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Dr Silvia Posocco

BA (London) MSc (London) PhD (London)

Teaching and supervision

Areas of research supervision

  • Transnational gender and sexuality studies; social anthropology, social theory and cultural analysis; violence, conflict and genocide; secrecy; sociality; subjectivity; transnational adoption circuits, documents and archives; ethnography; Guatemala; Latin America.
  • If you are interested in pursuing research in any of these areas, you should first read our advice on how to apply for MPhil/PhD research before submitting an application.

Professional activities

  • Member, American Anthropological Association - including Association of Feminist Anthropologists, Association for Queer Anthropology, Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology and Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
  • Member, European Association of Social Anthropologists - including European Network for Queer Anthropology.
  • Member, Association of Social Anthropologists of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth (ASA)
  • Member, Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS)
  • SLAS Elected Committee Member (2010-2012) and SLAS Website and E-Newsletter Editor (2008-2011). Please forward information on Latin American Studies events, opportunities and news to
  • Member, Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
  • Guatemala Scholars Network (GSN).


  • Research interests
  • Transnational Gender and Sexuality Studies and Theories
  • Social Anthropology, Social Theory and Cultural Analysis
  • Violence, Conflict and Genocide
  • Secrecy
  • Sociality
  • Subjectivity
  • Anthropology of the State and the Law
  • Transnational Adoption Circuits, Documents and Archives
  • Ethnography
  • Petén, Guatemala, London.
  • My background is in social anthropology and gender studies. My work to date has focused on a profoundly theoretically inflected ethnographic approach to the study of relations and relational categories - notably 'gender', 'sexuality' and 'secrecy' - through research on socially, culturally and historically situated practices.
  • My first research monograph on histories of violence and socialities of secrecy in Petén, northern Guatemala, was published in January 2014 by Alabama University Press. Secrecy and Insurgency: Socialities and Knowledge Practices in Guatemala deals with the experiences of guerrilla combatants of the Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (Rebel Armed Forces) in the aftermath of the Peace Accords signed in December 1996 by the Guatemalan government and guerrilla insurgents. The book focuses on 'secrecy' as both sociality and knowledge practice, and demonstrates the relevance of thinking 'gender' in the coalescence of novel objects of analysis in a broad field of contemporary theory.
  • I am committed to long-term, albeit intermittent, ethnographic research in Guatemala. Building on the project 'Fissured Legality and Affective States: Ethnographic Reflections on the "International Adoption" Circuits between Guatemala and the United Kingdom', funded by the Joint Initiative for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (JISLAC) completed in 2012, as well as the subsequent project 'Governing Transnational Adoption in Postwar Guatemala: Ethnographic Reflections on Documents, Law and the State' (2012-2014), undertaken with the support of the British Academy, I am currently beginning to write a new research monograph on transnational adoption circuits and the traces and remnants of violence, conflict and genocide in Guatemala.
  • I am also involved in a number of research and writing collaborations. Two co-editing projects developed with Adi Kuntsman and Jin Haritaworn, were recently published. The first, Queer Necropolitics, is a collection of essays that interrogates the changes in queer politics that emerge in violent regimes of coloniality, 'War on Terror', incarceration, border enforcement and neoliberalism. The second project, ‘Murderous Inclusions: Queer Politics, Citizenship and the “Wars without End”’, makes up the special issue of the International Feminist Journal of Politics published in December 2013.
  • I coordinate the AHRC-funded Decolonizing Sexualities Research Network with Suhraiya Jivraj (Kent) and Sarah Keenan (SOAS) and Sandeep Bakshi (Leicester); we are currently consolidating this work into a publication. Another collaboration, with Paul Boyce (Sussex) and Elisabeth Engebretsen (Amsterdam), is specifically focused on the intersections between anthropology and queer studies. It will lead to a co-edited special issue of the journal Sexualities on 'Anthropology's Queer Sensibilities: Ethno-theoretical Approaches to Sexual and Gender Diversity' and a number of research events.


  • 2012-2014, Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Networking Grant, "Transnational Network for Sexuality, Race and Religion Researchers and Civil Society Actors", Co-Investigator. Principal Investigator, Dr Suhraiya Jivraj, Kent Law School, University of Kent, £28,455.
  • 2012-2014, British Academy Small Grant, "Governing Transnational Adoption in Postwar Guatemala: Ethnographic Reflections on Documents, Law and the State", £6,900.
  • 2008, Joint Initiative for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean Research Grant, "Fissured Legality and Affective States: Ethnographic Reflections on the 'International Adoption' Circuits between Guatemala and the United Kingdom", £ 4,000.
  • 2007, British Academy Small Research Grant, "Performativities: Contexts, Domains, Perspectives?, £2,054, (with Sadie Wearing).

