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Brandon Hunter-Pazzara

Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology, Princeton University

Non-Resident Fellow

Research Project: Solidarity in the Sand: Labor, Development and Contestation in Mexico's Maya Riviera

Research Interests: Political and legal anthropology, unionized labor, gender, crime and capitalist development


Brandon Hunter-Pazzara is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural anthropology at Princeton University. His research explores the question of solidarity in its dual valences — as an outcome of collective labor struggle and as an organic social order predicted on increasing interdependence and difference. He situates this investigation in the town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where he undertakes a comparative ethnographic study of two labor unions that represent hotel workers and taxi drivers. His work draws conceptual insight from labor studies, political and legal anthropology, feminist theory and critical approaches to capitalist development and crime. 

Hunter-Pazzara’s project considers the role organized labor plays in Mexico’s tourism sector and in light of the country’s transition to multi-party democracy and export-oriented economic development. His project highlights the importance of unions in improving worker conditions and pay, but reveals how competitive pressures on tourism, broad sentiments of social distrust, persistent forms of social inequality and ecological constraints undermine the prospect of sustainable tourism development and social solidarity in this region. Based on nearly two years of ethnographic fieldwork split evenly between each union, his project traces the intimate and subtle ways that union membership shapes the lives of workers and their families, and the role each union plays in the local political economy. Hunter-Pazzara is a 2018-19 Fulbright-Hays scholar and his research has received support from the National Science Foundation.