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Stefanie Graeter

Stefanie Graeter

Mellon-ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow '14

PhD Candidate in the UC Davis Department of Anthropology

328 Young Hall
One Shields Ave
University of California

Davis, Ca , CA 95616
Office Phone: (530) 752-0745


  1. Advanced to PhD Candidacy (2011)
  2. M.A. Sociocultural Anthropology UC Davis (2011)
  3. B.S. Environmental Sciences; Minor German UC Berkeley (2005)



Keywords: Environmental and Medical Anthropology; Science and Technology Studies; Toxicity & Exposure; Environmental Health, Race, & Justice; Science & Religion; NGOs, Humanitarianism, & the State; Neoliberalism, Globalism, & Global Health; Ethics, Law, & Politics, Mining and Extractive Industries; Peru (Central Andes & Coast) & Latin America

My dissertation, Lead to the Laboratory: The Ethics and Science of Lead Exposure Politics in Central Peru, examines the introduction of lead contamination science into the ethical and political disputes about mining in Peru. My ethnographic material, gathered in El Callao, Lima, La Oroya, and Huancayo Peru, along with some North American counterparts, traces this lead contamination controversy–its emergence, dynamics, and consequences–and guides my dissertation through three central arguments: First, the lead controversy opens a window into the ethical conundrums of Peru’s ballooning, foreign-funded mining industry, the industry's fraught relationship with science and truth, and the multifaceted ways mining has historically relied on, and reproduced, social and material inequalities that persist today. Second, my research with Andean Catholic scientists, and a transnational network of secular and religious advocates, reveals the way scientific evidence of contamination achieved public and political legitimacy. I show how scientific authority derived from not just technical expertise, but also through its association and translation into the ethical arguments of Catholicism and humanitarianism. Third, my research reveals how the issue of lead became a site of convergence for a wide-range of social tensions and inequalities, which included, but also exceeded, the problem of lead contamination itself. The concreteness of lead, its measurability and its inscription within Peru's legal framework, offered a strategy to indirectly redress systemic issues–like poverty, ethnic discrimination, and disease–yet, did not necessarily provide a means to challenge the social conditions that produced these problems or even lead itself.

My undergraduate degree in environmental sciences, and work experience in the field of environmental health, enhance my training in anthropoology and long-term ethnographic research. My work transects the fields of medical and environmental anthropology, the study of globalization and human rights, and theories of science, ethics, and politics. I expect to complete my PhD in June 2015.

Co-Advisors: Marisol de la Cadena and Joseph Dumit

Committee Members: Timothy Choy and Cristiana Giordano


Funding and Awards

2014 Winner of the Rappaport Student Prize competition of the Environmental and Anthropology section of the American Anthropological Association for the essay, "Metallic Ecologies, Alchemies of the Self."

Mellon-American Council of Learned Societies Dissertation Completion Fellow (2014-2015)

My education and research have been generously funded in the past by:

The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) 2010-2012; 2013-2014

The Social Science Research Council's International Dissertation Research Fellowship (SSRC IDRF) 2012-2013

With additional support by UC Davis' Environments and Societies Research Initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation (Summer 2012), the Hemispheric Institute of the Americas (Summer 2009), and the Department for Sociocultural Anthropology (Summer 2009, 2010, and 2013).

Through the website links at the top of this page you can view my ACLS profile and a photo essay about my research, entitled "Lead's Material Politics," selected by SSRC fellows as the winner of the 2012 SSRC Photo Competition.


Teaching Experience


In the Spring of 2013, I taught the course "Globalization" for UC Davis' Sociocultural Anthropology Department.

Additionally, I've worked as a teaching assistant for our department's courses on "Introduction to Sociocultural Anthropology" (Yengoyan, Fall 2008 & Kilma, Winter 2009), "Ecology and Politics" (Sawyer, Winter 2010), and "Race and Science" (de la Cadena, Spring 2010).

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Dept. of Anthropology

328 Young Hall
One Shields Ave.
University of California
Davis, Ca 95616-8522

Ph.  530-752-0745
Fax. 530-752-8885