Dr. Karin Friederic

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Dr. Karin Friederic is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University. Broadly, her research examines how transnational human rights and global health campaigns reconfigure gendered subjectivities, relationships, and ideas of citizenship in Latin America.

Karin Friederic’s forthcoming book, The Prism of Human Rights: Seeking Justice amid Gender Violence in Rural Ecuador (Rutgers University Press, 2023) documents the effects of human rights on local responses to intimate partner violence on Ecuador’s coast over the last twenty years. She draws on two decades of research and activism to explore two facets of human rights—one, their contribution to the unfinished journey to justice for victims of gender violence, and two, their role in a global cultural project in which “rights” are associated with modernity, development, and democratic states. Using a gendered political economy framework merged with close attention to local subjectivities, The Prism of Human Rights demonstrates that gender violence interventions based exclusively on rights awareness and education are not only inadequate, but also unwittingly insert “liberated” women into larger dynamics of gendered structural violence.

Karin Friederic’s research has been published in diverse venues and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the Feminist Review Trust, among others. Karin was also awarded the 2015 Campbell Fellowship for Transformative Research on Women in the Developing World by the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Since coming to Wake Forest University, she has introduced a number of new courses, including Human Rights and Global Justice in Latin America, the Anthropology of Global Health, and Save the World in One Click!, a first year seminar on the ethics of charity and humanitarianism. She also regularly teaches the Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course.

Since the year 2000, Karin has also worked with Ecuadorian communities in their efforts to obtain health care services and mobilize against gender violence. In 2003, she co-founded a nonprofit organization, The Minga Foundation, which is dedicated to improving global health through community-led development. Karin joined the Department of Anthropology at Wake Forest University after completing her MA and Ph.D. at the University of Arizona and teaching at Colby College. She received her BA in Anthropology from The Colorado College.

Latest Posts

  • Dr. Friederic & students publish co-authored peer-reviewed article in Anthropology Now!
    Congrats to Jordan Buzzett (Class of ’22, current Wake Forest Fellow) and Gabby Valencia (Class of ’23, WFU Anthro major) on their first major scholarly publication! The story of Arthur, an Ecuadorian dog who was “saved” and “rescued” to Sweden in 2014, has captured the hearts of millions through bestselling books and a major motion […]
  • Research and Scholarly Activities

    Global health, development, charity and NGOs; human rights; transnational feminisms; gender, violence, and sexuality; women’s health and reproductive health; disability; health disparities; applied, engaged, and activist anthropology.  

  • Publications

    Book Manuscripts

    Friederic, Karin. The Prism of Human Rights: Seeking Justice amid Gender Violence in Rural Ecuador. Rutgers University Press, Expected: Spring 2023.

    Refereed Journal Articles

    Friederic, Karin, and Brian J. Burke

    2018    La Revolución Ciudadana and Social Medicine: Undermining Community in the State Provision of Health Care in Ecuador. Special Issue: “Social Inequities and Contemporary Struggles for Collective Health in Latin America.” Global Public Health. Vol. 14 (6-7): 884-898, DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2018.1481219

    Friederic, Karin

    2014 The “SONY Nightclub”: Rural Brothels, Gender Violence, and Development in Coastal Ecuador. Special Issue: Tracing Sexualities and Intimacies in Out-of-the-Way Places. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 79 (5):650-676. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2013.817460 

    McCullough, Megan, Jan Brunson, and Karin Friederic

    2014Editorial Introduction for Special Issue: Intimacies and Sexualities in Out-of-the-Way Places. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 79 (5):577-584. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2013.813057

    Friederic, Karin

    2014   Violence against Women and the Contradictions of Rights-in-Practice in Rural Ecuador. Special Issue: Violence against Women in Latin America. Latin American Perspectives 41 (1):19-38 DOI: 10.1177/0094582×13492140

    Friederic, Karin

    2011    The Challenges of Advocacy in Anthropological Research on Intimate Partner Violence.  Special Issue: Anthropological Encounters with Intimate Partner Violence: Reflections on our Roles in Advocating for a Safer World. Practicing Anthropology 33 (3):27-31.

    Friederic, Karin

    2010   Barriers or Boundaries? The Politics of Conducting Research on Gender-Based Violence in Rural Ecuador. Arizona Anthropologist. 20: 81-88.

    Friederic, Karin

    2008  Frontiers of Violence: Women’s Rights, Intrafamily Violence, and the State in Ecuador. Intersections: Women’s and Gender Studies in Review across Disciplines 6: 58-75.

