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Luminiţa-Anda Mandache, PhD

Fortaleza, Brazil, 2015


I am a Romanian-born anthropologist interested in possibilities of change from below, urban poverty and urban violence,  in places embedded with structural inequalities. My research areas are Latin America (Brazil and Chile) and Eastern Europe (Romania).










I am a socio-cultural anthropologist researching the dynamics between states and citizens, in urban peripheries.

My research focuses on the daily experience of urban violence and urban poverty and their impact on forms of civic action in Latin America (Brazil).

My interest in social justice has also informed my teaching philosophy, particularly the critical pedagogy pedagogies I use in the classroom.

I have ten years of experience in the NGO education sector and 2years of experience as a journalist in Romania covering education and civil society/NGOs. Since 2016 I have been a member of the Romanian socio-democrat platform Democracy and Solidarity (Demos).




In Preparation   Women in Movement: Social Networks, Urban Politics and Changing Gender Roles in Brazil

This project investigates how women at the margins of the city "get things done": solve local problems using their networks of contacts among city officials, NGO members, or kin, in order to improve access to public services. 


Ongoing    Political Polarization and Generational Divides in Northeast Brazil


This ongoing research was born as a continuation of my dissertation research and it explores the roots of political polarization among progressive activists. This research discusses how local histories, everyday life and particular mobility histories shape the political subjectivities of different generations of local activists. 



Utopian Projects and the Troubled Paradise. Grassroots Discourses and Strategies of Change at the periphery of Fortaleza - Fortaleza, Brazil (2013-2018)


My Ph.D. dissertation explored the collective efforts of citizens at the periphery of Fortaleza, Brazil, to overcome structural poverty, over the span of 40 years.


Research methods: participant observation, semi-structured interviews, mapping, life histories


La Vega.JPG

A world without masks and questioning: an ethnography of La Vega Central de Santiago - Santiago, Chile (2010-2011)


This ethnography focuses on the social implications of informal labor and it represents my MA thesis, providing evidence cumulating 6 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Santiago, Chile.


Research methods: participant observation, semi-structured interviews

For all the gold in the world.jpg

For All the Gold in the World, Romania-Belgium (2010)


As a Research Assistant, I was part of a multi-disciplinary research team coordinated by Dr. Severine Lagneaux (Universite Catholique de Louvain) working on the project "For all the Gold in the world". The project examined the implications of mining exploration in a small village in Transilvania (Rosia Montana). The final product of this project was the ethnographic documentary with the same name. 


Research methods: participant observation, semi-structured interviews, photography, collaborative ethnographic film-making (editing) 




Peer-reviewed articles 

"L’insoutenable légèreté d’être sur le terrain : violence urbaine, anthropologie engagée et défis de représentation dans un quartier brésilien." 2020. Ethnographiques, Vol. 39. [in English : The unbearable lightness of being in the field : urban violence, engaged anthropology and the challenges of representation in a Brazilian neighborhood]


"The Road back to Serfdom: from Liberation to Microfinance. The bricolage of alternative economies at the periphery of Fortaleza."  2020. Latin American Perspectives, Vol 47 (4). 


"Emotional Overlap and the analytic potential of emotions in Anthropology," 2018. Co-authored by Lindsey Raisa Feldman, Ethnography: 1-18, doi: 10.1177/1466138118768620, 2018. 


"Identity, history and image in the process of creation of the Conjunto Palmeiras brand during the 2014 World Cup", 2017. Co-authored with Silvia Helena Belmino and  Emylianny Brasil da Silva, Revista do Programa de Pos-Graduação  em Midia e Cotidiano, 11 (2) (originally in Portuguese)


'We lost the meaning of life' or short reflection on the  genocide of the souls in a Brazilian periferia." 2016. Arizona Anthropologist, Vol. 24.



Book chapters

"A reflexion on the representation of struggle in Conjunto Palmeiras through the creation of a local brand by local teenagers." (originally in Portuguese) Co-authored with Silvia Belmino and Emylianny Brasil da Silva, In História urbana e global: novas tendências e abordagens, by Erick Assis de Araújo and João Júlio Gomes dos Santos Júnior (ed.), 245-258. Fortaleza: EdUECE. ISBN: 978-85-7826-715-5, 2019

"Neoliberal Policies and the Reshaping of the US-Mexico Border: the Case of Arizona." Co-authored with James Greenberg, In Anthropological Visions of the U.S.-Mexico  Transborder Region, by Carlos Velez-Ibanez and Josiah Heyman (ed.). Tucson: University of Arizona  Press, 2017.


"A glocal testament: the case of the Rizario Foundation."  Co-authored with Marina Chatziaristerideou and Mihai Mihailescu. In Balkan Border Crossings: Third Annual of the Konitsa Summer School (Balkan Border Crossings- Contributions to Balkan  Ethnography), by Vassilis Nitsiakos, Ioannis Manos, Georgios Agelopoulos, Aliki  Angelidou and Vassilis Dalkavoukis (ed.), 120-135. Munster: Lit Verlag, 2014.



