Ana Mariella Bacigalupo


Ana Bacigalupo.

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo


Ana Mariella Bacigalupo


Research Topics

Medical anthropology; anthropology of religion; social theory; post-structural theory; narratives and practices of health and illness; body politics; ethnomedicine; anthropology of the body; phenomenology; death and dying; self and personhood; shamanism and the nature of the postcolony; indigenous knowledge; experts and non-experts; ritual memory; power and authority; gender and sexuality; the late modern world viewed from the fourth world; materiality and fetishism; historicity; social memory and indigenous histories; indigenous Latin America; Mapuche.


Professor Bacigalupo’s research has focused on cultural transformation, systems of knowledge, and power—all from the perspective of Mapuche shamans from Chile and Argentina, their communities, and their critics.  She analyzes how and why powerful outsiders imagine shamans as exotic remnants of a folkloric past, as sorcerers and gender deviants, as savage terrorists, or as lacking historical consciousness, and investigates the complex ways in which shamans and their communities challenge, transform, and play off these stereotypes in their discourses and practices for a variety of ends. 

Professor Bacigalupo’s research has expanded into three areas unrelated to Mapuche shamans. First, she in analyzing the intersection of Chilean state violence upon indigenous Mapuche, the emergence of spirit cults around deceased Mapuche victims, and localized history-making and ethnic politics. Second, she is analyzing how the vulnerabilities produced by climate change enable a rethinking of values and a reconciliation between post-human politics and community activism. Poor Peruvian mestizos offer a model of collective ethics that attaches moral agency to the natural world for the purpose of social and environmental transformation and opens a new kind of political debate. By defining “community” and “well-being” as humans-in-relationship-to-places-as-persons, poor mestizos resignify “nature” itself as an anchor for social justice. Third, Bacigalupo’s work has recently taken a legal turn as she has begun to examine the relationships between shamanic notions of justice, LGBT parenting, Chilean family law imbued with Catholic morality, and the discourse of international human rights. Professor Bacigalupo has published five books and more than fifty sole authored articles and chapters. 

Dr. Bacigalupo has garnered numerous fellowships to support her research including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Max Planck Fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, a School of Advanced Research fellowship, a National Humanities Center fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, an American Association of University Women Fellowship, a Fundación Andes Grant, a Fundación Conycit Grant, a Dirección de Investigación (Universidad Católica de Chile) Grant, and fellowships from the Divinity School and the Center for World Religions at Harvard University.

At the University at Buffalo she received Humanities Institute Faculty Research Fellowship, the Outstanding Young Investigator Award, the UB 2020 award for Excellence in Cultural, Historical and Literary/Textual Studies, the Milton Plesur Teaching Award, the Meyerson Award for Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring, the Civic Engagement Fellowship; the Community for Global Health Equity grant; the Research Grant from the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy; the Faculty Internationalization Research Grant, the Gender Institute Faculty Research Award, and the OVPRED/HI Seed Money in the Arts and Humanities grant.

Bacigalupo is a research fellow at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy working on a project titled, “The Law of the Spirit in Chile: Judge Karen Atala’s Transformative Vision and her LGBT Rights Child Custody Case.” 

Professor Bacigalupo serves as chair of the section of Religion and Spirituality of the Latin American Studies Association and Program Councilor for the Society for Latin American and the Caribbean Anthropology. She serves on the Board of the Anthropology of Religion section of the American Anthropological Association and on the board of the Indigenous Religions section of the American Academy of Religion among others. Bacigalupo is also the Anthropology Coordinator for the National Institute of Health, Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Grant in Peru through San Diego State University. She collaborates with Douglas Sharon (San Diego State University), Gail Willsky and Linda Kahn (UB School of Medicine), Rainer Bussman (Missouri Botanical gardens) and others on this project.


  • PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MA, University of California, Los Angeles
  • MA, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago
  • BA, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago

Courses Offered

Undergraduate Courses

  • APY 106 | Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • APY 324 | Approaches to the Study of Religion
  • APY 394 | Healing and Religion in Native South America
  • APY 421 | The Anthropology of Death and Dying

Graduate Courses

  • APY 508 | The Field Experience: Ethnographic Perspectives and Methods
  • APY 591 | Nationalism, Transnationalism and Global Culture
  • APY 565 | Gender and Healing in the Americas: Native and Creole Perspectives
  • APY 565 | Course in Mapuche Intercultural Health
  • APY 575 | Social Memory: Narrative, Mementoes, Embodiment, And Forgetting
  • APY 603 | Anthropology of the Body

