Dr Ainhoa Montoya

Contact details

Dr Ainhoa Montoya
BA (hons) [Universidad Autónoma de Madrid]; MPhil [University of Cambridge]; PhD [University of Manchester]
Lecturer in Latin American Studies / ESRC Future Research Leader
Institute of Latin American Studies
020 7862 8875
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Globalization & Development, Human rights, Politics
Research keywords:
The anthropology of violence and conflict, the anthropology of democracy, the ethnography of the state, legal anthropology, human rights, transitional justice and memory, extractive industries, political economy
Summary of research interests and expertise:

My research focuses on post-conflict violence and conflicts over natural resources.

My book-length monograph The Violence of Democracy: Political Life in Post-War El Salvador explores ethnographically how Salvadorans have made sense of a violent peace and the political life of their country in the context of a liberal market democracy. Based on research coinciding with the 2009 elections, the book demonstrates how various forms of violence have become entangled with democracy-related imaginaries and practices in post-war El Salvador.

My current research examines the legal cultures at work in the realm of mineral governance in Central America. The goal of this research is to achieve an understanding of the relationship between the legal and the moral as it plays out in environmental politics. It has been funded with an ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship (2016-2018) and a British Academy Sustainable Development Programme award (2018-2020).

I have also acted as an expert witness in asylum appeal cases in the UK involving Salvadorans.

I am currently a co-editor of the Bulletin of Latin American Research, the journal of the Society for Latin American Studies.


Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
30-May-2018 The Violence of Democracy: Political Life in Postwar El Salvador


Montoya, Ainhoa. The Violence of Democracy: Political Life in Postwar El Salvador. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

31-Mar-2018 La reedición del conflicto: la política electoral en El Salvador de la posguerra

Journal articles

ECA – Revista de Estudios Centroamericanos 73(752): 45–63.

01-Dec-2015 The Turn of the Offended: Clientelism in the Wake of El Salvador’s 2009 Elections

Journal articles

Social Analysis (Affective States: Entanglements, Suspensions, Suspicions) 59(4): 101–118.

01-Aug-2015 The Value of Open Access in Anthropology and Beyond

Journal articles

 Anthropology in Action, 22(2): 42–48.

 With Grégory Dallemagne, Víctor del Arco and Marta Pérez.

01-Oct-2014 FAQs about Open Access: The Political Economy of Knowledge in Anthropology and Beyond

Conference papers

Edited with Marta Pérez, Grégory Dallemagne and Víctor del Arco. 

01-Jan-2014 Introduction: Ethnographies of the Opportunities and Risks of Neoliberalisation


Anthropology Matters, 15(1), pp. 1–15.

01-Jan-2013 The Violence of Cold War Polarities and the Fostering of Hope: The 2009 Elections in Post-War El Salvador


In Jennifer L. Burrel and Ellen Moodie, eds. Central America in the New Millennium: Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy. New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 49–63.

01-Jan-2011 Review: El Salvador in the Aftermath of Peace: Crime, Uncertainty and the Transition to Democracy, by Ellen Moodie


The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 16(2), pp. 458–460.

Publications available on SAS-space:

Date Details
Dec-2015 The Turn of the Offended: Clientelism in the Wake of El Salvador’s 2009 Elections


Drawing on fieldwork in a Salvadoran municipio during and after the 2009 presidential elections, this article explores how the affective dynamics involved in elections and routine politics might inform us about the conditions of possibility for specific political imaginaries. Passions ran high among ordinary Salvadorans on both the left and right, as allusions to wartime unsettled political divisions and offences. For many disaffected Salvadorans, the victory of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front—a former guerrilla organization—opened up a political horizon previously foreclosed during the post-war era. I show how ordinary Salvadorans’ post-election engagement with state officials and FMLN party leaders through clientelist practices evidenced their desire for qualitative state transformation, as well as the extent to which they conceive of themselves as citizens through the state.

