I am a writer and medical anthropologist focusing on Latin America.  I am proud to be the product of the California public school system: I earned my Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and my Master in Public Health and PhD in Medical Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.  My research interests include political violence, transitional justice, gender studies, the environmental humanities, and critical security studies.

I am the author of many articles, commissioned reports, four books and an edited volume. Entre Prójimos: El conflicto armado interno y la política de la reconciliación en el Perú (Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1st edition 2004; 2nd edition 2009) was awarded the Latin American Studies Association 2006 Premio Iberoamericano Book Award Honorable Mention for outstanding book in the social sciences published in Spanish or Portuguese. Entre Prójimos served as the primary inspiration for the film La Teta Asustada (The Milk of Sorrow), Claudia Llosa’s award-winning and Academy Award-nominated movie about sexual violence, memory and the complicated issue of reconciliation in ethnically-divided Peru.

My second book,  Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012) has been reviewed in London Review of Books, Foreign AffairsAmerican Ethnologist, The Times Literary Supplement,  Journal for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Human Rights QuarterlyThe Americas: Quarterly Review of Latin American HistoryAnthropology in Action, Anthropological QuarterlyJournal of Latin American Studies, Law, Culture and the Humanities, Inside StoryReVistaTulsa Law ReviewHispanic America Historical Review, Journal of Anthropological ResearchPoLar: Journal of Political and Legal Anthropology, Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, Journal of Peace, Conflict and Development, Revista Andina,  Journal of Human Rights, Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Dialectical Anthropology, and Latin American Politics and Society. Intimate Enemies was awarded the 2013 Honorable Mention from the Washington Office on Latin America-Duke University Libraries Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America, and the 2013 Honorable Mention for the Eileen Basker Prize  from the Society for Medical Anthropology for research  on gender and health.

I have co-edited, with colleague Dyan Mazurana, Challenging Conceptions: Children Born of Wartime Rape and Sexual Exploitation, Oxford University Press, 2023.  This volume brings together ethnographically rich research conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, Kenya, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Peru, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda and the United States with the children, their mothers, and the wider communities in which they forge their frequently precarious lives.  These compelling chapters underscore the importance of anthropology to the development of more humane and effective policies.

My most recent book is Legacies of War: Violence, Ecologies and Kin, Duke University Press, July 2022. Drawing on my research in Peru and Colombia, I consider the multiple environments in which conception, pregnancy and childbirth unfold, environments that may lie far beyond the control of any one woman.  From toxic chemicals to land mines, from rivers tinged with blood to angry mountains, my goal was to capture the multiple environments and actors that play a role in “distributed reproduction,” and to consider the human and more-than-human wages of war.  Legacies brings ethnography, the environmental humanities and epigenetics into conversation to trace the contours of an explicitly feminist theory of harm. Legados de Guerra: violencia, ecología y parentesco is now available at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos.

I am currently completing A Violent Peace: Theaters of War in Colombia, which is based on my research with former combatants from the paramilitaries, the FARC and the ELN, as well as with representatives of the myriad governmental and non-governmental entities involved in administering the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Program in Colombia.  A Violent Peace is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press.

In addition to my research and writing, I am a committed teacher and mentor.  I was awarded the 2017 Society for Medical Anthropology’s Graduate Student Mentoring Award in “recognition of [my] contributions to the next generation of medical anthropologists,” and the 2019 James L. Paddock Teaching Award from the Fletcher School, Tufts University.

My research and writing have been generously supported by the: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Social Science Research Council, Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, United States Institute for Peace, among others. 

I completed my appointment as the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University in June 2014, and was then a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C for the 2014-2015 academic year.  I am currently the Henry J. Leir Professor in International Humanitarian Studies at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and Director of the Gender and Intersectional Analysis and Inclusive Leadership Program. For more information see https://sites.tufts.edu/gender/. 

Beginning Fall 2021, thanks to generous funding from a Tisch College Faculty Fellowship, I launched the Ecologies of Justice: Environmental Humanities and Civic Activism Initiative at The Fletcher School.  Our goal is to bring together scholars, practitioners and activists to discuss the myriad ways in which the arts and humanities can address the challenges of climate change and the unequal burden of the Anthropocene.  For more information, join us at https://sites.tufts.edu/gender/ecologies-of-justice/.

I was fortunate to be a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia, 2022-2023, affiliated with La Universidad Javeriana. I conducted research on the implementation of the Colombian Constitutional Court’s decision that the Río Atrato is a river with rights and a victim of the armed conflict. Moving between the Court’s decision, the collaborative governance model the decision established , and the local River Guardians, I hope to account for the human and more-than-human wages of war. This participatory-action research will be the foundation of my next book, All Our Kin: The Wages of War in Colombia and Peru.

When not relishing my research, teaching and writing, I am equally delighted to spend time with my spouse Kathleen Stauffer, and our canine familiars, Lola and Sadie. We divide our time between Medford, Massachusetts, and Mystic, Connecticut.
Contact: ktheidon@aol.com