The Land and Its People: Rights, Responsibilities, and Conflicts

Saturday, February 7, 2015
10:00am – 11:15am
Jones Hall 100A Greenleaf Conference Room
Moderated by: Dr. Kris Lane, Department of History, Tulane University

Ancestral Land or Corporate Land: Conflicts over Identity and Territory in La Guajira, Colombia
Emma Banks, Vanderbilt University

In La Guajira, Colombia, indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino people struggle to defend their land threatened by the Cerrejón coalmine. These communities face a common problem, but must advance their claims through three different legal regimes. The 1991 constitution recognizes ethnic territories, and provides a framework for indigenous and Afro-Colombians, but not for campesinos, to protect their ancestral territories. Furthermore, the state that guarantees these rights also supports a national economic development plan based on mining, two seemingly contradictory responsibilities. Drawing on fieldwork with communities surrounding Cerrejón and analysis of key legislation, this paper explores how both the state and corporate actors manipulate multicultural legal norms to disenfranchise communities and control territory. It also illustrates how communities propose an alternative to narrow state definitions of ethnicity. Although framed as an attempt at recognizing ethnic rights, this paper views the state’s recognition of ethnic communities as a vehicle for regulating land in La Guajira in favor of Cerrejón. Wayuu indigenous communities have successfully claimed their ancestral territories, but as a result have come under greater state control. Legislation for Afro-Colombian and campesino communities falls short in La Guajira, denying their rights to territory and self-identity. In contrast to state legislation, ethnic claim-making “from below” is an attempt to assign land a cultural value and protect it from economic exploitation. The complex struggle over both territory and identity in La Guajira reveals how powerful actors and disenfranchised minorities mobilize multicultural values for disparate goals.

Fenced in Place: Discourses and Practices around Female Workers in China’s Hydropower Projects in Ecuador
Ruijie Peng, University of Texas at Austin

This study explores re/production of social and spatial relations in the biggest ongoing Chinese hydroelectric project in the Amazon watershed in Ecuador. With China’s near dominant role in development investment in Ecuador, the paper relies both on structural analysis of Chinese investment and original and ethnographic accounts and reflections from fieldwork in order to elucidate processes of integration or segmentation Chinese projects entail in the project. Due to different labor regulations, cultural norms and natural environment, Chinese-led development project experience a set of spatial segregation and labor segmentation based on national, ethnicity and gender lines. This produces a new development and management logic that both resembles traditional capitalist insertion in local economy yet distinguishes itself with different types of labor and environmental implications. However, instead of reproducing an imperial model of resource exploitation, China’s engagement with Ecuador and Latin America in general in development has created a new realm of contested social relations and interactions. For example, up to 20% of the workers and other staff have been brought from mainland China to work with Ecuadorians under a labor regime that creates more disadvantages for Chinese labor force than its Ecuadorian counterpart. Does Chinese investment and development in Ecuador represent a different paradigm than global capitalism’s engagement in production and profit? What spaces and social relations produce and are produced by South-South cooperation in development? Reflections from this work urge state and non-state actors to rethink ways in which Chinese state-led investments, Latin American states and grassroots advocacy groups can achieve more equitable and sustainable resource development.

This Isn’t Child’s Play: Delineating Mobility and Property in the Eastern Andes, 1630-1651
Nathan Weaver Olsen, University of Minnesota

In February of 1650, a property dispute between two brothers-in-law, Lorenzo de Chavez Orellana and Juan Sanchez de Aguilera, escalated into a fistfight as the local lieutenant general attempted to give Sanchez formal possession of what Chavez claimed to be his land, in full view of the Chavez family home. Of course on one level, the fistfight, which the Lieutenant General did not mention in his official report, was simply a physical manifestation of rising tensions between the two men. But on another level, this fight in a sparsely populated valley in the eastern Andes was a battle between proxies representing different notions about the origin and meaning of property rights, local citizenship (vecindad) and personal reputation. While Sanchez temporarily won possession of Chavez’s land, he would ultimately lose out in his effort to separate Chavez from his property, and did not prevent the sale of Chavez’s land to the regionally powerful don Pedro de Cuellar Mimbreño. The loss signified a change taking place in the valley in which years of military service in defense of the frontier no longer trumped literacy, documentary evidence, and the knowledge of Spanish civil legal codes. In this talk I will discuss how changing ideas about personal property in the seventeenth-century Andes help us to better understand how frontier spaces became bordered places, and the social implications of such changes for frontier communities.

