Blurred Borders: Transnationalism, Identity, and Cultural Formation

Friday, February 6, 2015
10:30am – 11:45am
Race Conference Room 201, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Yuri Herrera, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University

Sagas of Resistance Versus Acts of Rebellion: Alfredo Véa Jr.’s The Silver Cloud Café as an Attempt Toward “the Beyond”
Cynthia Martinez, Indiana University

“Juxtaposing the real with the fantastical, the narrative world created in Alfredo Véa Jr.’s 1996 novel The Silver Cloud Café explores the contemporary constructs of difference through history, memory, crime, and spirituality. Set primarily in modern-day San Francisco, the novel traverses the borders of space and time through its diverse cast of Mexican, Filipino, Hindu, European and African-American characters. Véa’s semi-autobiographical characters serve as representations of varying categorizations of racial, ethnic, sexual, and physical difference. As each character navigates the complexities of difference both within and outside of the confines of national boundaries and reality itself, the novel seemingly privileges its narrative space of San Francisco’s “Rafael’s Silver Cloud Café” as a place to comfortably perform the difference condemned outside of its confines.
Considering the novel’s thematic treatment of difference, this project seeks to dialogue with current criticism on The Silver Cloud Café that privileges its narrative world as a resistant response to U.S. multiculturalism as an essentializing cultural policy, proposing that the novel offers heterogeneity and hybridity as alternatives. Providing an analysis of the origin and development of the notions of heterogeneity and hybridity, I propose that Véa’s novel, rather than provide a resistant alternative within the confines of the U.S. system of cultural policy, creates rebellious moments existing outside the novel’s mimetic hegemonic system, thereby actualizing and illuminating the very limits present within current negotiations of difference. To this end, through an analysis of the novel’s genre and language, which cannot be contained by easily definable and comprehensible constructs, I suggest that, rather than an idealized heterogeneity, the novel can be aligned more closely to Alberto Moreiras’s notion of savage hybridity, offering an alternative reading to a binarizing resistance.”

Poéticas de emergencia: Rafa Saavedra, nueva ciudadanía e identidad fronteriza
Jorge Ramirez, University of California San Diego

Rafa Saavedra (Tijuana, 1967-2013), creador de la frase “Tijuana Makes me Happy” es autor de una obra narrativa que abarca dos décadas en las cuales los discursos mueven su base de la posmodernidad y el multiculturalismo hasta la necropolítica y el horrorismo. Durante los últimos años del siglo pasado y hasta el día de su muerte Saavedra, a través de su narrativa, generó un ejemplo de identidad fronteriza y promovió un tipo de ciudadanía ejercida desde la periferia. La obra de Rafa Saavedra no ha sido aun muy estudiada por diversas razones de las que destaco el que sus libros fueron publicados en editoriales independientes de poca distribución y el que su obra sea marginal en relación al centro cultural mexicano: la ciudad de México. De igual forma el concepto de ciudadanía fronteriza del norte de México ha representado históricamente un ejercicio complejo que pretendo abordar en mi ponencia. Buten Smiley (1997), Lejos del Noise (2003) y Dios me persigue (2013) son tres de los libros de relatos con los que intentaré trazar un desarrollo de identidad y ciudadanía fronteriza paralelo al intento del Estado mexicano de tomar el control cultural de esta ciudad fronteriza. Poéticas de emergencia son esas herramientas que le permiten a un autor determinado producir desde un espacio y tiempo de conflicto. En el caso de Rafa Saavedra estas poéticas versan desde los nuevos medios hasta la interdisciplinariedad, herramientas determinantes en su creación del imaginario fronterizo. La narrativa de Rafa Saavedra ejemplifica cómo se puede vivir el espacio público tijuanense con las ventajas y desventajas de abordar como escenario esta ciudad de flujos migratorios, y proyectada bajo un sistema neoliberal hacia una elusiva idea de modernidad.

