It is with great honor that we share with the #CLACSatNYU community that our faculty member Pamela Calla recently won the Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty Award for excellence in teaching, leadership, social justice advocacy, and community building.
Professor Calla is a distinguished anthropologist, cherished member of the #CLACSatNYU community, and a mentor to many of our students. She grew up in a mining town in southern Bolivia. Her understanding and construction of collaborative political, pedagogical and research approaches dealing with difference and inequality were shaped by this life experience.
Before coming to CLACS at NYU, she was the co-founder and director of the Bolivian Observatory on Racism. This observatory had the mandate of research, capacity-building, and grassroots action against current manifestations of racism. She was later co-founder and co-coordinator of the “Red de Investigación Acción Anti Racista en las Américas,” an initiative which linked organizations with similar mandates across the Americas, as well as focused on capacity-building and comparative-action research in the creation of pertinent anti-racist strategies.
Professor Calla’s research has also focused on indigenous women in social movements in Latin America. Black feminism’s intersectional analysis and Chicana feminism’s border analysis in the U.S. became crucial to her action-research with indigenous women in Bolivia. This experience led to the co-creation, alongside colleagues and students, of a working group on Feminist Constellations and Intercultural Paradigms at CLACS. She is now writing a book, “Indigenous women and the hegemony of a cultural revolution in Bolivia.”
We are honored to have Professor Pamela Calla at #CLACSatNYU and celebrate her achievements and the positive impact she continues to have among our students.
validación de agenda nacional, incluyendo creacion de plan de proteccion de promotoras y plan de incidencia politica.
Prior to arriving in Nicaragua, I was convinced I was going to research how women organize a pro-feminist women’s agenda to overturn restrictive reproductive rights policies. One such law that I was intent on researching was Nicaragua’s Codigo Penal, Articulo 165 that outlaws all forms of abortion, including therapeutic abortion, which means that women are not allowed to interrupt their pregnancies even if their lives are at risk. The ban and broader issues of abortion rights played a key role in the 2006 election that resulted in the return to power of former revolutionary and FSLN commander, Daniel Ortega. I originally planned on looking at this issue singularly and to assess it from a historical lens, to analyze top-down responses such as las casas maternas, which have sprouted throughout the country in response to the law that “prepare” women for parenting (even if their pregnancies were undesired), I intended to look at the Instituto Nicaraguense de la Mujer to analyze how the state approached reproductive rights, and, of course I was going to research women (feminists) organized response.
An interesting side note for readers, the right to a therapeutic abortion was a part of the 1893 Nicaraguan Codigo Penal, which means that Nicaragua has retrogressed over 100 years with this ban.
I arrived in Quito on Friday June 17th and hit the ground running. I met with professor Mercedes Prieto from the Gender Studies department of FLACSO university. Professor Mercedes Prieto was incredibly kind and generous to me. We met for a little under an hour. She listened carefully to what I had to say and then suggested that there are two themes to my work: women’s organizing, and the relationship between NGO’s and the state. She then gave me the names of at least 14 people she thinks I could contact, professors, FLACSO students, feminists, and LGBT activists. Towards the end of our meeting she said that she had been very generous with me, which she was, and that she only wished that professors in the US showed her students equal generosity. I knew what she meant. She had never met me before I wrote her a brief email stating my research interests, my stated research interests were very broad, and yet she took the time to really brainstorm with me about who I should contact. She also suggested several doctoral thesis as reading material during my trip. After she gave me the lists of names she introduced me to the departmental administrator and asked her to provide me with the contact information for the people on that list.
The following Monday I met with a friend of a friend who informed me about a conference happening in Cuenca starting on June 21st and invited me to join her. She said that given my interests in women’s organizing the conference would give me an opportunity to meet with indigenous women organizing in defense of their environment and community. The conference had about 12 different breakout groups and one of them specifically addressed the participation of women in environmental struggles. I attended the breakout meetings for this group on June 21st and 22nd and found that they had a very clearly articulated position on the direct impact of mining on women in affected communities. These included, the devaluation of women’s artisanal labor for men capacity to bring in cash from their work in the mines, less access to clean water forces women to travel longer distances to access it, wherever mines set up there is a large increase in alcoholism and brothels, the health impacts on family members and especially children increases women’s caring labor in the home. They also addressed how women are at the forefront of this struggle because often times men work for the mines and so cannot protest them without getting fired. Women are involved in the day-to-day organizing against mining companies and for that reason they are often targeted by police and private paramilitary troupes for rape in retaliation for their activism. The conference was an eye opening experience in seeing the hostility between the environmentalist movement and the administration of President Rafael Correa. The women presented their finding to the larger conference of about 400 hundred people. By attending the conference I was able to tap into an activist network of people in Quito that I would find very helpful in the coming weeks.
Posted by Claudia Garriga Lopez — PhD Student in Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU