Monthly Archives: July 2011

Reinforcing the Cultural Sector in the Public Administration: Integration through Culture

Culture had not been an important axis in the Peruvian public administration, neither in the central government nor in the district halls. In the public administration, culture generally has been part of the touristic or educational sector. Only in 2010, it was created the Ministry of Culture. Previously the National Institute of Culture depended on the Ministry of Education. In this same direction, the current government of Susana Villaran is reinforcing the cultural area of Lima´s Municipality.

Borrea - Peru - Cultura Viva poster


On June 19th, Lima’s City Hall launched its program “Cultura Viva para la Nueva Lima”. In an interview with Victor Vich, consultant of Lima’s Municipality, he explained me the new perspective of the local government and this particular project. Vich points out two main problems. First, Lima’s cultural scenario is fragmented. One district hall does not know what the other does. Second, for long time culture has been reduced to a schedule of activities. Therefore, “Cultura Viva” is a program that looks to reinforce the local production; create cultural networks by promoting the circulation of cultural proposals to other districts; and locate the cultural production and consumption as a citizen right.  For this program, five districts have been selected and local promoters have worked together to discuss the project. The multiple proposals and activities take place for three Sundays in each district with a final big event (see poster at left).

Borrea - Peru - Encuentro Nacional de Cultura


Finally, it is possible that this new place of culture in the city is due to a reinforcement of the cultural managerial sector and the multiple seminars that are taking place to create and improve cultural policies. In this regard, an important event is the next coming “Encuentro Nacional de Cultura.”

Posted by Giuliana Borea – PhD Candidate in Anthropology at NYU


Buenos Aires – Paris – Buenos Aires

Garrido - Argentina - Arias

These are the porcelain cakes Arias is showing at his art exhibit "Patria Petrona", a homage to the most famous Argentine chef ever, Doña Petrona.

In my first year as a PhD student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at NYU (2010-2011) I’ve developed a strong and consistent interest in Argentine writers and artists who emigrated to Paris in the sixties and early seventies. My examples draw from both well-known and obscure writers, including Alejandra Pizarnik, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Copi, Sylvia Molloy, Raúl Escari, and Javier Arroyuelo, as well as visual artists like Roberto Plate, Alfredo Arias, and Juan Stoppani.

Although I’ve already started my research in New York, traveling to Argentina has been incredibly helpful to carry on with the project. Many of the authors and artists in question are currently living in Buenos Aires, which has allowed me the great opportunity to meet with and interview them. I have already been in touch with Edgardo Cozarinsky and Javier Arroyuelo, and interviewed Alfredo Arias and Juan Stoppani.

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Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: Rethinking Columbus… On the Way to the Airport


Altos de Chavón Archeological Museum Director Arlene Alvarez discussing Taino artifacts

While I was in the Dominican Republic last week, I kept running into Columbus. He turned up in colonial museums where the history of his voyages to the island was featured. He was in the lovely plaza next to the cathedral (a statue in his most famous pose) where he now faces the Hard Rock Café. What struck me most notably, however, was that everyone talked about him. In the United States, we only talk about Columbus around Columbus Day, which happens to be a long weekend. (“What are your plans for…?”). If we really think about Columbus, he remains controversial. In Rhode Island, where I live, there is a small statue of Columbus in Providence. It was not erected by the city, however. It is, in fact, on the site of the Italo-American Club. The members wanted to honor a fellow Italian, but the statue cannot compare to the imposing figure of Columbus in Santo Domingo.