Cinematic Construction of Touristic Voyeurism in Elia Sulieman’s “Diary of a Beginner”
Krista Weirich, Indiana University

Contemporary Havana is often conceptualized as a city in transition, caught in between socialism and the free market, ruins and renovation, splendor and decadence, stasis and change, age and vitality. The foreign eye seems to be perpetually fixed on this urban space, fascinated by the splendor of its ruined architecture, perplexed by the contrasting resilience and resourcefulness of its citizens, and speculative about its future. During the economic crisis of the 1990s, the government instated loosening measures to stimulate the stagnant economy. One of these, the creation of a ministry of tourism in 1994, significantly influenced Cuban cultural production by introducing a pronounced awareness of and interaction with foreign markets and the transnational construction of Cuban identity in this transitional period. The voyeuristic curiosities of foreigners who visited the island inspired widely circulated travelogues, photography books and documentaries that disseminated images of Cuba. Simultaneously, Cuban writers, filmmakers and artists found themselves entering a global market for literature that could reflect the daily Cuban “reality” that seemed so removed from that of the rest of the world. The presence of the tourist and the economic and aesthetic implications of the arrival of the tourist industry to special period Cuba have important implications for Cuban cultural production. In this paper, I analyze Elia Suleiman’s short film Diary of a Beginner, part of the collaborative transnational production 7 días en La Habana, as a transnational response that confronts problematic foreign-produced representations of Cuban identity. By studying the figures of the tourist and foreign photographer in in this short film, I explore how national identity is reconfigured vis-à-vis the foreign gaze and how the urban space of Havana is reimagined against the aesthetic of ruins that characterized much of the foreign cultural production in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Writing National Imaginaries and Indigeneity: Race, Nation, and Politics of Inclusion

Thursday, February 5, 2015
12:30pm – 1:45pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Judith Maxwell, Department of Anthropology, Tulane University

Voces Silenciadas: Una examinación de la erradicación de los pueblos originarios de argentina para establecer una idea de identidad nacional
Written by Andrea Arce-Trigatti & Florencia Beatriz Santucho
Andrea Arce-Trigatti, University of Tennessee

En la identidad nacional que perpetúa Argentina, es casi imposible identificar un pasado ligado a las comunidades originarias en el imaginario colectivo. Insistiendo en que una identidad nacional influenciada por tradiciones Europeas era el camino hacia el progreso, la generación intelectual del siglo XIX impuso una idea de civilización que se basa en suprimir toda identidad no occidental/europea. Esta idea está tan arraigada en la formación de la identidad argentina que incluso ha sido consolidada en la Constitución. En un esfuerzo para reivindicar las voces silenciadas de éstas comunidades en la construcción de la identidad nacional, nosotros examinamos los incentivos que justificaron su exclusión y de qué manera permanecen actualmente en el imaginario social: principalmente, la dicotomía civilización/barbarie y lo que ésta implica en las lógicas fundantes de las naciones en formación durante el siglo XIX. Focalizando en el papel que la campaña del desierto (1870-1884) -el genocidio más grande de los pueblos originarios de Argentina- desempeñó en el establecimiento de la identidad nacional, éste trabajo combina una investigación histórica y política con un análisis literario de dos textos formativos en la generación del ideal argentino: Facundo de Domingo F. Sarmiento y Una excursión a los indios ranqueles de Lucio V. Mansilla. Perpetuando las motivaciones políticas y sociales de la campaña contra los pueblos originarios, las obras de estos hombres “determinaron” la identidad étnica y cultural específica de quienes permanecerían como los “legítimos” representantes de la sociedad argentina. Finalmente, con este trabajo esperamos recalcar las raíces aborígenes argentinas y hacer tomar conciencia de la injusticia de que fueron víctimas, habiendo sido por completo desplazadas en la búsqueda de una identidad nacional. Hasta que aquellos que fueron excluidos sean respetuosamente reconocidos como orgullosos contribuyentes de la identidad nacional, Argentina no puede proclamarse como un país democrático y representativo de sus habitantes.