    Book Chapters

    Friederic, Karin and Brian J. Burke

    2020   La Revolución Ciudadana and Social Medicine: Undermining Community in the State Provision of Health Care in Ecuador. In: Social Inequities and Contemporary Struggles for Collective Health in Latin America. Eds. Emily E Vasquez, Amaya G. Perez-Brumer, Richard Parker. London: Routledge. ISBN: 9780367498726. Reprinted from Special Issue of Global Public Health (original date: 2018; original article peer-reviewed)

    Friederic, Karin

    2015   Gender Violence, Social Change, and Applied Anthropology in Coastal Ecuador. In: Applying Anthropology to Gender-Based Violence: Global Responses, Local Practices.  Eds. Jennifer R. Wies and Hillary H. Haldane. Pp. 167-182. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. (editor-reviewed)

    Scholarly Articles In Preparation, Forthcoming, and Under Review

    Burke, Brian J., John-Ben Soileau, and Karin Friederic

    Transnational Solidarity and quilombo Postcapitalism: Building Alternatives to Development amid Brazilian Racial Hierarchy and Amazonian Extractivism. Rethinking Marxism: a Journal of Economics, Culture, and Society. R&R complete. Expected: 2023.

    Friederic, Karin, Jordan Buzzett*, and Gabby Valencia* (*WFU undergraduate students)

    Saving Stray Dogs, Adventure Racing, and the Inca Canoe that Wasn’t: the Global Politics of Aid and Spectacle in the Ecuadorian Jungle. Under Review:

    Friederic, Karin, Brian J. Burke and John Ben Soileau

    Reinventing ‘Development’ to Build Community Power in a Quilombo Community in Pará, Brazil.

    News Articles, Commentary, Technical Reports and Public Outreach

    Mulla, Sameena and Karin Friederic

    2017     Rethinking the Anthropology of Gender and Violence in Santa Fe, Co-authored with Sameena Mulla. Society for Applied Anthropology NewsletterVolume 27, Number 4.

    Friederic, Karin and Adriana Córdova* (*WFU Undergraduate Student)

    2016     Gender-Based Violence TIG: Violence, Sexuality, and Remaking Gender in Coastal Ecuador. Society for Applied Anthropology NewsletterVolume 26, Number 4.

    Friederic, Karin and Bennett Heine* (WFU Undergraduate Student)

    2015    Calendario de la Salud: El Subcentro de Salud La “Y” (Health Information Calendar:  the La Y Health Center). El Subcentro de Salud La “Y”, Fundación Minga (USA), Fundación MeHiPro (Ecuador) and Proyecto SaludCom – NOKIA. Quito, Ecuador: Gráficas Paola.

    Friederic, Karin

    2012     Report: Evaluation of SaludCom Communications Project in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. The Minga Foundation-NOKIA.

    Friederic, Karin

    2010     How to Help Haiti. The Huffington Post. January 18, 2010. Link

    Friederic, Karin

    2009    Gender-Based Violence TIG: Local-Global Dimensions of Intimate Partner Violence and Human Rights in NW Ecuador. Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter: 20 (1). 

    Friederic, Karin, Jason Cross and Gabriela Ordoñez

    2005    Responsiveness & Coverage: Community Health Program in Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Quito, Ecuador: Fundación Naturaleza Humana.

    Book Reviews

    Friederic, Karin

    2015   Anthropology in the Making: Research in Health and Development by Laurent Vidal, Routledge Studies in Anthropology. American Anthropologist, 117:3. September 2015.

    Friederic, Karin

    2014   Feminist Activist Ethnography: Counterpoints to Neoliberalism in North America.  Christa Craven and Dána-Ain Davis, eds. American Ethnologist 41: 789–791.

    Friederic, Karin

    2009    Gender, Indian, Nation: The Contradictions of Making Ecuador, 1830-1925, by Erin O’Connor. Arizona Anthropologist, Issue 19.


    2017    “Women’s Rights, Gender Violence and Body Politics in Coastal Ecuador.” Lucile B. Price Endowed Lecture, Luther College, Iowa, October 2.

    2016     “The Violence of Human Rights: Women’s Organizing and Gender Violence in Coastal Ecuador”. University of Texas at San Antonio, Public Lecture, Women’s History Month, Mar 4.

    2015     “Human Rights, Gender Violence, and Applied Anthropology in Coastal Ecuador.” New Mexico Highlands University, Public Lecture, October 13.

    2015     “¡El Machismo es Violencia!” Sex, Human Rights, and Masculinity on the Ecuadorian Coast. School for Advanced Research Fall Colloquium Series, Santa Fe, NM. Sept. 2015

    2015     “The Violence of Human Rights: Women’s Organizing and Gender Violence in Coastal Ecuador,” Public Lecture/Anthropology Department Speaker Series, University of North Carolina Wilmington, April 23.

