Fraga, Christopher, New York U., New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Traffic in Contemporary Mexican Art Photography,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Abercrombie
CHRISTOPHER FRAGA, then a student at New York University, New York, New York, was awarded a grant in August 2007 to aid research on 'The traffic in contemporary Mexican art photography,' supervised by Dr. Thomas Abercrombie. The project sought to analyze the relationships between the changing political economy of the Mexican state and the aesthetics of art photography circulating in publications, exhibitions, and private sales. Over the course of fifteen months of research in Mexico City, the primary researcher acted as a participant observer in a wide range of art world and photography activities, focusing on how individual photographers were responding to the recently elected conservative government's redistribution of state support for the arts. The concentration of state resources in monumental projects (such as the newly inaugurated University Museum of Contemporary Art) has forced young artists and photographers to assume a curatorial function toward their own work, which in turn has pushed their artistic production in new, more critical directions. This project suggests that the poetics of contemporary Mexican photography challenges dominant art historical discourses about contemporary artistic production, rejecting neo-exotic representations of Mexico as a land of perennial, violent banditry.
Klivak, Lori Anne Coppola, Syracuse U., New York, NY - To aid research on ''Zapotec Tourism': The Community Politics of Indigenous Organizing and Ethnic Revival in Southern Mexico,' supervised by Dr. John S. Burdick
LORI ANNE KLIVAK, then a student at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, received funding in October 2007 to aid research on ''Zapotec Tourism:' The Community Politics of Indigenous Organizing and Ethnic Revival in Southern Mexico,' supervised by Dr. John S. Burdick. Conventional wisdom suggests that the affirmation of indigenous identity is an important factor in and outcome of grassroots organizing for indigenous rights in Latin America. But the uneven responses by local non-leaders to leadership-inspired visions of ethnic resurgence suggest the current scholarship on indigenous organizing may not fully appreciate the complex, highly contextual, and often contradictory nature of indigenous identity as it is experienced in the everyday. Through an investigation of a community-based ecotourism project in the northern mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, this proposed research examines the relationship between grassroots organizing and ethnic identity -- both in local organizing and non-organizing spaces -- asking, 'Why have the language and practice of ethnic revitalization had such an uneven reception?' The goal is to determine whether and how social organizing projects privilege certain features of ethnic identity, in what ways this privileging effects how and why people support these projects, and the impacts this dynamic has on organizing strategies.
Ebbitt, Alicia Beth, Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Students, Teachers, and Community Leaders Negotiating National and Local Heritage Idealogies in Belize,' supervised by Dr. Bradley Levinson
ALICIA BETH EBBITT McGILL, then a student at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Students, Teachers, and Community Leaders Negotiating National and Local Heritage Idealogies in Belized,' supervised by Dr. Bradley Levinson. The researcher's two main research objectives were: 1) to understand how Belizean students and teachers construct ideas about cultural heritage, archaeology, and local history, while exploring the effects of national heritage education initiatives and archaeological research on these ideas; and 2) to learn how teachers and other community leaders manipulate heritage and ideas about heritage to fulfill community needs and combat inequalities and hegemonic national ideology that privileges certain histories, while evaluating whether archaeological research offers teachers additional tools to respond to national heritage education. The researcher utilized interviews, participant observation, and concept maps and worked with primary school students and teachers, community members, and. other social actors. Preliminary findings demonstrate how teachers and students deal with the complex web of issues related to history, culture, and heritage and also reveal the ways knowledge construction about these issues (and history and cultural education) intersect with broader national and global concerns related to citizenship, racial and ethnic politics, and economic development.
Peterson, Brandt G., U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research on 'Indigenous Identity, Environmentalism, and Agrarian Politics in Post-War El Salvador,' supervised by Dr. Charles R. Hale
BRANDT G. PETERSON, while a student at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, was awarded a grant in December 2001 to aid research on indigenous identity, environmentalism, and agrarian politics in postwar El Salvador, under the supervision of Dr. Charles R. Hale. Peterson examined the establishment of environmentalism and indigenous rights in post-civil war El Salvador as key organizing concepts in new discourses of development, democracy, and the nation. He explored the cultural and political processes at work in the discursive transformation of peasants-the revolutionary subjects at the center of the civil war-and the land over which they struggled into Indians and 'nature,' respectively. Focusing on the rural municipality of Tacuba, where social and physical landscapes had been shaped by histories of racism but where the presence of racial difference was denied in favor of a homogeneous mestizo identity, Peterson asked why people who were Indians by many contemporary juridical and anthropological definitions rejected that identity even when material benefits were at stake. One goal was to develop a language of difference that might take seriously the effects of racism in Tacuba without situating those for whom an antiracist politics would speak in the position of being either proper Indians or denying that racism was an issue. The Indian imagined in official multiculturalism is too easily displaced outside of the time and space of the nation, marginalizing anew those who cannot easily escape the nation. Peterson showed how social boundaries are inscribed in landscapes and suggested that 'nature' and Indians are linked not only in Western fantasies of primitivism but also in their susceptibility to this process of fetishistic displacement.
