Tag Archives: Argentina

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

The Politics of Empowerment in Buenos Aires

philips - argentina - poster

A poster describing how to enroll in AUH.

My work is on a social program in Argentina called, Asignación Universal por Hijo para la Protección Social (AUH), a conditional cash transfer (CCT) implemented by presidential decree in late 2009. Under the program, the government uses a portion of income tax and sales tax to provide monthly transfers to poor families that are unemployed, informally employed, or who do domestic work and make less than a livable wage. Families receive $160 pesos (roughly $40 USD) per child ages 0-18, for up to five children. The money is given directly to the mother each month and is received under the condition that the family verifies children’s school attendance and medical checkups. It is designed to incentivize education for the poor population and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty via human capital accumulation.

In addition to drastic inequality and high rates of poverty, Argentina has a high rate of domestic violence. My work is focusing on whether transferring the money directly to mothers is empowering to women by giving them more financial control, helping them leave abusive homes, etc. or limits female agency by reenforcing traditional gender roles and providing a point of contention between a husband and wife regarding household finances. If there are negative consequences associated with the distribution system of the grant, a change in the structure of the policy could reduce domestic violence and save the lives of women. If the current system empowers women, there could be good reason to continue and expand the program. It could also incentivize collaborative work on finding additional funding sources.  Continue reading

Juan Esteban Fassio. Orígenes de la ‘Patafísica porteña [‘Pp] – Parte primera [Pp]*

Cadenas Canon - Argentina - 'PataphysicsPermítaseme vincular, a modo de conclusión, la Patafísica con el budismo Zen. Si se le preguntara a un maestro zen-patafísico “¿cuál es el verdadero sentido de la frase sobre el cocodrilo?”, se echaría a reír y nos golpearía varias veces con su bastón de física. No existe verdad fuera de la experiencia patafísica.

Juan Esteban Fassio, Creador-Fundador del IAEPBA, Regente de trabajos prácticos rousselianos, Proveedor Propagador de los Países platenses de Mesembrinesia Americana, Administrador Antártico y Gran Competente de la Orden de la Gran Guidouille [o espanziral].


La historia es así: un joven argentino, más bien solitario, lee un día de principios de los 50 o finales de los 40, en la Nouvelle Revue Française, un artículo sobre la fundación, en París, del Collège de ‘Pataphysique. El joven, que además de ser francófono es, entre otras muchas cosas, dibujante, se empieza a interesar por esa sociedad de pensadores de la que nadie en Buenos Aires ha oído hablar hasta entonces. Su nombre es Juan Esteban Fassio, “inventor, imaginero, ensayista, dibujante, traductor, compilador, patafísico, bibliófilo y pensador heterodoxo”, y es, aún hoy, una figura más bien desconocida en el panorama cultural argentino. Salvo, claro está, entre los lectores de Julio Cortázar, que le dedica su “De otra máquina célibe”, con foto incluida en la primera edición de La vuelta al día en ochenta mundos.

A Jarry ya se lo había leído en Buenos Aires: lo muestra un artículo en Martín Fierro, en enero de 1925. Pero para Fassio, como buen patafísico, Jarry no es más que una excusa para hablar de “la ciencia” y hacer que otros lean sobre ella. Así, en 1954, aparece en Letra y línea, revista de corte surrealista dirigida por Aldo Pellegrini, su “Alfred Jarry y el Colegio de ‘Patafísica”. Y el artículo no empieza con Jarry, sino con otro raro, sin duda más cercano al Río de la Plata: “Hay obras que desafían todo ‘ensayo de explicación’, que resultan incómodas de ubicar en las historias de la literatura. El tomo que lleva el título Obras completas de Lautréamont, con sus dos partes todavía contradictorias para la crítica […], constituye una constante provocación”. Lautréamont será una constante en la ‘Pp [recordemos: ‘Patafísica porteña]: años después, otras dos figuras clave, Albano Rodríguez y Eva García, se mudarán a Montevideo para realizar una investigación sobre el escritor franco uruguayo. Fruto de esa investigación será la biografía Isidore Ducasse, Comte de Lautréamont, firmada por otro ilustre del Collège, François Caradec, “avec la collaboration de Albano Rodríguez”. A fin de cuentas, no es de extrañar: entre los 27 volúmenes de la bibioteca del Doctor Faustroll, Jarry había incluido, nada menos que en el número 13, Los cantos de Maldoror. Continue reading

Focus on Faculty: Arlene Davila

Arlene DavilaArlene Davila is an award-winning Anthropologist and a CLACS affiliated faculty member. She teaches classes in Anthropology and Social and Cultural Analysis.  Her research focuses on race and ethnicity, media studies, globalization, visual culture, political economy, consumer culture, and Latinos in the U.S.

