Category Archives: Related Articles

Ulises’ Odyssey, the Odyssey of Looking Back

Post by Juan Carlos Castillo, CLACS MA Candidate

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Forced by his governor’s megalomania, Ulysses had to abandon his land to fight the city of Troy. Thereafter, he spent 10 horrible years confronting the many monsters and storms that opposed his way home. But this was Homer’s story.

Ulises –not Ulysses– passed through something similar, through an 30-year odyssey away from home. His biggest monster: the lack of affection from his family. His strongest storm: his memories of a broken past, or perhaps, his notion of a broken Chile.

Ulises’ Odyssey is the story about the rupture of the Chilean society exemplified through the rift that happened in Ulises’ family. The story is narrated by Lorena Manríquez, who is Ulises’ niece and also the director of this feature documentary. On October 16, the film’s New York premiere was held as part of the Fall 2015 CineCLACS screenings’ roster, to a packed house of over 130 attendees at the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU.  The event was followed by a conversation with the film’s directors Manríquez, and Miguel Picker.

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Meet Djatawo, the First Haitian Superhero

Post by Juan Carlos Castillo, CLACS MA Candidate

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The evening of October 27th, CLACS hosted the event “A Conversation with the Creator of Djatawo, Haiti’s First Comic Book Superhero,” with Anthony Louis-Jeune (Aton). This event was co-sponsored with the Haitian Creole Language Institute of New York. The intimate conversation with Aton held at CLACS room 404, which included live-sketching by the artist, was attended by a diverse group of 23 people which included Kreyol students, comic book fans, and members of the Haitian community. 

It took a whole night to shave his body completely. His eyelashes were the only hair he didn’t remove. And there he was, inside of a pyramid made of wood, tranquil and meditating before his performance. He then came out, silently and peacefully, holding a bronze Egyptian sun disc. He walked through the room, approaching all those present and gave each of them tiny golden hands that were embedded in the medallion. After that, the performance was over.

This was Anthony Louis-Jeune, whom back then was a visual arts senior undergrad student at the Altos de Chavón School of Design, introducing the faculty and fellow students  present to the first Haitian superhero, Djatawo.

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What can pineapples tell us about identity?

Follow a group of NYU students as they journey through the Puerto Rican food chain, as part of the study abroad course “Global Food Cultures Puerto Rico” led by CLACS affiliated faculty Melissa Fuster and Gustavo Setrini.

NYU Food Studies Puerto Rico

In today’s visits to Atenas Pineapple, the commercial-scale pineapple farm, and Hacienda La Esperanza, the slavery-based sugar plantation turned nature preserve, the question of Puerto Rican identity and its relationship to the Commonwealth’s agricultural and economic goals stood out to me – how are they intertwined? How much does each contribute on its own to a brighter future for Puerto Rico? Would a more deliberate approach to considering these facets of society simultaneously yield more successful outcomes for the Commonwealth?

Building on Duany’s thesis that Puerto Rico has a notably strong cultural identity alongside an amorphous and ambiguous national political identity, and Ortíz Cuadra’s notion that “authentic Puerto Rican-ness” cannot be expressed without an acknowledgement of the multiple global forces that have shaped Puerto Rican cultural and culinary identity, I found myself wondering what the driving vision for agriculture in Puerto Rico could or should be to best establish Puerto…

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Iyarina to remember and in remembering, to reflect

I ended up in Iyarina, Ecuador this last summer thanks to an invitation by Dr. Tod Swanson, Associate Professor at Arizona State University, after my dear friend Dr. Osvaldo Sala connected us. At the time, I was auditing a Quechua class at NYU and became very interested in the indigenous struggle related to the preservation of their lands. We talked about climate change, ecology, indigenous identity and language. He sent me the link for the Field School  that he directs near Tena, capital of the province of Napo, one of the entrances to the Ecuadorian Amazon.

While working on my graduate studies in Arizona State, I was an assistant for different study abroad programs, one in Spain for a couple of trips, as well as one in Mexico. It was through these experiences that I recognized the key role of immersion in any field the student is taking on. Since I teach Spanish as a second language, I am an advocate for these kinds of programs that help improve and solidify one’s previous knowledge.

