About me

Thank you for your interest in reading this page. I was born in Mexico and grew up among the mountains and the beaches at the Pacific Coast. The intense colors and forms of nature, and the expressive culture of Mexico triggered my love for visual arts growing up in Guadalajara.

This curiosity about art finally took me to Florence, Italy, where I learned watercolor and sketching (1993). This interest in visual arts has never left me.

As a child, I started writing small stories and poetry, and have been publishing since my late teen years. My first poem book Linderos. Poemario eterno appeared in 1994, with illustrations by the painter Lorena Camarena.  

I studied my Bachelor in Communication Sciences (1997). I was later trained as an anthropologist and earned a Master degree in Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam (2001). At the same university, I pursued a PhD degree in Social Sciences (2007).

My research interests as an anthropologist include the study of folk saints, criminality, cultural property, marketplaces, spiritual protection, and legitimacy. I worked for almost fifteen years as a professor at the University of Amsterdam and later at Leiden University, the Netherlands. Although my fieldwork started in Latin America, I later developed a comparative perspective, that allows to look at issues from a global view. I have conducted fieldwork in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, the United States, Italy, Hong Kong and India. 

As a columnist, I have contributed with journalistic articles and opinion pieces published in Latin American and European media. I regulalry collaborate with the news site Aristegui Noticias in Mexico, with the column “A Renglón Seguido”.

Currently I combine anthropology and consultancy. I am working on two books. The first, “Justice, Crisis and Death in Mexico: the Devotion to Santa Muerte” explores the rise of the devotion to the folk saint 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 examples from different regions of the world.