Mary Pena

Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Architecture
Program in Latin American Studies

Mary Pena earned her PhD in Anthropology with a graduate certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Michigan. Her work lies at the intersection of space, materiality, urban ecology, and embodiment, specializing in sensory and multimodal ethnography. Her dissertation considers the aesthetic norms and political strategies of state-led tourism and urban renewal in the Atlantic 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. Her publications have appeared in Fieldsights on Cultural Anthropology, entanglements, Open Cultural Studies, Absinthe Journal, and the edited volume Gender: Space. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Social Sciences Research Council, and the Society of Visual Anthropology. Before joining Princeton, Pena 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. During her fellowship, Pena will work with colleagues at the School of Architecture and Program in Latin American Studies and teach a course focused on reinterpreting landscapes in the Americas from the lenses of decoloniality, transnational black feminism, and indigeneity.