The Latin American Research Forum (El Foro) is an interdisciplinary lecture series led by recognized IU professors and distinguished visitors. The Forum showcases the extensive quality and diversity of research of Indiana University faculty from across the state.
The Latin American Research Forum is open to the public.
“Vasco de Quiroga’s Utopian Socio-Spatial Experiments, and the Racializing Effects of the Dual Republic Model”
This presentation focuses on the influence that Vasco de Quiroga’s utopian social-spatial experiments had over the development of the segregationist Dual Republic Model. Rosenthal shows that Quiroga’s project can be productively re-read in relation to Daniel Nemser’s recent study on the spatial politics of concentration in colonial Mexico, and argues that Quiroga’s experiments contributed to processes of colonial racialization that were the effect of material spatial practices and biopolitical interventions. In the first part of the talk, she analyzes Quiroga’s project and its unintended effects. She pays particular attention to the ways in which his project sanctioned segregation—eventually influencing the dualist logic of the two-republics model that was legally codified in the Recopilación de leyes de los reynos de las Indias—and considers how his writing and actions contributed to the politicization of racialized life. In the second half of the presentation, Rosenthal discusses the influence that Thomas More’s Utopia had on Quiroga’s project. She emphasizes the fact that his utopian social-spatial experiments are informed not only by the fictional description of the Island of Utopia that we find in Book Two, but also by the historical context that informs Book One, where we find More’s political reflections on enclosures and on the criminalization of vagrancy in England—in other words, what Marx would later theorize as Primitive Accumulation.
E. Ángeles Martínez Mier
“Lessons Learned: Conducting Oral Health Research in Mexico”
E. Angeles Martínez Mier, DDS, MSD, PhD is from the Department of Cariology, Operative Dentistry and Dental Public Health at Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis. She serves as department chair and director of the Binational/Cross-Cultural Health Enhancement Center. Her research focuses on two areas: dental caries prevention and cross-cultural health. Her talk focused on her community-based research in the area of cross-cultural and binational (US and Mexico) health designed to address and identify disparities in oral health. She has also developed extensive global service-learning and community-based dental education opportunities in Indiana, Mexico and throughout Latin America for IU School of Dentistry students.
William J. Mello
“Work until You Die: The Effects of the 2016 Coup on the Brazilian Working Class.”
Without a doubt, the 2016 coup against democratically elected president Dilma Rouseff (PT) was an overall attack on Brazilian democracy and the country’s institutions. The coup, however, had a very specific target, i.e. Brazil’s workers and the poor, their unions and social movements. A central characteristic of the coup were the introduction of massive changes to the basic labor protections once enjoyed by workers, the legal structure that shapes relations between employers and workers and the very way work is performed. At the center of these political setbacks is a fundamental contradiction between neoliberalism, the rights of workers and the ongoing battle to consolidate democracy in Brazil.
“A ‘Degenerate’ Race?: Charity, Morality, and Public Health Reforms in Colombia’s Quest to Progress, 1883-1930.”
In the 1880s, medical, political, and intellectual elites in Colombia became increasingly preoccupied about the degeneración de la raza, the degeneration of the [Colombian] race, which they perceived as being epitomized by mendicancy, alcoholism, prostitution, poor hygiene, and the spread of diseases. In the eyes of the elite, the prevalence of widespread disease and perceived immorality imperiled the very essence of nationhood. Thus, the quest to progress involved an effort to correct “immoral” behavior as well as public health reforms in order to “regenerate” the race.
In the late-nineteenth century period known as La Regeneración, elite discourse focused on “immorality,” and progress was often defined in moral terms. By the early twentieth century, reformers, legislators, and philanthropists increasingly turned to doctors and public health experts who used science, medicine, and the state as tools in the struggle for progress and national development. By 1920, instead of seeing moral ills as the cause of physical ills, doctors and eugenicist social scientists now argued that the health of the body and health determined the moral character of the race and nation. The body, health, and hygiene were not only the building blocks; they constituted the indispensable base required to achieve “racial regeneration” and moral, intellectual, and material progress.
Monica Humeres Requelme
"The Love of Humanity in Kilowatts: US-Chile Translations of Electrification During the 20th Century"
Monica Humeres Requelme, a PhD student in Sociology at the Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Chile, in this forum will discuss how the influence of US policy remained strong along the 20th century, where technology and Chilean society shaped each other in important ways. The electrification of Chilean society in the twentieth century was a complex process meant not only to improve the standard of living and advance towards progress but also as a moral policy to better the racial makeup. In connecting all Chileans to electricity, Chilean engineers followed the example of North American Electric Policy of the 1930s as a source of inspiration.
"Prioritizing Island Resiliency: New (and Old) Foreign Investment and Development Partners"
Dr. Kalim Shah - Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy, IU Northwest - will discuss how the US has recently initiated renewed policy positions on Caribbean relations and the EU, UK, and Canada continue to be reliable development investment partners. Japan and Chinese-Caribbean economic relations have deepened over the past decade. This dicussion provides an overview of this relationship landscape, attentive to areas of potential benefits, risk and implications for the future of new copperation ties.
"Brazil in Transition: Beliefs, Leadership, and Institutional Change"
Dr.Andrés Guzmán - Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese - The idea of universal citizenship has been the object of much critique during the last decades, with many critics pointing to the racial, class, and gendered (among other) exclusions upon which the notion of universality is founded. Rather than jettisoning the idea of universal citizenship, the present talk seeks to take these critiques as a point of departure for its reconceptualization.
