Category Archives: Related Articles

New Documentary Investigates Gentrification in Spanish Harlem

Harlem.gif“El Barrio,” the predominantly Latino neighborhood in East Harlem, has long been a cultural center for the New York Latino community. Latinos began emigrating to El Barrio in the 1920s, with a large wave of Puerto Ricans immigrants arriving after World War II. In addition to its cultural heritage, El Barrio has also overcome significant struggles with poverty, and drug and gang activity. Recently, many Barrio residents complain that real estate development in the neighborhood is leading to gentrification, and a loss of Latino cultural heritage in this historic neighborhood.

On October 5th, 2010 the Museum of the City of New York presented a film series titled, “In Danger of Extinction,” which showcased two films dealing with gentrification in New York City. “The Lower East Side: An Endangered Place” by Robert Weber, focuses on the gentrification of the Lower East Side, one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City that has long been home to a diverse community of working-class immigrants. “Whose Barrio?” investigates gentrification in El Barrio, and was produced by Newsday journalists Ed Morales and Laura Rivera. Laura Rivera is also a graduate of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. In the film, two Barrio residents—Jose Rivera and James Garcia—reveal starkly opposing views on gentrification.

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Evo Morales Proclaims the Rights of Mother Earth

%C2%A9Evo%20Morales-1_400.jpgBolivian President Evo Morales spoke to a diverse crowd of supporters at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of New York on Tuesday, September 21st. President Morales’s talk was titled: “Nature is not for sale: The Rights of Mother Earth.” When talking with attendees in a line that wrapped around the block, I learned that their reasons for attending were as diverse as their backgrounds. Danni Gee from Philadelphia, PA—who works for New York City’s Central Park—knew nothing about Evo Morales, but had decided to come at the behest of a friend. Sam, who asked to remain anonymous, and lives “somewhere in Manhattan,” said he was a longtime supporter and had a friend who was “tied in with a Bolivian ornithologist.” Jeremiah Hosea, a native New Yorker and professional musician, said, “Evo Morales is the most exciting head of state in the world.”

Evo Morales, best known for his historic ascendance to the presidency as the first indigenous President of Bolivia, regards capitalism as the primary cause of environmental decline and climate change. Unlike most heads of state, President Morales—a native Aymara Indian—openly references his indigenous spiritual beliefs when discussing environmental policy.

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Bolivian President Evo Morales Visits New York City

Evo Morales at NYU

NYU CLACS co-sponsored an event at Hunter College to celebrate the Spanish translation of a new biography of Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Instead of going to class on Monday, September 21, Hunter student Alex Hamblet stood in line outside the College’s Kaye Playhouse. He was there to “get an unbiased look” at a president who he says “tends to get a little misrepresented” by the US media. In Latin America, “we’ve had indigenous presidents in the past,” said Mariano Muñoz a few feet down the line, “but none with the same impact as Evo.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales’s story has inspired millions of people around the world. He is a man who grew up herding llamas in the Bolivian mountains, who became the national leader of the Coca Farmers Union, who successfully led a peasant struggle against the privatization of water, and who became the first indigenous president of a country with an indigenous majority.

President Morales visited Hunter College to celebrate the English version publication of a book that tells that very story. “Evo Morales: The Extraordinary Rise of The First Indigenous President of Bolivia,” by Argentine journalist Martin Sivak, is the product of Sivak’s two-year stint following President Morales around Bolivia and all over the world. During that time, Sivak had unprecedented access to President Morales’ personal and public life. He was with him at meetings with other heads of state, at marches, summits, public speeches, and small gatherings in Bolivia. Martin Sivak is currently a PhD student at NYU.

