Festivities in La Mixteca


The kitchen of the mayordomo in San Juan Mixtepec. It stood alongside the shrine and the pavilion and fed over 2,000 people in one day.

Taku, hola, and hello from Oaxaca!

I just finished my fifth week of Mixtec instruction in Oaxaca City and thus far the experience has been nothing but amazing. Oaxaca City itself is a thriving urban landscape with a culturally diverse and politically charged environment. It is also surrounded by a myriad of smaller pueblos with distinct cultural and ethnic identities. Fortunately, my language program has provided me an opportunity to familiarize myself with many of these surrounding areas. San Diego State University’s Summer Mixtec Program has made it a principal objective to demonstrate that Mixtec identity goes beyond the confines of linguistic pedagogy. This cultural emphasis became apparent during our introductory excursion into the mountains of Oaxaca.

In order to accentuate the richness of Mixtec culture, the program took a slightly unorthodox approach by immersing the cohort directly into a community from the first day of instruction. In this manner, we were able to witness and experience one of the most important festivals in the region: the festival of San Juan Buatista, celebrated in the pueblo of San Juan Mixtepec. With the guidance of Professor Marcos Abraham Cruz Bautista, three doctoral students and I ventured off into the northern highland area of Oaxaca called La Mixteca. The trip took more than four hours of straight driving through the windy roads of the rural sierra, but it was ultimately worth the struggle.

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Michoacán: Autodefensas, Narcoterrorism and a Militarized State

Federal Police Agents Patrolling the road to Uruapan

Eight years since the start of President Felipe Calderon’s drug war, murder, extortion, kidnappings and insecurity have increased exponentially in the state of Michoacán, with various cartels including La Familia/Los Caballeros Templarios, Los Zetas, and Nuevo Jalisco, using narcoterrorism to try to maintain control of the region and combat efforts by the government to eradicate organized crime.Last year Michoacán had the third highest murder rate in the country according to statistics recently released by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). Continue reading

Becoming a Paulista… for now

A memorial to the trailblazers of Brazil in the Parque Ibirapuera in São Paulo.  For an excellent analysis of this sculpture and the bandeirantes more generally, look forward to Barbara Weinstein's forthcoming work, the Color of Modernity.

A memorial to the trailblazers of Brazil in the Parque Ibirapuera in São Paulo. For an excellent analysis of this sculpture and the bandeirantes more generally, look forward to Barbara Weinstein’s forthcoming work, the Color of Modernity.

I’ve been in São Paulo for only about a week, but it’s been enough time to get a feel for a Brazilian city that is much more like New York or Los Angeles than it is to anything I’ve experienced until now.  Until this research trip—in which I am not only delineating my thesis but also researching various archives at the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) and across the city—my entire perspective of Brazil was that of the nordeste and the Amazon, indeed the poorest regions of the country.  Now I’m in the land of skyscrapers, more intense social segregation, and chic hamburger joints like one in which everything on the menu is named after a Tarantino character or movie.

My project, which deals with the foundational period of the social sciences in Brazil (roughly 1930-1960) lies at a critical moment for understanding the tensions between nationalism and internationalism that colored the ways in which elite Brazilians—and Paulistas in particular—imagined themselves and the broader national polity.  Continue reading

The National Seminar on Copyright in the Carnival Industry

Unfortunately I was not allowed to take photos inside the seminar room, but here is a photo of the programme

Unfortunately I was not allowed to take photos inside the seminar room, but here is a photo of the programme

Yesterday I attended the National Seminar on Copyright in the Carnival Industry in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Honestly I didn’t know what to expect considering that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has not made any headway in negotiations with the World Intellectual Property Organization to recognize the terminology works of mas, which encompasses carnival arts, performances and song, as Traditional Cultural Expressions. However, yesterday’s seminar not only demonstrated how important the protection of works of mas is to Trinidadians, regardless of the lack of international support, but also conveying the ritualization of bureaucracy.
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Are Peace Treaties Enough?


This summer, I have embarked on a journey of archival research. Looking at peace agreements from the last 20 years, I have read the endless processes of peace and transition. Aside from guarantees for equal participation, freedom expression, and a process of “truth seeking,” peace agreements suffer from what I have categorized  as the “paper syndrome.” The “paper syndrome” is a phenomenon which I characterized as the following: The vision  of a Peace Treaty failing to accomplish its vision, since once it is put on paper, it does not translate into immediate action. Rather, it becomes faded as soon as  its recommendations are put into practice. Governments and Commissions prepare endless amounts of reports with hundreds of recommendations of possibilities and resolutions to which few take effect. The endless agreements for participatory politics and the reign of human rights within the country become once again forgotten when power is obtained. I will say that in over the ten peace agreements I have read, the proposal for policies account for about 130 pages at their largest; yet, the results account for about 5% of these policies being adopted.

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Imminent Displacement: the Shipibo in Lima


About 1000 Shipibos live in Cantagallo, a shanty-town in the Rimac district of Lima, Peru.  The Shipibo-Conibo are an indigenous group that live near the Ucayali river in the Amazon region of Peru. They make up about 10-15% of Cantagallo, the rest being populations that migrated from other areas in Peru, particularly the Andean regions.  Although Cantagallo began being populated in the 1970s, the Shipibos began arriving there in the year 2000.

I started my first week of living with a family in Cantagallo on June 14.  I arrived close to 5:00 and tecnocumbia music was already blaring.  A male voice announced father’s day celebrations on a loudspeaker that the whole community could hear.  He spoke in Shipibo, with only a few words of Spanish seeping through.

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Multiple Forms of Remembering the AMIA

Escobar - Argentina - AMIA

On July 18th, 1994, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) was struck by a van loaded with explosives, resulting in 85 casualties and over 300 injuries. July 18th marks the 20th anniversary of this attack, a date made all the more resonant due to the fact that no one has ever been convicted for the crime.

This date was planted firmly in my mind when I planned my research trip. I knew I wanted to be in Buenos Aires to attend the commemoration, but I had not anticipated that multiple remembrances that would take place. This change of events serves to reiterate what CLACS has informed us throughout the planning process for our research trips; things change once you’re on the ground. Continue reading