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Chuck Sturtevant

Research postgraduate, University of Aberdeen

I majored in anthropology as an undergraduate, but swore I would never return to academia and particularly not to such an esoteric and impenetrable field. However, in 2005 I moved to La Paz, Bolivia and shortly thereafter began making documentary films. This work forced me into daily encounters with different ways of experiencing and conceiving of the world, and suddenly my undergraduate training snapped into focus.

My films took an increasingly ethnographic turn, best represented by the film, Habilito: Debt for Life, which I co-directed between 2008 and 2010. I decided to explore the possibilities of anthropology and film further, and was accepted to the MPhil in Ethnographic Documentary programme at the University of Manchester’s Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology.

At Manchester, I continued to make ethnographic films and expanded my research to include an ethnographic approach to the state. My MPhil research focused on individual experiences of black identity and the formation of nested collective affiliations in a rural town in Bolivia. Since I moved to Bolivia in 2005, I have been fascinated by my encounters with different ways of being and thinking. The anthropological theory that I had access to at that time informed these encounters, but the exposure to a much broader set of theoretical tools during my postgraduate studies has unlocked a range of possibilities for exploring difference in a more complete and complex way. In all of this work, I am committed to an anthropology that draws its theoretical rigour from its engagement with what people do and say in the world.


  • –present
    Research postgraduate, University of Aberdeen