Recap of an Evening with Honduran Indigenous Leaders Conversation

On July 12, 2017, CLACS hosted a timely event with two of Honduras best known indigenous leaders. The night’s conversation featured Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, daughter of the late Lenca community leader Berta Cáceres and General Coordinator of  the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and Miriam Miranda who is General Coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (ONAFREH) and a well-known Garífuna community leader.

The night’s events began with a presentation of two short clips honoring the memory Berta Cáceres, which also served to contextualize the conversation to come. The first clip, was from the Berta Vive documentary, followed by a part of the acceptance speech by the Lenca leader from her acceptance of the Goldman Prize (2015). With this, the stage was set for the conversation with the featured speakers moderated by Grassroots International‘s Latin America Program Coordinator Jovanna Garcia Soto.

With a capacity room, the conversation featured insights on current affairs in the struggles of the indigenous communities in Honduras. Bertha Zúniga spoke about the legacy of her late mother, the importance of unity in resistance struggles, and denounced current anti-terrorism laws. Miriam Miranda, on her part, highlighted the importance of her people’s cultural traditions and spirituality in resisting the current crisis in favor of of life in Honduras.

This event was co-sponsored by Grassroots International and NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.

Exploring the Yareta of Northern Chile Through the Archives

Posted by Amanda Lotspike – MA Candidate at CLACS

To write a story of the yareta is to start from its partial absence in the Chilean altiplano. It’s a hard thing to do. The yareta demands attention; it grows “like a tortoise—big and green”[1], a plant with almost animate qualities despite its resolute grounding in the Andean volcanic belt. Thriving at altitudes of twelve to fifteen-thousand feet above sea level, the yareta is more than a single cushion shrub. Hundreds of tightly wound, waxy succulent leaves make up the flat surface area of its circular outcroppings—bulbous growths that take on the appearance of carpet moss from far away. At eye level, a heavy resin (yaretawaqa or “tears” of the yareta) smudges its bright green surface, while dried yellow flowers collect in small pockets where the slopes of the yareta rise and fall.

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The yareta, photo taken by author.

 

This summer I’ve set out to learn of and from the history of the yareta (its abundant growth, extraction and decline) in the Norte Grande of Chile. From stories of the “king” of the yareta (a Bolivian entrepreneur who led commercial exploitation of the species during the mid-twentieth century Chilean mining boom) to its representation in the writings of award-winning poet Miguel Urrelo Valdivia, I have explored the ways in which the yareta exists beyond its material presence (as a poetic imaginary, an heirloom, a divine resource and finally, a warning call).

In this series of blog posts I will highlight a few of these stories. First stop: the library at the National Service for Geology and Mining and the National Archive of Chile.
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La Memoria Circundante o La Magdalena de Proust es el Picante de Pollo: Tres Semanas en Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Posted by Guillermo Severiche – MFA Student at Creative Writing in Spanish at NYU

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Poco antes de llegar a Cochabamba releía la frase de Por el camino de Swann en donde el narrador sumerge su magdalena en el té y el recuerdo de pronto lo invade. Allí entiende que del pasado antiguo – una vez todo muerto y derrumbado – lo que más subsiste son los olores y sabores. Allí esperan, dice, aguardan entre las ruinas salvaguardando la memoria incólume de las personas pasadas que han dejado de ser, de los momentos matutinos que quizás significaron más de lo que pensábamos. Al aterrizar en Cochabamba tuve la sensación de un retorno ajeno. Al principio pensé que había algo familiar en todo esto, que volvía a la casa que hacía poco había vuelto a abandonar. Al día siguiente y durante las próximas tres semanas, fueron muchos los indicios que me permitieron entender que los recuerdos persisten en zonas geográficas ajenas para uno pero cercanas a aquellos del pasado; que es posible recordar cosas desconocidas porque significaron la vida diaria de los seres que de alguna u otra forma nos definieron. Un plato de sopa, un pedazo de pan, algunos modos de habla y entonaciones de voz, me trajeron a la memoria cosas de mis abuelos que llevaron consigo al emigrar hacia la Argentina como modos cotidianos de vida y que han permanecido a mi alrededor más allá de su muerte.

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The Underground Economy Supporting Public Internet Use in Cuba

Posted by Sam Kellogg — MA candidate in Media, Culture, and Communications at NYU

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The Wi-Fi park on 14th and 15th street, Vedado, Havana.

I met *Victor the second or third time I visited my local Wi-Fi park, on the corner of 14th and 15th streets in Vedado. Vedado is a neighborhood in Havana a mile west of the city center known for its tree-lined boulevards and grand houses, many of which were converted into shared living spaces or dedicated to municipal functions following the Cuban Revolution’s triumph in 1959. It’s in one of these converted houses I’ve been living for the past few weeks.

