Joanne Rappaport is a professor of Latin American cultural studies and anthropology at Georgetown University. An anthropologist pursuing dual lines of research in ethnographic history and collaborative ethnography, she previously looked at the role of literacy and historical memory in indigenous activism in Colombia and at the emergence of indigenous intellectuals in Latin America. Her recent work centers on collaborative ethnography that draws equally on academic and nonacademic agendas, theories, and methods. She is the author of Intercultural Utopias: Public Intellectuals, Cultural Experimentation, and Ethnic Pluralism in Colombia (Duke University Press, 2005).
While at Radcliffe, Rappaport will trace the history of the system of racial ascription during the first two centuries of colonial rule in the New Kingdom of Granada (what is today Bogotá, Colombia), inquiring into how to approach “race” in a preracial era. Using archival research conducted in Colombia and Spain, she will focus on how identity was negotiated in the legal and literary spheres, how definitions of the various social categories emerged over the first generation of colonization, and how the nature and status of intermediate categories changed over subsequent generations.
Rappaport has received fellowships from the Getty Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, among others; she has also been a Fulbright fellow in Colombia. She received her undergraduate degree from Kirkland College and her PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.