Castaneda, Angela N., Ph.D.
Sociology and Anthropology
Professor of Anthropology
I earned my doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from Indiana University. My research interests include identity, religion, and expressive culture among communities of the African Diaspora in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the cultural politics of reproduction, birth, and motherhood in the Americas. I have published on the performance of Afro-Caribbean identity, the commercialization of Brazilian religious traditions, mothering in a neoliberal world, and the role of intimate labor for doulas. As a recipient of the George and Virginia Crane Distinguished Teaching Award (2012) and as the Edward Myers Dolan Professor of Anthropology (2014-2019), I use examples from my research in my courses, which include Human Cultures, Latin American and Caribbean Cultures, Religions of the African Diaspora, Anthropology of Food, Performing Cultures in the Americas, Ethnographic Methods, Ethnographies of Reproduction, and Senior Seminar.
In addition to courses on campus, I also offer an Extended Studies course in January entitled Public Health, Community and Culture in Cuba. In this course, students are integrated in the local community and have the opportunity to experience health care delivery and culture in Cuba on topics that range from maternal-child health programs to elderly day centers. Students live with host families and see first-hand how health interfaces with everyday lived culture in Havana, Cuba.
My teaching and scholarship reflect a commitment to research and service in the Americas. Examples of my scholarly work have appeared in publications including The Latin Americanist, Comparative Perspectives on Afro-America, The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion, and the Journal of Africana Religions. My most recent publication is the edited volume Doulas and Intimate Labour: Boundaries, Bodies and Birth (Demeter Press, 2015). This edited volume raises critical questions about the social and cultural meanings of attending to women during the transition to motherhood. As doulas negotiate their work, they represent a community in constant negotiation of borders and boundaries, one where we can turn as scholars to think through the process of birthing and what it means for the kind of work mothering entails.
As a birth activist, I am committed to working with women before, during, and after birth. In addition to my scholarly work in this area, I am also active in local and global community projects with El Centro Comunal, the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization, and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Mother Studies. At home I bridge my scholarly and personal commitments by practicing as a birth and postpartum doula and volunteering as a Spanish childbirth educator in Bloomington, Indiana.
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