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Mara Dicenta

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Office: Washington Hall 114
Email: [[mdicentavilker]]
Areas of Specialization: Science & Technology Studies; Environmental Knowledges; Conservation; Race and Racialization; Multispecies ethnography; Feminist Epistemologies; Settler colonialism; Southern Cone


My research studies the production of environmental knowledges as they bear on racial and colonial legacies, including the entangled racialization of people, animals, and nature. Drawing on feminist science studies, decolonial theory, and multispecies ethnography, I seek to understand how histories of ecological harm are entangled with histories of violence, displacement, and intergenerational injustices. Both in Argentina and Virginia, I also work with biologists, ecologists, and communities in fostering more just and diverse technologies and practices of care in knowledge production.

My ongoing book project examines the eradication of beavers in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of the Americas. The beavers were introduced in the 1940s to create a fur industry to modernize and whiten a region whose peoples and natures were deemed exotic, invaluable, and uncivilized. However, the fur industry never took off, and the beavers expanded while severely damaging native ecosystems. Today, a global project seeks to eradicate the entire species. After two years of fieldwork at a research station and sixty interviews with scientists, trappers, policymakers, and Indigenous people, my work explores how life scientists learn to kill beavers, how they justify the killing, and how the eradication of beavers haunts the production of conservation knowledges in the region. By analyzing ethics ethnographically and emerging from daily encounters with the beavers, their dead, and their haunting, my book illuminates how people in Tierra del Fuego are envisioning and pursuing forms of interspecies and intergenerational justice. 

I have ongoing collaborations on river herring and oral histories in Virginia; capybaras, wetlands, and gated communities-led displacement in Buenos Aires; rewilding controversies in Argentina; and beavers and invasive species in Tierra del Fuego. I am interested in working with students and partners on projects involving, among others: ethnography and oral histories; environmental knowledges; feminist methodologies; race and racialization; multispecies justice; ethics; decoloniality.

Selected Publications

Forthcoming. (with A. Cecilia Gerrard). “Sovereign Conservation: Ecotourism, Infrastructures, and the Drama of the Beagle Canal Coastal Corridor.” Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.

Forthcoming. (with Christopher Anderson and Jessica L. Archibald). “How changing imaginaries of nature and tourism shape national protected area creation in Argentine Patagonia.” In Tourism and Conservation-based Development in the Periphery - Lessons from Patagonia for a Rapidly Changing World, ed. by Trace Gale, Andrea Ednie and Keith Bosak. Springer.

Forthcoming. “Naturalezas Alter-Nativas.” In Ciencia, Tecnología y Sociedad en América Latina. Nuevas Generaciones, ed. by Fernando Herrera. FLACSO Ecuador.

2023  "The Violence of Gated Communities in Buenos Aires Wetlands," Edge Effects.

2022  "White Animals: Racializing Sheep and Beavers in the Argentinian Tierra del Fuego." Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 18(2):308-329.

Marcel Roche Award 2022, hon. men.

2022  Coproducir (en) Diferencia: Éticas de Colaboración entre Científicos, Cazadores, y Especies Invasoras.” Redes: Rev. de Estudios Soc. de la Ciencia y la Tecn.  

2021  (with Gonzalo Correa). "Worlding the End: Edging Extinction in the Castorcene." Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society, 4(1).

2020  (with Jessica L. Archibald et al.) "The Relevance of Social Imaginaries to Understand and Manage Biological Invasions in Southern Patagonia." Biological Invasions 22(11): 3307-3323.

2020  Dicenta, Mara. "The Beavercene: Eradication and Settler-Colonialism in Tierra del Fuego," Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia (Spring 2020), no. 1.

2019  Dicenta, Mara. "The Abortion Green Tide as a Boundary Object: Beyond the Curse of the Left." Somatosphere. 


2020  PhD, Science & Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
2017  MS, Science & Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
2015  MS, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Free University Amsterdam
2015  MS, Sexology. Sexual Education and Counselling, University of Alcala
2013  MS, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Complutense University Madrid           
2013 BA, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Complutense University Madrid           
2010 BA, Social Work, National Distance Education University

Courses Taught
  • ANTH 350 / CONS 401: Conservation Ethics
  • ANTH 326 / CONS 410: Indigenous Voices in Conservation
  • ANTH 352 / CONS 352: Environmental Anthropology
  • ANTH 445 / 545: Ethnographic Methods
  • SOCL 340 / CONS 440: The Plantationocene Campus
  • ENSP 250: Environmental Voices from the Margins
To find out more about Dr. Dicenta, visit