Strength at Posto 9

Posted by Michelle Hurtubise, MA Candidate at NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities. This post was written in the summer of 2017, based on research funded by the Tinker Grant. 

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Photo by Michelle Hurtubise

I was sitting on Rio de Janeiro’s rightly famed and beautiful Ipanema Beach, crafting lofty academic thoughts while humming Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “The Girl from Ipanema” when I heard clapping.  I looked around, thinking someone was performing and could not find the source.  As more and more people began to stand up clapping, I too kept my energy focused on an unknown event.  Something was happening.  I stood up.  And then I saw where everyone was looking, a tiny happy boy was perched on someone’s shoulder, raising his toy word high in the air.  His skinny arm was straight and strong, raised in a triumphant gesture of confidence. The clapping got louder and louder until a man trailing a few other kids in tow calming walked up and the tiny boy climbed down for a hug.  A family was reunited.  The clapping turned into a few happy cheers and then everyone went back to their beach chairs, beer, and high academic musings.  I stood stunned, tears stinging my eyes as I witnessed something normal to the people of Posto 9 at Ipanema.  

As I sniffled I thought how easily the community here could transcend language and class, culture and borders and help a lost child out with a simple clap.  And why not? Posto 9 has a history of being a gathering place for liberals and countercultural movements, but a friend also said this kind of clapping happens all over Latin America. After all, it is the most logical, easy, and cost effective solution.  Forget fear and shaming, isn’t it more productive to NOT instill fear in a lost child or shame the parent when these things happen all the time and with no ill intent?  When everyone gathered together, the solution was simple and clear.  Just clap, people will look, and everyone gets to share in the joy of reunion.  Never before have I seen such a instinctual, genuine, and collective responsibility for the young.  No one tried to pass the responsibility off to another, no one had any fear of being held responsible for someone else’s problem.  Higher authorities were not turned to for a solution, the little boy was not handed off to the Police.  And a child learned that he had neighbors, he had people he could turn to who would actually help him.  He belonged.  He knew the land was his, the people were on his side, and while things new seem as simple when we are grown, for a moment he was the center of a movement.  Where the state often instills a culture of fear and shame, the community overcame and the people stood in joy.  In five minutes my whole notion of what is possible was turned on its head, and I was so grateful to be in Latin America where people graciously showed me more truly is possible.

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Photo by Michelle Hurtubise

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Maré at Night

Posted by Michelle Hurtubise, MA Candidate at NYU’s Center for Experimental Humanities. This post was written in the summer of 2017, based on research funded by the Tinker Grant. 

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Photo by Michelle Hurtubise

My day started sleepily, having fended off an annoying mosquito all night.  I was gathering my strength, ready to encounter an unknown world, putting on first world makeup on to cover the bites when I heard the twerp again.  Oh I was ready.  Slap, blood, and thank goodness the mirror I hit with all my morning force didn’t shatter.  As I wiped up the mess I had the odd thought that I was cleaning up my own blood.  Forget about the mosquito, poor me.  I just spilled my own blood.

Recently I had seen BOPE (Special Police Operation Battalion) roll their tanks through the Maré Favela in Rio de Janeiro.  A school had closed because when a fire had started in a wastebasket, the firemen refused to come put it out.  They feared the favela.  So they called the police.  When BOPE rolled in, the community knew there would be trouble.  And then the shooting started.  So a school closed for the day because someone was scared to put out a fire in a wastebasket.  The tanks rolled by, and fanned the flames higher and higher and then bullets flew.

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Looking for Asian ‘mestizaje’ in Mexican History

By Emilia Sawada, PhD Candidate in Social and Cultural Analysis. This post was written in the summer of 2017, based on research funded by the Tinker Grant. 