Interrogating Gender: Traditions and Opportunities in the Framing of Women’s Identities

Saturday, February 7, 2015
11:30am – 12:45pm
Greenleaf Conference Room, Jones Hall 100A
Moderated by: Dr. Supriya Nair, Department of English, Tulane University

Poto Mitan or Helpless Victim: An Analysis of Women’s Representation in Haitian Proverbs
Rachel Denney, University of Kansas

This work examines competing notions of Haitian female identity as reflected through Haitian proverbs. Using a postcolonial feminist framework, this research analyzes entries from one of the world’s largest collection of Creole proverbs to understand how gender norms are both constructed and reinforced. These proverbs present a complex picture of female identities and gender relations in Haiti, in which women appear as entrepreneurs, partners, and caregivers, experiencing and eliciting the full range of human emotion. In doing so, they contradict the stereotypical “victim narrative” of Haitian women that permeates the underlying ideology of much humanitarian assistance, as well as undermine simplistic notions about women’s strength and resiliency. This project builds on literature that examines the social construction of identity through content and rhetorical analysis.

Ancient Maya Women’s Identity: An Analysis of Costume in Pre-Columbian Maya Art
Elizabeth Haughey, Tulane University

Ancient Maya textiles were made of natural wool or cotton that was dyed with natural vegetal dyes and woven by women on a backstrap loom. Evidence for these practices can be found in ancient Maya depictions of the act of weaving (often performed by the goddess Ixchel, or Goddesses O and I), as well as Jaina Island figurines and more. While some of the methods of textile production have changed throughout time, others have largely remained the same. Evidence from the Conquest period suggests that some Pre-conquest elements in Maya costume were also retained in 19th century women’s garments and beyond. Specific designs and colors in Guatemalan textiles today can often be linked to certain towns or regions of the country, especially the woman’s huipil (blouse) and corte (skirt) (both elements that originated in ancient times), and serve to provide the wearer with a sense of identity; not only Maya identity, but a specific identity tied to birth town or town of residence. Though little evidence exists that specifically links the Post-Classic Maya period to the period of the Spanish conquest, it may be true that the element of regional identifiability in textiles has persisted since ancient times. Ancient Maya women’s costumes may be seen worn on prominent Maya women, such as Lady Xok of Yaxchilan, Lady Rabbit of Bonampak, Lady Night of Piedras Negras, and others. These ladies can be found on a variety of ancient Maya art, including painted pottery, carved stone lintels and stelae, three-dimensional figurines, and the Maya codices, from sites such as Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Motul de San José. Analysis of such depictions of women’s costume in Pre-Columbian Maya art can be employed to discover the ways in which the Pre-Columbian Maya may have distinguished regional identity.

(Sup)Plantation Narratives: Reading Andrea Levy’s The Long Song as a Textual and Sexual Revision of The History of Mary Prince

Laura Mellem, Tulane University

This paper examines a contemporary novel, Andrea Levy’s The Long Song (2010), alongside a prominent historical text describing the experiences of an enslaved woman in the West Indies, The History of Mary Prince, originally published in 1831. In depicting the sexual encounters of enslaved women–coerced, for pleasure, and for economic or legal gain–in Jamaica in the period between the abolition of the slave trade and full emancipation (1807-1838), I argue that Levy’s novel especially responds to the deliberate silencing of aspects of Mary Prince’s sexual experiences as an enslaved woman in the original slave narrative. Ultimately, Levy’s novel reveals what Prince’s testimony does not say, that sexuality was a central tenet of enslaved women’s lives and that they did with it what they could. Writing back to the public furor that erupted over Prince’s sexual omissions, moreover, Levy pieces together the claims made about Prince and reinvents a full story of her life, and other enslaved women’s lives. In doing so, she makes clear the contradictions inherent in the unrealistic Victorian demands being made of enslaved women, including the idealization of motherhood and the insistence on women’s chastity. Unapologetically portraying an enslaved woman’s rejection of her dark-skinned child and highlighting her relationships with men, both black and white, for economic gain, Levy disrupts the binary logic of “the woman card” in the debates between abolitionists and pro-slavery supporters. Instead, she portrays a complex female character who is neither simply victim nor concubine. Reading Levy’s The Long Song alongside The History of Mary Prince allows us to fill in the blanks deliberately left in Prince’s testimony, while also appreciating, perhaps even more, the boldness of Prince’s original work.

