Gabriela Morales

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Department: Anthropology
Office Address: Vita Nova 110
Office Phone: (909) 607-3156
Gabriela Morales

Academic History

  • Ph.D., Anthropology, Yale University (2017)
  • M.Phil., Anthropology, Yale University (2013)
  • B.A., Anthropology and English, University of Arizona (2010)

Areas of Expertise

Research interests: ethics of care; well-being; ontology; the body; coloniality and decolonization; the state; Bolivia; Latin America

I am an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Scripps College; I am also affiliated with Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Claremont Colleges. I received my PhD in Anthropology from Yale University in 2017. A medical and political anthropologist, I am broadly interested in how colonial and racializing logics have shaped medical care in Latin America — as well how such forms of intervention reach limits, are challenged, or are refused. At Scripps, I teach a range of classes on health and medicine, colonialism, and Latin American politics.

My current book manuscript, Decolonizing Medicine: Politics and Practices of Care in Bolivia, is an ethnography of care practices in the context of Bolivian state policies to decolonize health services during Evo Morales’ presidency. During Morales’ tenure from 2006 to 2019, the Bolivian Ministry of Health enacted a series of reforms in the name of decolonization, including the incorporation of indigenous healing practices into clinics and the invocation of indigenous cosmovisión (cosmology, worldview) as an ethical basis for reshaping biomedicine itself. Based on a total of 24 months of ethnographic research in Bolivia between 2012 and 2018, Decolonizing Medicine traces how policy efforts to center indigenous worlds entered into care practices in and out of the clinic in a rural, predominantly indigenous Aymara municipality. Rather than taking policies as a clear rupture with the past, this ethnography considers the contingencies of care that emerged — as decolonization competed for funding with other projects, as entrenched forms of fixing indigenous subjects were reinscribed, and as new sites of aspiration and recognition emerged. Amid the possibilities and limits of reforms, Aymara patients engaged in what I call “repairing relations”: desires for the state to keep its promise to repair intertwined forms of colonial and medical violence were folded into everyday efforts to maintain appropriately caring relations with medical practitioners, healers, kin, and the land.

Selected Research and Publications

Journal Articles

2018 “There is No Place Like Home: Imitation and the Politics of Recognition in Bolivian Obstetric Care.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly. DOI:10.1111/maq.12427


Book Reviews

2015 “Street, Alice 2014. Biomedicine in an unstable place. Infrastructure and personhood in a Papua New Guinean hospital. Durham, NC: PB - Duke University Press. 304 pp. Pb.: US$19.58. ISBN-13: 978-0822357780.” Social Anthropology 23(3): 403-404.


Work in Progress

n.d. Decolonizing Medicine: Politics and Practices of Care in Bolivia. Book manuscript in progress.

Awards and Honors

  • Graves Award in the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies (2020)
  • Mary W. Johnson Faculty Achievement Award in Teaching, Scripps College (2020)
  • Sabbatical Research Fellowship, Scripps College (2020)
  • Faculty Research Grant, Scripps College (2020)
  • Oshita Fund for Emerging Needs, Scripps College (2019)
  • Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation (2014)

Courses Taught

  • Senior Seminar in Anthropology and Ethnographic Writing
  • Core I: Truth
  • Science, Medicine, and Colonialism
  • Culture and Politics in Latin America
  • Core III: Embodying Illness
  • Settler Colonialism
  • Medical Anthropology and Global Health
  • Introduction to Socio-Cultural Anthropology

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