent decades.

For more information about the 2018 Newcombe Fellows and a list of their dissertation titles, click here.



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