Category Archives: Recent Research

Visitas en la sierra

Posted by Bethany Pennington – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS

Cuando su hija tenía trece años, una señora del pueblo principal de la región llegó a su casita y le dijo: “préstame su hija, que vive en mi casa, que me ayude.”

Recordando este momento, mi nueva amiga me comentó: “Pues, no quiero prestar, porque digo, por lo menos, ni agua tenemos aquí…tenemos que caminar agua desde los pasitos, hasta el río…”

No la quiero prestar. Es que me ayude a traer agua. Ni agua aquí tenemos. 

“No se preocupe del agua” la Señora dijo. “Yo le voy a decir a mi esposo que le de un proyecto…de toma de agua.” Contó que su esposo era presidente municipal, y seguro, aunque fuera manguera, iban a traer de el manantial.

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Desfiles Por Fines

Posted by Claretta Mills – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS

Traveling through Cusco in June and seeing numerous rainbow flags, which mark the heritage and pride of the city of Cusco, is a subtle reminder of the desfiles that are going on throughout the city. 

“Hay desfiles en el Centro hoy,” was all I needed to hear to know that I would be able to observe some festivities. Religious processions, or desfiles, were in abundance almost daily in Cusco’s city center near Plaza del Armas. The desfiles varied daily as they featured performances from various types of groups and dances. One day may consist of groups of different disciplines from various universities, another consisted of groups from pueblitos within Cusco, and another consisted of various civil groups. Many of the religious processions for Corpus Christi were displays of various statues and shrines of patrimonios hoisted up and carried throughout the procession by about 30 men. The men carrying the Saints would process through the streets dancing and swaying the statue as they walked. 

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MAS(querade)

Posted by Claretta Mills – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS

To play mas, in regards to carnival, means to take part in carnival festivities and activities. Masquerades are one group of performers prevalent in carnival who play mas. Traditional masqueraders are a vital and signature part of carnivals throughout the Caribbean as they simplify various significant characters in Caribbean history. “Dancing the Masquerade,” is something locals and visitors alike look forward to witnessing during each country’s respective carnival. 

Masqueraders mid-air during their performance.

Masqueraders perform a series of traditional dance moves that often consist of six dances which include Wild Mas, the Waltz, Fine, Boillola, Jig, and Quadrille. The dance movements are said to have originated in West Africa by the Yoruba people. The incorporation of these dance movements is symbolic of the Afro-centricity as it relates to the Caribbean and more explicitly, carnival. 

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Finding the Bigger Story Behind the Chinchero Airport

Posted by Colleen Connolly – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

Connolly_ Peru_Chinchero

The Plaza de Armas in Chinchero, Peru. (Photo by Colleen Connolly)

I ended my field work in Lima, about as far away as you can get from Chinchero in Peru. I swapped freezing night temperatures and extreme dryness for the gray humidity of Lima’s winters, mountains for coast and Quechua for Spanish — and even some English. The transition was striking. Even my body felt the effects (but not in a good way — I got the flu).

Lima offered me the chance to step back from the conversations and observations I’d had in Cusco and look at them from another perspective. Like in the United States, there exists a great social conflict in Peru between the coastal “elites” and the campesinos. Those in Cusco who support construction of the Chinchero airport have much to say about “el centralismo de Lima” and their hatred of it. Now, here I was in Lima, talking to some of these “elites” who don’t want to give the Cusqueños their airport.

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A Mineral Archive

Posted by Ricardo Duarte Filho – PhD Student in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU

Vi os montes, e eis que tremiam.

E todos os outeiros estremeciam.

Olhei para a terra e eis que estava vazia,

sem nada nada nada.

Carlos Drummond de Andrade – Triste Horizonte.

This summer I am conducting a research about extractivism and mining in Brazil. I was propelled by the dam that collapsed in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, at the beginning of this year – an accident that killed at least 248 people. In my original plan, I had proposed a clear split between the archival research, to be conducted in the first two weeks, and the fieldwork, in which I would go visit some cities that are historically linked to mining activities – including the cities that were affected by the dam collapse. Even though I am still following this plan , it has been an interesting experience noticing how these two parts of the research are continuously superimposing each other. 

