Rosana Pinheiro Machado


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Research interests

I am an anthropologist and a social scientist focusing on economic and political transformations in emerging economies. I have been conducting fieldwork and developing international research collaborations across the global south, especially Brazil and China.

My research deals with the topics of globalization, development, and poverty. A thread running through my research agenda is the desire to gain a longitudinal, local understanding of the major processes of world-making and world-ordering that have transformed emerging countries in economic and political terms. My PhD thesis was based on a 10-year study of a global commodity chain of illicit goods stretching from China to Paraguay to Brazil; my latest research focused on financialization and political subjectivity of the poor in Brazil; and my current research is on the former poor in four emerging economies: China, Brazil, Philippines, and Mexico.

I am currently an Investigator Partner of a multi-sited collaborative research project, funded by Discovery Grant, Australian Research Council (with Anna Pertierra CI, from Western Sydney University, and Cezarina Saloma from Ateneo Manila). The 3-year project entitled No longer poor, not middle class: new consumer cultures in the Global South will be conducted in Brazil, China, Philippines and Mexico. The research aims to understand how globalised economic growth is transforming lives among low-income urban communities of the Global South. In emerging economies, the former poor have become mass consumers. The project hopes to offer new data on the changed global experience of urban life, with the potential to reshape social theories of poverty and improve development policies across the Global South. 

Previously to that, my colleague Lucia Muri Scalco (UFRGS, Brazil) and I have researched the impacts of the rise and fall of the economy as well as democratic collapse on the political subjectivity of the poor. By following the same research subjects for 10 years, we explore how changes in national development have shaped the individual self and the capacity to aspire to a better life, as well as the ways of doing politics and understanding the world. An examination of these processes shed light on how the very citizens that exemplified Brazil's rise as a global democratic power in Lula’s era — the ‘new consumers’— came to support a far-right project.

The experience of conducting research amongst low-income people in emerging countries builds upon the previous fieldwork in Brazil and China, which resulted in my 2017 book Counterfeit Itineraries in the Global South (Routledge Studies in Social Anthropology). The book was the culmination of 10 years (1999-2009 and 2014) of ethnography on a global commodity chain of counterfeit and smuggled goods in China and on the Brazil-Paraguay border. I lived in these three countries during my PhD fieldwork, trying to combining the best of deep sustained local ethnography with transnational research. 

In the book, I showed how the Intellectual Property Regime criminalized goods and economic practices in an attempt to restore hegemonic markets. I also looked at how emerging markets resisted and/or endorsed global guidelines: while Brazil considered the trading of cheap Chinese goods and the informal economy as constraints to development, China perceived them as drivers of development. Some samples of this longitudinal and transnational research can be read in the 2018 articles published in Global Networks and in the Journal of Latin America and Caribbean Anthropology. This research was also widely published in most of the best ranked Brazilian journals.



Teaching interests

Cultural and social aspects of development, poverty, and politics

Anthropololy Theory

Social movements, civil society and resistance in the 21st century


Willing to supervise PhD

I am willing to supervise PhD thesis on the newest social movements, neoliberalism, the rise of far-right wing worlwide and its links with development issues. I am also keen to supervise works on the cultural and social aspects of inequality and modernity in both Brazil and China. The impacts of development on small communities is also a subject I am interested in. Other topics of expertise are: Informal economy, intellectual property, consumption. 

Education/Academic qualification

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, University of Oxford

Anthropology, Doctor of Philosophy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

External positions

Visiting Professor in the Department od Sociology, University of Sao Paulo

1 Sep 201631 Aug 2010

Lecturer of Anthropology of Development, University of Oxford

1 Aug 20131 Aug 2016

Visiting Scholar at Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies, Harvard University

1 Sep 201231 Aug 2013

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