Selected Publications


  • 2016       Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Chile and Patagonia. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • 2007       Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power, and Healing among the Chilean Mapuche. Austin: University of Texas Press. 321 pp.
  • 2001       La voz del kultrun en la modernidad: Tradición y cambio en la terapéutica de siete machi Mapuche [The voice of the drum in modernity: Tradition and change in the healing therapies of seven Mapuche shamans]. Santiago: Editorial Universidad Católica de Chile. 271 pp.
  • 1996       Adaptación de los métodos de curación “tradicionales” Mapuche: La práctica de la machi contemporánea en Chile [Hybridity in Mapuche “traditional” healing methods: The practice of contemporary Mapuche shamans]. Santiago: PAESMI. 66 pp.
  • 1995       Modernización o sabiduría en tierra Mapuche? [Modernization or traditional wisdom in Mapuche land?]. Co-authored with Armando Marileo, Ricardo Salas, Ramón Curivil, Cristián Parker, and Alejandro Saavedra. Santiago: San Pablo. 198 pp.
Articles and Book Chapters (in English)
  • 2016       “The Paradox of Disremembering the Dead: Ritual, Memory, and Embodied Historicity in Mapuche Shamanic Personhood.” Anthropology and Humanism 41.
  • Forthcoming 2016  “Indigenous Bibles as Subjectivized Animated Objects: Mapuche Shamanic Literacy and Rebirth.” In Materialities of the Occult, edited by Jonathan Hill and Giovanni Da Col. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
  • 2014       “The Potency of Indigenous Bibles and Biography: Mapuche Shamanic Literacy and Historical Consciousness.” American Ethnologist 41 (4): 648–663.
  • 2013       “Mapuche Struggles to Obliterate Dominant History: Mythohistory, Spiritual Agency, and Shamanic Historical Consciousness in Southern Chile.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 20 (1): 77–95.
  • 2010       “The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Mapuche Shaman: Remembering, Forgetting and the Willful Transformation of Memory.” Journal of Anthropological Research 66 (1): 97–119.
  • 2008       “The Re-invention of Mapuche Male Shamans as Catholic Priests: Legitimizing Indigenous Co-gender Identities in Modern Chile.” In Native Christians: Modes and Effects of Christianity among Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, edited by Robin Wright and Aparecida Vilaca, 89–108. Aldershot: Ashgate Press.
  • 2005       “The Creation of a Mapuche Sorcerer: Sexual Ambivalence, the Commodification of Knowledge, and the Coveting of Wealth.” Journal of Anthropological Research 61 (3): 317–336.
  • 2005       “Gendered Rituals for Cosmic Order: Mapuche Shamanic Struggles for Healing and Fertility.” Journal of Ritual Studies 19 (2): 53–69.
  • 2004       “The Mapuche Man Who Became a Woman Shaman: Selfhood, Gender Transgression, and Competing Cultural Norms.” American Ethnologist 31 (3): 440–457.
  • 2004       “Ritual Gendered Relationships: Kinship, Marriage, Mastery, and Machi Modes of Personhood.” Journal of Anthropological Research 60 (2): 203–229. Repr.,2010, Women and Indigenous Religions, edited by Sylvia Marcos, 2010, 145–176. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/Praeger Press.
  • 2004       “Shamans’ Pragmatic Gendered Negotiations with Mapuche Resistance Movements and Chilean Political Authorities.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 11 (4): 501–541.
  • 2004       “The Struggle for Machi Masculinities: Colonial Politics of Gender, Sexuality and Power in Chile.” Ethnohistory 51 (3): 489–533.
  • 2004       “Local Shamanic Knowledges: A Response to Guillaume Boccara.” L’Homme 169: 219–224.
  • 2003       “Rethinking Identity and Feminism: Contributions of Mapuche Women and Machi from Southern Chile.” Hypatia 18 (2): 32–57.
  • 2001       “The Rise of the Mapuche Moon Priestess in Southern Chile.” Annual Review of Women in World Religions 6: 208–259.
  • 2000       “Shamanism as Reflexive Discourse: Gender, Sexuality and Power in the Mapuche Religious Experience.” In Gender, Bodies, Religions, edited by Sylvia Marcos, 275–295. Cuernavaca: ALER.
  • 1999       “Studying Mapuche Shaman/Healers from an Experiential Perspective: Ethical and Methodological Problems.” Anthropology of Consciousness 10 (2–3): 35–40.
  • 1998       “The Exorcising Sounds of Warfare: Shamanic Healing and the Struggle to Remain Mapuche.” Anthropology of Consciousness 9 (5): 1–16.
  • 1996       “Mapuche Women’s Empowerment as Shaman/Healers.” Annual Review of Women in World Religions 4: 57–129.
  • 1995       “Renouncing Shamanistic Practice: The Conflict of Individual and Culture Experienced by a Mapuche Machi.” Anthropology of Consciousness 6 (3): 1–16.

