Barbara D’Ambruoso at Parque Colón in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Last summer, in the first ever collaboration between NYU CLACS, Yale PIER, and the Yale Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, CLACS helped organized the Colonial Latin America Summer Institute for educators. The Institute is a series of intensive professional development sessions that serves as a continuing educational training tool for in-service and pre-service educators. The objective of the Summer Institute is to present the best and the latest scholarship on international education to help educators introduce current perspectives on international topics and improve teaching materials for their students. The sessions are led by faculty, graduate students and other expert educators who provide an in-depth understanding of the latest research on teaching international content subjects in schools.
A new element of the 2011 Summer Institute was the production of “classroom-ready” teaching materials, which would be tested in one classroom and then disseminated widely online. By making the materials available on the CLACS website, they can be shared widely, and free of charge, with educators interested in bringing these topics into the classroom.
Mónica Moreno Figueroa launches the fall colloquium with her talk on, "Naming Ourselves: Recognising Racism and Mestizaje in Mexico." Photo: courtesy Juan Victor Fajardo
Each semester, CLACS hosts a research colloquium, featuring diverse themes related to Latin America. The colloquium series pairs graduate level courses with a speaker series, and is often a platform for scholars to share new research.
This fall, the CLACS Colloquium is titled “Contemporary Racisms in the Americas.” As stated on the CLACS website, “This colloquium will explore emergent racisms in the Americas as integral to the multicultural and what some have called “post racial” present defined within larger processes of economic and cultural globalization and transnational migration. It will also deepen the understanding of different theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of contemporary forms of racism as major obstacles to the construction of intercultural relations, racial and economic justice, and democracy.”
Pamella Calla, a Bolivian anthropologist and visiting Associate Professor at CLACS, is leading the series.
“I wanted to connect CLACS with a larger initiative – the formation of a network of racism observers in the hemisphere. And I wanted CLACS to be a model for academic thought and activism, where students would have the opportunity to become a part of the network, mixing advocacy and academia, and also deepen academic thought and scholarship,” Calla said.
Government propaganda in the subway system urging workers to work on the books.
My last couple weeks in Buenos Aires were a bit of a whirlwind as I continued my interviews and visits along with the archival research while preparing to leave.
One of the questions that started to come up in some of my final interviews was what exactly constituted slave labor and what agency was there to be attributed to immigrants working in sweatshops in the city. Was there a difference between labor exploitation and slave labor and did that matter? Did workers’ conditions improve according to their legal status? What was the role of the workers themselves in accepting these conditions? What were the workers’ interests/hopes when they entered these shops and were they being met?
Comic connecting textile work with slave labor and US slave history, El Clarin, April 2006.
The vice-consul at the Bolivian consulate, along with another former human rights Bolivian attorney with whom I spoke, touched on issues of agency by indicating there is a sort of “culture of sacrifice” among Bolivians that allows them to experience the difficulties facing them in Argentina not so much as injustice but rather as a necessary evil through which they have to pass in order to support their families-and that, in the end, several of them will be on the employer/exploiter. Though one could argue that this understanding of these immigrants and their predicaments gives agency it also seems to also be essentializing Bolivians, and “victim blaming” as well, and thus is problematic in its own way. Continue reading
During my last weeks in Buenos Aires, I visited the Fundación Espigas’s Document Center on the History of the Visual Arts in Argentina and got the chance to interview Delia Cancela, one of my favorite artists from the Centro de Artes Visuales of the Instituto Di Tella.
Argentina is unfortunately known for being rather negligent when it comes to building up and preserving archives. In that context, the work of Fundación Espigas is especially praiseworthy. Created in 1993, it has undertaken to gather and protect all Argentine art-related documents at home and abroad. Their archive has been very helpful for my research on Argentine artists who emigrated to France in the late sixties/early seventies. I visited Espigas’s offices in Recoleta and spent days looking for information and all sorts of documents related to Alfredo Arias, Delia Cancela, Roberto Plate, Juan Stoppani, and David Lamelas. Old interviews or articles published in magazines and newspapers, invitations to openings in Buenos Aires, Paris or New York -a whole range of materials unlikely to be found at any other place than Fundación Espigas.
I met with Delia Cancela at her beautiful house in the neighborhood of Colegiales. As soon as we started talking, even during a very casual, informal conversation, I felt the need to record Delia’s opinions, stories, and reflections. She said she’s fascinated by people of letters because she’s never been “good with words” herself. I turn the pages of a heavy book containing her wonderful artpieces and note how many of them include names, quotes, and all kinds of phrases. I wish I was that good with words, I think, and listen. She has a lot to tell. She’s been one of the “pop stars” from the Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires. In the late sixties, along with her long-time partner Pablo Mesejean, she moved to London, where their art creations (some of them in the form of clothes) attracted the attention of the Fashion popes of the moment. A few months into their stay in the city they were contributing regularly for Vogue and by the mid-seventies Pablo and Delia had become a cult Fashion house both in London and in Paris.