I’m a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Social, Cultural & Justice Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga during AY2019-20. I defended my dissertation in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University in September 2019.

headshot 2 - mcdonellMy broad scholarly interest lies in the relationships between food culture, economic exchange, environments, and identity politics. More specifically, I’ve written about the intersections between indigenous recognition and neoliberal extraction regimes, the linkages between ideas about the curative properties of foods and global anti-hunger campaigns, the nutritional implications of boom-bust economies, the politics of agrobiodiversity as it relates to the commercialization of traditional foods, and the resonance of colonial-era discovery narratives with contemporary Peruvian chefs’ tales of lost and discovered foods. I’m currently working on a dissertation about the cultural politics of the quinoa boom-bust that inquires about the ways multicultural development culinary and nationalism dovetail with global superfood economies and environmental anxieties. While rooted in anthropological theories and methods, this project is deeply interdisciplinary and converses with food studies, consumer culture studies, and agricultural economics. I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Peru, Bolivia, and the United States.

My interest in the cultural politics of food and environment began while studying environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz where I majored in environmental studies and anthropology. Under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Bury, I wrote my senior thesis on the ways the politics of indigenous recognition were intersecting with a neoliberal extraction regime in the highlands of Peru. Part of this research was published in the Journal of Extractive Industries & Society in 2015. The article is available here.

I started the doctoral program in anthropology at Indiana University in 2013, working under the guidance of Richard Wilk and Eduardo Brondizio, and Shane Greene. While rooted in anthropology methodologically and theoretically, I am deeply engaged in Latin American studies and food studies scholarly communities at Indiana University. After two summers of pilot research, I conducted dissertation fieldwork during October 2016-October 2017. This research was funded by a Fulbright IIE Research Fellowship, a Mellon Innovating International Research and Training Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship, a Ostrom Workshop Research Grant, and a handful of smaller grants for the preliminary research (see CV). In addition to my coursework advisors, I have added Sarah Osterhoudt and Sarah Besky to my dissertation committee.

My most recent scholarly articles are “Creating the Culinary Frontier: A Critical Examination of Peruvian Chefs’ Narratives of Lost/discovered Food,” published in Anthropology of Food, Nutrition Politics in the Quinoa Boom: Connecting Consumer and Producer Nutrition in the Commercialization of Traditional Foods” published in the International Journal of Food and Nutritional Science and “Miracle Foods: Quinoa, Curative Metaphors, and the Depoliticization of Global Hunger Politics” published in Gastronomica (also winner of the Schnieder Economic Anthropology Paper Prize). I’ve also recently published a couple of public pieces, one on the quinoa bust and one on agrobiodiversity politics through the lens of quinoa, published in NACLA and EnviroSociety, respectively.

In addition to my research pursuits, I have served in various editorial positions. I was managing editor at the Graduate Journal of Food Studies and editorial assistant for Culture, Agriculture, Food & Environment, the journal for the Culture & Agriculture section of the American Anthropological Association. I also worked as editorial assistant for Gastronomica: the Journal of Critical Food Studies during 2012-13.





























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