Annette Mehlhorn

Research Interests
Indigeneity, identity, ethnic and identity politics and conflicts, multiculturalism, legal pluralism, social movements, human rights, power and resistance, political theory

Research Areas
Latin America (currently mainly Bolivia)


Annette Mehlhorn holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and a BA in Philosophy and Politics from the Free University in Berlin. In her studies she has focused on questions of identity, power, social movements and social conflict, human rights, and multiculturalism both theoretically and empirically, as well as from the viewpoints of different disciplines. Annette’s regional focus is on Latin America, a region with which she is quite familiar thanks to several longer stays over the last eight years.

Annette’s doctoral research is devoted to legal pluralism and indigenous justice in Bolivia. In this context a special focus will be placed on identity formation processes and intra- and intergroup relations. The topic of indigeneity has already been addressed in Annette’s master’s thesis, which was a conceptual investigation into the dominant notions and usages of the concept of indigeneity in Bolivia.

Why Law and Anthropology?

"Inspired by the work of Boaventura de Sousa Santos, I believe that the study of law and especially indigenous justice in the Bolivian context is very fruitful for two reasons. First, studying the social processes that revolve around law (both state and indigenous) reveals modes of social change and control as well as social contradictions. Through my research I hope to gain knowledge about identity formation processes within indigenous communities and their resulting relationships to other social groups and the state.

Second, the official recognition of indigenous justice might be the most radical expression of the challenge to the homogenous nation-state, a challenge that is being posed by indigenous movements in Bolivia (and elsewhere) in an unprecedented and often contradictory way. For this reason, the study of indigenous justice can be an opportunity to gain new insights into the transformation of the Bolivian state and Bolivian society in relation to multiculturalism and multinationalism."

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