Tag Archives: anthropology

Indigenous Languages on the Airwaves

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

MalagaSabogal_Peru_ROA

Norma interviews professor Equicio Paxi in Radio Onda Azul

It is 3 am and, if I am to believe my cellphone, it is also -9°C in Puno, Peru. Even if there was heating in the place where I am staying (and there is none) I would probably still be cold. But my excitement compensates the weather as I am heading once again to Radio Onda Azul (ROA) for its “Quechua Rimayninchik” weekday program. Andean music, plenty of jokes, calls from communities far away, but also reflections on the state of indigenous peoples nowadays: all of these and more come together from 3 to 5 am. Chaska and Norma, two women in their early 30s, are in charge of facilitating these exchanges and making sure that the conversation keeps flowing.

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Indigenous Puno?

MalagaSabogal_Peru_Puno.JPG

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

It has been a couple of weeks since I arrived in Puno, one of the biggest cities in the southern Peruvian Andes. I have a long history with this city, having researched in the area throughout my bachelor and masters degree. Still, Puno was always a place to go through, in order to get somewhere else. This time I am going to spend two months in the city, going through the archives and talking to people who can somehow enlighten me on my research topic. Although I am an anthropologist, I also have a background in history and always try to bring these two together in my research. I am interested in the Aymara and Quechua identity definitions and its connections with the international indigenous movement.

Who is indigenous? What does it even mean? For a long time, this was not a question being asked in Peru. El problema del Indio (the Indian problem) became a topic at the beginning of the 20th century but the question about who is indio was not put forward until the last decades. As in Latin America more broadly, ethnicity in Peru is constructed through a combination of quite fluid physical and cultural categories that are sometimes claimed as means of self-identification, but more often ascribed by others. During the first half of the 20th century, the category of race became culturized (and culture became racialized) which led to even more complications in the definitions of who the indio was. From an elite and “white” perspective, national progress required de-indianization of the country’s population, to be accomplished through education and literacy, while the growing rural-to-urban migration process watered down distinct cultural characteristics of those who only a decade before were considered by the state as definitely Indian. Velasco Alvarado’s revolutionary government (1968-1975) further advanced the process of de-indianization, although for different reasons, advocating for the use of the term “peasant.

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Thunapa and Azanaques

Post by Raúl A. Rodríguez Arancibia,MA Candidate at CLACS – Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU

portada de layra parla 3

Among indigenous people of the Andes, the geographical features of the landscape play an important role beyond referencing points in space. The narratives of those features, which are humanized and genderized by their inhabitants, constitute an important role in maintaining memory of the territory. Thus, the features are protagonists of mythical stories. These narratives can be understood as tools to create a living landscape, where the unknown is understood, and nature is familiarized.

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Class and Color Blindness in Mexican Consumer Segmentation

Advertisement from upscale department store in Mexico City

Advertisement from upscale department store in Mexico City

Posted by Marcel Rosa-Salas – doctoral student in Sociocultural Anthropology  at NYU

The trade organization responsible for developing los niveles socioeconomicos, the Mexican approach to consumer segmentation, takes inspiration from French and British consumer segmentation models. Whereas traditional consumer segmentation models in the United States rely more explicitly on conceptions of race, several global ad agencies have their own based entirely on class status. What distinguishes class-based consumer segmentation in Mexico is the particular social, cultural, economic and political dynamics that maintain a staunch commitment to color blindness. This commitment shapes the way this socioeconomic stratification looks as well as the way it is discussed by marketers in Mexico.

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¿Cuál es tu nivel?: Studying Consumer Segmentation in Mexico

Posted by Marcel Rosa-Salas – doctoral student in Sociocultural Anthropology  at NYU

Salas-Mexico-Book

The guidebook marketers use for segmenting Mexican consumers

Mexico City is one of Latin America’s thriving hubs for the marketing industry, home to both small boutique agencies and satellite offices of global holdings. For the past two weeks, I have been in the city doing research on consumer segmentation in its advertising and consumer research industries. Thus far, it has been a rich field site for examining this topic.

Through conducting interviews with advertising executives and consumer researchers, I want to understand how knowledge about Mexican consumers is produced in the professional discourse of these industries. I’m also looking to gain insight into the historical, social and cultural context within which marketing professionals produce this knowledge, and the ways in which they put it into practice in consumer research literature and advertising strategy.

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(Re)Defining Mestizaje in Mexico City

Gaspar Yanga - First Liberator of the Americas - section of mural located in the Palacio Muncipal of Xalapa, Veracruz

Gaspar Yanga – First Liberator of the Americas – section of mural located in the Palacio Municipal of Xalapa, Veracruz

Written by Patrick Moreno-Covington CLACS MA Candidate 

Stepping out of customs and into one of the many cabs queued up outside of Mexico City’s Benito Juárez airport, I became immediately consumed by all things Chilango. Street performers and vendors at traffic lights, insane amounts of traffic, delicious spits of marinated pork known as al Pastor slowly rotating on the sidewalk and so. many. people. The sights, smells and sounds of the megalopolis almost subsumed my attentive capabilities so that I barely caught the taxi driver asking me where I was coming from. My Spanish accent (or the fact that I was leaving an airport) must have given me away.