    2015     “The Violence of Human Rights: Women’s Organizing and Gender Violence in Coastal Ecuador,” The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Colloquium Series, Wake Forest University (April 19)

    2014     “La Violencia Adentro: Gender Violence, Human Rights and Governance in Coastal Ecuador,” Department of Anthropology & the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies, the University of Texas at Austin (February 25)

    2014      “The F Word: Feminism,” a panel of students and professors discussing different meanings and implications of feminism. Wake Forest University (November 13)

    See CV for full list of Presentations

  • Teaching and Student Engagement


    • ANT 114 – Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (offered each semester)
    • ANT 360 – Anthropology of Global Health (approx. every 2 years)
    • ANT 372 – Global Justice and Human Rights in Latin America (approx. every 2 years)
    • FYS 100 – Save the World in One Click!


    • ANT 385 – Special Topics: Gender, Health, and Development
    • Women’s Health in Global Perspective
    • Violence, Development and Social Justice


    2020-1   Affiliate, Race, Inequality and Policy Initiative (RIPI), WFU

    2018-     Website and Social Media Coordinator, WFU Anthropology

    2016-     Major and Minor Recruitment Committee, WFU Anthropology

    2016       Major Advisor, WFU Anthropology

    2013-21   Steering Committee Member, WFU Latin American and Latino/a Studies

    2015-21   Member, Phi Beta Kappa, WFU

    2014-21  Affiliate, The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES), WFU

    2013-15   Member, Phi Beta Kappa, Members in Course Committee, WFU

    2013-21   Undergraduate Lower Division Adviser, WFU (2013, 2014, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021)

    2013       Fellow, Center for Community Solutions, WFU


    Undergraduate Honors Theses (Thesis Committee Chair*)

    • (2020, Anthropology), Medicalization and Midwifery: Birthing in the United States
    • (2017, Anthropology), Discourses of Gender, Power and Sexuality in Rural Coastal Ecuador
    • (2016, Anthropology), ‘Aguantamos’: Structure, Agency, and Substandard Housing Among North Carolina Migrant Farmworkers”
    • (2016, Anthropology), Maya and Aakash: Imagining Agency, Inter-Caste Marriage and Social Change in Nepal
    • (2015, Anthropology), Female Community Health Workers, Health Education, and Tuberculosis in Nepal
    • (2015, Global Health), Infertility and Faith: An Examination of Jewish and Muslim Women’s Perspectives of IVF Policy in Israel
    • (2014, Anthropology), It’s More Than a Decision: The Roles of Uncertainty, Medical Pluralism, and Family Dynamics in the Decision-Making Processes of Young, Dalit Mothers in a Small Village in Western Nepal
    • (2014, Religion), The Refinement of Liberation Theology: An Analysis of the Dialogue between the Latin Americans and the Vatican         

    Graduate Theses and Dissertations

    • (2019, MA, Psychology), The Course of Remission in Borderline Personality Disorder: The Relationship between Symptoms, Age and Functioning over Time

    Mentored Student Publications (authored by students, but with my mentoring and guidance)

    • (2020, Anthropology), Medicalization and Fear: A Midwifery View of the Phenomenon and the Backlash. The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography, vol. 11 no. 1  
    • (2020, Sociology). The Key to Translation: An Examination of Children’s Human Rights Under Government Care and Protection in Mandeville and Santa Cruz, Jamaica. Forthcoming, Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography.
    • 2016, Anthropology), Sara A. Quandt, and Thomas A. Arcury. ““Aguantamos”: Limits to Latino Migrant Farmworker Agency in North Carolina Labor Camps.” Human Organization 76, no. 3 (2017): 240-250.

    Summer Research Fellows & Internships

    • 2021, Merit Scholar Summer Grant,Trust in the State: A Perspective from Health Institutions in Rural Ecuador” (grant funded, but redesigned due to Covid)
    • 2021, Richter Scholar,Medical Pluralism in Tibet, China: an Anthropological Perspective”
    • 2019, Summer Scholars Program, “Wine Over Time: The Changing Relationship Between Wine Production and Cultural Identity in Nemea, Greece”
    • Dami Fakunle, 2017, Richter Fellow, “Human Rights, Social Needs, and Government Protection of Children in Mandeville, Jamaica”
    • Adriana Córdova, 2016, ACC-IAC Fellowship Recipient,“Perceptions of Healthy Parent-Child Communication in Rural Ecuador”
    • Adriana Córdova, 2015, Bagel Fund,“Health Education among Youth in Rural Ecuador”
    • Ty Kraniak, 2014, Richter, “Health Communication and Community-Based Healthcare”
    • Bennett Heine, 2014,Bagel Fund, “Calendario de la Salud, La Y de La Laguna, Ecuador”
    • Araceli Morales, 2014, Richter, “Community-Based Conservation in Mexico”
    • Ty Kraniak, 2013, “Hydrating Humanity: Providing Clean Water in Rural Kenya”
    • David Inczauskis, 2013, Richter Fellowship, “Helping Honduras Kids: An NGO’s Perspective on Poverty and Orphaned Children”