Katherine Saunders-Hastings is Lecturer in Latin American Studies at the Institute of the Americas of the University College London, where she teaches and researches on urban and political anthropology.
Prior to joining the Institute in 2016, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University's Centre on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. She earned her doctorate in Socio-Legal Studies from the University of Oxford in 2015. She holds a BA in Anthropology and History from McGill University, an MPhil in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge, and has worked with the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (Montreal, Canada) and the Asociacion para el Avance de las Ciencias Sociales (Guatemala City, Guatemala). Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Clarendon Fund, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.
Saunders-Hastings's research interests encompass issues of violence, (in)security, illicit economies, citizenship, and governance in Latin American cities. As an anthropologist, she employs ethnographic methods based in long-term fieldwork to understand urban violence and criminal economies in poor and marginalized neighborhoods. Her recent work has focused particularly on the effects of changing patterns of gang violence in Central America on local life and governance practices. Saunders-Hastings's current book project examines the dynamic relationships between criminal groups, community residents, and the state in Guatemala City's gang-dominated barrios. She is also initiating a comparative ethnographic study of the structure of criminal economies, modes of gang governance, and novel forms of state intervention in Guatemalan barrios and Brazilian favelas.