I initiated “Fair Trade Tobacco” in summer 2011. I am an Assistant Professor of Political Ecology, Anthropology Department, University of Colorado, Denver. My research and advocacy focus on digital stories featuring viral hepatitis and other health issues, and on immigrant experiences in the Rocky Mountain region in Colorado. Also, I study tobacco industry strategies to undermine natural environments, health policies and human rights as well as the health and socio-ecological costs of tobacco growing in developing countries. I co-authored “Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production? Tobacco Companies Use of Green Supply Chains to Obscure the Real Costs of Tobacco Farming,” Tobacco Control (2011) and “Tobacco Companies’ Use of Developing Countries’ Economic Reliance on Tobacco to Lobby Against Global Tobacco Control: The Case of Malawi” in American Journal of Public Health (2009).
“Ethical Consumption and Academic Production” (2011) column for the Environment Section, Anthropology News, April, pdf
“Malawi: Tobacco Versus Development” (2010) co-authored with Laura Graen, Bulletin of the Framework Convention Alliance [the Alliance comprises 350 organizations from more than 100 countries working on the development, ratification and implementation of the international treaty, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control]
Otañez M (2010) “The Tobacco Trap: Tobacco Companies Influence Tobacco Farm Worker Trade Unionism in Malawi,” Durrenberger P, Reichart K, eds., The Anthropology of Unions, Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 189-210
Otañez M, Glantz G (2009) “Trafficking in Tobacco Farm Culture: Tobacco Companies Use of Video Imagery to Undermine Health Policy,” Visual Anthropology Review, 24 (1) Visual Anthropology Association, 1-24, pdf
Otañez M (2009) “Perspectives: Views on Trying to Change the Tobacco Industry, Tobacco Control Workers Organizing to Win Against Tobacco Companies,” Tobacco Control, 18, 339-340, pdf
Geist H, Kapito J, Otañez M (2008) “The Tobacco Industry in Malawi: A Globalized Driver of Local Land Change,” Jepson W, Millington A, eds., Land Change Modifications in the Developing World, Springer: Berlin, Germany, 251-268, pdf
Otañez M, Glantz G, Mamudu H (2007) “Global Leaf Companies Control the Tobacco Market in Malawi,” Tobacco Control, 16: 261-269, pdf
Otañez M (2007) “The Smoking Wallet: An Anthropologist Meets Transnational Tobacco Corporations in Malawi,” Truitt A, Senders S, eds., Encounters with Money in the Field, Berg Publishers: Oxford, United Kingdom, 69-81, pdf
Otañez M, Muggli M, Hurt R, Glantz G (2006) “Eliminating Child Labour in Malawi: A British American Tobacco Corporate Responsibility Project to Sidestep Tobacco Labor Exploitation,” Tobacco Control. 15: 224-230, pdf
Otañez M (2003) “Economic Dependence and Democratization: The Case of the Tobacco Industry,” Immink B, Lembani S, Ott M, Peters-Berries C, eds., From Freedom to Empowerment: Ten Years of Democratization in Malawi, Lilongwe, Malawi: Forum for Dialogue and Peace, 120-129, pdf
To reach broader audiences with my research and advocacy, I create digital stories and social documentaries. I produced the videos “Up in Smoke” (2003) about tobacco farmers and global tobacco companies in Malawi that aired on BBC TV in fall 2003, “Thangata: Social Bondage and Big Tobacco in Malawi,” and “120,000 Lives” (2005) co-produced with Stanton Glantz about smoking in youth rated movies. I received funding for ethnographic work pertaining to Malawi and other video-based research projects from the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute at the University of Colorado, Denver; the Washington, D.C.-based International Labor Rights Forum; the Rockefeller Foundation; and University College of London Center for International Health and Development. In April 2010, American Anthropologist, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Anthropological Association, published a complimentary review of my visual work and blog www.sidewalkradio.net. Also, I direct the University of Colorado initiative called the Coalition for Excellence in Digital Storytelling established in fall 2010.
Other Educational Media Projects
What is it like to be a pregnant woman farming tobacco in Kenya (2011) first in a series of short videos about child labor and inequality among women and girls on tobacco farms in Kenya, co-produced with Mary Okioma, executive director of Justice for Women in Africa
Breaking the Barriers (2011) about nursing students and California’s nursing shortage, funded by Fresno State University and the San Joaquin Valley Nursing Education Consortium
ICE Experience (2010) about Edgar Niebla from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, who was detained for 35 hours by immigration authorities in April 2010 and released after pressure from advocates
Umodzi (“Together”) (2009) co-produced with Mikey Rosato; video about women’s groups and women and child maternal mortality in Malawi, funded by University of College London
Yellowcake Rising: Health and Socio-Ecological Costs of Uranium Mining in Africa (2009)
Nellore: Transgender Power in India (2009) co-produced with Jordan Reck
Men in Nursing (2009) co-produced with Bob Patterson, funded by the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care
Seventeen (2009) A health policy film on tobacco industry strategies for undermining the lives of tobacco farmers in developing countries. A multimedia presentation to inform health advocates, environmental groups, and members of the general public of the policy process associated with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
I have been retained as an expert media contact for UK-based Plan International, a child-centered community development organization, and as a consultant for media reports produced by BBC-World, and Swiss Television Kassensturz. I have been interviewed about my anthropological work on child labor for media reports by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, France-based “terra eco,” and Germanbased “Zeitenspiegel.” In 2010, I was an invited speaker at “Accelerating Action Against Child Labor: A Roundtable Policy Dialogue on the International Labor Organization’s 2010 Global Report on Child Labor” in Washington, D.C.; “De-Metaphorizing ‘Complex Ecologies’: Justice, Knowledge and Place” panel at the American Educational Research Association conference in Denver; and “Trade, Health and Social Justice” panel at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Denver. I was invited as an expert adviser to the World Health Organization Study Group on Economically Sustainable Alternatives to Tobacco Growing, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Mexico City in 2008.