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Magdalena Z

- Research Program Mentor

MTS at Harvard University


Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of South America, Social Sciences


I am a PhD in Anthropology from the the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I am originally from Lima, Peru, where I returned to pursue my fieldwork. I spent two years at a shelter for the elderly in one of Lima's largest urban marginal neighborhoods exploring the processes of care, intimacy, and abandonment from which these older adults participate. Before going to Michigan, I pursued a Master in Theological Studies at Harvard University and I also hold a BA in Spanish Literature from Universidad Catolica, in Peru. My research interests include include care, old age, intimacy and affect theory, social abandonment, living and dying in precarious settings, marginalized communities, Latin America, subjectivity, and phenomenology. Currently I am in the process of writing some articles for academic journals in Lima, Peru, where I share my days with my lovely four cats. I like to watch movies, to practice meditation, to read, take pictures and to write. One of the things I like the most is teaching. As a mentor, I am very enthusiastic to be part of your project and to see how it develops with time and through its different phases.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Photo Ethnography of Places

In this project you will be able to tell the story of a place in your own city or town --a museum, a zoo, a park, a cafe, a music store, a forest, a library, etc. Relying on the pictures you take of that place, you will be able to tell others why this location is important for your or your community and to begin to understand the many social forces that converge in this spot which, after all, make it a socially constructed and mediated terrain.

Narrating a Life

Is there anybody in your family, your neighborhood, your church or your school whose life or work inspires you? Based on digital ethnographic methods and with the aim to write a testimonial, in this project you will be able to delve into the lives of people from your community that spark your interest. While Covid-19 is still out there, technology offers plenty of resources to tell the stories of people whose lives are compelling to you.

Caring in an Unsettling World

In recent years, the field of anthropology has produced a comprehensive body of work focused upon the issue of care. Evidence from various anthropological sites shows how care is a resource, relation, and a practice that touches upon the intimate and familial, as well as the economic and the political. Care is contextual and specific, a polysemic concept emerging from the connections between macroforces and microprocesses (Buch 2015). As a practice, it “connotes some kind of engagement” (Tronto 1993), one intended to be, above all, restorative and world-building. Yet, after years of facing a global pandemic that has exacerbated the social, political, environmental, and economic instability, one cannot help but ask how we are to care in a world that seems to be falling apart. What does care look like in a society pierced by precarity, illness, pervasive racism, environmental destruction, and faltering democracy? Can we care? How do we do it? You can write an essay that reflects on this topics and aims to answer to this question.

Coding skills


Languages I know

Spanish (native), Quechua (basic), German (basic), Italian (conversational)

Teaching experience

As a 5th years undergraduate in Spanish Literature in Lima, I taught first year undergraduates courses in Literature and Spanish. After completing my MA, I taught courses in Religion and Literature as an adjunct professor to undergraduate students. At Michigan, I have been a graduate instructor for students in introductory courses in Anthropology.


Work experience

ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2020 - 2021)
Fulbright-Hays Program (2017 - 2018)
Fulbright Scholar


Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
BA Bachelor of Arts (2007)
Spanish Literature
Harvard University
MTS Master in Theological Studies (2011)
Religion and Social Sciences

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