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Carlos David Londoño Sulkin

PhD, University of St. Andrews

Office: CL 306.3
Phone: 306-585-5405

Research interests
The Anthropology of Morality and Ethics, Pragmatism, Relativism, Indigenous Amazonia, Semiotics and Language, Female Genital Surgeries, the Anthropology of Science.

I am fascinated by people's moral and aesthetic evaluations: their talk and other expressions concerning what they esteem or despise. In my research and writing I address how social life shapes individuals' moralities and understandings of themselves, and in turn how individuals interacting with each other create social life and reproduce and transform these moralities and understandings. I have carried out ethnographic fieldwork among People of the Center (Colombian Amazon) since 1993, mainly with Muinane-speaking clans. In recent years I've broadened my ethnographic interests to address moral understandings in and around Female Genital Surgeries and the commitment to a natural scientific outlook.

I teach the following courses in the Department of Anthropology's undergraduate program: Introduction to Anthropology, The Anthropology of Language, The Anthropology of Personhood, Ethnographic Fieldwork Methods, The Ethnography of Amazonia, and The Anthropology of Contemporary Human Problems. At the graduate level, I've taught advanced courses on key debates in the anthropological study of indigenous Amazonian peoples, and courses on selfhood and morality.

I serve on the Boards of Directors of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA) and of the Society for Ethnographic Theory (S.E.T.), the Publications Board of the University of Regina Press, and as the elected faculty member on the University of Regina's Board of Governors.

Here is my current Curriculum Vitae.


2012. People of Substance: an Ethnography of Morality in the Colombian Amazon. Toronto: University of Toronto Press (ISBN 978-1-4426-1373-7)

2004. Muinane: un proyecto moral a perpetuidad. Medellin: Editorial Universidad de Antioquia. (ISBN 958-655-736-7)

Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters
Forthcoming: The Import of Uncertainty in the Tragedy of an Amazonian Mensch. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory.

2017. Moral Sources and the Reproduction of the Amazonian Package. Current Anthropology 58(4):477-501. August 2017. DOI: 10.1086/692783

2016. Fuambai’s Strength. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 6 (3): 107–133. (

2015. Antonio Vélez: A Champion of Big History. In From Big Bang to Galactic Civilizations: A Big History Anthology, Vol. 1. Eds. Barry Rodrigue, Leonid Grinin and Andrey Korotayev. Delhi: Primus Books. Pp. 163-182.

2013. Believing in the Gift: a Case of Successful Relationships of Exchange in the Colombian Amazon. Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America, vol. 11(2), pp. 1-12. (

2010.La circuncisión femenina, la antropología, y el liberalismo. Revista Colombiana de Antropología 46 (2) julio-diciembre de 2010. Pp. 531-545

2010. El desafortunado hermano del tigre. Socialidad, moralidad y perspectivismo cosmológico entre gente de centro. In Perspectivas Antropológicas sobre la Amazonia Contemporánea, editors Margarita Chaves and Carlos del Cairo. Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia-Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Pp. 595-618 (ISBN: 978-958-8181-62-2)

2010. “People of no substance: imposture and the contingency of morality in the Colombian Amazon.” In Ordinary Ethics: Anthropology, Language and Action, editor Michael Lambek, 273-291. New York: Fordham University Press (ISBN: 978-082-3233-17-5)

2009. Anthropology, liberalism, and female circumcision. Anthropology Today, vol. 25:6 (December 2009): 17-19 (ISSN 0268-540X)

2007. ”Falas” instrumentais, moralidade e agência masculina entre os Muinane (Amazônia Colombiana)’. (Fernando Fedola L. B. Vianna, translator). Revista de Antropología, Sao Paulo, USP, 2006, Vol. 46 No. 1, pp. 319-356 (ISSN 0034-7701)

2006. Instrumental Speeches, morality and masculine agency among Muinane people (Colombian Amazon). Tipití, 4(1&2):199-222. (ISSN 1545-4703) (

2005. Inhuman beings: morality and perspectivism among Muinane people (Colombian Amazon). Ethnos, vol. 70:1 (2005): 7-30. (ISSN 0014-1844)

2004. Hombres enraizados y la creación de escuelas entre los muinane del Amazonas colombiano. Revista Educaciòn y Pedagogía, Medellìn, Universidad de Antioquia, Facultad de Educación, vol. XVI, núm. 39, (may.-ago.), 2004, pp. 67-86. (ISSN 0121-7593)

2003. Paths of Speech: symbols, sociality and subjectivity among the Muinane of the Colombian Amazon. Ethnologies 25 (2), 2003, Language and Culture / Langue et culture. pp. 173-195. (ISSN 1481-5974)

2000. “Though it comes as evil I embrace it as good”: social sensibilities and the transformation of malignant agency among the Muinane’. In The Anthropology of Love and Anger: emotions, embodiments and the aesthetics of conviviality in native South America. Joanna Overing and Alan Passes (eds.). London: Routledge. pp. 170-186.(ISBN 0-415-22418-7).