“Yawar mayu, río de sangre:” Translation and the Construction of a More Inclusive National Identity in Los ríos profundos by José María Arguedas 

Sarah Booker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Translation plays a significant role in the incorporation and representation of the multiplicity of voices that exist across the globe and is integral to the creation of a national identity. Translation is fundamental to the creative process of José María Arguedas, who uses it to construct a multilingual narrative that reflects the criollo reality of his native Perú as well as his own experience growing up in such a society. This paper examines the use of translation within the Peruvian writer’s most often canonized and semi-autobiographical novel, “Los ríos profundos.” Translation appears on various levels: in the incorporation and explication of Quechua terms and phrases, in the bilingual transcriptions and translations of huaynos and in the overall syntactical structure of the language, which takes advantage of the metaphorical possibilities of the Quechua language while being accessible to the Spanish-speaking reader. Upon an exploration of the various elements of translation in the novel, it becomes clear that moments of translation appear in a variety of ways in the novel, but all connect the narrative to a personal, cultural and national identity and, in particular, to a past that contributes to the formation of that identity. Translation moves the narrative to the moment of creation or expression of identity, which, for the protagonist, is located at the confluence of the linguistically hegemonic, Spanish-speaking realm and the marginalized Quechua one. I argue that Arguedas’ use of translation in a way that integrates both Spanish and Quechua into his novel is pivotal to the construction of a more inclusive Peruvian national identity. The acceptance into the literary canon of “Los ríos profundos” along with other translations of indigenous texts, such as the “Popul vuh” or “Ritos y tradiciones de los Huarochiri,” puts tension on preconceived understandings of identity and opens the canon up to begin to include a multiplicity of voices.

Todos somos mexicanos: Hecho en México y la representación de los pueblos indígenas

Alejandra Marquez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

El documental Hecho en México (2012), del director británico Duncan Bridgeman, intenta servir como una amalgama de la diversidad cultural mexicana por medio de entrevistas y música de diversos personajes. Si bien esta cinta podría parecer bien intencionada, no está de más considerar su agenda política, sobre todo teniendo en cuenta que ésta se estrenó en México unos meses después de las últimas elecciones presidenciales y que uno de sus productores es Emilio Azcárraga Jean (socio mayoritario de Televisa que fue acusado de apoyar la campaña del actual presidente, Peña Nieto). Debido a diversas implicaciones, el documental contiene un mensaje unificador, mostrando a diversas celebridades, intelectuales y pueblos indígenas, y buscando convencer a su público de que existe una mexicanidad que les une. Es por ello que este estudio analiza el proyecto de homogeneización del filme y la manera en la cual los pueblos indígenas son vistos como parte de una colectividad mexicana, restándoles individualidad y minimizando la discriminación y los problemas que éstos han sufrido desde la época colonial. Para este fin, mi marco teórico yace en textos tanto de Fausto Reinaga como de Alberto Muyolema para problematizar los conceptos de mestizaje y nacionalismo. Asimismo, para contextualizar el análisis se utiliza el discurso de Guillermo Bonfil Batalla sobre la existencia de distintos Méxicos y la jerarquía colonial que los une.

 Enlightenment Implications, Bourbon Influence and Character Construction in Comedia nueva del apostolado en las Indias martirio de un cacique: An Alternative Approach to the Life, Works and Ideology of Eusebio Vela

Megan Oleson, Vanderbilt University

A general disregard for literary works of eighteenth-century Latin America continues to characterize scholars’ attitudes towards the era. The prevailing past and current scholarly approaches to these works have portrayed them as second-rate, overly Baroque and valueless. I argue that these negative perceptions have remained stagnant not because of their innate inferiority, but rather because of many scholars’ inadequacies in correctly interpreting their intentionality. To further this assertion, I focus on the analysis of the famed eighteenth-century playwright Eusebio Vela and his play Comedia nueva del apostolado en las Indias martirio de un cacique (Comedia nueva del apostolado). I analyze the ways in which the intentionality within Comedia nueva del apostolado becomes more apparent when it is understood as a participant in the large-scale cultural indoctrination campaign promoted by the Bourbon monarchy and influenced by the Enlightenment. The primary sources I reference that allow for enlightenment-influenced elements to surface within the play include José Antonio Maravall’s Politica directiva en el teatro ilustrado and Ignacio de Luzán’s La Poética o reglas de la poesía en general y de sus principales especies. My textual analysis covers the ways in which Comedia nueva del apostolado indoctrinates Bourbon values through historical revisionism and character construction. By appropriating a foundational story and manipulating characters to reflect model subjects, Vela was able to promote an ideal Bourbon society where monarch-vassal relations were redefined, natives were given a societal role and traditionally powerful sectors of society were limited in their authoritative scope.