This minor – and almost cliché – realization is making me comprehend how the mining’s history – both to the Colonial golden rush as to the modern iron extractivism – is not only part of the documents that I had access through the archival research at the Biblioteca Nacional and Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa. This archive is also part of the day to day life of these cities affected by this activity, such as a long small talk between two strangers that I overheard on the bus trip from Goiás to Goiânia. The two men discussed the old gold mining and its relation to slavery and how both of them were certain that one could still find gold in the town’s river up to this day – neither of them had ever tried looking for it. This archive is also part of the own geology of these places, such as the rusted rocks alongside this river – Rio Vermelho (Red River), named for the reddish rust stains that indicate that these rocks contain iron minerals.

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La Fototeca Nacional (Pachuca, Hidalgo)

Posted by Jason Ahlenius — PhD Student of Spanish and Portuguese at NYU

Examining photo negatives at the Fototeca Nacional in Pachuca

She grew impatient when I did it for the second time. «¡Ay! Por favor, no hagas eso». Please don’t do that. But I did it. I broke the rules. I touched the photographic originals. I desecrated Mexico’s visual patrimony.

I have finally before me a physical object from the archive, a national relic, and it is as if the object itself is reaching out to me to connect with it, to make an affective connection through the body. Yet like the disciplinary-religious space of the art museum, however, there is an invisible barrier between my unclean hands and the sacred object. I retract my hands. I can only make the connection through the visual field.

Lo siento. Sorry. I reply.

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Veranopi, Peruman Risaqpuni Qhelqasaq Thesisniyta

Posted by Claretta Mills – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS

For most of the past Spring semester, I had been repeating this one particular line, especially in my Quechua class examples; “Veranopi, Peruman risaqpuni qhelqasaq thesisniyta.” This translates to, “In the summer, I am going to Peru to write my thesis.” 

Sure enough, a couple of months after consistently writing (and somewhat manifesting my destiny), I ended up in Peru during the end of June to observe performances leading up to Inti Raymi which to my surprise, included Corpus Christi processions. Additionally, I was delightfully surprised by the daily processions by local organizations, groups, and universities as they celebrated Cusco Month. 

I discovered the processions on my second-day in-country when I decided to go to San Pedro Mercado with my host.

Mercado Central de San Pedro
Mercado Central de San Pedro


Vibrantly colored produce.

The mercado was boastful of vibrant and bold colors all around with the fresh produce and meat sold by vendors encouraging you to ask them any questions you may have. After browsing the mercado, I decided to take a stroll down to Plaza de Armas which was a brisk walk that lasted less than 10 minutes. 

To my surprise, there had been a bandstand setup with seating and a bunch of onlookers and vendors watching various groups perform a variety of typical dances from different pueblos in Cusco. It was quite interesting observing both the differences and commonalities amongst the different dances while trying out some local treats from the vendors selling their treats to spectators.

Performer

During the entire duration of my trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about how fascinated I was with the immense variety of corn Peru had to offer and the different ways in which they were prepared. More specifically, I really wanted to try the huge puffed corn I saw numerous vendors carrying.

Puffed Corn Snack

I really appreciated the lessons from Professor Odi Gonzales as I was honestly able to pick up and catch on to a few sentences said in Quechua by the announcer of the festival. I ended up sitting next to an elderly man who spoke Quechua and Spanish and engaged in conversation with him as we watched the performances together. We ended up sharing the puffed corn together as we watched on.

One thing that definitely took me by surprise was how frigidly cold Cusco was, especially in the night time. During the daytime, I roamed the city in either a light parka coat or a compact bubble jacket with a sweater underneath. Now for the night time, that’s when I was really able to feel the chill, I went to bed in special socks designed for cold weather, a sweater, undergarments, and five different layers of covers. Long story short, Cusco was cold! 

¡Tupananchiskama! 

Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas