Karen Faulk

Visiting Assistant Professor
Ph.D.: University of Michigan, 2008
Department Member Since: 2009


Dr. Faulk is a cultural anthropologist whose research and teaching focus primarily on ideas of justice, global structural inequalities, and human rights. She has conducted ethnographic research in Latin America (Argentina, Colombia, Brazil) and in the US. Her first book, In the Wake of Neoliberalism: Citizenship and Human Rights in Argentina (Stanford University Press, 2013), traced two prominent Buenos Aires protest organizations—Memoria Activa and the BAUEN workers' cooperative—to consider how each has framed its demands within a language of rights. In exploring the way in which "rights talk" is used and adapted, the book demonstrates the mutually formative and contentious interactions between ideas of human rights, rights of citizenship, and the concrete and envisioned social relationships that form the basis for social activism in the wake of neoliberalism.

More recently, she has been working on two edited book projects. One explores meanings and lived experiences around the concept of justice in Latin America. The chapters take a special interest in the negotiations and social interactions involved in the production of justice, a phrase referring to the multiple processes whereby socially contentious issues may be settled. In proposing parameters for an anthropology of justice, the book contributes concrete evidence of how legal knowledge is constructed or resisted through selective use of legal structures, and how actors’ engagements with justice (either as an idea or a process to which they are subjected) shape their perception of themselves as legal subjects. The other collection explores the shifting meanings of work (and non-work) and related concepts of dignity, autonomy, cooperation, legitimacy, sociality, and solidarity in Argentina following the fundamental restructuring of the Argentine economy in the 1990s.

Also a certified doula and trained Lamaze instructor, Dr. Faulk is currently doing research for a new book project on the idea of birth as a human right.

selected Publications

In the Wake of Neoliberalism: Citizenship and Human Rights in Argentina, Stanford University Press, 2012.
Articles and Book Chapters
“Citizenship, Human Rights, and Anthropology in the Aftermath of the AMIA Bombing,” in The Aftermath of the AMIA, Natasha Zaretsky and Annette Levine, eds., under review.
“‘Recuperar el trabajo’: Utopia and the work of recovery in an Argentine cooperativist movement,” as part of Work in Argentina: 21st century Paradigms, under review.
“’Justice, Justice, You will Seek:’ The Pursuit of Justice in Jewish Buenos Aires,” in A Sense of Justice: Legal Knowledge and Lived Experience in Latin America, under review.
“Lucha, trabajo y cultura: sentidos del cooperativismo y ciudadanía en una empresa recuperada,” in De política y trabajo. Estudios etnográficos sobre prácticas de organización colectiva en la argentina reciente, María Inés Fernández Álvarez, ed., forthcoming with Biblios.
“Solidarity and Accountability: Rethinking Citizenship and Human Rights,” in Human Rights at the Crossroads, Mark Goodale, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012).
“Stitching curtains, grinding plastic: The transformation of workers and things in Buenos Aires,” in Recycling Economies, Catherine Alexander and Josh Reno, eds. (Zed books, 2012).
“'If they touch one of us, they touch all of us': Cooperativism as a Counterlogic to Neoliberal Capitalism.” Anthropological Quarterly, Summer 2008.
Review Essays
Writing as a Magical Act: Tracing Histories of Violence and Cocaine in Colombia,” review essay in consideration of Law in a Lawless Land and My Cocaine Museum by Michael Taussig. PoLAR (Political and Legal Anthropology Review), Fall 2008.
Selected Book Reviews
Review of Patients of the State: The Politics of Waiting in Argentina, by Javier Auyero. Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe (E.I.A.L), 25, no.1 (2014): 121-122.
Review of Rainforest Warriors: Human Rights on Trial by Richard Price. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 36, no. 1 (2013): 178-180.
Review of Bodies in Crisis: Culture, Violence, and Women's Resistance in Neoliberal Argentina by Barbara Sutton. Anthropological Quarterly, 84 no. 1 (2011):273-378.
“The Armed Face of Neoliberalism,” in review of Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia by Jasmin Hristov. Published on H-Human Rights, November 2009.

Courses Taught

Dilemmas and Controversies in Anthropology
Garbage Gone Global: Managing Surplus, Waste, and Desire
Medical Anthropology
International Human Rights Institutions
Development and Democracy in Latin America
World Citizenships
Perspectives on Social Protest
Between Revolutions: 19th Century Latin America

Contact Info

Department of History
Wean Hall 8101
P: 412.268.2917
F: 412.268.1019