Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology

Mailing Address
Department of Anthropology
Campus Box 103
PO Box 173364 
Denver, CO 80217-3364

Physical Location
Auraria Campus
North Classroom
Suite 4002M

 

Office Hours (Spring 2018)
Monday 1230-130pm, and by appointment

Marty Otañez is a California-born cultural anthropologist and filmmaker. He is an Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department, University of Colorado Denver. His research and creative work focus on digital storytelling to increase health equities, cannabis workers and strategies workers' deploy to stay healthy, and corporate accountability and tobacco industry exploitative practices at the farm-level in Malawi and other tobacco growing developing countries.

Through funds from CU Denver's Office of Research Services, Otañez studies cannabis cultures in Colorado and how individuals in grow houses, extraction facilities, retail shops, testing labs and dispensaries are staying healthy and avoiding job injuries. Marty is a co-investigator on ‘Marijuana Access at Point-of-Sale: Legalization, Attitudes and Behavior (MAP: LAB),’ Principal Investigator Thomas R. Kirchner, PhD and Clinical Associate Professor of Public Health, Medicine, and Urban Science, New York University College of Global Public Health, R01 funds from NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse.  

In summer 2015, Marty organized and moderated the panel called ‘Legitimacy and Uncertainty: A Fireside Chat about Colorado's Pot Industry’ at the Denver-based Colorado Photographic Arts Center. He completed the five-day Marijuana Trimming Training Program in Green Mountain Harvest in Colorado in June 2015. In addition, Marty completed course requirements for the Cannabis Cultivation Certification Program at Denver-based Clover Leaf University (CLU) as part of his emerging cannabis culture visual research project. CLU is the nation’s only Cannabis University that is approved, regulated, and licensed by the Colorado Department of Education’s Private Occupational School Board. He is a member of the advisory board of Clover Leaf University, and a board member with the Denver-based CORE. He teaches the course ‘Cannabis Culture’ in the Anthropology Department at CU Denver.

In spring 2017, Marty was a contributing writer to the "Guide to Worker Health and Safety in the Marijuana Industry," Marijuana Occupational Health and Safety Group, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. One of his current studies that examines links between 360-degree video and learning outcomes in university courses is “Creating a Culture of Safety Using Digital Stories,” with funds from CU Denver's Center for Faculty Development Teaching Enhancement Grant. The January 2017 issue of THC (The Hemp Connoisseur) Magazine featured his work in the article 'An Interview with Marty Otañez, PhD: A Creative Researcher and Videographer Studying the Effects of the Cannabis Industry in Colorado.'  Marty is the producer of a cannabis-focused community television program on Comcast Cable Channel 57 through Denver Open Media called Getting High on Anthropology: A Story-Based Approach to Cannabis Research, Education and Funding.   

At the global level, Otañez examines tobacco industry practices that undermine livelihoods at the farm level in Argentina, Malawi and other tobacco growing developing countries. Otañez is working on an exploratory study of labor trafficking in Malawi’s tobacco growing sector and complicity of global cigarette manufacturers and leaf buying companies. He is a board member and treasurer of the Human Rights and Tobacco Control Network and a member of the Framework Convention Alliance Task Force on Articles 17 and 18 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.  

Otañez has authored and co-authored publications addressing tobacco industry irresponsible farm-level behavior which have included: “Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production? Tobacco Companies Use of Green Supply Chains to Obscure the Real Costs of Tobacco Farming,” Tobacco Control (2011) and, in collaboration with Laura Graen, “‘Gentlemen, Why Not Suppress the Prices’: Global Leaf Companies Harm Rural Livelihoods in Malawi” in The Global Tobacco Leaf Marketing Chain, International Development Research Center, Canada (2014). To reach broader audiences Otañez produced videos including "Up in Smoke" (2003) about tobacco farmers and tobacco companies in Malawi that aired on BBC TV in fall 2003, and "120,000 Lives" (2005) co-produced with Stanton Glantz (University of California, San Francisco) about smoking in youth-rated movies. His current video project addresses tobacco industry efforts to use ‘supply and demand’ rhetoric to conceal leaf price manipulation in tobacco growing developing countries. In 2013-15, Otañez was a consultant on the study called “From production to retailing: Policy-oriented research on the tobacco economy in Argentina’ funded through a grant from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center. He received funding for visual-based ethnographic work pertaining to Malawi and other tobacco growing developing countries from the Washington, D.C.-based International Labor Rights Forum; the Rockefeller Foundation, and the University of Colorado Denver Center for Faculty Development.  

