María Lis Baiocchi

  • Research Associate

María Lis Baiocchi is a sociocultural anthropologist and interdisciplinary scholar whose research interests and areas of expertise include gender, labor, citizenship, and migration, with a geographic focus on Latin America and Argentina in particular. In 2019, she earned her PhD in Anthropology with a specialization in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she also completed graduate-level training in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies; Cultural Studies; Latin American Studies; and Global Studies. She is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as a member of the Study Group on Migrations, Politics, and Resistances (MiPRes) of the Gino Germani Research Institute (IIGG) of the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSOC) of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and of the Study Nucleus on Intimacies, Politics, and Society (NESIPS) of the Interdisciplinary School of High Social Studies (EIDAES) of the National University of San Martín (UNSAM). She is also affiliated with several academic networks, including the Network of Research on Household Work in Latin America (RITHAL), the Research Network for Domestic Workers’ Rights (RN-DWR), the Anthropologist Action Network for Immigrants and Refugees (AANIR), the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) Commission on Global Feminisms and Queer Politics, and the Network of Argentine Scientists in the Northeast of the United States (Raíces NE-USA). In addition, she is an appointed executive board member of the Association for Feminist Anthropology Section (AFA) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and in that capacity she serves as a Contributing Editor for AFA’s column in the AAA-member magazine, Anthropology News. She has presented her research at national and international academic conferences, such as the IUAES Congress, the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Annual Congress, the AAA Annual Meeting, the Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association, the Mercosur Anthropology Meeting (RAM), the Latin American Social and Public Policy Conference, and the biennial conference, Dialogues at the IIGG. She has published articles in venues such as Exertions, the short-form web publication of the Society for the Anthropology of Work; the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology’s Speaking Justice to Power Series; and the Society for Economic Anthropology’s column in Anthropology News. Her work has been supported by the Inter-American Foundation, the LASA, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation), and has been recognized by the AFA.     

Degrees and Education

PhD – Anthropology – University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (2019)
MA – Sociology and Social Anthropology – Central European University, Budapest, Hungary (2008)
BA – Human Ecology – College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, ME (2007)

Research Description

Dr Baiocchi’s most recent research project, which culminated in her doctoral dissertation entitled A Law of One’s Own: Newfound Labor Rights, Household Workers’ Agency, and Activist Praxis in Buenos Aires, Argentina, examines the impacts on the ground of National Law 26844, a landmark legislation promulgated in 2013 that reclassified the legal status of household workers in Argentina, from “servants,” with almost nonexistent labor rights, to “workers,” with full labor rights under the law. Her work looks at how these significant changes in labor law and policy translate into the daily lives of household workers and the lives of the activists who advocate on these workers’ behalf. Her analysis is based on over two years of ethnographic research in the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, which included participant-observation at all the major governmental and non-governmental institutions that advance household workers’ rights in Buenos Aires and in-depth, semi-structured interviews with household workers, household workers’ rights activists, government officials, and household workers’ union representatives and other personnel. She draws from an array of analytic perspectives, including feminist and gender theory, political economy, subaltern studies, and linguistic and legal anthropology to examine how workers and activists seek, claim, and access labor rights and thus manage the transition from primarily customary to increasingly contractual modes of regulating paid household work in Argentina. She explores how workers and activists navigate the challenges inherent in the equalization of labor rights in a context of entrenched, intersectional, structural inequalities. She also looks at how workers and activists navigate the contradictions inherent in the recognition of public rights in the private setting of the household. 

Dr Baiocchi’s dissertation argues that the challenges activists face in promoting equal rights for household workers and the trials workers endure in becoming subjects with rights reveal difficulties inherent in the partial reconfiguration of the gendered public/private divide, given that this divide has been foundational in structuring systems of law and policy. She shows how the experiences of activists and workers highlight the inequalities that have historically depoliticized and feminized the private sphere in contrast to the androcentric public sphere of employment and politics. The experiences of activists and workers point to the foundational limits in the structure of a state that remains gendered, classed, and racialized in particular ways, which continue to be prevalent and require activists and workers to work around them in advancing and accessing full labor rights in everyday life. This entails using inventive modes for advancing and accessing these rights. These inventive modes promote and enable workers’ agency without disrupting the intersectional symbolic hierarchies extant between workers and their employers and thus without posing a threat to workers’ livelihoods and lives. In this way, Dr Baiocchi’s work goes beyond the Argentine case study to contribute to current scholarly and policy debates on feminized labor migration, on the regulation of intimate labors, on the gendered dimension of modern citizenship and its implications, and on work and resistance in the contemporary world.



2021. “The Essential Activism of Migrant Women Household Workers’ Rights Advocates.” Essential Labor Forum, Exertions, Society for the Anthropology of Work website, December 6, 2021. DOI: 10.21428/1d6be30e.7c3d1356. 

2021. “El activismo esencial de las defensoras de los derechos de las trabajadoras de casas particulares migrantes”. Essential Labor Forum, Exertions, Society for the Anthropology of Work website, December 5, 2021. (Spanish translation of the aforementioned article). 

2020. “Editorial Introduction: APLA’s Speaking Justice to Power Series: On the Gender and Sexual Politics of Contemporary Patriarchal Ethnonationalist Authoritarianism.” Association for Political and Legal Anthropology website, September 15, 2020.

2020. A Law of One’s Own: Newfound Labor Rights, Household Workers’ Agency, and Activist Praxis in Buenos Aires, Argentina. PhD Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

2019. “Household Workers’ Struggle for Equal Rights.” Anthropology News website, October 30, 2019. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1293.  

2019. “Work Forces Workshop: The City of Pittsburgh as Pedagogical Tool.” Constellations blog of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh, September 3, 2019.

2018. Book Review: Gender, Migration, and the Work of Care: A Multi-Scalar Approach to the Pacific Rim, edited by Sonya Michel and Ito Peng. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, 316 pp., $159.99 (cloth); $119 (e-book). Gender & Society, 33 (1): 150-152. DOI: 10.1177/0891243218786679.