Book reviews

"Boredom as a way of life: grey-ness, homelessness, and consumption in Bucharest." Romanian Journal of Communication and Public Relations, 19(3), 35-39. doi:10.21018/rjcpr.2017.3.243, 2017.


"Black Women Against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil.  Keisha-Khan Y. Perry," Transforming Anthropology, Vol. 24 (1), 2016.


"Living an Impossible Living in a Transborder World. Culture, Confianza, and  Economy of Mexican-Origin Populations . Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez," Arizona Anthropologist, Vol. 26, 2016.


"Dance lest we all fall down: breaking cycles of poverty in Brazil and beyond (second edition), Margaret Wilson." Transforming Anthropology, Vol. 22 (2), 2014. 

Articles In Revision


"I am breaking this logic of fear!" Generative Violence and Activism at the Margins of Fortaleza, Brazil", Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 


Manuscripts in preparation

"Terms and conditions may apply: World Bank lending to Romania between 'transition',  'development' and 'poverty reduction'", In Preparation for Ethnopolitics.


"Streamlining justice, amplifying social justice: enacting critical pedagogy in the courtroom at the US-Mexico border" Co-authored with William Cotter, Florence Durney, and Felix Ampadu, In Preparation for Anthropology and Education Quarterly.



          As a teacher, my emphasis is on critical pedagogy emphasis of my teaching philosophy, situating the students as providers and carriers of knowledge and not as depositories of information (see my Teaching Philosophy Statement). 









Courses I can teach:

  • Economic Anthropology

  • Social Movements in Latin America 

  • Development Anthropology

  • Agency and Activism

  • Power and Violence in the Latin American city


Courses taught

•    Human Rights in Brazil (for the Certificate in Human Rights Program, University of Arizona)

Undergraduate level:
•    Fight the Power: Colonialism and Resistance (300 level)
•    Culture and the Individual (300 level)
•    Exploring Non-Western Cultures (14-weeks, 16-weeks, traditional classroom and online; 100 level)
•    Many Ways of Being Human for the New Start Program (100 level; designed for first-generation college students from Arizona, 6 weeks format) and for Center for English as a Second Language (designed for international students, 8 weeks format), University of Arizona
•    Introduction to Cities/Global Society (100 level)


Policy Reports


Forthcoming Poverty, Local Development and Solidarity Economy in Conjunto Palmeiras

"A fear that never ends." A Virtual Lab of Legal Anthropology, 2017.


"Notes from the field: Inequality and Fear in a Brazilian destination for 'Academic Tourism,'” Arizona Anthropologist, Vol. 26, 2016

Public Anthropolog

Public Anthropology

Policy Reports

'Poverty, Local Development and Solidarity Economy in Conjunto Palmeiras' for the Palmas Bank, Fortaleza, Brazil


Magazine Articles 

Urban Violence and Poverty

"A fear that never ends." A Virtual Lab of Legal Anthropology, 2017.


"Notes from the field: Inequality and Fear in a Brazilian destination for 'Academic Tourism,'” Arizona Anthropologist,  Vol. 26, 2016


(in Romanian) "A never-ending summer and the 629 bus line." Dilema Veche, 2015.


(in Romanian) "At the end of the road, in the Brazilian backlands." Dilema Veche, 2015. 


(in Romanian) "Childhood in Fortaleza." Dilema Veche, 2015. 


(in Romanian) "Snippets of life stories at the edge of the world." Dilema Veche, 2015. 


(in Romanian) "Fireworks in the urban jungle, Wednesday at noon." Dilema Veche, 2015. 


Sustainable Economies

(in Romanian) "Solidarity and Charity: Why 2.5 EUR or 600 lei won't change anything in Romania." Co-Authored with Anca Serbanuta, Critic Atac, 2020

(in Romanian) "Solidarity Economy in Neoliberal Times." Critic Atac, 2014


(In French) "Renewable energies: between privatization and citizenship project." Revue Projet, 2014. 



(in Romanian) . "What happens when the classroom is replaced by the living room?" Dilema Veche, 2020.

(in Romanian) "Education: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Dilema Veche, 2011.


(in Romanian) "Nothing new on the East front." Dilema Veche, 2011. 



(in English) "#Ele nao vs. The Women we are missing." Anthropology News, 2019 

(in Romanian) "Brave new world vs. old men and women models." Dilema Veche, 2018 


(in Romanian) "On gender, Romanian cabbage rolls, and tradition." Dilema Veche, 2017. 


Travel Notes 

(in Romanian) "Waiting as a way of life." Dilema Veche, 2015. 


(in Romanian) "Sao Luis, Maranhao." Dilema Veche, 2013. 


(in Romanian) "Made in the USA." Dilema Veche, 2012. 


(in Romanian) "Five months on the Andes-Pacific rope." Dilema Veche. 2011. 


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