Portraitfoto Mafe Olarte Sierra

Dr. María Fernanda Olarte-Sierra, MA

Research Associate (PostDoc) / Lecturer
Member of Research Group Health Matters

Contact Details

Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
NIG, 4th floor
Universitätsstraße 7
1010 Vienna

T: +43-1-4277-49523
E-Mail: mafe.olarte-sierra@univie.ac.at

Office Hours

Individual appointments via e-mail to



Current courses: u:find

Past Courses: u:find

Research Focus Areas

  • Medical anthropology
  • Anthropology of Science
  • Anthropology of the body
  • Care practices
  • Knowledge practices

Short Biography

María Fernanda Olarte-Sierra (Mafe) is a medical anthropologist and an anthropologist of science with a focus on ethnographic research. She addresses interactions of health, technology, and the body in highly biomedicalized and techno-logical contexts, including forensic victim identification in armed conflicts, prenatal testing, congenital cardiac diseases, and childhood cancer in Latin America.

She recently finished a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the University of Amsterdam with a project that addresses the role of judicial and humanitarian forensic knowledge in co-producing collective accounts of violence in Colombia. Currently, she is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Vienna, in the Institute for Cultural and Social Anthropology in the group of Medical Anthropology and Global Health, where she will work on the search of forcibly disappeared persons as practices of collective care and sites of reconciliation in war-ridden contexts in Latin America.

Selected Publications

  • Olarte-Sierra M.F. (Un)Doing the Colombian armed conflict: forensic knowledge, contradicting bodies, unsettling stories. Social Anthropology (Forthcoming. August 2022).
  • Olarte-Sierra M.F. and J.E. Castro Bermúdez (2021). De guerrilleros a víctimas; de héroes a perpetradores: movimientos y relaciones del conflicto armado colombiano y la práctica de identificación forense en el caso de los Falsos Positivos [From guerrilla members to victims; From Heroes to Perpetrators: Movements and Relationships of the Colombian Armed Conflict and the Practice of Forensic Identification inthe case of False Positives]. Papeles del CEIC 2: 1-17
  • Olarte-Sierra M.F. and T. Pérez Bustos (2020) Careful speculations: Toward a caring science of forensic genetics in Colombia. Feminist Studies 46 (1): 158-77.
  • Olarte-Sierra M.F. (2019) Of flesh and bone: Emotional and affective ethnography of forensic anthropology practices amidst an armed conflict. Tapuya 2 (1): 77-93
  • Olarte-Sierra M.F. and J.E. Castro Bermúdez (2019). Notas forenses: Conocimiento que materializa a los cuerpos del enemigo en fosas paramilitares y falsos positivos [Forensic notes: Knowledge that materializes the enemy's bodies in paramilitary graves and false positives]. Revista Antípoda de Antropología y Arqueología 34: 119-140
Contributions to academic blogs