Otañez’s research and advocacy extends to digital storytelling. Digital stories are three-minute autobiographical videos with photographs, narration and background music. In 2009-17, he conducted fifteen digital storytelling workshops with over 70 community members and administered university courses with digital storytelling assignments, creating over 375 digital stories. Workshop themes covered tobacco use, cancer survivorship, drug diversion, youth leadership, cannabis cultures, and viral hepatitis among Latinos and other disenfranchised communities. The purpose of Otañez’s digital storytelling research is to determine the ways people make sense of wellness issues and how digital stories can influence behavioral change, community development and public policy. Otañez received funds for his image-based research from the University of Colorado at Denver Latina/o Research and Policy Center; the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute; and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). In 2015, CDPHE provided grant funding for his project 'Drug diversion, disease transmission and digital storytelling.' In spring 2013, the Ford Foundation awarded Marty as a co-principle investigator and a team of other professors and community members a grant for the project “Social Media for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Access, and Justice.” In spring 2016 he completed the visual project about diversity in nursing in Colorado. Sample publications include ‘Digital storytelling: Using videos to increase social wellness,’ in J Cohen and L Johnson, eds., Video Filmmaking as Psychotherapy: Research and Practice, Routledge: New York; and ‘Digital storytelling and the viral hepatitis project,’ A Gubrium, K Harper and M Otañez, eds., Participatory Visual and Digital Research in Action, Left Coast Press: California [2015; see the book's companion BLOG crafted by Marty.   

Otañez received his PhD in Anthropology from University of California Irvine in 2004, and master's degrees from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (Political Science) and the Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands (Employment and Labor Studies). Otañez has a passion for riding bicycles, hiking in urban areas and making sandcastles on beaches in Northern California with two sons (ages 10 and 13).

Postdoctoral Training Fellowship, University of Colorado Denver Education, Training and Career Development Core of the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, Subject: Digital Storytelling and Health Equity in Colorado, 2008-2010

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, Subject: Health Policy and Global Tobacco Control, 2006-2008

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco, Subject: Health Policy and Global Tobacco Control, 2004-2006

Ph.D. Anthropology Department, University of California, Irvine, Subject: Cultural Anthropology, Dissertation: "Thank You for Smoking': Corporate Power and Tobacco Worker Struggles in Malawi, 1996-2004

M.A. Institute of Social Studies, Netherlands, Subject: Employment and Labor Studies, Thesis: 'Labor and Democratization in Malawi,' 1994-1995

M.S. Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Subject: Political Science; Thesis: 'The Political Economy of State Creation in Nigeria, 1992-1993

B.S. College of Business, San Francisco State University, California, Subject: Business Administration, 1987-1989

Otañez M, “Digital storytelling: Using first-person videos about food in research and advocacy,” John Brett and Janet Chrzan, eds., Research Methods for the Anthropological Study of Food and Nutrition, Berghahn, 2017

Otañez M and Walsh J, ' Digital Storytelling and Organic Theater: Pedagogies in 21st Century Learning,' Arianne Rourke and Vaughan Rees, eds. Transformative Pedagogies in the Visual Domain, Common Ground Publishing [in press]

Gubrium A, Harper K, Otañez M, eds., Participatory visual and digital research in Action, Left Coast Press: California (Book website) 2015 Otañez M, Lakota W, ‘Digital storytelling: Using videos to increase social wellness,’ in J Cohen and L Johnson, eds., Video filmmaking as psychotherapy: Research and practice, Routledge: New York, 2015

Otañez M, Guerrero A, ‘Digital storytelling and the viral hepatitis project,’ A Gubrium, K Harper and M Otañez, eds., Participatory visual and digital research in Action, Left Coast Press: California, 2015

Otañez M, Graen L, “‘Gentlemen, Why Not Suppress the Prices’: Global Leaf Companies Harm Rural Livelihoods in Malawi,” Wardie Lappan, Natacha Lecours, Daniel Buckles, eds., Tobacco Control and Tobacco Farming: Separating Myth from Reality, Anthem Press and International Development Research Centre: London and Ottowa, 2014

Otañez M, Glantz G, “Social Responsibility in Tobacco Production? Tobacco Companies Use of Green Supply Chains to Obscure the Real Costs of Tobacco Farming,” Tobacco Control (Epub ahead of print, 19 April), 2011

Otañez M, Glantz G, “Trafficking in Tobacco Farm Culture: Tobacco Companies Use of Video Imagery to Undermine Health Policy,” Visual Anthropology Review, 24 (1): 1-24, 2009

Otañez M, Glantz G, Mamudu H, “Tobacco Companies Use of Developing Countries’ Economic Reliance on Tobacco to Lobby Against Global Tobacco Control: The Case of Malawi,” American Journal of Public Health, 99 (10): 1759-71, 2009

Otañez M, Glantz G, Mamudu H, “Global Leaf Companies Control the Tobacco Market in Malawi,” Tobacco Control, 16: 261-9, 2007

Otañez M, Muggli M, Hurt R, Glantz G, “Eliminating Child Labour in Malawi: A British American Tobacco Corporate Responsibility Project to Sidestep Tobacco Labor Exploitation,” Tobacco Control. 15: 224-30, 2006

Qualitative Research Design and Methods

Foundations in Social and Cultural Anthropology

Exploring Culture Through Social Media

Cannabis Culture

Cultural Diversity in the Modern World

Culture and the Human Experience

Current Theory in Ethnography

Globalization, Migration and Transnationalism

Medical Anthropology

Political Ecology of Health

Exploring Culture Through Social Media

Anthropology and Community Based Participatory Research

Anthropology of Work