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.

Deep Roots: Cultural Narrative Through Music in Brazil

Friday, February 6, 2015
9:00am – 10:15am
Rechler Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Daniel Sharp, Department of Music, Tulane University

Songs for freedom: identidade racial e cidadania no Brasil (1884-1889)
Manuela Costa, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco

Propomos trazer algumas reflexões sobre participação política de afrodescendentes nos processos da abolição da escravidão e do pós-abolição no Brasil, por meio da análise da trajetória de militância abolicionista do músico Manoel Tranquilino Bastos. As experiências vivenciadas por esse músico de ascendência africana nos permitem pensar em outras possibilidades de lutas políticas e culturais entre os anos de 1884 e 1889. A música foi extremamente importante para a inserção de músicos afrodescendentes nos debates e nas lutas pela cidadania, afirmação racial e inclusão social, que marcaram esse período. As composições de Tranquilino Bastos tornaram-se símbolos da libertação dos escravos e ainda são lembradas nas comemorações da abolição da escravidão no Brasil, podendo ser entendidas como uma opção profundamente ligada às estratégias específicas de luta dos afrodescendentes. Para tanto, recorreremos ao conceito de “cultura política” a fim de resgatar as ações políticas de novos atores, ampliar e renovar as percepções sobre direitos, afirmação racial, cidadania e participação política. Entendemos que a atuação de pessoas comuns – jornalistas, músicos, operários, libertos, “homens livres de cor” e escravos – foi essencial nos processos da abolição e do pós-abolição. O trabalho a ser apresentado se insere exatamente neste contexto, por perseguir a trajetória de um homem comum, propaganda, música e abolicionismo, ampliando a compreensão sobre as lutas políticas e raciais na história social do Brasil.

Negritude Mestiça e fronteiras identitárias: a mestiçagem como vetor da negritude na música popular
Kywza Joana Fideles Pereira dos Santos, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco

A miscigenação no século XIX foi abordada no Brasil sob a influência do racialismo científico e do Iluminismo, com foco nas ambivalências do caráter da miscigenação, ou seja, tanto no viés da degradação da raça quanto no sentido de branqueamento e purificação. Na primeira metade do século XX, ainda em meio a essa ambivalência, o conceito de mestiçagem passa a figurar um projeto populista de identidade nacional, e, principalmente, depois dos escritos de Gilberto Freyre, com a celebração da mestiçagem. É preciso salientar que, a mestiçagem brasileira opera num sentido paradoxal, a celebração e a negação. Dentro dela há uma escala determinante que dita os lugares e papéis sociais, a cor, ou melhor, as nuances dessa cor. No Brasil, o campo das disputas simbólicas em torno das identidades encontrou sua tradução mais fiel na música popular. Nesta perspectiva, destacaremos seu papel na consolidação e subversão da ideia de mestiçagem. A música popular será um grande nicho de disputas, ausências e permanências das identidades racializadas. Ora a mestiçagem será acionada como valorização da cultura e/ou celebração da identidade nacional, ora como afirmação estética ou como crítica à conjuntura de pretensão democrática. Nesse sentido, tentarei, a partir da música popular, vislumbrar as diversas práticas discursivas em torno da mestiçagem através de três intérpretes (e compositores), que têm suas canções marcadas pelos discursos de mestiçagem: Clara Nunes, Martinho da Vila e Gilberto Gil. Desse modo, abordaremos os entrelaçamentos identitários, problematizando questões em torno das concepções de raça, classe e identidade e suas ressignificações no contexto da sociedade de consumo. Nesse contexto, abordaremos os diálogos diaspóricos, através de acionamentos temáticos, que constituem e delineiam os processos culturais transnacionais e trans-étnicos. Para tanto, utilizaremos a obra de artistas situados no nicho do mainstream que extrapolam os entrelaçamentos conceituais, discursivos e poéticos, tensionando as fronteiras identitárias.

“Jequibau – música e identidade paulista”