Although I spent only two weeks in the field (Mexico City, Mexico), this research expedition generated a wealth of information about two subjects of interest: post-revolutionary Mexican public art and the influence of the latter on contemporary Mexican and Japanese artists. In fact, I collected such an overwhelming amount of information from Mexico City’s museums, art fairs, and government buildings, not to mention my ethnographic interviews with contemporary artists, that I hardly know where to begin this blog post. I spent the entirety of the first week at museums and other landmarks in the historic center, photographing artworks and looking for examples of Asian mestizaje in Mexican history. Although I am particularly interested in post-revolutionary Mexican aesthetics, I found abundant examples of Asian influence in colonial ceramics and furniture—perhaps most obviously, the biombo, an Asian-style folding screen imported to New Spain in the fifteenth century. However, I had a more difficult time locating Asian subjects, or even Asian themes, in the public works of post-revolutionary muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Some of the subjects depicted in Rivera’s murals, for example, look Asian, but are more likely indigenous Mexicans. I wonder if the post-revolutionary muralists consciously mobilized this racial ambiguity in their work? Interestingly enough, some of my Mexican interviewees noted that their collaborations with Japanese artists had brought them closer to indigenous culture, suggesting that such Asian-indigenous connections persist into the present.

Even more striking is the history of Asian and Asian American participation in the Mexican muralismo movement, of which I was unaware until my visit to Mexico. Apparently, Los Angeles-born Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi actively participated in the muralismo movement, executing some of Rivera’s designs at sites like the Rodriguez Market in Mexico City. In fact, not only Noguchi, but Taro Okamoto, Koji Toneyama, Luis Nishizawa, and Shinsaburo Takeda also participated at least transiently in this 1920s-1930s post-revolutionary movement, which coincided with the mestizophilia (national obsession with racial hybridity) of the early twentieth century. This penchant for cross-racial public art continued for Japanese Mexican artist Nishizawa, who created a number of—unfortunately, unrealized—sketches for mural projects in the 1960s-1970s, at the height of postwar decolonization and the student liberation movements. Although an extensive body of literature exists on post-revolutionary muralismo, less work exists on the enduring influence of artists like Rivera on late twentieth-century and twenty-first-century Mexican and Asian artists. These historical moments promise a potential counterpoint to the concurrent 1960s-1970s U.S. public arts movement and its enduring legacy in California.

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What We Talk About when We Talk About Development

Posted by Sam Kellogg — MA candidate in Media, Culture, and Communications at NYU. This post was written in the summer of 2017, based on research funded by the Tinker Grant. 

On paper, and according to many observers, the Cuban Internet is many years behind the times, behind the curve. In a formal sense, and according to a linear development model in which countries must develop one step after another along a set path, this is true. Infrastructure is certainly lacking, though this is changing—new fiber-optic cables have been laid in Habana Vieja and new public (though not free—see my previous blog post) wifi hotspots and Internet cafes have been opened across the island. The reasons for the lack in infrastructural development are multiple and layered: government hesitance to adopt the Internet is certainly part of it, though the long-term effects of the US economic blockade have inarguably been devastating to Cuba’s ability to build a robust web architecture, particularly because so much of the Internet’s global development (in terms of physical infrastructure but also in terms of intellectual property, patents, and standards) has been dominated by the United States. There isn’t time to go into further detail here, but regardless of the reasons for Cuba’s relatively slow Internet adoption, what I like to call the “back in time” narrative can be summed up well borrowing the words of a friend of mine, a well-respected Cuban. He told me that Cuba’s Internet infrastructure is about “twenty years behind,” pointing out that the public wifi hotspot model is fundamentally the same one used by other Latin American countries like Perú a couple decades ago. Larry Press has written astutely from this perspective, arguing that Cuba might be able to leapfrog development stages in order to catch up with the rest of the world.

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Poster art in Clandestina: “Welcome to Prehistory!”

While this modal developmental model could be useful when comparing countries on a macro scale, it is limited if we want to understand what’s happening on the ground in Cuba. I would argue that the changes that the Internet has already wrought in Cuban society can hardly be appreciated if we stay at a high level, and argue instead for a ‘thicker’ approach of social and cultural change. From a hardware perspective, the antennas that the Cuban telecom company ETECSA is using in public wifi parks, mostly from Chinese technology giant Huawei, are fast and functional, and while the scratch-off, single-use login card system I described in my last blog post might seem antiquated, the system sits within a line of tried and true models for selling pre-paid access time going back to phone cards in the 1970’s. As a Cuban blogger and independent journalist I spoke with put it, “at least it’s something,” and compared with five years ago when access in cities was almost exclusively through expensive tourist hotels, the difference is almost night and day. Beyond that, though, the Internet and technology that Cubans use to connect is unrecognizable from those of 1997, and it is this fact that makes Cuba’s integration into the global internet at this moment so difficult to understand using linear development models.

