Prof. Dr. Catherine Whittaker

Tel: +49 (0)69/798-33070
Room: IG 554 Email: Whittaker (at)
Appointments: I am on sabbatical leave during winter term 2022/23 and will answer emails irregularly. For general questions and supervision requests, please contact my colleagues.

Research and teaching interests
• Latin America (especially rural Central Mexico), U.S.-Mexico border region (particularly urban California), transnational perspectives;
• Anthropology of structural violence: Diversity, power, activism, racism, gender, migration, subjectivation, vigilance;
• Feminist, Indigenous, and decolonial theories and methods, affect theory;
• ethnographic writing

Currently, I am not accepting new supervisees.

Short biography
I am an Assistant Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Goethe University Frankfurt (W1, tenure track) and an equality representative of the faculty (Fachbereich 08).
I will also be a visiting researcher at Brown University (Providence, RI, U.S.A.) in January/ February 2023.

Previously, I was a research associate at the SFB 1369 "Cultures of Vigilance" at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and at the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL) at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. I have also been a visiting scholar at the University of California San Diego and the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and completed my graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the University of Oxford (all Anthropology, UK), and the University of Bonn (Latin American and Indigenous American Studies, Germany).

Previous ethnographic research projects on structures of violence
2022-2023: Rethinking masculine capital: militarization, care, and awkward affects (funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung and the Johanna Quandt Young Academy).

2019-2023: The vigilance and subjectivity of Latin@s and those mistaken for migrants in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands (DFG-funded, project director: Prof. Dr. Eveline Dürr, LMU Munich).

2019: Gender roles in anti-violence activism in Michoacán, Mexico (ESRC-funded, project director: Dr. Trevor Stack, University of Aberdeen).

2014-2019: Indigenous women's power, the relationship between love and violence, and the politics of indigeneity in the rural south of Mexico City (funded by the University of Edinburgh, the Mexican government's Fellowship Program for Foreign Scholars, and the Royal Anthropological Institute).


    • Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. DeGruyter, 2023. (Mit Eveline Dürr, Jonathan Alderman und Carolin Luiprecht.
    • Vigilance and Subjectivity. DeGruyter, 2023. (Mit Eveline Dürr et al.)
    • Loving Violence: Decolonizing Gender Violence and Power in Indigenous Mexico. (In Arbeit.)

    Special Sections
    • 2022 - “Vigilance." Co-edited with Eveline Dürr and Ana Ivasiuc, Conflict & Society.
    • In prep. “The Negotiation of Authenticity and the Representation of Cultural Heritage in the Americas." Co-edited with Antje Gunsenheimer and Stephanie Schütze, Indiana.

    Peer-reviewed Journal Articles
    • 2023 - “Beyond the Dead Zone: The Meanings of Loving Violence in Highland Mexico." American Anthropologist.
    • 2022 - “Vigilance, Knowledge, and De/Colonization: Protesting While Latin@ in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands." Conflict & Society (With Eveline Dürr.)
    • 2022 -  “A Bridge that Divides: Hostile Infrastructures, Coloniality, and Watchfulness in San Diego, California." Sociologus (With Jonathan Alderman and Eveline Dürr.)
    • 2022 - “Introduction: The Power and Productivity of Vigilance Regimes." Conflict & Society (With Ana Ivasiuc and Eveline Dürr.)
    • 2021 - “Aztecs Are Not Indigenous: Anthropology and the Politics of Indigeneity" Annals of Anthropological Practice 44(2): 173-179.
    • 2020 - “Felt Power: Can Indigenous Mexican Women Finally Be Powerful?" Feminist Anthropology 1(2): 288-303. 
    • 2016 - “Sahagún reloaded? The Priest, His Pyramid, and Deliberate Syncretism in Milpa Alta." Mexicon: Journal of Mesoamerican Studies 38(2): 33-35.

    Book Chapters (* peer-reviewed)
    • 2023 - “Wachsamkeit als Alltagspraxis: Dekolonisierung von Zeit und Raum im Chicano Park in San Diego, Kalifornien [Watchfulness as Everyday Praxis: Decolonization of time and space in Chicano Park in San Diego, California]," in Zeiten der Wachsamkeit [Times of Watchfulness], ed. by A. Brendecke et al. DeGruyter. (With Eveline Dürr.)
    • 2022* - “Los límites del activismo de las mujeres michoacanas: luchando contra el continuo de violencia [Barriers to women's activism in Michoacán: Struggling against the continuum of violence]," in Sociedad civil desde la periferia: Un estudio sobre las respuestas y dilemas de la sociedad frente a la violencia y la fragilidad institucional" [Civil Society From the Margins: A study of the answers and dilemmas of society in the face of violence and institutional fragility], ed. by E. Guerra. Aguascalientes: Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas. (In print.)
    • 2022* - “Interwoven Violence: Gender-Based Violence, Haunting, and Violence Research in Milpa Alta, Mexico City," in Researching Gender-based Violence: Embodied and Intersectional Approaches, ed. by A. Petillo and H. Hlavka, New York City: New York University Press.
    • 2022* - “A Room of Their Own: Barriers to women's activism against the continuum of violence in Michoacán, Mexico," in Citizens Against Crime and Violence: A Comparative Ethnography of Societal Responses in Michoacán, Mexico, ed. by T. Stack, New Brunswick: Rutgers UP. Preview:
    • 2019 - “The cosmopolitics of rights and violence in Central Mexico," in Anthropological contributions for sustainable futures: Research and interventions in the fields of environmental needs, gender equity, human rights and knowledge in South America and the United Kingdom, ed. by S. Alzugaray and J. Taks, pp. 12-15. Montevideo: University of the Republic of Uruguay Press. 
    • 2017 - “Suckling the snake: Motherly goddess worship and serpent symbolism among contemporary Nahua," in Motherhood/s and polytheism, ed. by G. Pedrucci, F. Pasche Guignard, and M. Scapini, pp. 495-504. Bologna: Pàtron.

       Scientific Blogs (selection)
Student assistant: Milen Asfaha
PhD supervisees: Akemi Matsumura Vásquez,
Mathias Hartmann, Friederike Hesselmann