Daniel Vilela, Universidade Federal do Paraná

Diversos foram os fatores e as investidas ao longo da história brasileira que alçaram o Samba à posição de expressão musical nacional de maior representatividade dentro de um rico quadro multicultural. Diante da valorização deliberada de um gênero em detrimento das músicas locais, manifestações regionais acabaram desestimuladas e passaram a depender de iniciativas pontuais para sobreviverem. Outras, ao apresentarem inovações à vertente musical afro-brasileira que tem por principal expoente o Samba, tiveram que atravessar as desconfianças naturais do público e da crítica conservadora. A Bossa Nova, por exemplo, enfrentou os argumentos mais nacionalistas e xenófobos que a acusavam de promover a americanização da música brasileira, para posteriormente galgar seu espaço definitivo enquanto gênero. No entanto, nem todas as manifestações musicais atingiram o mesmo êxito bossanovista ao proporem inovações à tradição historicamente construída. Este é o caso do Jequibau. Gênero criado por Mário Albanese e Cyro Pereira em meados da década de sessenta, na cidade de São Paulo, o Jequibau se constrói em um compasso quinário (de cinco tempos) que se soma ao típico “balanço” da música brasileira. Contudo, sua divulgação foi prejudicada por um contexto político e social conturbados, pela difícil inserção da música essencialmente instrumental e de caráter inovador na indústria midiática e pelas inevitáveis comparações ao Samba e à Bossa Nova, que geraram as alcunhas de “Samba em Cinco” e “Bossa em Cinco” e lhe atribuíram papel secundário em pesquisas, sendo que meu mestrado é o primeiro a se dedicar exclusivamente ao estudo deste tema. O fato é que o Jequibau surgiu da necessidade, enxergada por seus criadores, de uma expressão musical paulistana que traduzisse e sintetizasse a pluralidade que é a marca da cosmopolita São Paulo. Assim, este trabalho se dedica a refletir acerca de como as características desta cidade são identificadas no gênero, que hoje possui sua data celebrada anualmente em 13 de Agosto.

Technologies of Power: Media and Democracy

Friday, February 6, 2015
9:00am – 10:15am
Race Conference Room 202, Lavin-Bernick Center (LBC)
Moderated by: Dr. Mauro Porto, Department of Communications, Tulane University

La Reina del Sur: Ten Chapters of Transnationalization in a Neoliberal Global Economy
Hannah Artman, University of Miami

During the wave of authoritarian rule in Latin America, the media industries were heavily influenced by the interest of their nations’ government. Although democracy has wiped out most traces of bureaucratic authoritarianism in the region today, we can still see how media industries reflect neoliberal trade policies in the production, dissemination, and reception of their products. The wildly popular telenovela, La Reina del Sur, is bursting with evidence that redefines Chicana/o identity within the context of a global culture. The contained cultures of authoritarian regimes by and large tried to push out the heavy economic influence of the United States, but the neoliberal policies of contemporary Latin America strategize this goal in a different way. Telenovelas and other media industries have found a way of integrating local capital with global corporate alliances to make a product relevant and successful on the local and global scale (Castañeda, 11). By doing so, Mari Castañeda affirms that, “The liberalization of economic structures has thus opened the possibility for companies located in the global south to participate in the highly competitive world stage, particularly against the hegemonic force of the United States” (Castaneda, 10). The plot of La Reina del Sur involves a Mexican woman who flees the country in fear of the cartels who have killed her boyfriend. She escapes to Melilla, North Africa and finds a Galician boyfriend and the audience is exposed to cultures and languages that go beyond Spain and Latin America, as well as many production nuances that indicate production in the U.S. By identifying aspects that are particularly Mexican and then analyzing the novela in its broader Hispanic and global context, we are able to see how La Reina del Sur cleverly maintains its Chicana/o identity while globally competing in the cross-cultural production, dissemination, and reception of telenovelas.

Painting the Public Sphere: Creative Expression as Democratic for Young Yucatec Maya-Speakers
Phillip Boyett, Tulane University

The Battle over the Marco Civil da Internet: The Limits of Participatory Democracy
Daniel O’Maley, Vanderbilt University

The signing into law of the Marco Civil da Internet (MCI), the so-called Constitution of the Internet, on April 23, 2014 represented a monumental victory for Brazilian Internet freedom activists not just because the policies it included safeguard an open Internet, but also because of how the law was drafted collaboratively via an online web platform. Yet, even in a country where participatory democracy has been embraced by the ruling Worker’s Party, the bill had lingered in congress for almost three years and was almost tabled indefinitely. In this paper I show how the logic of participatory democracy embodied in the creation of the MCI collided with the existing framework of representative democracy implemented in the mid 1980s in Brazil. Drawing on the work of Santos and Avritzer (2007), I argue that liberal representative democracy as currently constituted worldwide is dominated by elites and is closely linked to neoliberal globalization because of the tremendous influence corporations have in the governance process. In other words, the open, transparent method of policy elaboration that encouraged citizen participation that was employed to draft the MCI bumped up against the traditional legislative process that includes back-room deals, political favors, and corporate lobbying. Based on data collected through ethnographic research among Brazilian Internet freedom activists, I illustrate the unique combination of street demonstrations on online protests they used to demand change. I show how they linked their goals to the massive Brazilian street protests of June 2014 and I place their work within the larger framework of movements to strengthen the Brazilian democratic in ways that benefit citizens rather than corporations.