When I took my plane from New York to Ecuador, I was not really thinking much about the program. Argentina, my home country, was playing the first soccer match for the 2014 World Cup and I was also very busy finalizing my teaching semester at New York University. I got to Iyarina one evening a week after the program started, and what I saw left me speechless. There were more than 30 students, both undergraduate and graduate, from different fields: Anthropology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Law, Psychology, Literature, Geology; 3 professors: Dr. Tod Swanson, Dr. John Frechione and Dr. Samuel St. Clair; and a whole family making the program run as smooth as you can imagine.

I was assigned to one room with a graduate student in linguistic anthropology from the University of Michigan. In the room next door was Dr. John Frechione, Associate Director of CLAS at the University of Pittsburgh. It was a nerd heaven: after a delicious traditional breakfast, we had anthropology classes with Dr. Frechione every morning and. Then, depending on the rain, we would head to the jungle with two Napo Kichwa women to hear them teach us about ecology from their traditional knowledge with Dr. Swanson’s ethnobotany class. After that, we would have lunch, and head to the last class of the day on the Napo Kichwa language. Dr. Samuel St. Clair from BYU was also teaching biology at the same time as Dr. Frechione’s class. I would have loved to take this course, but it was impossible to take all the classes. I would also see his class walk to the jungle and conduct the classes right there, in situ, explaining the beautiful world of nature to his students.

When the first session was over, we had a week off, of which I took full advantage and traveled to Otavalo, in the Andes, and then to Mompiche, a beautiful small beach near the Colombian border. When I came back to Iyarina, some students had left but I met new students that were joining us for the second term of the summer together with other professors: Alana DeLoge, who taught health in the Napo Region, and Dr. Tim Savisky who taught sustainability. Dr. Swanson was also teaching the continuation of his ethnobotany course.

During the entire 8-week program, we made traditional style ceramics, learned how to prepare chicha (a drink made of fermented yuca), we learned how to cultivate and harvest lumu (yuca), we tasted amazing traditional food, and we lived as a “minga” (a collective of people working together) with the family that ran the accommodations for all of us. Some of the highlights of this program were studying together, talking about readings, walking through the jungle with members of the community learning about medicinal plants and, by the end of the 8 weeks program, being able to speak some Kichwa! I am planning on traveling there again this upcoming summer since it is, pretty much, heaven on earth for intellectual nerds. Chita rikangauranchi!

By Marcela Naciff, Visiting Lecturer at NYU

Unique Courses, Great Opportunities, and Exciting Events: Welcome to Spring 2015

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Welcome to the spring 2015 semester. We certainly hope that your friends and family are safe and unharmed after this week’s blizzard. We are pleased to share several opportunities for faculty, courses being taught this semester, and an exciting schedule of events at CLACS.

The competition for Faculty Research Grants for summer 2015 and academic year 2015-16 is open. The deadline is February 17. The application this year is more streamlined, thus we encourage you to apply. More information can be found here. Also, applications are available for the Student Field and Research Grant. Those are awarded to Master’s and Doctoral students conducting fieldwork and research in Latin America and the Caribbean during this summer. The deadline for applying is February 23. For more details including an application checklist, follow this link.

Facebook Post eventOur list of events include the Spring Colloquium series titled “Latin American Independence in the Age of Revolution.” It includes a roster of talks by leading academics on the field such as Sergio Serulnikov, Victor Goldgel, Marlene Daut, Madison Smartt Bell, and Michael Zeuske. CineCLACS movie screenings feature the Indocumentales series, in partnership with Cinema Tropical, the Quechua/Kichwa film showcase, and tonight’s presentation of “Quechua, the Fading Inca Language” as part of Quechua Night, among others. Other notable events include our kickoff event “The Cuban Moment: Conversatorio on Cuba.” Also, on April 9th, a presentation of Aisha Khan’s latest book Islam and the Americas, and a conference on May 8th titled “José Antonio Aponte and his World: Writing, Painting, and Making Freedom in the African Diaspora” co-sponsored with the departments of  History and Art History. Our series of workshops and brown bag seminars will feature a presentation on “Science, Obea and religion in Trinidad” by Brent Crosson, and a workshop with famed photographer and author of Violentology: Manual of the Colombian Conflict, Stephen Ferry.

