Julia Morales Fontanilla

Assistant Professor (General Faculty)


medical anthropology; science and technology studies; ontological politics in Latin America; anthropology of life and death; anthropology of war; Colombia

Julia Morales is a critical feminist ethnographer with an interest in the political life and affective landscapes of scientific states practices in Colombia. Her work brings together cultural and medical anthropology, Latin American studies, science and technology studies, studies of war and violence, the anthropology of death, and reflection on ethnographic writing.

Her current book project explores dead bodies and medico-legal practices in the Colombian public morgues and conceptualizes death, and life, in relation to biomedicine, forensic sciences and practices, and the extreme violence of war. In her manuscript, entitled Necrolife: Encounters of Practice in the Colombian Morgues, she ethnographically interrogates forensic practices in the morgues to probe the material and epistemic making of dead bodies and death in Colombia and the political effects of that making. The death narratives that compose the book are grounded in the practice of postmortem examinations (autopsies) and are anchored in the extreme violence and the protracted war between guerrilla groups, paramilitary armies, drug trafficking organizations, and the Colombian state that forms the historical background of her research. Her analysis contributes to discussions about vitality, forensic knowledge, the making of evidence, the agency of objects, the anthropology of death and life, and the anthropology of biomedicine in a context of war. It also offers evidence about the importance of the political and legal work done in the morgues in Colombia.

Two secondary parallel research projects on healthcare practices, their world making capacities and their affects, and the politics of death are ongoing. A first one, titled Guerrilla Healthcare: Improvising Medicine in the Rainforest, interrogates how the left-wing guerrilla group FARC-EP trained their members as medical practitioners, how they produced local medical techniques later adopted by the medical service of the national army, and how they were able to establish a solid healthcare net. A second one, yet untitled, explores the health ecologies of the flower production industry in the altiplano cundiboyancense region of Colombia —the second largest producer and exporter of flowers in the world.

Dr. Morales Fontanilla work has been published in the journals Feminist Anthropology; Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology, and Society, Corpo-grafías. Estudios críticos de y desde los cuerpos, Boletin de Antropologia.