Ph.D. (Anthropology), Indiana University, 2019
M.A. (Anthropology), Indiana University, 2016
B.A. (Anthropology and Environmental Studies), University of California, Santa Cruz, 2013


Emma McDonell specializes in the cultural politics of food systems, environment, development, and race in the Andes. Her manuscript in progress, (Re)Producing “Indian Food”: Race, Value, and Development in Peru’s Quinoa Boom-Bust, examines how relationships of power in the quinoa commodity chain have shifted over the course of the boom and bust. It explores how a commodity boom for a local staple crop affects farmer livelihoods and how this process interacts with shifting ideas cultural difference, national identity, and development in the Peruvian highlands.


Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Cultures of Latin America
Anthropology of Food
Environmental Anthropology
Critical Nutrition Studies

Economic Anthropology

Selected Awards

Symposia Grant for “Critical Approaches to Superfoods Workshop,” Indiana University Bicentennial Commission, 2019

Regional Workshop Grant for “Critical Approaches to Superfoods Workshop,” Association for the Study of Food & Society, 2019

Native American & Indigenous Studies Fellowship, Indiana University, 2018 Fulbright Research Grant, 2017

Andrew C. Mellon Innovating International Research Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2016

Vincent & Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis Fellowship, 2015

Sustainability Research Grant, Indiana University Office of Sustainability, 2016

Sustainable Food Systems Field Research Grant, Sustainable Food Systems Working Group,

Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education, 2015

Publication Highlights

Critical Approaches to Superfoods. Forthcoming. London: Bloomsbury Academic. (Edited with Richard Wilk)

“Creating the Culinary Frontier: A Critical Examination of Peruvian Chefs’ Narratives of Lost/Discovered Foods” 2019. Anthropology of Food. 14.

“Miracle Foods: Quinoa, Curative Metaphors, and the Depoliticization of Global Hunger Politics.” 2015. Gastronomica 15(4): 70-85.

“The Co-constitution of Neoliberalism, Extractive Industries, and Indigeneity: anti-mining protests in Puno, Peru.” 2015. The Extractive Industries and Society 2(1): 112-123.

Conference and Presentation Highlights

“Quinoa’s Unrealized Miracle Potential as a Boundary Object: A Critical Analysis of the Underutilized and Neglected Foods Discourse” Invited presentation for the Institute of
Geography and Sustainability’s Political Ecology Colloquium, University of Lausanne, June 2019 (invited talk)

Organizer: Critical Approaches to Superfoods Workshop, Indiana University, March 2019

“Uncontained Quinoa: surveillance and legibility in a failed territorialization project” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Jose, CA, November 2018

“Connecting Superfoods and Marginalized Foods” Association for the Study of Food and Society Annual Meeting, Madison, WI, June 2018

“The Lost Crop of the Inca: Quinoa, Race, and Whiteness in Peru” Dimensions of Political Ecology, Lexington, KY, February 23-24, 2018

“The Producer Community versus the Entrepreneurial Producer: Hedging, Affect, and Ecology in the Quinoa Boom-Bust” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC, panel title: “Cultural Dimensions of Booms and Busts” December 2017

“Intellectual Property and Spatial Politics in Peru’s Gastronomic Boom: A Case
Study of Quinoa Puneño” Latin America Studies Association Conference, Lima, Peru, panel title: “Gastropolitics in Peru” April 2017

“The Not-so Lost Crop of the Incas: reexamining narratives of decline and discovery,” Threatened, Forgotten and Lost Foods: Causes and Mechanisms of Their Decline (14th – 21st centuries), Université Bordeaux Montaigne, April 2017

“Miracle Foods: curative metaphors and hunger” Revisiting the Historical Connections between
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Development: The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in a Global Context Conference, University of Basel, Institute for Global Studies, Basel, Switzerland, August 2014


American Anthropological Association
Association for the Study of Food and Society
Latin American Studies Association