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María Esther Álvarez de Hermitte (1921-1990), best known as Esther Hermitte, was a recognized social anthropologist from Argentina.


Hermitte studied at the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras within the University of Buenos Aires. She got a bachelor's degree of History and later she specialized in Social Anthropology. After that she won a scholarship given by the CONICET (National Scientific and Technical Research Council) which was, by that period, directed by the Nobel prize winner Bernardo Houssay.

Field workEdit

By 1958 Hermitte moved to the University of Chicago in the United States, where she assisted to the Social Systems courses. A year later she was sent to Mexico together with the linguistic R. Radhakrishnan and the aborigin interpreter Alberto Méndez Tobilla to do field work about the Mayan community of Pinola, Villa Las Rosas in the state of Chiapas. As a result of years of work in site and of her later analysis about "Social movility in a bicultural community in Chiapas" and "Sobrenatural power and social control", Hermitte got her degree of "Master of Arts" in 1965 and "Philosophical Doctor" in 1964.

The members of the doctoral committee of the University of Chicago Manning Nash, Lloyd Fallers and her mentors Pitt-Rivers and McQuown, recognized Hermitte's talent and she received as a reward the Roy D. Albert Prize for her master thesis and the Bobbs Merryl Award for her doctoral thesis.


  • Diario de campo, 2 vols. Inéd 1960-1.
  • Movilidad Social en una comunidad bicultural, Revista Latinoamericana de Sociología, Centro de Investanciones Sociales del Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, 1968.
  • Poder sobrenatural y control social: en un pueblo maya contemporáneo, Instituto Indigenista Interamericano, México, 1970.
  • El concepto de nahual en Pinola, México, en Ensayos antropológicos en los Altos de Chiapas. McQuown & Pitt-Rivers comps., Instituto Indigenista Interamericano, México, 1989.


Hermitte, M. Esther Poder sobrenatural y control social. Buenos Aires: Antropofagia, 2004