Adela Zhang is broadly interested in the processes of decentralization, public service provision, and contract negotiation that attend to and accompany foreign-led extraction in the Andes. Her research focuses on the state-firm relations emergent in social conflicts involving communities affected by extractive activity in Peru. Currently, Zhang co-organizes the Latin America Working Group, an interdisciplinary graduate workshop addressing critical theory emerging from Latin America; it is co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Stanford. Zhang received her BA in economics (with honors) and Latin American Studies (with honors) from the University of Chicago in 2017.
Various government agencies have posited large-scale resource extraction as key to poverty alleviation in Peru’s provinces, particularly the Andes and the Amazons. Adela Zhang’s project proposes an ethnographic study of how development initiatives negotiated through Peru's institutional dialogue process are formulated by government officials and experienced by the rural poor living in resource-rich regions. By taking a two-sided approach that focuses on observing the work of bureaucrats responsible for citizen welfare and national development and conducting interviews in communities deemed "in need” of development, this research examines the lived effects of extraction-based development in Peru.