In the mornings, I sometimes pass by the park on 14th and 15th street to check my email, and most mornings until noon Victor is there, lounging on a green park bench beneath the extravagant orange flowers and merciful shade of the Flamboyán trees. His hustle is selling tarjetas to park visitors—single-use cards with scratch-off codes that give buyers access to the Internet for a set amount of time, usually an hour or two.

This is how most Cubans and island visitors get online, check their emails, scroll through Facebook, and listen to the latest music. The process of connecting goes something like this: Visit your local Wi-Fi-enabled park, turn on your device’s Wi-Fi, and connect to the public network. Usually the network will be named “WIFI_ETECSA” (ETECSA is the state telecom company, and the sole Internet provider on the island). Once connected to the network, a pop-up screen with spaces to type in a username and password allows you to log in. If you’re using the scratch-off single-use cards that Victor sells to connect, you’ll type in two twelve-digit numbers printed on the back of the card for your username and password and cross your fingers. Wait a few seconds, and if you typed in the numbers correctly (I often don’t), you’ll see a green check-mark and emails and notifications will start pouring in.

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Front and back of a five-hour single-use login card.

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Using Food Recipes as Sources of Information for Changes in Food Preferences. Colombia. 1970´s – 2010´s.

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Posted by Juan C S Herrera – PhD Student at Steinhardt / Food Studies and Food management at NYU


After three weeks in Bogotá, Colombia, I took a stroll through one of the city’s main roads, 7th Avenue. There you can find several food options ranging from international food chains to Colombian food corporations, as well as affordable local adaptations of international foods to traditional corn on the cob and fresh fruit vendors. The availability of food options is linked to the preferences of Colombian consumers.

Food preferences have changed over the last decades. The reasons underlying the changes can be found in the relationship between the macro economic, social, and political space and how those macro variables play a role in the individual formation of food preferences. At the macro level, one can find four major changes that affect the availability of food products and therefore influence individual’s food preferences.

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The Racialized Rhetoric of Brazilian Museum Exhibitions at Midcentury and Contemporary Developments in Critical Pedagogy

Posted by Pilar Garrett, Joint MA Candidate at CLACS / Museums Studies, NYU

After three weeks in Brazil, to say my mind is over-saturated would be an understatement. This place, its social configurations, infrastructure, and patterns of behavior, are not simple- or, as Tom Jobim once noted, Brazil is not for beginners.

But I’ve known this my entire life; the degree of complexity is not news to me. However, armed with a deeper investigative purpose this time around, and a perspective made all the more sharp by the past year of critical academic reflection, Brazil’s peculiarities and blatant inequalities have presented themselves loudly and with more clarity. Such is the advantage of the field. Such is the curse and blessing of a social science education, the irremovable and ever-present analytical lens. Exhausting and oft-times emotional, I nevertheless know that these far-from-censored glances will  provide the foundation for sensitive, representative, and engaged work- and for that I am very grateful.

By way of explanation, I am here trying to sort out the racial implications of Brazil’s modernist project, specifically as represented and standardized through midcentury museum exhibitions. To this end, my work combines Brazilian social and political history, race theory, and museum theory, and while I’ve long had the conceptual framework of my thesis ready, it took being here in the field to narrow down the specific spaces of analysis for my project. My first week, following my landing in São Paulo, therefore consisted of peddling myself and my research proposal from one leading Paulista museum to another, as well as the Museu Afro Brasil which unfortunately- and tellingly- has been relegated to the lesser known of São Paulo’s cultural institutions. Of course, I had selected the museums that I felt fit my project beforehand so these rounds behaved mainly as a means to introduce myself, schedule appointments, and solidify connections in person. Continue reading

El Salvador Accords 2016 Conference Videos and Transcripts Now Available

Link to Videos and Transcripts

A year in the making on Spring 2016, NYU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and Columbia’s Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) presented “From War to Politics: An International Conference on El Salvador’s Peace Process.” This was a remarkable convening of stakeholders in the signing of the peace accords that ended the civil war in El Salvador. The conference, which was sponsored by various institutions including the Department of History at NYU, the Office of the Provost at NYU and Columbia University, provided the opportunity for a candid public conversation between sometimes opposing parties and regional players in the war and to reflect about the conflict, share insights about the historic resolution and explore the current consequences in El Salvador of the vestiges of war.

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Almost a year after the three-day gathering that included 20 participants, the full videos that were live streamed worldwide at the time and the transcriptions of those conversations are available for all to see and explore through this link. We understand these documents to be sources for a new understanding of the process and a contribution on scholarship in topics such as History of the Americas, the Cold War, Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Human Rights, among many others.

Special thanks to Will Hogue of Fordham University and CLACS Graduate Assistants Michael Cary and Diego Cristian Saldaña for their work in these efforts.