Mary Pena

2022-2023 Princeton-Mellon / Princeton Program in Latin American Studies Fellow

Princeton-Mellon / Princeton Program in Latin American Studies Fellow

Mary Pena’s fellowship is made possible through the support of the Mellon Foundation and the Princeton Program in Latin American Studies.

Mary is a researcher and arts practitioner with experience in sensory ethnography, curation, and public programs. Her published work is multidisciplinary, bridging theoretical and artistic modalities, the politics of space, material culture, embodiment, and coastal urban geography.

Her doctoral research analyzes the aesthetic norms and political strategies of state-led tourism and urban renewal in the port city of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It traces how city officials promote an idealized image of the city’s architectural past and the ways an intergenerational group of Afro-Dominican women engage the changing built environment to mobilize acts of repair, storytelling, and alternative kinship.

Pena received a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a graduate certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Michigan in August 2022. Before beginning at Princeton, she held an internship as a community programming organizer at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, NY, and coordinated the Making Sensory Ethnography working group at the University of Michigan.

In the Spring semester, Pena will teach, “Imagining Otherwise: Remapping Landscape, Ecologies, and Place-based Knowing,” a course that will consider reinterpretations of physical landscapes in the Americas from the lenses of decoloniality, transnational black feminism, and indigeneity.