Challenges of Poverty: Confronting Issues of Sustainability and Inequality

Thursday, February 5, 2015
2:00pm – 3:15pm
Race Conference Room 201, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Susan Bridle-Fitzpatrick, Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tulane University

Sustainability Challenges for Rural Water Boards in Panama
Kathryn Cheney, Tulane University

Panama, like many Central American countries, has two water systems – a publicly-managed urban system, and a more informal rural water system. The rural water system, made up of mostly gravity-fed aqueducts, has been largely created and maintained at the grassroots, community level without government support. Rural water boards, officially Juntas Administradoras de Acueductos Rurales (JAAR), are community-organized water governance systems that manage aqueducts serving their community, often consisting of 20-50 households. Over 3,700 JAARs throughout Panama’s rural areas face sustainability issues in various forms; recent legislative changes that require JAARs to legally register with the government are particularly concerning, as these changes threaten JAAR’s sovereignty as community organizations and most importantly, their access to water. This research examines the community-based and community-led structure of these rural water boards, and delves into the sustainability challenges JAARs face in the coming years.

Addressing Inequality in Brazilian Education: Considering the Potential of Teacher Quality Reforms and Performance Pay Initiatives
Kelly Stetter, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

In much of Latin America, high inequality, informality, and lack of access to quality public services have long presented barriers to those on the margins, preventing the socially and economically disenfranchised from breaking out of cycles of poverty and exclusion. Over the past 15 years, Brazil has undertaken direct efforts to dismantle many of these barriers, with particular focus on access to education. Conditional cash transfer programs like Bolsa Família have established a minimum standard of living for many of Brazil’s poor and are credited with helping Brazil achieve near universal primary school enrollment. Quality of Brazilian public education has also improved, as demonstrated by Brazilian students’ scores on the OECD Program for International Student Assessment. However, within the country, regional and racial inequalities remains a challenge for policymakers, with the northeast lagging behind the more industrialized south in terms of social and economic development. This paper examines education policies that attempt to address these inequalities by improving the quality of instruction in the public sector. Specifically, this paper considers a recent performance pay reform in the state of Pernambuco, in which teachers and schools received cash bonuses for achieving pre-set performance targets. Little has been published on the results of these types of programs and the Pernambuco program is innovative in its attempt to improve the quality of education by addressing Brazil’s notoriously low pay for public school teachers through performance based incentives. At the same time, affirmative action policies attempting to decrease racial imbalances in higher education are becoming commonplace. This paper argues that reforms that aim to address the imbalances in Brazilian education by improving teacher quality will ultimately have a greater effect on overall educational outcomes, as they attempt to address the problem at its root cause: poor quality instruction in the public sector.

Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in the Dominican Republic: The Beginning of the End for Clientelism?
Mart Trasberg, Tulane University

During 1950-1980s, most Latin American social assistance programs did not target the poor effectively, or served merely as clientilistic tools for securing electoral support. The implementation of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in the late 1990s and early 2000s introduced important changes in these dynamics, making social spending more pro-poor and creating better economic incentives for the marginalized. The CCT programs provide direct cash transfers to poorest households, while the beneficiary families must assure in exchange that their children attend school and participate in preventive healthcare services. This research paper sets out to explore to what extent have the new targeted social policies instituted changes in clientelist practices and constituted more programmatic approaches in welfare provision. The paper contributes to this debate by analyzing the case of Dominican Republic’s (DR) Solidarity (Solidaridad) program, seeking out to answer the question if the DR’s CCT program has constituted a truly programmatic approach to poverty reduction. The study focuses on the evolution institutional structures of Solidarity program during 2004-2014, and evaluates to what extent have the public technocratic criteria been used in the targeting of the benefits. Primary data was collected during field research in Santo Domingo in June-July 2014. Firstly, 12 interviews were conducted in aforementioned central government institutions and local Solidarity program offices, civil society organizations (Participación Ciudadania, Centro Bono) and academic institutions (Fundación Global de Democracia y Desarrollo, Universidad de Caribe). Secondly, 15 in-depth interviews in poor households receiving social assistance in the form of the Solidarity were conducted in Los Guaricanos and Los Minas neighborhoods in Santo Domingo, which are characterized by high poverty rates and large percentage of social assistance recipients.

