Portrait of Mail

Brenda MaialeAssociate Professor of Anthropology

Joined faculty in 2006

Ph.D., Cornell University, 2008
M.A., Cornell University, 2002
A.B., Vassar College, 1998

Contact Information

Stern HallPhone (315) 781-3443

Courses Taught

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Sex Roles
Environment and Culture
Peoples and Cultures of Latin America
Ethnographic Research Methods
Food, Meaning, Voice


I have been traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico for ten years and conducted two years of fieldwork there in 2002 and 2003. I have been able to gauge change in Oaxaca over a long period of time, particularly shifting patterns of migration, kinship, and economic relations. In my work I examine how the use of traditional dress and recent changes in fiesta practices are transforming gender subjectivities in the region. I use the Zapotec fiesta as a lens to examine the ways in which local configurations of gender articulate with the global market, the national imagination, and the contentious body politic of the Oaxacan state.
In an applied project here in the US, I have begun to research identity formation among adoptees. As new reproductive technologies, and gay and lesbian, and international adoption continue to create new forms of family, I find adult adoptees’ experiences provide much needed insight into the US (and international) adoption model by revealing the underlying matrices of identity formation, enculturation, and embodiment processes.