Sexual Citizenship: Defining, Defending, and Expressing Sexuality

Saturday, February 7, 2015
1:30pm – 2:45pm
Greenleaf Conference Room, Jones Hall 100A
Moderated by: Dr. Elizabeth Steeby, Department of English, University of New Orleans

Movilh-Ization: Diversidad Collective Action Framing in Santiago’s LGBTI movement
Baird Campbell, Rice University

Santiago, Chile’s capital and home to roughly a third of Chile’s population, has both a longer established and more diverse LGBTQ social movement industry (SMI) than the rest of the country. This paper, thus, will focus specifically on my interviews with leaders from six major LGBTQ rights groups in Santiago: Movilh, MUMS, Acción Gay, Fundación Iguales, CUTS, and OTD.
Movilh presents itself as the oldest LGBTQ rights social movement organization (SMO) in Chile. While it is technically true, today’s Movilh is a different organization than the one originally founded, the latter now referred to by many as “Movilh Histórico.” This conversion from Movilh Histórico to today’s Movilh has created ruptures in Santiago’s LGBTQ SMI. According to my interviews, this rupture is largely due to personal tensions with Rolando Jimenez, Movilh’s current president and one of the initial founders of the group. In general, the activists I interviewed (with the exception of Movilh’s representative, Jaime Parada) bear a notable animosity toward Jimenez.
Through analysis of field interviews, I will assess Movilh’s political legitimacy both in the eyes of the Chilean state and in the eyes of the remaining SMOs that make up Santiago’s LGBTQ social movement industry. Although this SMI has been fragmented for years, its current step into the spotlight has aggravated tensions among the city’s various SMOs. I believe that in the coming years this inter-group dynamic will become increasingly salient as LGBTQ rights gain more traction and political clout in Chile. It is important to begin to understand this SMI now, while it is still in the early stages of societal legitimation. An understanding of the dynamics between Movilh, the government, and the rest of the SMI will be crucial to understanding LGBTQ rights in Chile in the near future.

‘Ni plus, ni moins.’: (Re) Examining Questions of Sexual Citizenship in the French Caribbean
Ryan Joyce, Tulane University

In recent years, the nascent field of Citizenship Studies has been explored, expanded and problematized throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. However, relatively little attention is given to the French Caribbean, and even less to the role and interactions of sexual marginalization and citizenship within and across that space. My project challenges this gap in scholarship by examining representations of marginalized LGBT communities within the French Caribbean surrounding the PaCS (Civil Solidarity Pacts) and same-sex marriage debates. Arguably, these political and social representations force us to reexamine what it actually means to be a “citizen” under the banner of the French republican model of universalism. More specifically, my paper gestures towards the peripheries of the French nation by addressing citizens who are doubly marginalized as sexually and racially inferior subjects. In this context, focusing on the modes of representation in popular print media, or lack thereof, of LGBT minorities in relation with the French métropole helps to frame a wider discussion about the realities of ‘sexual citizens’ in the 21st century. Indeed, rethinking the role of sexual citizenship in the French Caribbean vis-à-vis Europe reveals the contradictions and tensions inherent within the transnational, and trans-Atlantic, constructions of modernity and democracy. Extending the discussion to subaltern LGBT minorities also forces the representations of these groups to be considered and debated in the public sphere. Finally, this issue operates across a wide variety of discourses, ranging from the political, the economic, the social, the cultural, and the historical.

Gender in the City: Reading Judith Butler in Havana
Maile Speakman, Tulane University

A great deal of literature exists on exiled queer Cuban authors like Reinaldo Arenas. However, little research has been done about the theoretical, cultural, and political ties that queer and feminist Cuban authors who live in Cuba have to theorists and writers in the United States. Using historical methods, qualitative interviews, and discourse analysis, I trace the cultural currents that exist between Havana’s queer and feminist authors and gender theorists in the United States. In doing so, I highlight the delayed, fragmented, and localized nature of these exchanges and theorize that the unique temporal space that habanero writers create with North American queer theorists disrupts the logic of globalized cultural imperialism and North American queer hegemony. This analysis is in dialogue with scholars such as Emilio Bejel, Eduardo González, José Quiroga, and Ricardo Ortiz and uses a theoretical framework that includes the work of Michel Foucault, Gloria Anzaldúa, and José Muñoz.

Cartografías queer: Género y sexualidad en una comunidad del México rural
Raziel Valiño, Columbia University

Este trabajo describe como se encontró en el Morelos rural, un amplio y rico terreno donde se mapeo la geografía sexual y el espacio público y privado del pueblo. El análisis principal se ubica en el local de Mario, el que se puede describir como un bar gay al aire libre, ubicado en el centro del pueblo. La loca del pueblo es una figura conocida en el México rural, pero lo que brinda el local de Mario es que las locas y sus amigos se han apropiado y reclamado el centro del pueblo, en donde crean un contra publico queer. Las prácticas nocturnas representadas en los cuerpos y sociabilidad vista en el local de Mario, ubica lo escondido e ilícito en el centro del pueblo. Los espacios públicos queer crean un mundo cuyos contornos son expresivos y afectivos, en lugar de ser creadores de argumentos y opiniones. Este mundo y sus formas de ser mexicano, campesino, hombre y mujer hacen declaraciones publicas que pertenecen en y al pueblo, pero también son practicas de ciudadanía cultural.