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Bolivia: Reckoning with US Relations and Regional Rifts

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Morales and Obama at the 5th Summit of the Americas in April 2009 (Source: Radiomundial.com.ve)
Between Evo Morales’s election into office in December 2005 and the final months of the Bush administration, US-Bolivian relations – already fragile from a history of failed neoliberal policies, US support of dictators in the region, and a quagmire of fiscal and geopolitical turmoil – were embittered by a series of tit-for-tat policies, that reached a climax with the suspension of Bolivia from the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) in November of 2008, which was estimated to cost $155 million and between 12,000-85,000 jobs (CEPB, 2008).
Given that the ideological, hemispheric warfare has by and large taken the limelight in the media, namely in the west and the right-wing outlets in Latin America, since the rise of the leftist, indigenous leader, it is essential to reflect upon the policies of the Morales administration, particularly as the 2009 presidential elections approach on the 6th of December. Polls continue to indicate that Morales will be re-elected, but he has also promised that this will be his last term. n. Morales has taken bold steps to fulfil the promises of his 2005 campaign – a new Constitution, regulations on land ownership, large-scale nationalizations – and if re-elected, the success of the next four years will lie in how effectively his administration can reckon with the goals of a socialist agenda and the realities of a capitalist world order.

Ashwini Srinivasamohan
BA Candidate, Environmental Studies, minor in Anthropology and Latin American Studies

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Natural Resources and Bolivia: The Populist’s Predicament

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: COMIBOL
In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly this past September, Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke out against capitalism in the context of climate change:
“The origin of this (climate change and financial) crisis is the exaggerated accumulation of capital in too few hands. It is the permanent removal of natural resources and the commercialization of Mother Earth. The origins come from the system and an economic model of capitalism” (Butler, 2009).
The underlying problem with this anti-capitalist methodology is that Bolivia will indelibly partake in the “commercialization of Mother Earth,” whether it is the national government or foreign companies in control, as the country develops its primary commodity: natural gas. To that end, the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy has recognized that further development of hydrocarbons will engender environmental concerns, as outlined in the September 2008, Estrategia Boliviana de Hidrocarburos. With 710 billion cubic metres (bcm), Bolivia has the second largest natural gas reserves in Latin America. Annually, Bolivia produces about 11.3 bcm for export, of which Brazil takes the lion’s share, at 10 bcm.

Ashwini Srinivasamohan
BA Candidate, Environmental Studies, minor in Anthropology and Latin American Studies

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Erasing Traumatic Memories

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Photo credit: Hillary C. Schiff, Phd Candidate in Neuroscience at NYU

Tonight is the last lecture in the CLACS Program Seminar Series titled Hauntings: Memory, Patrimony and the Contested Past. Andreas Huyssen will visit us from Columbia University, and speak about “Uses of the Past in Transnational Memory Debates.”
For those who have not attended, you missed a series of compelling lectures that discussed questions about memory and how we deal in the present with traumatic events of the past. Among the many topics raised were school pictures used by contemporary artists, films made by children of the Disappeared in Argentina, and the politics of commemorative dates and public memorials. Definitely check out any CLACS sponsored lecture series in the future.
As a complement to this lecture series, which relies on social sciences to frame debates about dealing with memories, I thought the following two pieces of material from the world of neuroscience might prove interesting. First, this New York Times article talks about a neuroscience project at Brooklyn’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center which studies the altering of traumatic memory in mice and rats. Second, this RadioLab episode about “Memory and Forgetting,” which focuses in part on the research of NYU Neuroscientist Joe LeDoux and the erasing of memories of fear in rats – and humans. Food for thought — feel free to share opinions.
Christine Mladic
MA Candidate at CLACS

Wikipedia in Quechua

wikipedia_quechua.jpgThanks to a classmate, I recently discovered this version of Wikipedia in Quechua.
Wikipedia is a user-generated entity accessible by anyone with internet. As such, the multiple groups and dialects of the Quechua language pose a challenge to producing one version of Wikipedia in Quechua. In addition, Quechua has been and is primarily an oral language; it does not have one overarching alphabet or method of translating sounds to written words that is shared by all Quechua speakers. How to produce a unified, collectively created website in Quechua? This project can’t be incredibly inclusive, as participants must both have access to the internet as well as be able to write in Quechua in order to contribute. But on the other hand, there’s potential for it to be a kind of collage, a Quechua crockpot in which dialects meet and mingle. Whether you can read Quechua or not, it’s worth checking out at least to see what it’s like.
Visit the Meta-Wiki for a complete list of languages in which Wikipedia exists.
Christine Mladic
MA Candidate at CLACS