Tzib, Fernando Maximino, U. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - To aid research on 'Land Tenure Discourses and Mayan Identity in Belize,' supervised by Dr. Frank Salomon
FERNANDO M. TZIB, then a student at University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, was awarded funding in April 2008 to aid research on 'Land Tenure Discourses and Mayan Identity in Belize,' supervised by Dr. Frank Saomon. The study examined the discursive relationship between Maya customary land tenure and Belizean national statutory land tenure systems among the Mopan and Kekchi Maya in southern Belize. Study of Maya claims of rights to lands that Mayas have traditionally occupied and managed through customary land tenure systems demonstrates strong relationships between land tenure and Maya political and socio-economic structures and daily relations with the land and annual events such as ceremonies and festivals. These relationships with the land, the spirit world, the Government of Belize, and the Development Agencies also shape the construction of Maya identity. During conflicts over land use with the Belizean state, it was clear that Maya customary law is also constituted through broader networks of interactions with the state and the spiritual wor1fi. Tuulak in Kekchi and pulyah in Mopan are terms for a form of punishment that befalls a wrongdoer, a construct that reinforces the proscriptions of customary law. This construct is given weight by its perceived links with the ancient Maya, credited by both Mayas and non-Maya. Its temporally transcendent nature strengthens contemporary Mayan identity albeit at the cost of fomenting some social fears.
Chollett, Dr. Donna Lynn, U. of Minnesota, Morris, MN - To aid research on 'Theorizing the Intrinsic Virtuosity of a Grassroots Social Movement'
DR. DONNA LYNN CHOLLETT, University of Minnesota, Morris, Minnesota, was awarded funding in April 2011, to aid research on 'Theorizing the Intrinsic Virtuosity of a Grassroots Social Movement.' The objective of the research was to understand the internal dynamics of a failed social movement in Latin America. Social movement scholars often interpret grassroots movements as morally noble given their claims to social justice. The grantee argues that a more critical analysis is indispensable. Building on previous research of the illegal seizure of a closed sugar mill, its operation as a cooperative, and declaration of bankruptcy in 2009, the grantee conducted in-depth interviews with participants and leaders of the social movement. Interviews focused on objectives, resources, mill management, organization, and leadership. All interviewees reported corruption in the leadership of three successive administrative councils whose leaders they attribute with seeking personal benefits. Economic losses can be attributed to handful of individuals. Interviews revealed that many activists have withdrawn from participation. The community is divided into contending groups, to the point that trust is non-existent. Nonetheless, people unanimously held to a common desire to maintain the sugar mill and generate employment for the community. In 2010, a new president was elected and is in the process of attempting to create a system of transparency. The future depends largely on his petition to the federal government for financial support in reopening the sugar refinery.
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 individually. Following these initial sessions, a longer collaborative workshop will be held which brings together participants from the first series, designed to create a space for reflection and creative problem solving around themes of violence, inequality, mistrust, and communication in conservation projects. This workshop will result in the collective creation of a set of guiding principles for effective and just science-conservation-community collaborations.
Vaughan, Charles L., London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom - To aid research on 'Remaking People, Places, and Pasts: Maya Chorti Cultural Activism in Western Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Maurice E. Bloch
CHARLES L. VAUGHAN, then a student at London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom, received funding in February 2004 to aid research on 'Remaking People, Places, and Pasts: Maya Chorti Cultural Activism in Western Honduras,' supervised by Dr. Maurice E. Bloch. Since 1994, the Copan Valley in western Honduras, internationally famous for the ancient Mayan ruins of Copan, has borne witness to the growth of an indigenous movement: the National Council of Indigenous Maya Chorti of Honduras (CONIMCHH). Recognized by the Honduran state, CONIMCHH has fought aggressively for land titles for its membership while pursuing projects aimed at the revival of the Chorti Mayan language and Chorti cultural practices. Surrounding the membership of CONIMCHH, however, has been a pervasive complex of criticism, which argues that 'Chorti' only exist in Guatemala and not in Honduras. Over the course of twenty months of fieldwork, this research sought to probe the underlying history and assumptions of this complex and to explore in what ways CONIMCHH may have provided its members with a new language for describing themselves, and their pasts, in terms of 'being Chorti' in Honduras. While the lives of the men and women who form the membership of CONIMCHH are lived in a social landscape where the name 'Chorti' holds contradictory meanings, histories, and referents, this fieldwork showed that service and sacrifice for CONIMCHH are humble daily actions which speak for 'being Chorti' where words may not.
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 hea