 

Right to the City: Mobilizing in the Urban Periphery

Thursday, February 5, 2015 2:00pm – 3:15pm
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Guadalupe García, Department of History, Tulane University

Where Power Technologies Collide: The Production of Violence in Northern Honduras
Leanna First-Arai, Tulane University

In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre writes that diversion and appropriation of a given space for a new purpose “call[s] but a temporary halt to domination.” Through the analytical lens of Lefebvre’s work, this paper will analyze gang membership and the symbolic domination of urban space as an act of temporary resistance to the cultural hegemony of globalization. The paper will use one case in particular—MS13 and 18th Street gang activity in the Honduran city of El Progreso—to trace the circulation of people, products and power to and from the city and state, arguing that the resulting violence is a direct legacy of neoliberal reforms and mono-crop agricultural exploitation.

Structuring Political Supremacy around Religious Dominance: Building Tenochtitlan and Mexico City
Julia O’Keefe, Tulane University

Fertile Ground for Mobilization: Urban Family Farms in Rio de Janeiro
Ezra Spira-Cohen, Tulane University

Urban farmers in Brazilian capitals face levels of poverty and underdevelopment similar to rural areas. In addition, they face unique challenges, including environmental degradation, urban sprawl, and speculative real estate investment, which further exacerbate their exclusion from the developing areas that surround them. Family based agricultural production in rural Brazil has benefited from legal and political mechanisms that were created in the 1996 with the Programa Nacional de Fortalecimento da Agricultura Familiar (PRONAF) and expanded during the 2000s with direct interventions from the Lula government, but family farms in urban and peri-urban areas have been left out of this process. Only recently, policymakers have begun to take heed.
This paper examines how the institutions built to bridge the gap between urban and rural development in Brazil have created barriers for the expansion of family farming at the urban periphery. Building on my experience with the AS-PTA (a vital NGO that promotes urban agriculture) and on an extensive body of Brazilian scholarly work, this paper looks closely at the growth of local farmers markets and urban agricultural production in Rio de Janeiro. My experiences as well as primary and secondary resources suggest that civil society actors (NGOs, community based organizations, and consumer networks) play a key role in articulating and expanding two interactions that are crucial for family farmers. These are 1) government institutions that regulate farming practices and determine eligibility for financing, and 2) the local and regional consumer base. As the interaction between farmers, consumers, and state institutions hinges upon civil society actors, urban family farming becomes fertile ground for mobilizing around alternative models of production and sustainable agriculture practices.

On the Edge of Citizenship: Inclusion in the Modern Nation State

Thursday, February 5, 2015
3:30pm – 4:45pm
Race Conference Room 201, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Justin Wolfe, Department of History, Tulane University

El Paraíso de las Mujeres: Women’s Suffrage in Ecuador, 1895-1929
Robert Franco, Duke University

