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Alana Ackerman

Profile picture for Alana Ackerman

Contact Information

109 Davenport Hall
607 S Mathews Dr.
Urbana, IL 61801
Sociocultural Anthropology


Alana is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is also completing a graduate minor in Gender and Women's Studies. Her research examines armed conflict, violence, and displacement across borders in the global South. Her dissertation project ethnographically documents Colombian refugees’ experiences of ongoing persecution and displacement in Ecuador, a place of supposed peace and arrival. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright Hays Program and the Social Science Research Council, among others. She holds an M.A. in Anthropology from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Ecuador, and a B.A. in Spanish from Tufts University.

Research Interests

Migration, asylum, and refuge; critical refugee studies; forced displacement and armed conflict; feminist peace and security studies; Latin America; Ecuador and Colombia


Research Description

Alana’s dissertation project engages the question: How do refugees experience violence and displacement in spaces and at times that are commonly considered “peaceful”? This project documents the widespread persecution that Colombian refugees experience in both Colombia and Ecuador in the wake of the 2016 Peace Accords. Based on 16 months of ethnographic research including participant observation and interviews, this project demonstrates how the “Colombian armed conflict” manifests across borders through intimate encounters between perpetrators and their victims in spaces of supposed refuge, and in “post-war” times. This dissertation contributes to a feminist peace and security studies by challenging binary understandings of armed conflict and its resolution.



2024-2025      Graduate Student Fellowship, Humanities Research Institute, UIUC

2023-2024      Peace Scholar Award, United States Institute of Peace

Spring 2023    Dissertation Writing Fellowship, Anthropology Department, UIUC

2020                Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad

2020                Dissertation Travel Grant, Graduate College, UIUC

2020                Kilby Fellowship, Center for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS), UIUC

2016                Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

2016                Whitten Fellowship, CLACS, UIUC             

2015                Tinker Foundation Fellowship, CLACS, UIUC                    

2015                Summer Research Grant, Anthropology Department, UIUC



Awards and Honors

2024: Demitri B. Shimkin Award, for the paper, “Five Machete Slashes, Tirar la Toalla, and Seguir Adelante: Refugee Injury and Care in States of Racialized Abandonment,” Anthropology Department, UIUC

2023: Prize for Research in the Humanities, for the paper, “‘I Hope They Don’t Find Me Here: Persecution, Encuentros, and Refuge Across Borders in the Global South,” Humanities Research Institute, UIUC

2023: Graduate Student Award in Applied and Public Anthropology, for the paper, “Resettlement Denied: Persecution, Refuge, and the Violent Entrapment of Colombian Refugees in Quito, Ecuador,” the Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

2021: Mary Jane Neer Scholarship, Disability Resources & Educational Services, UIUC

2020: Teachers Ranked as Outstanding, UIUC

Highlighted Publications

2024. “Everything I Have Seen There, That I Know...”: Witnessing the Colombian Armed Conflict Through Refugees’ Narratives of Implication." Political and Legal Anthropology Review 1-14.

2022, June 28. “For Colombians in Ecuador, Displacement is Ongoing, and Refuge is Elusive.” North American Congress on Latin America:…

2020, June 15. “Displaced in Place: On Being Forced to Move and Forced to Stay During a Global Pandemic.” In Gabriela Manley, Bryan M. Dougan, and Carole McGranahan (Eds.), American Ethnologist website:…

2014. La ley, el orden y el caos: construcción social del Estado y el inmigrante en Ecuador. Quito: Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales:…