About me

I grew up among the mountains and on the beaches at the Pacific Coast of Mexico. As a child, I quickly developed an interest in writing, and have been publishing since my teen years. I am an anthropologist and pursued a PhD at the University of Amsterdam (2007). Currently, I work as a professor at Leiden University, in the Netherlands, where I teach and conduct research. My interests include the study of folk saints, protection, criminality, piracy, intellectual property, marketplaces and legitimacy. My fieldwork is specialized in Latin America, increasingly more from a comparative perspective. I have conducted extensive research in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, United States, Italy, Hong Kong and India.

In addition, I collaborate with the news site Aristegui Noticias in Mexico, with the monthly column “A Renglón Seguido”.

Currently I am writing two books. The first, “Justice, Crisis and Death in Mexico: the Devotion to Santa Muerte” explores the different shrines and sanctuaries built to Santa Muerte across Mexico and the United States. The second monograph, “Blessing Criminals. Spirituality and Protection among Gangs”, captures forms of spiritual protection criminals seek in order to pursue impunity and power; the cases include narcos in Mexico, mafia members in Sicily, and the ambivalent devotion to goddess Kali in India.