This paper is on the women’s suffrage movement in Ecuador from the Liberal Revolution of 1895 to the successful enfranchisement of women in 1929. Most importantly, it challenges the dominant historical narrative that Ecuadorian suffrage was a tool used by a conservative regime to co-opt women’s votes. Instead, it proposes an alternative reading of women’s suffrage as a compromise between reformers, who hoped for broad social change, and the state, which attempted to limit such change. It places Ecuadorian suffrage in the context of post-World War I social reforms, and uses Ecuador as a lens to explore variations in strains of feminism, women’s enfranchisement, citizenship, and labor reforms in the early twentieth century. Additionally, this paper explores varied forms and degrees of citizenship in order to place women’s suffrage in the longer history of indirect exclusion employed by Ecuador’s dominant political parties. In the end, the vote benefitted only a select group of women – mainly urban, educated middle- and upper class women. Most indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian, lower-and working-class women remained formally disenfranchised until the second half of the twentieth-century. However, the history of women’s suffrage can play an important role in linking Ecuador’s period of nation-building to the large-scale social movements of the 1980s and 1990s and catalyze new debates as to the meanings of nation, citizen, and democracy in Latin America during the early twentieth century.

This Modern Mining City: Corocoro, Bolivia, 1900-1940
Elena McGrath, University of Wisconsin

Building on the first chapter of my dissertation, my paper explores early twentieth-century dreams of cosmopolitanism and urban development in Corocoro, a small copper mining town in Bolivia. Using court records of two moments of anti-foreign agitation during the 1930s and 1940s, I emphasize the articulation of ideologies of resource nationalism, social welfare, and modern development that enabled the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (MNR) party to create a viable political project supported by both working-class and middle-class voters in provincial mining centers such as Corocoro prior to the 1952 Revolution. Given Bolivia’s history of periodic indigenous uprisings, several of which involved communities near Corocoro, Bolivian revolutionaries and their political allies had to confront the specter of imagined indigenous tendencies toward violence and race war. The political actors of the 1940s and 1950s differed from earlier generations, seeing indigenous Bolivians as redeemable through conversion into western categories of subjects: workers, farmers, and urban residents. These reformists and aspiring revolutionaries resolved the “problem” of indigenous difference by privileging the Bolivian mining family as a model for creating a new kind of citizen, and mining towns as crucial sites of change.I show how these visions were created out of the struggles of the Great Depression and Chaco war, but also were crucial to the way peripheral cities imagined themselves as generative centers of Bolivian modernity. Of course, even as this narrative of transformation allowed for a more expansive notion of Bolivian citizenship based on the valorization of working class men, it also rendered peripheral indigenous communities themselves from the imagined nation of laborers and citizens. My paper thus also works recuperate the exclusions written into this narrative of modern urbanity, using court cases to highlight the moments of social and cultural friction in this period.

A Cause for Reflection: Imagining Brazil at 100 Years of Independence
Joseph Pendergraph, Vanderbilt University

The first aerial crossing of the Southern Atlantic Ocean (from Lisbon to Rio) and the state visit of the Portuguese president António José de Almeida to Brazil to help commemorate the centennial of independence from Portugal both occurred in 1922. Newspaper coverage of these two events, along with telegrams and speeches from both sides of the Atlantic indicate, I argue, that this was the pinnacle of conflicting racialized discourses regarding Brazilian national identity. Several scholars have show that Brazilian elites of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries attempted to emulate Northern European high culture and called for European immigration in trying to mask the mixed-race heritage of their tropical country. Scholars of race in Brazil also hold that São Paulo’s Semana de Arte Moderna (also in 1922) was a key moment for reasserting the positive impact of racial mixing on Brazilian society. Neither group of scholars is off the mark in these observations, but my research indicates that an important element has gone completely unconsidered. The presidencies of Epitácio Pessoa (Brazil, 1919 – 1922) and Almeida (Portugal, 1919 – 1923) saw a high-water mark of cordiality in the history of Luso-Brazilian relations, and this cordiality hinged on the fact that both countries were young republics and the particularly strong republican sentiments of these two men. This attempt to fashion a historical narrative that downplayed important moments of conflict between the two places should be understood as a calculated move to discard the emphasis that had been placed on Northern European cultural inheritance, which at this late date held little sway, and exchange it for a more authentic connection to Brazil’s Portuguese past. In this way, Brazilians were encouraged to maintain their focus on their country’s status as a modern, European, essentially white nation; indigenous people and Afro-descendants still found no purchase in this conceptualization. This was the actual conservative platform against which the modern artists rebelled in São Paulo in 1922.