Tag Archives: Argentina

Cardboard Books and Sexual Work – Part II

Marguch Argentina booksOn one of my visits to La Sofía Cartonera, a cardboard publisher at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina, I took this picture that shows cardboard book covers that have just been painted and are still wet. The man in the picture is Emiliano Luna, an undergraduate student who told me about the routine they have at La Sofía. Each one of them have shifts throughout the week and different tasks they need to complete each day.

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Exploring State-Civil Society Interactions in Buenos Aires

Philips - Argentina - asignacion universal

ANSES relies heavily on technology. Each of the recipients I interviewed first learned about the program by TV advertisements. Those who qualify can enroll and set appointments via text message.

It is hard to believe how fast my month of research passed. While in Buenos Aires, I worked at a local ANSES office to learn about the effects of Asignacion Universal por Hijo (AUH), a conditional cash transfer, on women’s empowerment. Interviewing recipient women brought me to see that, in many cases, the grant helps empower a recipient woman by way of strengthening her identity as a mother and enhancing her sense of self-fulfillment. Recipient women told me again and again how AUH helped them to feel that they could now be the mother they had always hoped to be. With the help of the grant, a woman is able provide the food, school supplies, clothing, and other basic needs for her children. The women I interviewed emphasized that they want the best for their children, and without the financial help of the grant each month, many recipient families cannot always afford many things for their children, including a balanced diet or clothes and shoes that properly fit. While the monetary value of the grant is small (about 40 USD per child), the impact it has on low-income families is substantial. With the grant, many families find that they can afford send the children to school where they will learn, make friends, and grow up equipped to be in a better economic position than the previous generation.

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“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

Understanding “la colectividad boliviana” in Buenos Aires Within a Greater/Global Context

Benedict Anderson, best known as the author of Imagined Communities,  asserts that newspapers can provide the “technical means for ‘re-presenting’ the kind of imagined community” that an immigrant community has created – in terms of my project, that the Bolivian community has created in Buenos Aires. Therefore, one of the facets of my research is to analyze the newspapers that are created for and by the Bolivian community to determine how they cover and describe sports. However, as most things tend to happen, this hasn’t gone exactly how I had planned. (Foreshadowing: it’s been better!)

First, I came to Buenos Aires with a list of about six Bolivian newspapers that I had found by scouring the web for mentions of them (as many don’t have an online presence). Upon arriving and speaking with Dr. Manuel Cervantes, he informed me that all but two of them were out of business. Luckily, he just so happened to be on the editorial board of one of those two (funny how these connections work!) so he set me up with a meeting with another editor. A few days before that interview, I googled Bolivia Unida and came up with not only their website, but their facebook page. The most recent post immediately caught my attention – there was going to be an academic conference at the Universidad Nacional de San Martin entitled “Seminar about Migrations, Cultural Identity, and Human Rights: The Actuality of Immigrants in Argentina.” Oh hey! That’s precisely what I’m looking at! I scrambled to fill out the registration form (this is around 11pm on Wednesday night, and the conference was on Friday) and prepared myself for my first international conference.

Tollefson - Argentina - Inmigrantes

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Searching in Buenos Aires: a Story from the Field on Hunting for Contacts, Answers, and Conclusions


Ready for a bus ride across town.

Last year’s Tinker grant recipients stressed the importance of persistence while in the field. For the most part, I’ve been getting in touch with exactly the contacts I’d been hoping to find, but some people have been more difficult to track down. What really brought me to my research question, whether or not Asignacion Universal por Hijo empowers women, was an annual report put out by a private organization indicating that deaths from domestic violence are on the rise in Argentina. I wondered if this had any connection to the implementation of AUH, so I come to Buenos Aires with high hopes of meeting with the director of the organization. She was quite difficult to hunt down, but when I finally did get to meet with her, she shared some great information with me. Persistence in the field really does pay off! 