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Impunity Makes Mexico Dangerous for Everyone

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Lesvy Osorio was killed next to a telephone booth on the UNAM campus, long considered a sanctuary by students and the intellectual community. (Nidia Bautista)

Posted by Nidia Bautista – MA Candidate in Global Journalism and CLACS at NYU. This post was written in August, 2017, based on summer research funded by the Tinker Grant. 

Mexico has become a dangerous place for everyone. This summer, during the time I spent investigating feminicide in Edomex, has been terrible for human rights and crime in the country. Ten journalists have been killed this year and Mexico is fast becoming the deadliest country for journalists in the world. Candido Rios, a crime reporter, is the latest journalist killed this month in Veracruz. He was murdered despite being placed under government protection. Mexico’s murder rate has also reached a record high this year. The government has recorded more than 12,100 homicides, with 2,234 murders in June alone. It was the deadliest month in twenty years.

The violence is also ravaging Mexico City, ranked New York Times number one city to visit in 2016. Just this month, patrons of a trendy theater and restaurant called Cine Tonala in the Roma Sur neighborhood were robbed by armed gunman. I used to live in the neighborhood and would often visit Cine Tonala and like many others, up until this summer, I didn’t think this kind of violence would happen in the capital. Previously, it has been easier to relegate this sort of violence to the peripheries. I have spent this summer monitoring and compiling a long list of stories and cases of extreme violence against women in one such periphery. The stories are appalling.

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The Runasimi Outreach Committee (ROC) and CLACS host 3rd Annual Quechua Student Alliance Meeting

On November 11, 2017, the Runasimi Outreach Committee (ROC) and Quechua at New York University hosted the 3rd Annual Quechua Student Alliance Meeting, an all-day gathering sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, the Organizational Student Life Grant from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University, the K-12 Outreach Program at the Institute of Latin American Studies at Columbia University, and The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of the University of Illinois. The Meeting offered educators and future educators, students, advocates, program administrators, and other community members the opportunity to exchange their knowledge of Quechua language and culture with each other. Through various presentations and interactive discussions, the Meeting engaged its participants in Quechua language and cultural activities while raising awareness of the growing Quechua communities across New York and the U.S. as well as the increasing importance of Quechua language and cultural education.

The event began with paying respect to Quechua culture and language through a traditional ceremony called Q’oa, led by Julia Garcia, a language partner for Global Languages Network and a middle school teacher. This cultural ceremony grounded everyone in gratitude and in the values of Quechua peoples.

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Following the ceremony, presentations and interactive discussions took place, including:
– a roundtable discussion on Quechua language learning in a University context, presented by Quechua professor Américo Mendoza-Mori, from University of Pennsylvania as well as Quechua instructor, Carlos Molina-Vital, from the University of Illinois, Champagne Urbana. Américo Mendoza-Mori recently published an article on this very topic titled “Quechua Language Programs in the United States: Cultural Hubs for Indigenous Cultures” in Chiricú Journal: Latina/o Literatures, Arts, and Cultures.
– a presentation on Quechua linguistics by PhD Student, Gladys Camacho, from the University of Texas, Austin
– a showcase on the community organization by the Quechua Collective of New York
– an interactive conversation on Quechua pedagogical strategies, involving games and activities, led by a New York University CLACS alum, Arleen Dawes
– a discussion and demonstration session of the New York-produced Quechua podcast, Rimasun, presented by Christine Mladic Janet, a PhD student from New York University
– a presentation on the digitization of Quechua, moderated by Diego Arellano, Undergraduate at the University of Ohio.

After supporting a local Ecuadorian restaurant Naño, who provided our lunch, all participants gathered to share “Ima Rayku?”(“For what reason?”), in which they discussed with each other why they are interested in, study, or teach Quechua. This activity shed light on a variety of reasons why Quechua education is of growing importance in the U.S. during this time of globalization and increased international migration. Beginning the afternoon session, ROC presented a community organization award recognizing the work of Kichwa Hatari, a Bronx-based radio program that aires in Kichwa/Quechua for the greater New York community.

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Later, New York University Quechua professor, Odi Gonzalez, discussed his book on oral Quechua history and memories, followed by Bruce Mannheim, a linguistic anthropologist from the University of Michigan, who gave the keynote address. The event culminated with a book fair which ranged from a trilingual (Quechua, Spanish, and English) Quechua children’s books to more scholarly publications, including a bilingual (Quechua, Spanish) oral history book and a monolingual (Quechua) linguistics book.