On the way to the airport, Israel, my driver, asked me what I had done during my stay in Santo Domingo. Among other things, we talked about visiting the cathedral and the fort in the colonial district, visiting the archeological museums in the Centro León and Altos de Chavón, and having dinner by the water in Boca Chica. Then he asked me if I had visited the Faro de Colón. I had not. He would take me there “to take a picture.” It was very important. I had to see it… on the way to the airport. Israel explained that Columbus had come to Santo Domingo (the island) first. Here the first encounter with indigenous people in the Americas, the Taino, took place. Here were the first fort, the first churches, the first cathedral, the first hospital, the first university… In short, the first European institutions in the Americas. And Santo Domingo was—and is—the first city in America. Thanks to Columbus. He put Santo Domingo on the map (the first map?) of the “New World.” All of the Dominicans I met were proud of this history—and it shows in their monument to Columbus. The Faro de Colón, where twenty-nine of Columbus’ bones are interred, is an enormous structure in the shape of a cross, a “lighthouse” with not one beam, but many beams (visible from space) forming a cross on the sky. I took two pictures.

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NY > Salvador….and now São Luis do Maranhão

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I arrived in Salvador five days ago. After finding a room for a the first days, I began my round of meetings with university professors at UFBa (Federal University of Brazil, Bahia campus) local contacts, mentors and friends to get a sense of how things in city and in my area were doing or had changed. The first image is indicative of both a corrupt local government trying to show modernist improvements before the election season and the unrelenting desire to address the ‘racial democracy’ via their tanning habits. That coupled with continued local in fighting over mass transit and public health seem to indicate that some of the public works projects positioned as markers reflective of a 21st century Bahia/Brazil for the upcoming international sports games might backfire. Most of my contacts are complaining about the lack of essential services and an obsession with these unnecessary plans. Local working class people in both Salvador and Maranhão have also mentioned that the use of Crack is growing as a drug problem.

The street shots typify how popular some of the regional dishes, acarajé, abarra, and vatapa are with young people. These dishes and other foods that have a sacred root in Yoruba cultural traditions and directly address my research are often presented for consumption in public arenas. As indicated in the photos the women producing the food wear the classic Bahiana colonial dress. Traditionally these women were all noviates (novices) in Candomblé temples and this work helped fund the temples. I have been told that other individuals outside of the religious community are also producing these goods, including entrepreneurial men. Interviewing some of these vendors will be part of my task once I return to town. Continue reading

Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: Migration and Demographic Development of the DR


Professor Andres Navarro, Dept of Urban Planning, UASD

As an educator, when thinking of the Dominican Republic, the faces of my students appear in my mind and images of where they’ve come from in the country begin to illustrate the funds of knowledge they are bringing into my classroom.  Today’s session brought us to Centro de Leon in Santiago, Dominican Republic and focused on the opposite side of the coin:  migration to the Dominican Republic.  Though it focused on the other side of the Dominican experience, it certainly clarified the reasons we’ve had a great migration of Dominicans to the United States in the last half century.  The day began with a presentation by Professor Frank Baez.  He opened up his presentation about migration to the Dominican Republic by outlining three different periods in Dominican history:  1875-1929, 1930-1960, and 1961-present.  During each of the periods there was an apparent fluctuation in the migration of Haitians into the Dominican Republic.  Most notably, during the Trujillo era, 1930-1960, there was a depopulation of Haitians as a result of the Haitian massacre.  What was most compelling about Professor Baez’s presentation was the use of data and how some of the data created more questions rather than clarified ideas.  For example, the censuses cited by many of his graphs were not conducted every ten years.  His presentation, all in all, did resonate with other talks we had experienced this week.  One fact holds true about migration to the Dominican Republic:  it is stimulated by access to cheap labor and exposure to the ‘corporate’ interest of the times.  Professor Andres Navarro’s presentation on the demographic development of the Dominican Republic focused on three key areas of the country that are facing urbanization and destroying the natural habitat.  These areas served as sugar plantations and have recently been converted into zona francas.  This, in turn, has created areas that are densely populated, lack proper infrastructure, and destroy the natural habitat.  More importantly, it focused on how the urbanization of these areas has created unhygienic and dangerous living conditions.  Both of these presentations were clearly intertwined.  Moreover, they underscored the reasons Dominicans have left their native country to live in the United States and other areas of the world.  After spending the day at the Centro de Leon in Santiago, which by the way is a city in which I’ve spent numerous summers of my life, I came to realization that it mirrored the same conundrum that I’ve seen many times.  What costs do our modern day lifestyles truly have on all of our natural resources and ‘developing’ countries?  How are those who are at the other end of the spectrum well informed about their day to day environmental footprints?  Most importantly, how much of a grasp does our Latino youth today have on the historical roots of their native origins and the implications of being ignorant about those roots?  As a global society, how much longer can we ignore the plight of the ‘developing’ countries and neglect their habitats and history in an effort to live in our own world?