When I first arrived in Buenos Aires, I got in touch with a woman named Majo who has a great network of people working on social programs and women’s rights in the local area. Majo has been an incredible help in getting me directly connected with all the right people. I had tried calling and emailing the research organization several times with no response. Majo had not been able to get in touch with anyone at the center either, so she suggested that I accompany her to her weekly meeting the last two Wednesdays. Every week, the Buenos Aires Legislature hosts a meeting of approximately 35 women’s rights-based organizations where these groups can collaborate, plan events and awareness campaigns, and all stay in touch about developments in women’s rights in Argentina. Majo said that the founder of the research organization attended this weekly meeting, so I was excited to finally have an in. Continue reading

Álbano Rodríguez y Jesús Borrego Gil. Más sobre los orígenes de la ‘Pp [‘Patafísica porteña]. Ps [Parte segunda]

Misiones 385 por txabela, en FlickrMisiones 385, sede de la fundación del IAEPBA. Hoy, gracias a las incansables gestiones del LIAEPBA, este histórico lugar está debidamente señalado: la candela verde se ha diseñado siguiendo los estándares más modernos, y el número ocho se ha girado 180 grados para evocar el signo del infinito, pero esta vez, en lugar de puesto en pie, boca abajo.


Es posible que Álbano Rodríguez y Juan Esteban Fassio fueran amigos de la infancia. El caso es que, tres años después de que Fassio se hiciera miembro del Collège de ‘Pataphysyique, Rodríguez hizo lo mismo. Rodríguez trabajaba en el Ministerio de la Guerra, aunque pronto abandonaría su trabajo para dedicarse de lleno a la escritura, a la traducción y, evidentemente, a la ‘Patafísica, si es que ésta se puede separar de las actividades anteriores. A pesar de que había frecuentado, como Fassio, las reuniones del grupo surrealista de Pellegrini, Rodríguez no parece haber sido miembro de ningún otro grupo literario o artístico antes de su entrada en el Collège. Fue después cuando empezó a publicar y a desarrollar su actividad de creación y de investigación. Desde entonces, escribió extensamente para las revistas de Collège, publicó traducciones de Queneau, Jarry, Julien Torma y Malcom de Chazal en revistas como la cubana Ciclón o la belga Temps mêlés y fue antólogo y traductor de un libro de cuentos de Alphonse Allais [1]. En 1987, tres años después de su muerte, el Collège publicó, por primera vez, sus Hipnagogías, frases que le arrancaba al sueño y que dictaba, en esa mezcla de sueño y vigilia, a su mujer, Eva García, suponemos que en el mismo estado.

Pero todo esto pasó mucho, mucho después. Es muy probable que nada de esto hubiera sucedido si, en 1957, los dos amigos no se hubieran decidido a fundar el IAEPBA [Instituto de Altos Estudios Patafísicos de Buenos Aires]. Hasta ese entonces, no existía ninguna estructura patafísica fuera del Collège en sí y, mucho menos, una estructura que éste reconociera como legítimamente patafísica. Todo estaba por hacer y, por ello, Fassio y Rodríguez pidieron un aval a sus compañeros franceses. Y lo recibieron: nada menos que del Doctor Sandomir, primer vice-curador del Collège -el cargo más alto en la jerarquía colegial después del propio Faustroll-, y contemporáneo de Jarry. El mensaje, dirigido “a los miembros argentinos del Colegio con motivo de la solemne inauguración del Instituto de Altos Estudios Patafísicos de Buenos Aires”, cierra su Opus Testament Pataphysicum. El texto es breve: “¿Hay que desear que la ‘Patafísica exista en Buenos Aires?”, se pregunta el vice-curador. Su respuesta: “Ya existía aquí como en todas partes antes de que nosotros existiéramos y no necesita de ninguno de nosotros. Existirá siempre y no necesitará de nadie. Ni siquiera necesita existir. Pues no está obligada a existir para existir”[2]. Tan magnánimo mensaje bastó para que los dos porteños se supieran legitimados: el 6 de abril de 1957, en el 385 de la calle Misiones, Fassio leyó el mensaje en voz alta y, “a las 18 horas puntual”, quedó fundado el IAEPBA. Es probable que el nombre proviniera de una idea anterior de Fassio, que había querido fundar un centro de estudios sobre Sade en Buenos Aires, bajo el nombre Instituto de Altos Estudios Sádicos de Buenos Aires.
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“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