Tucker, Dr. Catherine M., Indiana U., Bloomington, IN - To aid research on 'Cultural, Institutional and Environmental Dimensions of Conservation in Honduran Lenca Communities: The Montaña Camapara Reserve'
DR. CATHERINE TUCKER, Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded a grant in October 2007, to aid research on 'Cultural, Institutional, and Environmental Dimensions of Conservation in Honduran Lenca Communities: the Montaña Camapara Reserve.' This project explored the creation and management of a strictly protected, communal reserve on a cloud forest in Honduras. Formation of the reserve seemed improbable; the three communities that share the forest had border disputes and tensions, and coffee growers were clearing the forest. How did three communities, at odds with each other, achieve a strictly protected area in circumstances that have compelled deforestation elsewhere? The research encompassed interviews, archival research, surveys, biological assessments in the reserve, and mapping. It found that the primary motivation to create the reserve initiated with the 24 villages that draw water from the cloud forest. A decade of negotiation among local authorities, village water committees, and farmers on the mountain eventually succeeded in demarcating the reserve and relocating 19 farmers. Opposing factions coalesced around shared need for water and ideals of shared responsibility, which had roots in communal values, traditional beliefs, and a history of local governance. Some farmers refused to leave the mountain, but stopped clearing. Biological assessments found that the reserve's cloud forest compares favorably with others, and is expanding with forest regrowth. Common property theory has viewed strictly protected reserves skeptically, because they often fail. In this case, the decision to impose strict protection represented a merging of western environmentalism with traditional beliefs. It protected water sources and facilitated monitoring and enforcement by local forest guards. The research shows that water scarcity can be a powerful incentive for joint resource management, but the circumstances raise questions for theories of common property and institutional analysis of common-pool resource management.
Cesario, Christa Dawn, U. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - To aid research on 'The Politics of Socially Engaged Archaeology,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Thomas
CHRISTA DAWN CESARIO, then a student at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'The Politics of Socially Engaged Archaeology,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Thomas. This project sought to answer the question 'How do the globally circulating aims and intentions of socially engaged archaeology become situated locally in Yucatán, Mexico?' During the tenure of the grant, the research on the production of knowledge and identity was expanded to include other groups also focused on heritage management and outreach to Maya communities, on the level of culture and language, while maintaining a focus on engagement and the assumptions and epistemological notions inherent therein, identity construction, the production of knowledge, and the politics of cultural production. These organizations included a community theater group located in Oxkutzcab, Yucatán; a Mexican NGO focused on language education in Tizimín, Yucatán; and a Yucatec Maya-run NGO based in San Francisco, California that works with the Yucatecan immigrant community. Throughout this work she maintained an interest in how the targets of these projects - Maya communities - negotiated their way in the world, the avenues open to them, the paths they chose to take, and how they grounded themselves on a day-to-day basis. The widening of her project scope permits comparisons across multiple social and epistemological communities, enhancing the ability of her research to contribute to anthropological theory building.
Galemba, Rebecca B., Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Contesting Security: Everyday Crossings at the Mexico - Guatemala Border,' supervised by Dr. Kay Warren
REBECCA B. GALEMBA, then a student at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded funding in April 2006 to aid research on 'Contesting Security: Everyday Crossings at the Mexico-Guatemala Border,' supervised by Dr. Kay Warren. On a section of the Mexico-Guatemala border, a clandestine three-mile road connects Chiapas, Mexico to Huehuetenango, Guatemala. While in the past this border passage was officially monitored, since the mid-1990s five small cross-border communities along this road began to assert their ownership over the route. These communities prohibit the entrance of state authorities, and assert their own rights to charge tolls, or what they call 'taxes.' In contrast to corrupt state officials, the residents here proclaim themselves the rightful and ethical border authorities. Yet these locals must negotiate their authority to control the border with officials from both states, as well as with cross-border smugglers, migrants, social organizations, farmers, consumers, and national and international companies. This dissertation examines how border residents in their interactions with other border actors, at times reproduce, contest, or reconfigure the border and state powers. It challenges the uncritical conflation of legality and ethics at an international border crossing, highlighting the politics and competing views that underlie the construction of legality and morality there. Legality is revealed as a fluid, relational concept that provides a lens through which to examine how nationality, class, community, and notions of ethics and rights are constructed at the border.