Most of our events emerge from faculty-initiated projects or proposals. Have ideas for future events or projects that CLACS could support? Contact CLACS’s new Outreach Administrator Omar A. Dauhajre at omar.dauhajre@nyu.edu and share your thoughts.

We are also very excited about our catalog of unique course offerings this semester. The colloquium, led by Professors Sinclair Thompson and Sibylle Fischer, and our seminars cover a wide array of topics that will prepare our students with a comprehensive view and exhaustive understanding of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Those seminars include: Human Rights in Latin America by Professor Peter Lucas; The Color of Race in the Americas by Professor Aisha Khan; Government & Politics of Latin America by Professor Patricio Navia; Citizenships from Below (Latin America and the Caribbean) by Professor Edgardo Pérez Morales; Internship Seminar by Professor Pamela Calla; and Ethnographic Methods in Latin America and the Caribbean by Professor Katharine Smith.

CLACS offers unique Quechua Language courses taught by Professor Odi Gonzalez. Quechua students learn the most widely spoken indigenous language in the americas, and learn about the culture, history and struggles of its native speakers.

We wish you a wonderful semester and hope to see you at CLACS!

The Bolivian Salteña

Bolivian Salteñas

Photo Credit: Ross Lewin

When I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in Food Studies, I started a food and travel blog that highlighted some of my most memorable exploits in the Americas. One of these particular experiences happened during my very first trip outside the United States, in the country of Bolivia, when I was 19 years old. In Bolivia, the locals eat salteñas for a morning snack — a very different breakfast to my typical eggs and pancakes — so I was delighted to come across a food stand selling these savory pastries my first morning in La Paz. I took one into my hands and, disregarding any thought of etiquette or sophistication, I munched into that salteña like I hadn’t eaten for years; hot juice running down my chin, bits of flaky crust sticking to the edges of my mouth; I didn’t care. It was one of those foods that wasn’t just delicious; it was mind-numbingly good. I quickly whipped around, turning to the man who sold me that heavenly treat. “¡Delicioso, señor!” I exclaimed, my mouth absolutely stuffed to the brim, cheeks bulging. The man, surprised, looked slowly over my messy, food-stained face and started to laugh. It was obvious I had never eaten a salteña before and he decided to help me, showing me the proper way by holding one upright, nibbling at the top corner and eating downwards without spilling a single drop of juice. After thanking him profusely, he gave me a wink and a knowing smile. “Bienvenidos a Bolivia, amiga,” he answered. That connection — a brief, fleeting moment of a local man welcoming me into his country — resonated deeply within me. It was the first time I realized that food had the power to connect people, regardless of what country they were from or which language they spoke.

That salteña was the first thing I ever ate in Bolivia, or in any country outside the U.S., for that matter. I consider the salteña, and the memory that it invokes, the beginning of a fiery passion for food, culture, and travel that has stayed with me ever since that first trip to Bolivia. I don’t know if I would be where I am today, an aspiring culinary anthropologist, had I not discovered food’s remarkable ability to bring people together, back at that food stand in La Paz years ago.

Posted by Elizabeth Unger—NYU Food Studies graduate student

NACLA-CLACS Conversation with Carlos Pérez Guartambel: Indigenous Resistance in the Andes

carlos perez guartambelThis article first appeared on NACLA.org on November 18, 2013. Reposted with Permission.

Ecuador’s  indigenous movement has a strong legacy of resistance in Latin America. After the national uprising of 1990, the indigenous movement directly entered electoral politics with the creation of the electoral party Pachakutik in 1996. Ecuador’s indigenous movement is a milestone in the region, fueling an ethnopolitical climate of resistance across the Andes that resulted in the election of indigenous President Evo Morales in Bolivia in 2006. Today the movement resists extractivism on indigenous lands, pursuing its strategy of resistance despite systematic repression from the government.

In a NACLA-CLACS co-sponsored event on October 31, Manuela Picq spoke with Carlos Pérez Guartambel, the current leader of Ecuarunari, (Ecuador Runacunapak Rikcharimui, Confederation of the Kichwa of Ecuador), the historically powerful indigenous organization in the Ecuadorian highlands. The event was translated by Antonia Carcelén.

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