Tag Archives: anthropology

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

Street Food in Mexico City: The Dirty, The Clean, The Tasty

Hayden - Mexico - Fruit juice stand in Mexico City

Fruit Juice Stand in Mexico City

One of the first impressions that I had of Mexico City upon coming here for the first time, seven years ago was that the metropolis was saturated with food.  In addition to grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes of all types, the streets themselves teem with places to eat. White metal stands line the sidewalks near major and minor thoroughfares, selling sandwiches, fresh fruits and juices, tacos, and antojitos (corn-based snacks such as quesadillas and tostadas).  Other vendors come early in the morning and set up tarps, coal-fired griddles, and a few plastic stools on street corners in residential and commercial areas, where they sell tacos, antojitos, and tamales.  Still other vendors are fully mobile, pushing carts, riding bicycles, or carrying baskets to ply their wares, often yelling out the types of products they have on offer (churros, roasted sweet potatoes, sandwiches, tamales, corn on the cob, sweet breads, tacos de canasta) as they weave their way through the city.  Street food, or comida callejera, certainly exists in other countries, but in Mexico it is particularly vibrant, omnipresent, and embraced as a part of the national identity.  People from most walks of life frequent street food stands, at least periodically, and many people depend on their products for affordable, nutritious daily meals.  Yet the majority of street food vendors, despite their iconic status and importance in the urban food landscape, exist precariously in the informal sector, where they are regularly declared to be problems by politicians and city residents alike.  Vendedores ambulantes (or mobile vendors) are commonly criticized in terms of public health, waste disposal, tax evasion, corruption, use of public space, or quality of life.  As an anthropologist, I am interested in the implications of these contradictory rhetorics and practices around street food for Mexicans, as consumers, vendors, and political actors. Continue reading

Perumanta Anthropologist Margarita Huayhuawan Rimaykusun

Rimasun - Margarita Huayhua - CLACS at NYUAnthropologist nisqa Margarita Huayhua. Pampamarka/Surimana (K’ana) Tupaq Amaruq llaqtanmanta. University of Michiganpi Ph.D. nisqata tukuran. Rutgers Universitypi kunan llank’akushan. Runasimi rimaq kawsayninkumanta, sasachayninkunamanta qillqashan ichapas qillqata hatarichimunqa lliw runa qhawarinanpaq, yacharinanpaq.

Margarita Huayhua es a Ph.D. en antropología, University of Michigan. Ella es de las tierras que fueron parte del cacicazgo de Tupaq Amaru (Pampamarka/Surimana). Actualmente es a postdoctoral fellow en Rutgers University. Su investigación se centra en los sistemas de discriminación y racialización en la vida cotidiana que afecta a los que hablan Quechua como primera lengua y que perpetuan estructuras de desigualdad y exclusión en los paises andinos.

Margarita Huayhua is an anthropologist from Pampamarka/Surimana (K’ana), the land of Tupaq Amaru. She finished her PhD at the University of Michigan, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on everyday discrimination and racialization that affect Quechua-speaking people, and perpetuate inequality and exclusion in the Andean countries.

Photograph taken in Peru by Prof. Huayhua.


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Focus on Faculty: Liliana Goldín

Liliana Goldín in the Central Highlands of Guatemala

Liliana Goldín in the Central Highlands of Guatemala, photo courtesy Flickr/McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research

Anthropologist Liliana Goldín is a CLACS affiliated professor in the Silver School of Social Work, and a faculty research associate at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research. Her research focuses on the intersections of economy and culture in Guatemala, and the ways in which primarily Mayan populations of the Central and Western Highlands negotiate the impacts of globalization in relation to migration, labor, and consumption. 

Global Maya: Work and Ideology in Rural Guatemala In 2009, Goldín published Global Maya: Work and Ideology in Rural Guatemala, which was based on more than 10 years of field research in Guatemala.  The book uses an interdisciplinary approach, relying on both ethnographic research with rural Mayan communities and surveys, to document cultural and economic changes in the region.

Goldín says her aim was to show that ideas about making a living are constructed in the process of practice. “In a non-linear way, we are the result and the motivation of what we do and how we do it.  This empirical study of the workings of ideology and practice shows the ongoing transformations that are taking place in rural Guatemala in the context of global processes and local initiatives and responses,” she says.
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History and Anthropology Conference Highlights Expansive Caribbean Archives

Ada Ferrer, Sidney Mintz, Aisha Khan -- RISM Symposium CLACS at NYU

CLACS Director Ada Ferrer, Anthropologist Sidney Mintz, and Anthropology Professor Aisha Khan at the CLACS Caribbean History and Anthropology Conference

On December 1 – 2, scholars and Caribbean studies enthusiasts came together for a two-day conference highlighting the recently acquired RISM Collection.

The expansive RISM (Research Institute for the Study of Man) Collection was founded in 1955 by Dr. Vera D. Rubin (1911–1985), and produced unique social science research ranging the fields of anthropology, history, demographics and medicine. This conference focused on three specific collections from Trinidad, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Harvey Neptune - RISM Symposium CLACS at NYU

Harvey Neptune (CLACS alum and Assitant Professor of History at Temple University) talks about the Trinidad Study

The Trinidad Study is comprised of materials from the Study of the Aspirations of Youth in a Developing Society, which includes a series of in-depth surveys of high school student in 1957 and 1961. The project aimed to understand “how youth perceived the changing social, political, and economic issues facing Trinidad and Tobago as a developing nation in the Caribbean.”

The Puerto Rico Project, which scholar Sidney Mintz participated in, was conducted by Dr. Julian H. Steward and a team of anthropologists between 1947 – 1949.  The collection includes field notes, meeting minutes, manuscripts, printed matter and other ephemera.

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