Presentations, workshops and conferences

  • Future events
  • 2105
  • Queer Devices: A European Network for Queer Anthropology Workshop, organised with Paul Boyce, Elisabeth Engebretsen and Hadley Renkin, 11-13 September 2015, Central European University, Budapest.
  • Anthropology, Psychoanalysis and Psychosocial Studies, A Colloquium in Two Parts, Birkbeck, University of London, 26 June 2015 and 7 October 2015. For more information, please click here.
  • 'The Ends of Affect: Deferred Reflections from the Field', Institute for Gender Studies, University of Oxford, 4 June 2015.
  • Adoption Matters, event sponsored by Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality and the Raphael Samuel History Centre, Birkbeck, 13 May 2015.
  • 'Queer Necropolitics: Everyday Death Worlds and Shifting Domains of Struggle', Research Seminar, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Sussex, 24 February 2015.
  • 'The Ends of Affect: Deferred Reflections from the Field', Keynote address, 2nd Critical Social Psychology Conference on Affect, Embodiment and Politics, 11-13 February 2015, Barcelona.
  • Queer Theory and Geopolitics Panel, Radical Philosophy Conference, House of World Culture, 16-17 January, Berlin.
  • 2014
  • ‘De/kinning, Dis/placement, Temporality: Missionaries and Transnational Adoption in Guatemala’, ‘Displaced Childhoods’, Panel organized by Dr Nayanika Mookherjee (Durham University), American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, 3-7 December 2014, Washington DC.
  • Convener, 'Anthropology’s Queer Sensibilities: Ethno-theoretical Approaches to Sexual and Gender Diversity' Panel, convened with Paul Boyce (Sussex), American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, 3-7 December 2014, Washington DC.
  • 'Whatever is happening to the critical study of sexual and gender diversity in anthropology?', European Network for Queer Anthropology Panel, Co-convened by Elisabeth Engebretsen, Paul Boyce and Silvia Posocco, 31 July - 3 August, 13th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference, Tallinn, Estonia.
  • 'Abduction, Rescue, Genocide: Shifting Necropolitical Imaginings of Racialized Violence and Conflict in Guatemala', Reckoning with Race, Nation and (Counter)revolution in Guatemala and Southern Mexico, Panel organized by Kevin Gould (Concordia University) and Patricia Martin (University of Montreal), 21-24 May, Latin American Studies Conference, Chicago, sponsored by the Ethnicity, Race and Indigenous Peoples Section of LASA.
  • 'Transnational Affects', AHRC International Symposium, organized by Carolyn Pedwell (Newcastle and Queen Mary), Co-hosted by the Centre for the History f Emotions at Queen Mary and The Gender Research Group at Newcastle University, London, 21 May.
  • Keynote Lecture, Tangentially Queer: A Workshop on the Field Formation of Queer Theory, organised by Jacob Breslow and Kathryn Medien (Warwick), London School of Economics, 16 May, London.
  • 'The Ríos Montt Trial and Other Aporias of Justice in Guatemala/El Juicio a Ríos Montt y Otras Aporías de la Justicia en Guatemala',Panel Convener, Society for Latin American Studies Annual Conference, Birkbeck, University of London, 3-4 April 2014.Synopsis in English and Spanish is available.
  • 'Transnational Adoption and Genocide in Contemporary Guatemala', 'Latin America, Dependent No More?', Regional Seminar in Latin American Studies: Manchester-Liverpool-Lancaster organised by Prof. Peter Wade (Manchester), 19 March 2014, University of Manchester
  • Queer Necropolitics, Invited Seminar, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, February 2014.
  • 2013
  • Decolonizing Sexualities Network Roundtable II, Sokari Ekine,Yasmin Nair, Karma Chávez, Ryan Conrad and Sandeep Bakshi in Conversation, convened by Silvia Posocco, Suhraiya Jivraj and Sarah Lamble, 29 November, 6-9 PM, Birkbeck.
  • 'Spoken Into Presence: Differential Materialization, Embodiment and Subjectification in the Sepur Zarco Hearings, Guatemala', Bodying Forth in Law, Panel convened by Sameena Mulla (Marquette University) and Sidharthan Maunaguru (Edinburgh), American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, 20-24 November, Chicago.
  • 'Secrecy and Ignorance: Guerrilla Modes of Knowlege, Relation and Connection in Guatemala', Cultures of Ignorance, Panel convened by Jennifer Diggins (Sussex) and Jonathan Mair (Manchester), 17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Manchester, 5-10 August 2013.
