Category Archives: Recent Research

Interview with Mirta Kupferminc

Escobar - Argentina - Plaque

Following the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA, I began investigating the monument I had seen in the plaza where the commemoration was held. After researching the piece’s history, I reached out to its creator, Mirta Kupferminc, and we quickly set a date for an interview. A few days later, I found myself in her studio.

When we sat down to discuss her work, I had a clear list of questions in mind that I intended to ask related to the monument but in discussing her life and how she created the piece, she covered them all and more. Continue reading

Strike Tactics: Adapting to the University of São Paulo

Merkel-Brazil-Greve

Email received June 28th from the archivist at the Instituto dos Estudos Brasileiros (IEB), Elisabete Ribas:  “The organizers of the strike have closed the doors of the two sites of the IEB. I can only enter in the next few days to operate the temperature and humidity-related equipment of the Archive.”

The USP’s faculty of humanities and social sciences has been on strike since May, reacting against a plan by the Reitor, or President, that freezes salaries and the university budget, all while maintaining heavy loads of teaching and administration. But between the World Cup and the vacation time, the strike has been relatively inactive, mobilizing only the core of its membership. Now, things are intensifying, especially with next week signaling the official start of classes. I have, until now, been able to work around the strike. Continue reading

Caribbean Identity in Cuba

To what extent should Cuba be considered part of the Caribbean?

The question could be ridiculous. Consult any map and you will find the island smack in the middle of a gulf with Caribbean written all over it. Look at its economic history and, like in most Caribbean colonies, you will see sugar plantations built upon a system of racial slavery. There are careers built on examining the similarities between Cuban Santeria and Haitian Vodou, between Cuban and Jamaican rhythms.

The architecture is Spanish colonial, the cars American and Russian, the people…Caribbean?

The architecture is Spanish colonial, the cars American and Russian, the people…Caribbean?

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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 have passed since the start the drug war launched under the President Felipe Calderon administration. Since then 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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