Galemba, Rebecca B. 2013. 'Corn is Food, Not Contraband': The Right to 'Free Trade' at the Mexico-Guatemala Border. American Ethnologist 39(4):716-734.
Krauss, Amy Beth, Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore, MD - To aid research on 'Legal Language, Moral Fields: An Ethnographic Study of Abortion Rights and Advocacy Networks in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Poole
AMY B. KRAUSS, then a student at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was awarded funding in October 2011 to aid research on 'Legal Language, Moral Fields: An Ethnographic Study of Abortion Rights and Advocacy Networks in Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Deborah Poole. This research investigates the competing normative fields generated by the legalization of early abortion in Mexico City and the prioritization of rights-bearing life at the moment of conception in the majority of Mexican states. The project explores this tension between the legalization and criminalization of abortion practices by examining the debates about the constitutionality of the Mexico City legislation in the Supreme Court and seven penal cases in which women were incarcerated for abortion with the charge 'homicide with a count of kinship' in the state of Guanajuato. Drawing from this archival research in combination with extensive ethnographic fieldwork in clinics that provide the Legal Interruption of Pregnancy (ILE) in Mexico City and feminist networks that span between states, the dissertation analyzes how healthcare providers, feminist advocates, and women seeking a safe abortion negotiate rivaling state regulatory frameworks and how such day-to-day negotiations shape different versions of the reproductive body and the ethical subject.
Mendoza-Zuany, Rosa G., U. of York, York, UK - To aid research on 'Dealing with Cultural Diversity in the Process Towards Autonomy in Oaxaca, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Rob Aitken
ROSA G. MENDOZA-ZUANY, then a student at York University, York, United Kingdom, received funding in December 2003 to aid research on 'Dealing with Cultural Diversity in the Process Towards Autonomy in Oaxaca, Mexico,' supervised by Dr. Rob Aitken. Fieldwork was focused on examining the role of dialogue in the ongoing process of building autonomy in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico, a region characterized by its cultural diversity. Data were gathered on social, economic, and political organization of two Zapotec communities that have experienced de facto autonomy and considerable re-appropriation of power. People's accounts of their experience of autonomy have shown that it has been practiced and built on the ground and not 'demanded' as a product of legal changes and political reorganization. The data showed how dialogue plays a crucial role in the accommodation and negotiation of interests, objectives, and actions within the communities and in their relations with the exterior. Special emphasis was placed on levels of dialogue practiced for decision-making and living-together processes within the communities and for interaction with neighbors, governmental bodies, and the outside world. In the middle of power relations, these communities negotiate their autonomy and power within their jurisdictions but emphasizing positive interactions with their interlocutors. Preliminary findings include the observations that cultural difference and indigenous identities are not stressed in the process toward autonomy but local identities rooted in origin and belonging to the communities. Focused on the process of building autonomy and re-appropriating power through dialogue, this research provides an insight into indigenous peoples' alternatives to confrontation and demands focused on de jure autonomy dependent on legal reforms and reorganization of political-administrative divisions in order to deal with diversity.
Rahder, Micha, Louisiana State U., Baton Rouge, LA - To aid engaged activities on 'Conservation, Knowledge, and Collaboration in the Maya Biosphere Reserve,' 2015, Guatemala
Preliminary abstract: This engagement project involves a number of workshops designed to return research results from the project 'Satellites and Senses of Place' to the communities in which the research was conducted, with a particular focus on building trust and collaboration between different groups and actors. The research project focused on the role of remote monitoring (via satellites, aerial photography, etc), GIS mapping, and other official knowledge-making practices in multiscalar conservation and development projects in Guatemala's Maya Biosphere Reserve. Ethnographic research for this project was conducted among GIS technicians, conservation workers in state and NGO institutions, and in communities living inside the reserve, and the engagement project will first offer a series of small workshops focused on reporting research results to each of these groups individu