Posted by Sydney Valerio — English Teacher at North Rockland High School

Sydney was an educator participant in the Yale University PIER Yale University CLAISNYU CLACS  Summer Educator Institute on Colonial Latin America in July 2011.

Yale-NYU K-12 Summer Institute: Haiti-DR Relations


Miguel Angel, our guide, discussing syncretism during the tour of the Colonial Zone

I think one of the most controversial days we spent in Santo Domingo was on Friday, July 14th. The activities planned focused on contemporary issues about the Dominican Republic and Haiti, including a panel discussion on contemporary perspectives about Haiti. I was especially looking forward to this event because my research project focused on Dominican-Haitian relations. In some ways, I was very satisfied with the event, and in other ways I was disappointed. However, it was overall an enlightening experience.

The panel consisted of six speakers, including the former Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to Canada and Columbia, The International Project Manager of the United Nations Development Program, the President of the National Emergency Commission and Executive Director of Civil Defense, and several other distinguished individuals.

One of the my first reactions to this panel was surprise at the various organizations dedicated to investigating and improving Dominican-Haitian relations, such as the Dominico-Haitian Global Forum and Batey Relief Alliance (BRA),  of which the former coordinator and current Executive Director, respectively, were present. Their presentations on programs supporting Haitians living in the Dominican Republic opened my eyes to a world of organizations that I would be interested in contributing to in the future.

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Intro to Cuba…

“Ok this is all going to hell in three seconds”,  I thought as I saw the airport official   hand over my passport to his partner for just a little too long to expect anything good. I should add that at the time I was carrying two passports; one Cuban and incidentally expired, and the other American. I had imagined that in a way, my American passport would be like wings upon my back. I remember that upon receiving it I felt I would be free to go anywhere in the world without the dramas of visas and “permisos de salida” associated with my old Cuban passport. The funny thing was that the only place I visited after was… Cuba, the one place that will never forgive my cubaness, and will play the stigmata forever by forcing me to travel with a Cuban passport in order to enter the country of my birth, but not without first requiring that I “habilitate” and “renovate” my Cuban passport at considerable expense and for ridiculously short periods of validation. I love the picture of myself in my first Cuban passport. I was young and fresh, and hadn’t known what credit card debt was yet.  I hated giving over that image of my youthful freshness to those bureaucratic maniacs. “No puede viajar con ese pasaporte”. I stayed behind in Miami denied passage to Cuba.  I know… Its hell.

A dear friend called me in the midst of the craziness. She mobilized her little family of brother and mother to rescue me. Teresa, my friend’s mother came to my rescue, offering me a port to ride out the storm of bad luck and a natilla de leche to die for Teresa put my soul to rest.  Teresa’s hair is very long, because she vowed years ago to never cut it until she could see her brothers in Cuba again.

I spent two days in Southern Florida.  In addition to Teresa’s kindness, I received many calls from sweet people both well known and not so well known by me, all answering the single facebook post I was able to post from my phone before I lost Internet accesses.  All of these people are a part of the Cuban chain of love and pain, beauty and wisdom. I’m grateful for a chance of a wonderful afternoon in the company of Ariana Fernandez Reguant and a nice descarga with the hermanas Silot. I’m grateful for that reserve of love and support in what might otherwise have been two wasted days in Miami.

Posted by Yesenia Fernandez — MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU