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.
As part of the fieldwork for my thesis on the role of women in traditional indigenous usos y costumbres-style governments in Oaxaca, Mexico, I had the opportunity to flex my participant-observation skills and attend the fiesta for the Virgen de Asunción in Santa Catarina Lachatao. Lachatao is a small town with few educational or job opportunities in the Sierra Norte mountains of Oaxaca state, but community members have a fierce loyalty towards their hometown. Many of those who have migrated to Oaxaca City or Mexico City for school or work return for the fiesta on August 15th.
The fiesta highlights how the usos y costumbres system is based on giving or donating services for the common good. It is planned by a special August 15th party committee in conjunction with the Temple Committee whose members are named through the municipal government and work for free. Every community household is asked to donate $300 pesos to cover the costs of the event, and a member of the Temple Committee told me that everyone does. Some households volunteer to provide food for the band or donate a particular part of the event, such as the band fees, on top of giving $300 pesos.
No quería dejar pasar la oportunidad de postear sobre una grata sorpresa que me trajo mi viaje de investigación durante el verano. Aunque la generosa beca Tinker solamente pudo cubrir mi viaje a Lima y Bogotá, quiso la casualidad que el tercer país que anhelaba visitar viniera a mí. Gracias a coordinaciones con dos amigos teatreros peruanos, Lucero Medina y Michael Joan Gómez, y al Grupo Panparamayo Teatro, tuve la oportunidad de formar parte del taller de teatro “Memoria y olvido en la acción dramática”, ofrecido por el grupo Malayerba, de Quito, Ecuador. Dos de los miembros fundadores de este emblemático grupo, Arístides Vargas y Charo Francés, fueron hasta Lima a compartir su conocimiento y su pasión por la creación colectiva. Continue reading
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
Casa de Yuyachkani: Calle Tacna 363, Magdalena del Mar – Lima 17, Perú
La casa del Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani
– o “los Yuyas” como el tiempo y el cariño les ha dado como nombre – se encuentra en el antiguo distrito de Magdalena, cerca del mar limeño. Desde esta casona republicana han salido y a esta casa han ingresado los materiales humanos y culturales que alimentan una historia grupal de más de 40 años. Los integrantes del grupo – Augusto Casafranca, Amiel Cayo, Ana Correa, Débora Correa, Rebeca Ralli, Teresa Ralli, Julián Vargas, y su director, Miguel Rubio Zapata – descubrieron muy pronto que, para hacer un teatro en diálogo honesto con la historia política y social peruana, tenían que sondear en un pasado compartido, participar activamente en un presente fragmentado, y construir juntos un futuro abierto a la inclusión. En estas coordenadas temporales en constante flujo, sus cuerpos y sus voces fueron la materia prima que le permitió a Yuyachkani adentrarse individual y colectivamente en un viaje que se ha nutrido de memoria y que, a la vez, ha producido un espacio en donde ahora residen partes vitales de la memoria colectiva peruana. Continue reading
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.
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