Ultimately, the Meeting successfully brought together Quechua language and culture advocates, students and educators, connecting New York with the Andes. In fact, the day after the event, Daniela Del Alamo Garcia, a teacher in Cusco, Peru at the Language Heritage Institute published an article on the Meeting in El Diario, Cusco.

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Participants of this Meeting hailed primarily from New York, as well as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ontario, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Mexico and Texas. Participants ranged from elementary-aged students to elders. In addition to members of New York’s Quechua community as well as local Kichwa/Quechua community organizations, participants also consisted of Quechua students and professors from NYU, Columbia, Fordham University, Hunter College, Lehman College, CUNY, Vassar College, Harvard University, University of New Mexico, Ohio State, and UT Austin. We very much look forward to see what next year’s meeting has instore!

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Quechua language registation at NYU is currently open for Spring 2018. Contact clacs@nyu.edu for more information!
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Sincere thanks to the reporting provided by Marial Quezada, ROC member and MA student from Columbia University

Upcoming Events November 6-11, 2017

CLACS has yet another jam-packed week of events for you to attend, engange with, reflect on, and enjoy. If you are unable to attend the event in person, check out our facebook page, because there is a good chance that there will be a live-stream. This week, events range from critically analyzing the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, celebrating Mexican music, and collaborating with Quechua speakers and students from across North America.

HURRICANE SEASON: SOVEREIGNTY & CATASTROPHE IN THE CARIBBEAN

A roundtable on the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. How have environmental and colonial histories shaped recent events? What fragile infrastructures and uncertain sovereignties have been revealed?

Monday, November 6, 2017
6:00 – 9:00 pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Auditorium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

More information about this event can be found here.

MOTHER TONGUES UNITED: LANGUAGE EXPO CELEBRATION OF LESS-COMMONLY TAUGHT LANGUAGES

Every year, The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at NYU hosts “#MotherTonguesUnited”, an event tied to a movement to unite speakers of historically undervalued languages in an effort to dispel myths and stereotypes surrounding those languages. Many languages have been included in this movement, including Papiamentu, Haitian Creole, and Garífuna.

This year, CLACS is excited to be hosting a Language Fair that focuses on less-commonly taught languages! This special edition of #MotherTonguesUnited aims to celebrate the work of various language departments and centers throughout NYU while creating a community space where students can learn about and engage in these languages.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017
4:00 – 8:30 pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Atrium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

More information about this event can be found here.

MEXICAN MUSIC IN THE GLOBAL MARKET: EXPLORING THE CULTURAL CHALLENGES & COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES

Mexico is the 2nd largest latin market right after Brazil. Yet, it shows no signs of stopping. Join us to as we discuss the impact of Mexican, and Latin music, in the global market, as we unravel the stories of some Mexican professionals in the music industry and musicians, as well as music industry professionals who deal with Latin American content. We will explore the cultural challenges and commercial opportunities that Mexican music has in the American market, and we will also discuss the evolution of Mexico’s music industry.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
10:00 am – 4:00 pm
NYU Kimmel 405
60 Washington Sq S

More information about this event can be found here.

SOUND X COLOR: SOMOS MUCHO MAS CUBA

Yamay Mejias Hernandez, also known as “La Fina,” will discuss her career as an Afro-Cuban feminist rapper and Director of “Somos Mucho Mas.” Somos Mucho Mas is one of the only female-led hip-hop initiatives in Cuba and serves as an intersectional anti-racist and feminist platform for Afro-Cuban women. As a rapper and community organizer, in a country that claims to have solved issues with racism, La Fina presents a unique perspective as she uses hip-hop to fight for social change.

Friday, November 10, 2017
5:30 – 8:30 pm
Social and Cultural Analysis, Flex Space
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor

More information about this event can be found here.

3RD QUECHUA STUDENT ALLIANCE MEETING

This annual event aims to promote an exchange of ideas between college students, professors, and the community at large who share an interest and passion for Quechua language and Andean culture. We are working towards creating a space for people of all ages and backgrounds to become dynamic leaders within their communities. Our goal is to foster networks of indigenous language advocates.

Saturday, November 11, 2017
10:00 am – 7:00 pm
King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, Atrium
53 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012

More information about this event can be found here.