  • Decolonizing Sexualities Network Meeting, co-convened with Suhraiya Jivraj, University of Kent, 4-5 July 2013.
  • Decolonizing Sexualities Network Roundtable, co-convened with Suhraiya Jivraj, University of Kent, 3 July 2013.
  • Discussant, ‘The Right to Truth, Justice and Reparation in Latin America’, Conference organised by Ainhoa Montoya, Institute for the Study of the Americas, School of Advanced Studies, University of London, 4 June 2013.
  • 'Violence and Affective States in Latin America', Panel co-covened by Frank Smith and Silvia Posocco, Society for Latin American Studies Annual Conference, Manchester, 11-12 April 2013.
  • 'Habeas Corpus: Transnational Adoption, Subjectivities and Relations 'under Erasure' and Reconfigurations of the Body Politics in Contemporary Guatemala', Panel on 'Overcoming neoliberal subjectivities in Latin America: from disengagement to new political practices, identities and collectivities', convened by Susanne Hofmann (Leeds University) and Ainhoa Montoya (University of Manchester), SLAS Conference, Manchester 11-12 April 2013.
  • ‘The Problem of Context: Scale, Relation and Perspective in Queer Studies', Queering Regions Research Symposium organised by Cuneyt Cakirlar and Hongwei Bao, Nottingham Trent University, 7 February 2013.
  • 2012
  • 'Performative Analogies, Technologies of Enfleshment: Transnational Adoption and/as Migration in Guatemala', Bodies of Circulation: Juxtaposing Migration and Adoption, Panel convened by Jessaca Leinaweaver (Brown University) and Sonja van Wichelen (University of Western Sydney), American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 14-18 November 2012.
  • 'Queer Necropolis: Rethinking Global Urbanism through Transnational Adoption in Guatemala City', World, City, Queer: the Sexual Politics of Global Urbanism, International Workshop convened by Natalie Oswin, Department of Geography, McGill University, Montreal, 7 - 8 September 2012 (invited).
  • 'An Introduction to a Concept Metaphor', Homonationalisms: Patters of Self-determination and Assimilation, Panel organised by Tiziana Mancinelli and Sergio Rigoletto, Transnational Italy: National Identity and the World Atlas Conference, Reading University, 13-14 July 2012.
  • 'Irregularities, Search and Identities' Panel, Growing Up and Coming of Age as an Adopteed in Spain AFIN Workshop, Instituto Universitario de la Familia, Universidad de Comillas, Madrid, 5 July 2012 (invited).
  • 'Rethinking Structural Violence in Latin America and Beyond', SLAS Annual Conference, Sheffield, 18-20 April 2012.
  • Past events
  • 2011
  • 'Reproductive Futurism, Carnal Logics and Neoliberal Adjustment: Transnational Adoption in Postwar Guatemala', Queer Feminist Futures: Temporalities of Gender, Sexuality, and Justice in An Age of Neoliberal Risk and (In)Security Panel, convened by John (Song Pae) Cho and Michelle Marzullo, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Montreal, 16-20 November 2011 (panel sponsored by Association for Queer Anthropology and Committee for Minority Issues in Anthropology).
  • Contested Mobility: People, Commodities and Policies across Latin America and the Caribbean, NALACS Annual Conference, Leiden, 13-14 October.
  • Contours of Development: New Research on Migration, Politics and Policy between the Americas and Europe, Joint Initiative for the Study of the Americas and the Caribbean Funded Conference, London, 25 February 2011 (invited).
  • 2010
  • 'Secrecy and Insurgency: Socialities and Knowledge Practices in Peten, Guatemala', Panel on 'The Circulation of Secrets: Ethnography, Publics and the Politics of Knowledge', convened by Lindsay Smith, Lilith Mahmud and Noah Tamarkin, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 17-21 November 2010.
  • 'Murderous Inclusions: The Queer Necropolitics of Citizenship and the Wars without End’, Panel co-convened with Adi Kuntsman and Jin Haritaworn, Dissident Citizenship: Queer Postcolonial Belonging, University of Sussex, 10-11 June 2010 and Beyond Citizenship: Feminism and the Transformation of Belonging International Conference, Birkbeck, 30 June - 2 July 2010.
  • 'Fissured legality and affective states in the transnational adoption archives in Guatemala’, Seminar in Anthropological Theory, Anthropology Department, London School of Economics, 5 March 2010 and Department of Psychosocial Studies Research Seminar, Birkbeck, 26 April 2010.