‘The United States, Texas’, ‘Ahh the United States, there are a lot of racist problems over there, right?’ ‘And that politician, he said a lot of bad things about Mexicans’. While trying to avoid an elongated discussion on why Donald Trump lowers the political standards of the country with his shameful and inflammatory rhetoric, I did want to engage my driver’s interpretation of America’s race problems.

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Newcomers in New York: The Interview Sessions

Rosanna-Nayanna_Interview

In keeping align with my methodological approach utilizing multimedia to conduct collaborative ethnography; the latest installments of the project were interview workshops.  In general, skill development workshops are a major component of this project.  The workshops focus on creative reconnaissance and technological skill building activities.  The participants and I work together (and with local experts) to learn more about different aspects of photography, video, and audio equipment and techniques, editing programs, blogging, creative writing, and more.  Furthermore, another purpose of the meetings and workshops is to familiarize the participants with the greater New York City area.

Last week, I met with the young ladies, in groups of two, at Washington Square in Manhattan. Throughout the day, each participant was able to enter and observe New York University’s Bobst Library (where they were granted limited access to the stacks and facility!), the Tisch School of Art’s ITP lab (the Interactive Telecommunications Program, where we borrow the 5D camera and audio recording equipment), and the CLACS office and rooms (the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, where the footage was actually recorded).  Each pair played artistic directors in setting the stage for their interview session. Unfortunately, a light decided to begin its slow, blinking decline during the “talk show” style interview, but the cameras kept rolling in order to maintain the “flow” of the conversation.  Claritza and Valin decided that a conversation style would be the most comfortable and effective approach.  Continue reading

Newcomers in New York: Musings on Methods

Cadena Belski - New York - Newcomer Students

The anthropology of yore is gone— whereby researchers would go to the island to observe “the natives” and upon returning to the “real world,” share all that was learned of the other  while in “the field.”  With the advents of technology and the increasingly globalized world, there are no more islands left untouched — and so the necessity for and the rules of — ethnography have changed.  And I think it’s a good thing.

While most modern anthropologists agree that their predecessors’ approaches and methodologies were not without their faults, they must acknowledge their contributions along with the controversies.  The contemporary anthropologist, however, is not without adversity or critique.  Along with the introduction of advanced technologies and new forms of communication comes the potential for infinite possibilities for shaping research and everyday lives.  This is the discourse with which I dance.

The blog is an interactive form of communication/ social media in publicly accessible format.  It is what I am incorporating into my methodology.  The fact that the “informants/participants” are able to consciously and intentionally contribute to the blog opens an entire new set of questions; questions I still do not have the answers to, because like my predecessors, Malinowski and Geertz, I am figuring out the perimeters.  Continue reading

“Me Siento Mas Boliviano Que Nunca”: Interviews and Observations on the Soccer Field

For my final research post, I wanted to share a bit about one of the most important parts of my project: to conduct both interviews and participant observation with a Bolivian soccer league in Buenos Aires. As with much of my research, where exactly this would take place depended much on the contacts I made and where they led me. Dr. Manuel Cervantes at FUNCRUSUR connected me with Augustin Flores, who brought me to two different parks: Parque Avellaneda y Parque Roca. My first day there, I talked with several “mesas de directores,” where the league leaders keep the paperwork and such. The first day, I completed some general interviews about basic organizational structures and took a lot of pictures.

Tollefson - Argentina - Asociacion

Me with Rigoberto (committee leader) and Pedro (president) of the Asociacion Deportiva Guaqui.

Two weeks later, I returned to the Parque Avellaneda to talk more formally with the president and committee leader of the Asociacion Deportiva Guaqui, Pedro and Rigoberto. The Asociacion Deportiva Guaqui (ADQ) includes mainly members from the town of Guaqui near Lake Titicaca, following the normal pattern of groups made up of individuals from the same region of Bolivia. Continue reading

“The Beautiful Game” in Buenos Aires: Transnationalism through Sport

One of the things that I love the most about my thesis topic is the reaction I get to the inevitable “so, what are you writing your thesis on?” question. When this question is asked by a professor or fellow grad student, I have a slightly longer response prepared, but when it’s asked by a casual acquaintance, my first answer is simply: “Soccer.”

I first started playing soccer when I was three years old; while I was never the fastest (by far) or the most skilled at footwork, I continued to play and love the sport through high school and onto college (and grad school!) intramural teams. I attended the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, obsessively follow Spain as a national team and Barcelona as a club, and yet had never really considered studying fútbol in a more academic way until I started at NYU. As it turns out, soccer is heavily studied by various academic fields – sociology, anthropology, history, ethnic studies, and even mathematics (statistical analysis), economics (the sport brings in billions of dollars worldwide), and science (does heading a soccer ball damage your brain? Are successful soccer players better thinkers than non-players?). For a sport that originated in mid 19th century Britain, it has spread across the world remarkably, and it would be hard to imagine modern-day Spain, Brazil, or Argentina without also picturing their fervent dedication to club teams, national teams, and the sport at large.

The research I’m doing while in Buenos Aires, then, somehow managed to work its way from “I want to go to South America and talk about soccer” to my current working research question: “With full awareness of the implications of the intersection of race, nationality, identity, and soccer within the Bolivian community in Buenos Aires, how and to what extent does this particular immigrant population use soccer to either negotiate integration into the local society or to sustain their distinct ethnic identity?” In brief, I hope to use soccer as a lens to understand the issues of transnationalism, migration, and discrimination that inevitably arise in this context. Continue reading