African and African Disapora Studies Department
African and African Disapora Studies Department

Charles R. Hale

ProfessorPh.D., 1996, Anthropology, Stanford University

Professor of Anthropology and of African and African Diaspora Studies
Charles R. Hale



Race/ethnicity, identity politics, consciousness and resistance, activist anthropology; Latin America, the Caribbean


Charles R. Hale holds a joint appointment as Professor in the departments of Anthropology and African and African Diaspora Studies (AADS) at The University of Texas at Austin.  From 2009 to 2011, he served as Director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS).  Since 2011 he has served as Director of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, a partnership between LLILAS and the world-renowned Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection.  Professor Hale’s scholarly interests include identity politics, racism, neoliberalism, and resistance among indigenous peoples of Latin America.  He is author of: Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894-1987 (Stanford, 1994), and “Más que un indio …” Racial Ambivalence and Neoliberal Multiculturalism in Guatemala (SAR, 2006).  He is co-editor (with Darío Euraque and Jeffrey Gould) of Memorias del mestizaje: Cultura política en Centroamérica, 1920 al presente (CIRMA, 2004); editor of Engaging Contradictions: Theory, Politics, and Methods of Activist Scholarship (UC Press, 2008); and author of numerous articles in his areas of interest.  He was president of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) from April 2006 through October 2007.


AFR 372C • Activist Research Practicum

29689 • Spring 2015
Meets MW 300pm-430pm SRH 1.320
(also listed as ANT 324L, LAS 324L)

From this upper-division seminar, designed especially for anthropology majors, students will learn the basics of anthropological research methods, and gain hands-on experience doing “activist research” with an Austin-based organization.  Coursework will consider the politics of anthropological research, tracing the evolution from its colonial beginnings, through upheaval and critique in the 1960s and 1970s, to various “post-colonial” responses to these criticisms.  After working through conventional research methods, we will focus on “activist anthropology,” as one means to confront the problems associated with anthropology’s colonial legacy. Together we will explore the complexities of activist research methods, while each student conceives and carries out an activist research project in conjunction with an organization in the Austin area.  Once this “practicum” portion of the course begins (roughly February 4), the seminar will meet once rather than twice a week.  From February 4 on, students are expected to devote an average of 6 to 8 hours a week to their activist research project. 

AFR 381 • Neoliberalism/Its Discontents

30870 • Spring 2014
Meets W 400pm-700pm SRH 1.320
(also listed as ANT 391, LAS 391)

AFR 381

(cross-listed with LAS and ANT)



Race, Rights and Resources in a Time of Crisis Spring 2014



Charles R. Hale (AADS / ANT / LAS)


Course description


This seminar is grounded in a central assertion, which will be subjected to scrutiny over the course of the semester:  the era of neoliberal multiculturalism (which began in the late 1980s) is coming to a close.  Two principal lines of argument underlie this assertion:  first, that resistance movements led by Black and indigenous peoples increasingly have gone beyond (or in some cases simply refused) the “expanded citizenship rights” framework that neoliberal multiculturalism put forth; second, that the new economic model (grounded centrally in resource extraction and primary commodity production) has made it increasingly difficult for states to concede and honor even the limited package of rights that have been affirmed.  To assess the validity of this assertion, we will look back over the past three decades to analyze the rise of neoliberal multiculturalism and its consequences. This retrospective will focus both on dominant actors and institutions, and on key currents of Black and indigenous mobilization, to understand what they sought and what they achieved.  Finally, we will carry out ethnographic analysis of the present, to assess the “end-of-an-era” assertion, made especially urgent by the corollary that the emerging regime of governance could well be more menacing than its predecessor.  In this final portion of the seminar, we will examine both emerging patterns of racial subordination, and promising currents of Afro-indigenous political assertion. 


The regional focus will be Latin America, and the principal socio-political actors to be studied are Black and indigenous peoples.  However, some theoretical and ethnographic literature will be drawn from other world areas, especially the global south.




Requirements will include three short analytical essays and one “activist scholarship” exercise.


Reading will be relatively heavy, with roughly one book (or equivalent in articles) per week.


AFR 381 • Thry/Meths/Polit Of Fieldwork

30469 • Spring 2013
Meets W 200pm-500pm SRH 1.320
(also listed as ANT 391, LAS 391)

How do anthropologists and other social scientists conceive of the relationship between field research and the call (whether from others or one’s own commitments) to become involved in the politics of the fieldwork situation?  What consequences follow when we respond affirmatively to such calls?  How does this change the character and the outcomes of our work in relation to conventional research methods?  How do our answers to these questions vary as we consider different understandings of the very term “politics”?   In addressing these and related questions, we will be especially interested to understand how the deep chasm between “applied” and “theoretical” approaches to social science research came about, and to explore possibilities for a terrain beyond that divide.  Throughout we will examine the potential benefits that follow from different forms of political engagement in the research process, as well as the dilemmas and contradictions that arise.  We will pay special attention to claims that “decolonized” research yields theoretical knowledge that otherwise would be difficult to achieve.  What are the theoretical contributions of authors associated with the notions of “coloniality” and “decolonization,” and to what extent do they emerge from a particular kind of research method?  Although the decolonization literature is global, we will emphasize works that are ethnographically grounded in Black and indigenous Latin America.

AFR 383 • Colonial Power Latin America

30593 • Spring 2012
Meets W 200pm-500pm SRH 1.320
(also listed as ANT 391, LAS 391)

This seminar will examine two key concepts—“racial formation” and “coloniality of power”—as they are used to situate and analyze the politics of subaltern peoples in Latin America.  First, we will develop a theoretical genealogy for the study of racial hierarchies and racism in Latin America, paying special attention to how certain concepts “travel” and resonate in their new locations while others do not.  Is “racial formation” more aligned with Gramsci and “coloniality of power” with Foucault?  Why has the concept of “coloniality of power” emerged as an epitomizing frame for understanding racial subordination in Latin America, while “racial formation” theory has prospered in the north, but only occasionally crossing the Rio Grande?  The second objective is to trace the reverberations of these theoretical genealogies in our understanding of racial and ethnic identity as underlying principles for the organization and enactment of oppositional politics.  We will develop a framework for understanding identity politics, both generally and in Latin America, with a special emphasis on struggles for autonomy.  Has “autonomy” (in a wide variety of guises) become the principal idiom in the politics of racially subordinated peoples?  If so, what theoretical and political consequences follow? 

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