Jan-2013 The Violence of Cold War Polarities and the Fostering of Hope: The 2009 Elections in Post-War El Salvador


Apr-2015 The Value of Open Access in Anthropology and Beyond


This commentary seeks to engage the issue of ‘impact’ in social anthropology by scrutinising the topic of open access. Drawing on the discussions that took place at the interna- tional conference ‘FAQs about Open Access: The Political Economy of Knowledge in Anthro- pology and Beyond’, held in October 2014 in Madrid, we suggest that addressing the topic of open access allows a two-fold goal. On one hand, it elucidates that public debates about open access rely on a rather minimalist notion of openness that does not yield an adequate under- standing of what is at stake in those debates. On the other, we argue that expanding the notion of openness does not only allow us to revisit the debate concerning what we do as academics, how we do it and what its value is, but also to do so going beyond current notions of ‘impact’ and ‘public value’ underpinned by the principle of economic efficiency in a context of increas- ingly reduced research funds.

Oct-2014 FAQs about Open Access: The Political Economy of Knowledge in Anthropology and Beyond


This publication is prior to the conference/workshop FAQs About Open Access – The Political Economy of Publishing in Anthropology and Beyond, held at Medialab-Prado (Madrid) on the 16th and 17th of October 2014. We, as conference conveners and members of the Research Group on Anthropology with a Public Orientation (GIAOP), are interested in the current debates about open access and it is out of that shared interest that this conference emerges. It has been more than a decade since the first declarations for open and free access to publicly-funded scientific knowledge were issued (the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2002 and the Berlin Declaration on Open Access one year after). Even though the debate has proliferated with strength in the Anglo-American academia in the last few years, we think that the way in which it has done so is extremely narrow, limited to putting forth proposals for how to make academic publications available online —and generally not questioning the business models and the very academic practices that have led to “capture/enclose” knowledge in the first place.

Jun-2014 Ethnographies of the Opportunities and Risks of Neoliberalisation


Dec-2018 The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil: The Judicialization of Environmental Politics in Central America


The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil: The Judicialization of Environmental Politics in Central America is an ESRC-funded anthropological project that explores legal and quasi-legal actions in the context of natural resource governance. Controversies over the fate of non-renewable natural resources have increasingly taken the shape of the jural. This project pursues research on the legal repertoires at work in disputes over subsoil resources (specifically minerals), seeking to achieve an understanding of the different moralities that pervade these repertoires. The project focuses on four Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) that have been understudied when it comes to non-renewable resources and that share ecological conditions as well as a similar political history, including relatively recent processes of democratization. It also includes research at global sites (Washington, DC, Geneva and London) where key actors involved in legal actions relating to environmental politics are based.

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:

The Juridification of Resource Conflicts: Legal Cultures, Moralities and Environmental Politics in Central America

Sustainability Development Programme 2018

The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil: The Judicialisation of Environmental Politics in Central America

 ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 20-Jan-2019
Social Responsibility through the Lens of Mainstream Businesses and Social Enterprises in Brazil

 Fabiane da Cruz. Co-supervised with Dr Jessica Sklair.

From: 01-Oct-2016
Reintegration of Former Combatants after the Peace Agreement in Colombia

 Tatiana Suárez

From: 01-Oct-2015
The contestation of State-Society Relations and Citizenship in Mexico and Colombia

 Alexander Curry (funded by a LAHP AHRC grant). 

From: 01-May-2015
Historical Memory and Political Action: An Anthropological Perspective of Spain’s and Argentina’s Processes

 María Laura Martín Chiappe (funded by an FPU grant). Co-supervised with Prof. Francisco Ferrándiz.

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Member of staff of FLACSO España ("miembro titular")
Honorary Research Fellow - Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
20-May-2016 Resource Entanglements: Disparate Narratives on Natural Resource Extraction in Latin America

 Funded by the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London.

16-Oct-2014 FAQs about Open Access: The Political Economy of Knowledge in Anthropology and Beyond

Funded mainly by The Wenner-Gren Foundation: http://www.wennergren.org/grantees/montoya-bermejo-ainhoa

Funded also by Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Medialab-Prado, Consorcio Madroño and Madrid Institute of Anthropology.

04-Jun-2013 The Right to Truth, Justice and Reparation in Latin America

Funded by the Human Rights Consortium and the Institute for the Study of the Americas, University of London.

Other editing/publishing activities:

Date Details
Anthropology Matters - Former editor

El Faro Académico - Member of the editorial board

Bulletin of Latin American Research - Co-editor

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