César Ernesto Abadía-Barrero

Associate Professor

Anthropology and Human Rights


DMSc., 2003, Harvard University


César E. Abadía-Barrero received his degree in dentistry from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (1992) and finished his doctoral studies in medical anthropology at Harvard University (2003). His work centers on the intersections between capitalism, health as a human right, and communities of care. His research approach is grounded in activist, collaborative, and participatory action research frameworks and integrates different critical perspectives in the study of how for-profit interests transform access, continuity, and quality of health care. He has conducted research in Brazil, Colombia, and the United States focusing on health care policies and programs, human rights judicialization and advocacy, and social movements in health. He is the author of I Have AIDS but I am Happy: Children’s Subjectivities, AIDS, and Social Responses in Brazil (2011 in English and 2022 in Portuguese) and Health in Ruins: The Capitalist Destruction of Medical Care (2022, English and Spanish editions). His current collaborative research in Colombia follows decolonial proposals in health and wellbeing after Colombia’s 2016 peace accord, focusing on Buen Vivir, collective healings, medicinal plants, and peace building. His other research line centers on the dysregulation of children’s bodies due to the capitalist transformation of the environments where children are growing up. He is the director of the Buen Vivir and Collective Healings Initiative at the University of Connecticut.

Research Interests

Capitalism, the right to health, communities of care, collective healings of colonial wounds.



  • ANTH 3120. Anthropology of Capitalism
  • ANTH 3327/HRTS 3327/ LLAS 3327 Power and Health in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • ANTH3326/HRTS3326. Global Health and Human Rights
  • HRTS 2100W Human Rights and Social Change

Graduate Seminars

  • ANTH 5305. Life in Capitalism: Destruction, Profits
  • ANTH 5305. The Value of Life in Global Markets
  • ANTH 5305. Decolonial Alternatives: Sense Making, Political Practices and Collective Experiences.


  • Joint appointment, UConn Glasdstein Family Human Rights Institute
  • Faculty affiliate, UConn El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies and the UConn Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development
  • Member of Red SaludPaz, Colombia


Download publications via Research Gate


Health in Ruins. The Capitalist Destruction of Medical Care. Duke University Press. Spanish: Salud en Ruinas. La Destrucción Capitalista del Cuidado Médico en el Instituto Materno Infantil de Bogotá, Universidad del Rosario/Desde Abajo.

A Companion to Medical Anthropology (Second Edition). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Salud Normalización y Capitalismo en Colombia [Health, Normalization and Capitalism in Colombia]. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Universidad del Rosario, Ediciones Desde Abajo.

“I HAVE AIDS BUT I AM HAPPY” Children’s Subjectivities, AIDS, and Social Responses in Brazil. Portuguese: Tenho AIDS mas sou feliz: A subjetividade infantile, a AIDS e as Respostas Sociais in Brazil.

Selected Articles

Barbosa E, Abadía CE. Vivir Bien para reconciliarnos con la Madre Tierra y florecer por fuera del capitalismo. Una invitación para la medicina social. [Good Living to reconcile ourselves with Mother Earth and flourish outside of capitalism: An invitation to social medicine.] 2023. Rev. Fac. Nac. Salud Pública. [Invited Editorial] 2023;41(2):e353229.

Vivian, Laurens, Abadía-Barrero, César and Hernández. Mario. “Latin American SocialMedicine in Colombia: Violence, neoliberalism, and Buen Vivir.” 2023. The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 1-13.

LaRusso, Maria, Gallego-Perez, Daniel and Abadía-Barrero, César. Untimely care: How the modern logics of coverage and medicine compromise children’s health and development. 2022 Social Science & Medicine.

Ardila-Sierra, Adriana and Abadía-Barrero, César. Medical labour under neoliberalism: an ethnographic study in Colombia. 2020 International Journal of Public Health. 65:1011–1017. Winner of the best article award of the special issue “Market-driven forces and public health.”

Abadía-Barrero, C. and Bugbee, M. Primary Health Care for Universal Health Coverage? Contributions for a Critical Anthropological Agenda, 2019. Medical Anthropology. Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, doi: 10.1080/01459740.2019.1620744.

Abadía-Barrero, C. and Ruíz-Sánchez, C. Enfrentando al Neoliberalismo en Colombia: Arte y Colaboración en un Hospital en Ruinas. [Confronting Neoliberalism in Colombia: Art and Collaboration in a Hospital in Ruins.] 2018. Etnográfica. 22(3): 575-603.