  • 'Expedientes: fissured legality and affective states in the transnational adoption archives in Guatemala’, Conference on the Political Life of Documents: Archives, Memory and Contested Knowledge, Cambridge University, 15 -16 January 2010 (invited).
  • 2009
  • ‘Expedientes: fissured legality and affective states in the transnational adoption archives in Guatemala’, panel on ‘The life of documents: new beginnings, new ends’ convened by Christopher Kaplonski and Catherine Trundle, American Anthropological Association International Conference, Philadelphia, 2 - 6 December 2009.
  • Chair, panel on ‘Queer Necropolitics: Lives, Deaths and the Ends of Queer Anthropology’ convened by Adi Kuntsman, American Anthropological Association International Conference, Philadelphia, December 2009.
  • ‘Witnessing Águila’s Death: Archive, Testimony, Periperformativity’, Anthropology in London: Current Research 2009, One-Day Conference, London, 15 June 2009.
  • ‘Witnessing Águila’s Death: Notes on Ethnography in the Aftermath of Insurgency’, Second Workshop on Ethnographies of Activism, convened by Henrike Donner and Sharad Chari, London 9 May 2009.
  • ‘The Impersonal as Queer Horizon’, Discussant, ‘Violence, Solidarity, Affect: A Workshop on Transnational Genders and Sexualities’ Workshop convened by Jin Haritaworn, London, 8 May 2009.
  • 2008
  • “Conjuring Up”: Strathernograms Revisited’, Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth International Conference, Anthropological Relationships as Appropriations and Investments, Auckland, December 2008.
  • ‘Between Biopolitics and Necropolitics: Regulating International Adoption in the Postcolony’, Gender and Regulation: A Global/Local Conversation, Centre for the Study of Law, Gender and Sexuality, University of Kent, Canterbury, June 2008.
  • ‘A Comment on Ethics’, Respondent and Discussant, Panel onActivist Ethics, Ethnographies of Activism International Workshop, LSE, March 2008.
  • 2007
  • ‘Performativities: Contexts, Domains, Perspectives’ International Workshop, co-organized with Sadie Wearing, 3 November 2007. This event was a key component of our ongoing research project seeking to track and analyse the multiple and complex permutations of theories of performativity across domains of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences, through, inter alia, multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary dialogues with scholars in fields as diverse as theoretical physics, social studies of finance, cultural studies, social anthropology, gender studies and queer theory. Invited speakers at the one-day workshop included Karen Barad, University of California Santa Cruz; Judith Butler, University of California Berkeley; Shoshana Felman, Emory University; Donald Mackenzie, University of Edinburgh; Diane Negra, University of East Anglia; Carolyn Pedwell, London School of Economics; Kalpana Ram, Macquarie University Sydney; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, City University of New York; Susan Squier, Pennsylvania State University; Shirley Anne Tate, University of Leeds. The event was generously funded by the British Academy, the Sociology Department Research Fund and the Roberts Researcher Development Fund.
  • ‘A Merography of Zones and Borders: Thinking Divisions as Relations in Petén, Guatemala’, Walls: Critical Legal Studies Conference, Birkbeck College, University of London, September 2007.
  • 2006
  • ‘Re-zoning: nature, culture and politics in and around the Maya Biosphere, Petén, Guatemala’, Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth Annual Conference, Cosmopolitanism and Anthropology, Environmental Cosmopolitans Panel, Keele University, UK, 2006.
  • ‘Globalisation, Governmentality and Failure through the Prism of Petén, Guatemala‘, Royal Geographical Society International Conference, Panel on ‘Globalising Failures’, London, UK, 2006.
  • 2002 - 2005
  • 'Gubernamentalidad y Modernidad Vernácula en Petén, Guatemala’, [Governmentality and Vernacular Modernity in Petén, Guatemala], International Conference on Sustainable Development, Environmental Governance, Santa Elena, Petén, Guatemala, 2005.
  • '"The primordial basis of man is that he be secret”: secrecy and ambivalence in post-civil conflict Petén, Guatemala’, Perspectives on Conflict Conference, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2002.


Contact details

Room 505, 30 Russell Square
Department of Psychosocial Studies
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1B 5DT

tel: +44 (0)20 3073 8066

Blog: http://silviaposocco.wordpress