Category Archives: Recent Research

Defense Research in a Shifting Security Environment

Posted July 26 by Colette Perold — PhD Student in NYU’s Media, Culture, and Communication

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AMA_ACE_6928_87_0001; Arquivo Nacional

On May 18, Brazil’s interim Foreign Relations Minister José Serra used his inaugural address to lay out Brazil’s new foreign policy plan, a ten-point schema that resisted an easy close, to the surprise of many: “But if I had to add one more,” he said, “I would name one that we have to act on…the protection of our borders.” He argued that Brazil’s landed borders are where Brazil’s organized criminal networks develop, where arms and goods smuggling meet drug trafficking, harming the Brazilian people and Brazil’s economy.

A week later, on May 25, the interim government announced the creation of an Executive Committee of Border Coordination and Control, composed of the ministries of defense, justice, and international relations, with support from at least twenty agencies, including the federal police, the federal reserve, the intelligence agency (ABIN), and the armed forces. Interim Defense Minister Raul Jungmann announced the committee would bring an additional 15,000 troops to the border, with additional arms and resources, at a total projected cost of R$9 billion.

On July 8, interim Minister of Justice Alexandre de Moraes announced in an interview with news outlet Istoé that the ministry would be augmenting the size of Brazil’s National Force from 1,500 troops to 15,000, and—once the Olympics are over—focusing their work also on Brazil’s landed borders.

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Museum Education Accessibility in the Heart of Bolivia

Posted by Arlean Dawes – MA Candidate at CLACS /Museum Studies Concentration at NYU

The theme of accessibility is arguably one of the most important aspects to any museum. Accessibility takes on different forms such as architectural accessibility in ensuring that museum facilities are manageable for all visitors to the museum, or facilitating certain services specifically for visitors that may need further assistance to fully enjoy the museum visit experience. The creation and accessibility of educational material has been my main focus during my time at INIAM- Museo Arqueológico in Cochabamba (Cochabamba Archeology Museum). In a city such as Cochabamba, that is known as the ‘heart of Bolivia’ for its central location, it is also a major hub for transportation conflicts known as bloqueos or paros de transporte. While these occurrences are not uncommon, they contribute to the difficulty in being able to rely on school groups getting to the museum and the importance of having resources coming from the museum to the schools and communities. INIAM is certainly not brimming with constant public programs with education and community participation as the focus. The interactive educational program is the only set project of the museum that deals directly with school groups visiting the museum and participating in something other than the general museum tour. However, for those schools that are not able to send their students to the museum, we created 6 educational foldables based on the themes that the interactive program covers.

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Chronicle of an Omission Foretold: The Place of Concrete Poetry in the History of Digital Literature

Visual Poetry pieces by Augusto de Campos

Video Poetry works by Augusto de Campos exhibited during July in São Paulo

Milton Laufer, PhD Student at the Spanish and Portuguese Department.

As a PhD Student in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, my research focuses on the development in Latin America of what is known as digital literature. By this I mean a particular way of thinking about texts which is not constrained by the bounds of the device called “book”, which lays in between many other disciplines, like the visual arts, video art, and computer games. This involves not only a new paradigm, or at least a broader paradigm, in our way of conceptualizing literature, but also a meaningful political dimension, a democratization, in the sense of how cultural goods circulate—including but not limited to the Internet—and, most importantly, how they are produced: in the same fashion espoused by the avant-garde movements, in digital literature the boundaries between the producer and the consumer are blurred, calling into question not only ontological concepts like creator, art-work, and reader, but also legal ideas that have traveled a long and undisputed path, like intellectual property. Though the first two works of digital literature date back to the 1950s (Strachey, 1952 and Lutz, 1959), it was only during the past decade that a field of scholarship focused on this literary form began to emerge. In this time, digital literature has become a vital object of inquiry, not only because its trajectory is difficult to anticipate, but also—and more importantly—because it sheds light on our understanding of literary production in a broader sense.

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Fragile Autonomy

Posted by Hanna Wallis – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

Driving through northern Cauca, the view out the window shifts only slightly between different shades of green. Vast expanses of sugar cane extend off into the horizon, a monoculture sea for biofuel export. Today, I am among hundreds of Nasa community members to “recover” a crop field. The indigenous movement here operates from a different paradigm of sustainability; beyond productive capacity, clean energy, or collective profit, they strive to “liberate the mother earth.”

