Gabriela Morales

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Department: Anthropology
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; materiality; coloniality and decolonization; the state; Bolivia; Latin America

As a medical and a 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. I received my PhD in Anthropology from Yale University in 2017. 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 under Bolivian state efforts to decolonize health care services during Evo Morales’ presidency. In keeping with a wider national agenda of descolonización (decolonization), reformers proposed to recenter Indigenous knowledges and tackle the intertwined structures of colonialism and capitalism that underpinned an exclusionary health care system. Initiatives ranged from transforming biomedical practice to incorporating traditional healers and midwives into clinical services to developing participatory planning. In tracing the uneven — and sometimes contested — implementation of these national health policies, this book attends to everyday encounters (a conversation in a waiting room, an injection with a needle, a gift of food) to examine moves toward reckoning and repair in medicine.

My most recent work has shifted to focusing on questions of chronicity and embodiment in illness. I am currently in the early stages of a second book project on afterlives of mining in Bolivia. It traces the temporalities of illness resulting from mining against the backdrop of structural reforms, Indigenous and labor activism, and emergent environmental health paradigms.

Selected Research and Publications


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


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

2018 “There is No Place Like Home: Imitation and the Politics of Recognition in Bolivian Obstetric Care.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 32: 404-424. DOI:10.1111/maq.12427


Book Reviews

2020 “State of Health: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez. Amy Cooper. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2019. 200 pp.” Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. 25(2): 361 – 362. DOI: 10.1111/jlca.12489

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.

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