Tag Archives: Argentina

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].

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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.
Continue reading

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

Last Weeks in Buenos Aires…

During my last weeks in Buenos Aires, I visited the Fundación Espigas’s Document Center on the History of the Visual Arts in Argentina and got the chance to interview Delia Cancela, one of my favorite artists from the Centro de Artes Visuales of the Instituto Di Tella.

Argentina is unfortunately known for being rather negligent when it comes to building up and preserving archives. In that context, the work of Fundación Espigas is especially praiseworthy. Created in 1993, it has undertaken to gather and protect all Argentine art-related documents at home and abroad. Their archive has been very helpful for my research on Argentine artists who emigrated to France in the late sixties/early seventies. I visited Espigas’s offices in Recoleta and spent days looking for information and all sorts of documents related to Alfredo Arias, Delia Cancela, Roberto Plate, Juan Stoppani, and David Lamelas. Old interviews or articles published in magazines and newspapers, invitations to openings in Buenos Aires, Paris or New York -a whole range of materials unlikely to be found at any other place than Fundación Espigas.

Delia Cancela

I met with Delia Cancela at her beautiful house in the neighborhood of Colegiales. As soon as we started talking, even during a very casual, informal conversation, I felt the need to record Delia’s opinions, stories, and reflections. She said she’s fascinated by people of letters because she’s never been “good with words” herself. I turn the pages of a heavy book containing her wonderful artpieces and note how many of them include names, quotes, and all kinds of phrases. I wish I was that good with words, I think, and listen. She has a lot to tell. She’s been one of the “pop stars” from the Di Tella Institute in Buenos Aires. In the late sixties, along with her long-time partner Pablo Mesejean, she moved to London, where their art creations (some of them in the form of clothes) attracted the attention of the Fashion popes of the moment. A few months into their stay in the city they were contributing regularly for Vogue and by the mid-seventies Pablo and Delia had become a cult Fashion house both in London and in Paris.

Continue reading