Abadía-Barrero, C. Kangaroo Mother Care in Colombia: A Subaltern Health Innovation against For-profit Biomedicine. 2018. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 32(3): 384-403. doi:10.1111/maq.12430. Top most read papers 2017-2018 in MAQ.

Willen, S. Knipper, M. Abadía-Barrero, C. and Davidovitch, N. Syndemic vulnerability and the right to health. 2017. The Lancet. 389: 964-977. doi.

Abadía-Barrero C. and Martínez A. Care and Consumption: A Latin American Social Medicine’s Conceptual Framework to Comprehend Oral Health Inequalities. 2017. Global Public Health. 12(10): 1228-1241. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2016.1171377

Abadía-Barrero, C. The Transformation of the Value of Life: Dispossession as Torture. 2015. Medical Anthropology. Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness. 34(5): 389-406. doi:10.1080/01459740.2015.1048859.

Abadía-Barrero, C. Neoliberal Justice and the Transformation of the Moral: The Privatization of the Right to Health Care in Colombia. 2015. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 30(1): 62-79. doi: 10.1111/maq.12161

Horton, S. Abadía-Barrero, C. Mulligan, J. and Thompson J. Critical Anthropology of Global Health ‘Takes a Stand’ Statement: A Critical Medical Anthropological Approach to the US’ Affordable Care Act. 2014. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 28(1): 1-22. doi: 10.1111maq.12065

Abadía-Barrero, C. and Oviedo, D. Bureaucratic Itineraries. A proposal for understanding Managed-Care Health Care System from the Colombian citizen’s perspectives. 2009. Social Science & Medicine. 68(6): 1153-1160.

Selected Book Chapters

Medicine: Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial? In A Companion to Medical Anthropology (Second Edition). Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781119718901

Giraldo-Gartner, V. and Abadía-Barrero, C. (2022) Medicinal plants: Healing the relationships between human and non-human in post-accord times. In Guerrieri and Gardeázabal-Bravo (Eds.) Human Rights in Colombian Literature and Cultural Production. Routledge Publishers. ISBN 9780367722807.

LaRusso, Maria and Abadía-Barrero, César. (2021) “These doctors don’t believe in PANS”: Confronting Uncertainty and a Collapsing Model of Medical Care. Chapter 9, pp. 197-216. In

Montesi, Laura and Calestani, Melania (Eds.) Managing Chronicity in Unequal States. Ethnographic perspectives on caring. University College of London Press, ISBN. 9781800080287.

Abadía-Barrero, C. and Ardila Sierra, A. 2019. The Right to Health under Capitalism: Threats, Confrontations and Possibilities. In R. Parker and J. García (Eds.) Routledge Handbook on the Politics of Global Health. Routledge, Abingdon, UK. pp. 24-32

Abadía-Barrero, C. Ruiz Sanchez, H. and Pinilla Alfonso M. 2018. Etnografía como acción política: articulación del compromiso antropológico a estrategias contra hegemónicas. [Etnography as political action: articulation of the anthropological commitment to counter-hegemonic strategies.] In R. Guber, C. Eckert, M. Jimeno, and E. Krotz, (Eds.) Trabajo de Campo en América Latina. Experiencias Antropológicas Regionales en Etnografía. [Fieldwork in Latin America. Regional anthropological experiences in ethnography.] Editorial SB, Buenos Aires, pp. 438-455.


  • Fulbright U.S. Scholar
  • Certificate for Outstanding Professional and Academic Trajectory. School of Dental Medicine, National University of Colombia.
  • Honorary Award. Fundación Alejandro Ángel Escobar. 2012 Science Award Competition. Social and Human Sciences Categories. For the book “I HAVE AIDS BUT I AM HAPPY” Children’s Subjectivities, AIDS, and Social Responses in Brazil.
  • International Research Essays Contest: “Cultura y Transformaciones Sociales” “Culture and Social Transformations.” First Prize. Essay: “AIDS and children in Brazil: Social responses that promote the maturity of human rights. [Spanish]” Program: Globalización, Cultura y Transformaciones Sociales, Centro de Investigaciones Postdoctorales (CIPOST) de la
  • Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Sociales (FaCES), Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV).
  • Rudolf Virchow Graduate Student Award of the Critical Anthropology of Health Caucus. American Anthropological Association: The Society for Medical Anthropology.
  • James H. Shaw Award. Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Excellence in Research.
  • “Julio Barrios” Award. For the best work presented in the thematic area of Social Responses. 1st Forum and 2nd Conference of Horizontal Technical Co-operation on HIV/AIDS and STDs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Cesar Abadia-Barrero
Contact Information
Office LocationBeach Hall (BCH) 436