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Since the 1970s, the indigenous movement organized through the “Consejo Regional Indigena del Cauca” CRIC has fought for many forms of indigenous structural autonomy. Claim to territory lies at the the heart of this struggle, but unlike other movements seeking land access, their conception of geography transcends the idea of ownership. Upon re-claiming a former hacienda plot as their own, the leadership does not divide the space into small individually operated fincas but converts it into collective territory. This philosophic shift changes land into territory, and territory into mother earth. From this foundation, people are not solitary individuals, but units of the collective and members of the community whole.   

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On the Fringe of Memory: Discovering Paine

Posted by Anna Rappoport- MA Candidate at CLACS at NYU

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It is easy to interact with memory in Santiago- every neighborhood displays it proudly. From street art in Barrio Brasil and Barrio Yungay, to the polished, classically inspired architecture that surrounds La Moneda. However, public representations of memory regarding the events of September 11th, 1973 and the eighteen years of dictatorship that followed are often tucked away- representative of many Chileans “out of sight, out of mind” attitudes. Looking even further outside the capital- where the majority of atrocities under the dictatorship occurred- proved even more difficult.

Chile is one of the few Latin American countries that has actively supported sites of memory throughout the country, lending governmental and financial support for the creation of museums, memorials, preservation of sites of torture and detainment, and other public spaces that commemorate the gross human rights violations of the Pinochet regime. While many sites began through the preservation efforts of victims’ family members and survivors, the government has incorporated many into DIBAM (Directory of Libraries, Archives and Museums) or Chile’s National Patrimony. My project enabled me to travel to the Region Metropolitana to explore the numerous sites of memory around the region, and I particularly focused on the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and the Paine Memorial, located about 30 minutes south of Santiago.

Paine is a small agricultural town best known for their watermelons, however prior to the Agricultural Reform that occurred in 1972, struggled with the extreme inequality of the latifundio system. Aided by Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), some of Paine’s campesinos joined together to reclaim the lands they worked from the latifundio owners. When Pinochet took control of Chile in 1973, the latifundio owners and carabineros hunted down Paine’s campesinos, MIRistas, and sympathizers that took over the lands. 31 years after these unjust murders, the Paine Memorial was conceived.

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Radio and politics in the Peruvian Altiplano

Posted by Ximena Málaga Sabogal, PhD student in Anthropology at NYU

Radio Onda Azul - XMS

I am used to being asked what anthropology is and what, as an anthropologist, do I “actually” do. I usually have a different set of answers depending on my interlocutors. But something that I always have to deal with is the “classical” definition of anthropology, the one that implies studying “a traditional way of life”. Although that definition can be a good starting point for a conversation, I try to bring it to and interest in social changes as soon as I can. If not, how to explain that analyzing the ways in which radio affects – or comes from – everyday life is also anthropology? When studying media as social and cultural repertories, anthropologists have a lot of competition in the field. I am constantly mistaken for a journalist working on a piece, which changes the interactions with my interlocutors.

What has this interest on radio to do with my search for Aymara and Quechua identity definitions and its connections with the international indigenous movement? In Puno the answer is: a lot. Radio has been present in Altiplano’s peasants’ life for a long time. In part due to the low electrification of the region, radio has been – and in some districts of Puno still is – the most popular communication device. The first radio to begin operations in Puno was Onda Azul, back in the 1950s. This is not only the first radio, it is also a very special one. It comes from an early initiative of Puno’s Catholic Church and answers to the developmental model of educación popular. In a time when Puno had one of the highest levels of illiteracy, Onda Azul worked hand in hand with the Peruvian government to develop a program of escuelas radiofónicas. Radios were given in different communities in the Aymara and Quechua sectors of Puno and every day the people would come together to listen to classes and solve exercises with the help of a facilitator. At the end of the school year, the Ministry of Education would organize exams for the people involved in the radio classes, and hand out official diplomas to the ones who passed everything.

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Mujeres Fronterizas: Putting the Focus on Women of Dajabón, Dominican Republic

By: Amanda Alcantara, MA Candidate at CLACS

When I decided to do research on women in the Dominican-Haitian border, I sought to focus on identity, especifically racial identity. Nothing would prepare me for what I learned, what I saw, the diversity and similarity in the stories of the 25+ women whom I interviewed mostly from Dajabón, Dominican Republic but also from Ouanaminthe, Haiti. The topic of my research was changed by these narratives.

Gloria Anzaldúa writes about borderlands as a place of violence, pain, and una “herida abierta”. She wrote of the border as parallel to her own body as a woman: her body is a place of violence and pain too. The Dominican-Haitian border divided by el Río Masacre—a name that signifies a deep wound still fresh in the elder’s minds—is no different than this. The women of this particular border have their own stories too, their own stories of the type of violence that is very specific to women, and their own stories of resilience.

 

The border entrance from Dajabón to Ouanaminthe.

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