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Arlene Davila

Professor of Anthropology , Social and Cultural Analysis

Ph.D. 1996 (Cultural Anthropology), The Graduate Center, CUNY; M.A. 1990 (Anthropology and Museum Studies), NYU; B.A. 1987 (Anthropology), Tufts University.

Office Address: 

Rufus D. Smith Hall 25 Waverly Place New York, NY 10003





Areas of Research/Interest: 

comparative race/ethnic studies, media studies; political economy, globalization; visual culture, urban studies; consumption; Latinos in the U.S., Latino/Latin American studies.

External Affiliations:

American Anthropological Association, Puerto Rican Studies Association, American Studies Association, Latin American Studies Association.


El Mall: The Spatial and Class Politics of Shopping Malls in Latin America. Berkeley: UC Press. Forthcoming Jan, 2016

Culture Works: Space, Value and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas. NYU Press, 2012.

Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race. NYU Press, 2008

Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos and the Neoliberal City. University of California Press, 2004

Latinos Inc.: Marketing and the Making of a People. University of California Press, 2001.

Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York, co-edited with Agustin Lao. Columbia University Press, 2001.

Sponsored Identities: Cultural Politics in Puerto Rico. Temple Univeristy Press, 1997


2014 Contemporary Latin@ Media: Production, Circulation and Politics (edited with Yeidy Rivero) New York University Press.

2014 On Latin@s and the Immigration Debate. Edited Vital Subjects Dossier in American Anthropologist Vol. 116, No. 1, pp. 146–159,

2014 Locating Neoliberalism in Time, Space and Culture. American Quarterly. Vol 66 (3): 549-555.

To Stop Tiptoeing Around Race: What Arizona's Battle Against Ethnic Studies Can Teach Academics. Identities: Global Studies in Power and Culture, Volume 19, Number 4, 1 July 2012, pp. 411-417.

2004 El Barrio's 'We Are Watching You Campaign:' On the Politics of Inclusion in a Latinized Museum. AZTLAN: A Journal of Chicano Studies. 30 (1): 153-178.

2004 Empowered Culture? New York City's empowerment Zone and the Selling of El Barrio. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 594: 49-64. 

2001 Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York (edited volume, co-editor with Agustin Lao). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Current News/Projects
Updated September 2015

This past year, and thanks to a grant from the Wenner Gren Anthropological Foundation, I was able to finish my fieldwork on shopping mall cultures in Latin America. I attended international conferences with shopping mall developers in New York and Latin America, and forums like Colombiamoda in Medellin to interview independent designers. I ended up focusing a lot of my research on the spatial politics of shopping malls and how they are transforming urban landscapes, but also on how they are affecting global imaginaries of class, fashion and “taste.” The book, which will be out with UCPress this coming spring, will be the first to highlight this growing global industry in the developing world, from its political economy to how it is affecting imaginaries of class, modernity and race. In addition, the collection “Contemporary Latino/a Media: Production, Circulation and Politics” coedited with Prof. Yeidy Rivero was published last Spring by NYU press,--as well as discussed and celebrated in various forums including a media Teach-In at El Museo del Barrio. I also completed a chapter to the upcoming collection on Junot Diaz, and the Decolonial Imagination (forthcoming with Duke University), and some research focusing on anti Afro and Indo-Latino/a racism in Hispanic/Latino/a advertising. In addition, I was busy traveling and conferencing. I’m looking forward to teaching a new graduate seminar on Race and Visual Culture for this coming spring.

Updated on 07/18/2016