Articulos y Capitulos en Castellano y Frances

  • 2014       “Grafismo chamánico, conciencia histórica Mapuche, y biblias como objetos rituales de poder en Chile.” Scripta Ethnologica 36: 42–77. Repr., 2015, Revista Chilena de Antropología 32).
  • 2013       “Pasados y futuros corporales performativos: La escritura como una forma chamánica Mapuche para acumular y hacer circular el poder.” Scripta Ethnologica 35: 7–31.
  • 2013       “Las mujeres machi en el siglo XX–XI: ¿Personificación de la tradición o desafío a las normas de género?” In Historia de las mujeres en Chile siglos XX–XI, edited by Ana Maria Stuven and Joaquín Fermandois, 433–502. Santiago: Editorial Taurus.
  • 2012       “El hombre Mapuche que se convirtió en mujer chamán: Individualidad, transgresión de género y normas culturales en Pugna.” Scripta Ethnologica 33: 9–40.
  • 2012       “Las cargas carismáticas del cautiverio Mapuche: La machi Alemana-Mapuche y su conciencia histórica chamánica.” Revista Escrituras Americanas 1 (1): 2–43.
  • 2010. “Vida, muerte y renacimiento de una machi Mapuche: Recordar, desrecordar y la transformación deliberada de la memoria.” Revista de Historia Indígena 11: 7–32.
  • 2010. “Relaciones de género ritual: Parentesco, matrimonio, dominio y modalidades de persona de los chamanes Mapuche.” Scripta Ethnologica 32: 59–89. Repr.,2010, Revista Austral de Ciencias Sociales 18: 83-106.
  • 2010       “Las prácticas espirituales de poder de los machi y su relación con la resistencia Mapuche y el estado chileno.” Revista Chilena de Antropología 21: 9–37.
  • 2004       “Rituales de género para el orden cósmico: Luchas chamánicas Mapuche por la totalidad.” Revista Chilena de Antropología 17: 47–74. Repr., 2004, Scripta Ethnologica 26: 9-38.
  • 2004       “La lucha por la masculinidad de machi: Políticas coloniales degénero, sexualidad y poder en el sur de Chile.” Revista de Historia Indígena 6: 29–64,
  • 2001       “El rol del medicinar en la recreación de la identidad Mapuche: Voces de resistencia, hibridez y transformación en las prácticas de machi” Scripta Ethnologica 23: 89–119.
  • 1997       “Las múltiples máscaras de Ngünechen: Las batallas ontológicas y semánticas del ser supremo Mapuche en Chile” Journal of Latin American Lore 20 (1): 173–204. Repr., 1997 Scripta Ethnológica 19.
  • 1998       “Les chamanes Mapuche et l’expérience religieuse masculine et féminine” Anthropologie et Sociétés 22 (2): 123–143.
  • 1996       “Identidad, espacio y dualidad en los perimontun (visiones) de machi Mapuche” Scripta Ethnologica 18: 37–63.
  • 1996       “Imágenes de diversidad y consenso: La cosmovisión Mapuche a través de trés machi”. Aisthesis 28: 120–141. Repr., 1996,  Mitológicas 11.
  • 1995       “El rol sacerdotal de la machi en los valles centrales de la Araucanía.” In Modernización o sabiduría en tierra Mapuche? edited by Armando Marileo, Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, Ricardo Salas, Ramón Curivil, Cristián Parker, and Alejandro Saavedra, 51–98. Santiago: Ediciones San Pablo.
  • 1995       “La cosmovisión Mapuche a través del pensamiento chamanístico: El estudio de trés casos.” In Comprensión del pensamiento indígena a través de sus relatos orales II, edited by Yosuke Kuramochi, 11–56. Quito: Abya Yala Editions.
  • 1994       “El poder de las machi Mapuche en los valles centrales de la Araucanía.” In Comprensión del pensamiento indígena a través de sus expresiones verbales, edited by Yosuke Kuramochi, 11–55. Quito: Abya Yala Editions.
  • 1994       “Variación de rol de machi en la cultura Mapuche: Tipología geográfica, adaptiva e iniciática”. Revista Chilena de Antropología 12: 19–43.