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.
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.
Abarbanell, Linda Beth, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Spatial Language and Reasoning in Tseltal Mayans'
DR. LINDA BETH ABARBANELL, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, was awarded funding in May 2010 to aid research on 'Spatial Language and Reasoning in Tseltal Mayans.' Does language shape speakers' experiences and perceptions? Some of the strongest yet most controversial claims for linguistic relativity concern the frames of reference speakers use to talk about locations and directions. English speakers use an egocentric perspective (e.g., left/right), where speakers of other languages use fixed aspects of their geocentric environment. In Tseltal (Mayan, Mexico), the language studied in this project, speakers use the uphill/downhill slope of their terrain. These differences are argued to affect the availability of each system for nonlinguistic thought; however, the experimental evidence has yielded conflicting results. The present research brings more systematic data to the table by: 1) replicating and extending previous studies in order to reconcile conflicting results obtained from different tasks and comparison groups; and 2) using linguistic variations within a single community to minimize environmental and educational differences across language groups while exploring speakers' ability to use both egocentric and geocentric representations. The results argue that language may help speakers encode non-salient relationships, such as non-egocentric left/right, and develop more complex and accurate mental maps of their environment; however, it does not fundamentally restructure spatial cognition. Rather, task-specific constraints may override linguistic preferences to determine which system is easier to use.
Smith, Dr. Lindsay, U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM; and Garcia Deister, Dr. Vivette, U. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City - To aid collaborative research on 'Migrant DNA: The Science Of Disappearance And Death Across The Mexican Borderlands'
Preliminary abstract: Forensic DNA is an ever-growing scientific and political regime in spaces of violence, dispossession, and death. This Project, working in the Mexican borderlands, from Guatemala to the United States, will examine the emergence and consolidation of forensic genetics at the intersection of state-based and grass-roots responses to migration and migrant death. Focusing on scientists, we seek to elucidate the knowledge practices that shape death and identification, particularly the way that genetics has emerged as a contested paradigm for making sense of the crisis of migration and human rights. Drawing on the anthropology of science, critical forensic anthropology, and migrant studies, this study explores the epistemology of forensic genetics in this border region. We seek to elucidate the role of genetics within a new politics of life and death, one where the dead body, made legible through the molecular gaze becomes a contested space for narrating the suffering of violence. This ethnography of forensic science in Mexico adds a new dimension to the theorization of the border, bringing critical attention to the role of forensic science as a knowledge-making borderland straddling justice and research, humanitarian identification and state obfuscation, and the consolidation and contestation of Mexican state power. By focusing on migrant DNA an integral component of the production of violence, justice, and belonging in the global economy, we propose a new methodology for a multi-disciplinary anthropology of science that moves out of the laboratory to better understand the epistemologies and violences of truth-making in the borderlands.
Cruz-Torres, Dr. Maria Luz, Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'The Shrimp Ladies: A Political Ecology of Gender, Fisheries, and Grassroots Movements in Northwestern Mexico'
DR. MARIA L. CRUZ-TORRES, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'The Shrimp Ladies: A Political Ecology of Gender, Fisheries and Grassroots Movements in Northwestern Mexico.' A primary goal of this study is to understand how gender influenced the development of a local grassroots movement among women shrimp traders in southern Sinaloa, Mexico. It also documents the emergence and evolution of the movement and its culmination into a Shrimp Traders Union in Mazatlan City. The study was conducted among women shrimp traders from seven coastal communities. Research combined participant observation, archival research, and oral interviews with a household survey carried out by previously trained students from the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in Mazatlán. Preliminary results show that the main benefit obtained by women within the movement was their power to organize into a shrimp trader workers union, which in turn granted them more local political participation. Participation in the movement enabled rural and urban-based women to develop strong social and economic networks. However, the advent of the shrimp aquaculture eroded of many of these since jobs performed by rural-based women -- such as supplying shrimp to the urban-based women -- was taken over by men with direct access to shrimp farms. There are differences in the kind of jobs performed by women shrimp traders, and those women who joined the Union spend more hours working and less time at home with their families. There are non-significant socio-economic differences between the two groups.
Cruz-Torres, Maria. 2012. Unruly Women and Invisible Workers: The Shrimp Traders of Mazatlan, Mexico. Signs 37(3):610-617.
Garcia, David Ricardo, U. of Florida, Gainesville, FL - To aid research on 'Disputing Land Rights, Contesting the Community: Reconfiguration of Social Structures in Rural Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Allan F. Burns
DAVID RICARDO GARCIA, then a student at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, was awarded funding in May 2009, to aid research on 'Disputing Land Rights, Contesting the Community: Reconfiguration of Social Structures in Rural Guatemala,' supervised by Dr. Allan F. Burns. Neoliberal land policies and local beliefs and practices regarding land transform not only the landscape but also the social relations in communities of small-holders. Through a mixed-methods approach the research examined how the contentions and cooperation over land ownership reconfigure the social ordering of rural communities, shift social support patterns, and shape beliefs and practices regarding land. The project was undertaken in Chisec, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, where differently positioned households within the social structure of Q'eqchi'-Maya communities both contest and conform to the legal procedures set forth by state-driven programs and policies. The study also engaged broader social practices by inquiring how lacunae in the state's legal procedures of land titling enable households, state officials, and other actors to reinterpret, resist, and reproduce desires, norms and regimes of land tenure. Social network data was gathered in two communities and probed the effects of distinct levels of land privatization on their social structures and social support. Through ethnographic interviewing and participant observation in the aforementioned communities and in the town of Chisec, different processes were captured inter alia land inheritance, individual land titling, and the application of technologies on land and community planning.
Lagos, Ingrid, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'The Migration of Biopolitics: Citizenship and Health in El Salvador,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena
INGRID LAGOS, then a student at University of California, Davis, California, received funding in April 2011 to aid research on 'The Migration of Biopolitics: Citizenship and Health in El Salvador,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena. Funding supported research to understand the ways remittances and migration form and transform healthcare networks, medical practices, and state policy in El Salvador. The study narrowed its focus on transnational medical phone consultations, and public/private health services targeting Salvadorans abroad. Salvadoran migrants living in cities in the US are calling rural doctors in El Salvador when they are sick. They call because in many instances they do not have access to care, but they also call because they find medical treatments and practices in the US incommensurable with those they are used to or are expecting. These transnational medical calls challenge the homogeneity assumed in biomedical practices, disturb their natural relationship to technology and progress, and de-center North-South assumptions of healthcare distribution. Furthermore, in this diagnosis process, devoid of a physical body and its representation (e.g. X-rays), a medical body emerges through relations, experience, and history, defying common sense notions of the medical encounter. The study shows how remittances and medical needs of Salvadorans in the US are linked to increased presence of private medicine in rural El Salvador, and how private and public interests attempt to 'capture' the economic gains thought to exist in medical remittance networks.
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.