Originally from Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, Arlene has been committed to studying Puerto Rico since early in her academic and professional career.

She studied Anthropology at Tufts as an undergrad, and came to New York to focus on museum studies. She went on to work at the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MOCHA), and later to El Museo del Barrio.  Throughout, she found she was increasingly interested in the politics of identity and representation, which led her to study Anthropology at CUNY.

After CUNY, her first teaching position was in Anthropology and Latino Studies at Syracuse University. She says she had been skeptical about academia, but was drawn to it after doing research for her first books on Puerto Rican culture.

“I was really hooked. Researching and interviewing people and doing ethnographies – that’s what made me stick to academia,” she said.
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CLACS Alumni Profile: Amy Risley

CLACS Alum Amy Risley

CLACS Alum Amy Risley

Amy Risley is an Assistant Professor in the International Studies department at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and a CLACS alum. She graduated from CLACS in 1998 and focused her research on Latin American politics.

While at CLACS she received a Tinker Field Research Grant to do field research in Argentina, where she studied civil society and activism. She’s been interested in the topic ever since.

The good news is that Amy was recently offered a tenure track position at Rhodes College, so she’ll have the opportunity to continue the research she began at CLACS!

Amy was thrilled with her experience at CLACS, and says that the inclusion of Caribbean studies, in addition to South and Central American and Mexico, distinguishes CLACS from other Latin American studies programs.  She also liked the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the access she had to faculty.  “I took excellent courses from Jeff Goodwin, Christopher Mitchell, Marty Weinstein, Elisabeth Wood, and others.  I found everyone to be remarkably accessible and encouraging,” she says. “And, of course, the endless opportunities of New York City.  I was able to take a class at Columbia, intern at Trickle Up, and listen to so many fascinating speakers who were passing through.  It was just wonderful,” Amy says.

Visit the CLACS Alumni page on the CLACS blog to learn more about our alums. If you are a CLACS alum, please join the CLACS alumni network!

CLACS Alum Christine Weible at El Museo del Barrio

Photo courtesy El Museo del Barrio - Artist: Nicolás García Uriburu

CLACS alum Christine Weible was recently awarded a one-year fellowship at El Museo del Barrio.   El Museo is a Latino cultural institution dedicated to promoting Latin American and Caribbean art and culture.

Christine will be working in the education department where she will develop curriculum, organize events, and design and lead gallery tours in both Spanish and English.

At CLACS, Christine’s research focused on ESMA, formerly known as the Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada. During the Argentine Dirty War, ESMA was the largest detention center implicated in human rights crimes such as torture and disappearances.  This facility now functions as a museum of memory, officially the Espacio para la memoria y para la promoción y defensa de los Derechos Humanos. The “Museo para la memoria” came together as a collaboration between numerous human rights organizations, such as the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo. Christine was interested in the role of collective memory in this and other such facilities in Argentina.

Christine Weible

Christine has a long history of work and research in the field of Latin American art.  As an undergraduate student she completed a dual B.A. in Spanish and Art History. She has also had several internships in the field – notably with the Fundación Cisneros.

Posted by Von Diaz – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

Going Back to Look for the Gray

Wachs - Argentina - Government propaganda

Government propaganda in the subway system urging workers to work on the books.

My last couple weeks in Buenos Aires were a bit of a whirlwind as  I continued my interviews and visits along with the archival research while preparing to leave.

One of the questions that started to come up in some of my final interviews was what exactly constituted slave labor and what agency was there to be attributed to immigrants working in sweatshops in the city. Was there a difference between labor exploitation and slave labor and did that matter? Did workers’ conditions improve according to their legal status? What was the role of the workers themselves in accepting these conditions? What were the workers’ interests/hopes when they entered these shops and were they being met?

Wachs - Argentina - Comic connecting textile work with slave labor

Comic connecting textile work with slave labor and US slave history, El Clarin, April 2006.

The vice-consul at the Bolivian consulate, along with another former human rights Bolivian attorney with whom I spoke, touched on issues of agency by indicating there is a sort of “culture of sacrifice” among Bolivians that allows them to experience the difficulties facing them in Argentina not so much as injustice but rather as a necessary evil through which they have to pass in order to support their families-and that, in the end, several of them will be on the employer/exploiter. Though one could argue that this understanding of these immigrants and their predicaments gives agency it also seems to also be essentializing Bolivians, and “victim blaming” as well, and thus is problematic in its own way. Continue reading