Category Archives: Recent Research

Palestinians in Honduras: From a Thriving Socio-Economic Trajectory to a Potential Rejection

Posted by Gina Kawas, MA Candidate at CLACS – Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

In June I carried out an ethnographic investigation in Honduras aimed at studying the social and economic effects Palestinian migration has had in the country. Landing in Tegucigalpa is always an interesting experience: having one of the most dangerous airports in the world, the passengers’ excitement after safely landing is manifested through clapping and wooing. But this arrival was different to others I have experienced. The environment was charged with disenchantment and anger towards the corrupt political and business elite that currently rules the country.

Situated in the midst of corruption scandals that have recently erupted across the region, discussions of a Central American Spring have flooded both local and international media. But for the first time in Honduras after the 2009 coup d’état, all sectors of society have united towards fighting against this never-ending problem. Corruption has been one of the main causes for the high levels of inequality, poverty and slow growth that Latin American nations have experienced since independence.

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What You Grow Is What You Are

Post by Camila Osorio- MA Candidate at CLACS/Global Journalism at NYU

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For the past month and a half I have been conducting research in Colombia on land displacement. Colombia is considered the country with the highest number of internal refugees after Syria: around six million people. Many of these are peasants, indigenous or afrocolombians in rural communities who now live in poverty in the outskirts of small or big cities around the country. And many are claiming their land back after the Colombian Government approved a law to restitute land to all of those who were forcibly displaced since 1991. The Government also agreed to an agrarian reform in La Habana if a peace treaty is signed with the FARC guerrillas.

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Modern and Stateless: A Case Study of the International, Racialized Modernity of the Peruvian Nikkei

Posted by Amy Obermeyer, doctoral student in Comparative Literature at NYU

The history of Japanese immigration to, and their descendants in, Peru is a vexed story that seem more at home in a spy novel of “international intrigue” than in the pages of academic scholarship. It begins in the late-nineteenth century on a stranded ship with a “cargo” of Chinese indentured workers bound for the now-illicit Peruvian “coolie” trade, becomes entangled with extraordinary rendition during World War II, and rises to international attention at the end of the twentieth century, with the ascent of an infamous dictator who, during campaign appearances, was photographed in turn carrying samurai swords and dressed in “traditional” Incan apparel. While such incidents may appear as merely interesting or perhaps salacious episodes in the continuously-developing process of global capitalism, they are not singular. Rather than being an exceptional case, the trajectory of Peruvian-Japanese relations underscores the systemic paradoxes at the heart of liberalism and modernity, paradoxes that cannot fully be accounted for within a traditional area studies framework, which typically separates Japanese imperialism from the historically subaltern position of Japanese Latin Americans. These paradoxes have remained partially-hidden specifically in the Peruvian Nikkei context by way of a conjuncture of state interventions and academic limitations. Yet to elide the multifocal world-historical context of these events is not only to subtly reify the dispossession and physical erasure of scores of individuals at the conjuncture of three sovereign states, but also to miss potential insights into the rationale of modernity in the global context. Seiichi Higashide’s 2000 testimonio, Adios to Tears, however, provides a means of positioning such paradoxes within the multiple and sometimes competing histories, while reinscribing subjectivity in a world-systems context.

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Communal Workdays in the Andes

Posted by Dusty Christensen – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

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Kichwa men in the village of Turuku digging a ditch for a water pipe as part of a communal work day known as a minga. (Photo by Dusty Christensen)

Early in the morning, before the daily summer winds start to howl, the music comes blaring out of the church loudspeaker. The guitars, charangos and flutes carry across the village of Turuku, waking everyone who wasn’t already out in the fields. Though the announcement won’t come for another hour, everyone knows what the wake-up call is for — today is a communal work day.

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Alberto Anrango, the president of the indigenous village of Turuku, announcing the minga over the village loudspeakers. (Photo by Dusty Christensen)

At 7 o’clock — an hour after the music has started — community President Alberto Anrango pics up the mic and begins his impromptu speech. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he begins in Kichwa, his voice crackling over the old speakers mounted on top of the chapel roof. “Don’t forget that today is the minga.” He urges everyone to bring pickaxes and shovels, and warns that those skipping today will be fined by the village government.

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Ethnography and Ecology in the Cordillera Blanca

Posted by Tony Wood, graduate student in Latin American History at NYU

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View of the Cordillera Blanca from the Casa de Pocha, Carhuaz, Peru.

From 9th to 13th July I took part in an ethnographic field methods workshop in Carhuaz, a small town high in the Peruvian Andes, around 280 miles north of Lima. The town itself nestles between two mountain ranges – to the west the rugged Cordillera Negra, to the east the Cordillera Blanca, a chain of majestic, glacier-capped mountains that include some of the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.

The workshop was held under the auspices of the Center for Social Well-Being, which also runs Quechua language courses and retreats on its 5-hectare eco-farm a little outside the town (known as La Casa de Pocha). The Center was set up 15 years ago by the Peruvian ecologist Flor de María Barreto Tosi (the eponymous Pocha), and Patricia Hammer, an American anthropologist, aiming to put into practice the principles of sustainable living on the one hand, and of “participatory action research” on the other.

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Segregated Communities, Segregated Litter

Posted by William Ramirez – MA Candidate at CLACS

This past winter break I visited Guatemala for the second time in a year. Prior to that, it had been 10 years since I travelled to the country my parents migrated from in the early 1980’s. This last trip, as the one a year before, proved tremendously fascinating as I was able to directly experience and relate everything I learned about the country and its diaspora throughout my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis, and currently within the wider context of Latin America and the Caribbean as a graduate student at NYU. As an undergraduate, I embarked on an honors thesis project regarding Guatemalan literature, identity, and globalization in the 21st century. However, despite this devoted research, I came to realize that there are things that can only be experienced first-hand that cannot be necessarily captured on paper.

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Struggles for the Land in Latin America, Past and Present

Posted by Tony Wood, graduate student in Latin American History at NYU

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Poster for the “Luchas sociales por la tierra en América Latina” conference, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima

On 24 June 1969, Peru’s military government decreed a sweeping agrarian reform, and at the same time ordered that the day itself – previously designated the “day of the Indio”, a term which carried a racialized, discriminatory charge – be renamed the Día del Campesino. It was only fitting, then, that the Universidad Mayor Nacional de San Marcos in Lima should host its conference on “Luchas sociales por la tierra en América Latina” on 24-25 June this year.

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