1998. ‘Escolarizar a los muinane: discursos sobre la convergencia de conocimientos.’ Revista Colombiana de Antropología. Vol. 34, enero-diciembre de 1998. Bogotá: Instituto Colombiano de Antropología, p. 8-37 (ISSN 0486-65-25)

Other articles and book chapters
2016. ‘On Engagement with the Works of Peers.’ In Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America. Vol. 14, Issue 1, pp. 147-151. (

2007. ‘Una defensa de las ciencias sociales y humanas contra el fundamentalismo cientifico’. [A defense of the social sciences and humanities against scientifistic fundamentalism.] In Artes La Revista, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellin, No. 13, Vol. 7, enero-junio de 2007. pp. 25-29 (ISSN 1657-3242)

2001. ‘El yo y la responsabilidad entre los muinane de la amazonía colombiana.’ [The I and responsibility among the Muinane of the Colombian Amazon]. In Revista Nova et Vetera 43, Boletín del Instituto de Investigaciones – Grupo de Derechos Humanos de la ESAP. Bogotá D.C., abril-junio de 2001. pp. 72-85 (ISSN 0123-2614)

1993. ‘El modelo de la selección natural como respuesta a la crítica a la inducción de Hume’. [The model of natural selection as an answer to Hume’s critique of induction]. Revista Pa’ciencia, Estudiantes Ciencias Biológicas de la Universidad de los Andes, Enero – Junio de 1993

Conference proceedings
2002. ‘The Narrative Framing of the Self among the Muinane.’ In Travelling Concepts II: Meaning, Frame and Metaphor. Joyce Goggin and Michael Burke (eds.). Amsterdam: ASCA Press. Pp 234-248. (ISBN 90-76123-07-1)

Book reviews, commentaries, and reports
2016. Review of: Walker, Harry 2013. ‘Under a Watchful Eye: Self, Power, and Intimacy in Amazonia.’ Berkeley:University of California Press. Ethos 44(3): e12‐e14.

2014. Review of: Laidlaw, James 2014. ‘The Subject of Virtue: An Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom.’ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In American Ethnologist 41(4): 786-787.

2009. Invited commentary on ‘Hybrid Bodyscapes: A Visual History of Yanesha Patterns of Cultural Change’ by Fernando Santos-Granero. In Current Anthropology, Vol. 50:4, 2009, pp. 499-500 (ISSN 00113204)

2007. Review of: Rubenstein, Steven 2002. ‘Alejandro Tsakimp: a Shuar healer in the margins of history.’ Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. In Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Vol 12:2 November 2007, pp. 519-521 (ISSN 1935-4932)

2007. Review of: Oakdale, Suzanne 2006. ‘I Foresee My Life: The Ritual Performance of Autobiography in an Amazonian Community.’ Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. In: American Anthropologist, Vol. 109:2, June 2007, pp. 405, 406 (ISSN 0002-7294)

2004. Review of: Gregor, Thomas A and Donald Tuzin (eds.) 2001. ‘Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia: An Exploration of the Comparative Method.’ Berkeley: University of California Press. In: Ethnos, Vol. 69:1 2004, pp. 131, 132. (ISSN 0014-1844)

2003. Review of: Gow, Peter 2001. ‘An Amazonian Myth and its History.’ Oxford: Oxford University Press. In: Journal of Latin American Anthropology, Vol. 8. No. 3, Fall 2003 . pp. 191-193. (ISSN 1085-7052)

2003. ‘Powwow Diversified’. Conference report on ‘Powwow: Performance and nationhood in Native North America’, 21-23 February 2003, British Museum, in Anthropology Today, Vol. 19 No. 3, June 2003. (ISSN 0268-540X)

1992. ‘Evolución Cultural, Ecología Humana e Investigación Empírica’. Actualidades Arqueológicas No. 1 Año 1 – 1992. Medellín: Asociación de Antropólogos Egresados de la Universidad de Antioquia.

2019. “WHO undermines religious freedom and gender equality?” Focus Washington, January 10, 2019.

Dictionary entry
2004. ‘Joanna Overing’ In Routledge Biographical Dictionary of Anthropology. Vered Amit (ed.). London: Routledge. (ISBN 0-415-22379-2)

1994. López, Carlos and Reyes, Margarita 1994. ‘The role of archaeology in marginalized areas of social conflict: research in the Magdalena region, Colombia.’ In The Presented Past – Heritage, museums and education. Peter G. Stone and Bial L. Molyneaux (eds.). London: Routledge.

2012. (Signatory) The Public Policy Advisory Network on Female Genital Surgeries in Africa, “Seven Things to Know about Female Genital Surgeries in Africa,” Hastings Center Report 42(6): 19-27.

2009. Believing in the Gift: an example of successful relations of exchange in the Colombian Amazon. Rassegna del cine antropologico: “Contro-sguardi: Permanenze Trasmutazioni Incontri”, in Perugia, Italy, December 12-19th, 2009.

(For invited papers and other presentations, see my CV.)


People of Substance   

People of Substance by Carlos David Londoño Sulkin

Over the fifteen-year period that Carlos David Londoño Sulkin conducted ethnographic fieldwork among indigenous groups in the Colombian Amazon, known collectively as the People of the Centre, he noticed that they produced innumerable moral evaluations of themselves and of each other - what he calls 'moral portrayals.' The People of the Centre's understandings of themselves featured qualitative distinctions of worth between what they esteemed and what they despised about persons, relationships, and other aspects of their lives - all in the context of a perspectival cosmos, in which every being (human, animal, or plant) is understood to perceive itself as central in the imagined relationships between the categories of 'nature' and 'culture.'

In People of Substance, Londoño Sulkin makes the case that to comprehend the lives of individual persons, the social processes they participate in, and the groups they create, it is best to engage with them interpretatively, attempting to grasp what kinds of beings they understand themselves and each other to be, and how they conceive the cosmos within which their lives take place. This ambitious book contributes to the burgeoning anthropological scholarship focused on morality and related matters such as agency and freedom, while at the same time engages with diverse analytical approaches to indigenous Amazonian social life.