Lee J Alston
"Brazil in Transition: Beliefs, Leadership, and Institutional Change"
Dr. Lee J. Alston will be speaking about the roles of beliefs, leadership, and institutions in the elusive yet critical transition to sustainable development within Brazil. His talk will outline how the nation's beliefs, centered on social inclusion yet bound by orthodox economic policies, led to institutions that ultimately altered economic, political, and social outcomes. Dr. Lee J. Alston is the Ostrom Chair, professor of economics and law, and director of the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University.
Claudia Avellaneda, Associate Professor at the School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA)
"Local Governance in Latin America"
Claudia N. Avellaneda will speak on the factors explaining municipal performance in Latin America. Since the adoption of decentralization, Latin American municipalities became responsible for funding, planning and implementing programs affecting both human and economic development. Based on data collected from field research, Avellaneda will present the role that mayoral qualifications play in explaining municipal performance when it is assessed in terms of public service delivery and fiscal performance. Besides testing the effect of managerial quality, Avellaneda also tests the effect of political, demographic, economic, and contextual factors. Findings across six Latin American countries - Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, and Ecuador - suggest that the municipal context moderates the effect that managerial and political factors have on municipal performance.
Eden Medina, Associate Professor of Informatics and Computing
"Science, Technology, and Human Rights: A Case Study of Forensic Identification in Chile"
Eden Medina will be speaking on the intersections between science, technology, and human rights as understood through events in Chile. In 1991, Chilean forensic scientists began the exhumation of 126 skeletons from Patio 29, a plot in the General Cemetery where the military ordered the burial of hundreds the disappeared and executed. The exhumations began shortly after Chile returned to democracy and provided proof of the human rights crimes that had taken place during the dictatorship. By 2002, the Chilean government had identified 96 of these skeletons and returned them to the families. However, in 2006 the Chilean government announced that the scientists had misidentified at least half of the skeletons exhumed from Patio 29. This talk will consider how Chile's particular reparation ecology shaped its use of science and technology for forensic identification, and how the misidentifications have shaped reparation, truth, and justice in the aftermath of Pinochet.
Elizabeth Stein, of the IU Media School
"Latin America's Accountability Deficit Trap: Declining Political Competition & Declining Media Freedom"
This talk will address the endogenous relationship between media freedom and presidential accountability (or the lack thereof). She will focus on when horizontal institutions of accountability become subservient to the executive and no longer monitor and sanction the president and when the frailty of constitutional checks and balances jeopardizes the very freedom and independence that the media require to remain the citizens' watchdog. She links presidential actions towards media freedom to (1) president-opposition competition in elections, (2) president-media polarization and citizen access to alternative media, and (3) the de jure and de facto institutional accountability framework. In light of these conditions, she will explain the evolution and devolution of media freedom during 14 presidencies in 6 Latin American countries. She will argue that presidents are more likely to infringe upon the independence and freedom of the media when presidents face minimal electoral competition from opposition parties and where they hold ideological positions contrary to the dominant ideological leaning of the media establishment.
Stephen Selka, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies
"Our Lady of Many Causes: Religion and the Politics of Heritage in Bahia, Brazil"
This talk examines the transformation of a local Afro-Catholic religious festival (the festival of Our Lady of Good Death celebrated by the Sisterhood of Our Lady of the Good Death in Cachoeira, Bahia) from a local celebration to heritage of the state and a tourist attraction. It focuses on the critical period from the 1970s to the 1990s during which Afro-Brazilian culture became an increasingly important political, economic and cultural "resource" in Bahia. In 1989, the Sisterhood of Our Lady of the Good Death entered into a legal conflict with the Catholic Church over the ownership of the images and objects used in the festival, precipitating something of a national scandal. In this talk I explore how various groups - especially politicians, artists and tourists - came to the Sisterhood's defense during this conflict and how, in the process, the Sisterhood expanded from a religious organization to a legal, political and cultural one.
Rebecca Dirksen, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology
"Zafè Fatra (The Affair of Trash): Haiti's Trash-Talking Musicians and Their Pursuit of a Cleaner Port-au-Prince"
Intimately tied to poverty, health insecurity, political uncertainty, and structural violence, trash is one of the most visible and hazardous challenges in Port-au-Prince today. Pedestrians are frequently forced to traverse piles of garbage on their daily routes, and many Haitian citizens speak of politik fatra, a "politics of trash," that governs civic behavior to a surprising extent. Notably, the mounting trash problem has given rise to a distinct and growing musical discourse on garbage. In fact, several groups of young musicians have used their songs to voice concerns about environmental degradation and inappropriate dumping practices, but these musicians' engagement with trash does not end with their lyrics. They are physically trying to combat the problem and empower their local communities toward concrete action. This talk will present two such projects led by youth who have endeavored to clean up their spaces and the negative images society has hoisted on them: (1) a neighborhood trash collection program initiated and organized by teenage rappers, and (2) a work-in-progress musical documentary called Zafè Fatra (The Affair of Trash), a collaboration between a collective of musicians, a Haitian filmmaker, and the presenter.
Carlos Sandroni, Associate Professor in the Department of Music at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil
"Music and Intangible Heritage in Brazil"
Public policies around the idea of "Intangible Cultural Heritage" (ICH) began to be discussed in Brazil by 1997. In 2000, the Federal Government established the register and safeguard of ICH as a legal duty. In 2003, Brazil was among the first signatories of the UNESCO convention on the safeguarding of ICH. Between 2000 and 2014, seven forms of music and dance from the Northeastern region of Brazil were classified as national ICH and two of these were submitted to and approved for UNESCO ICH lists. Brazil's prompt integration of UNESCO's public policies is connected to a history of ongoing debates and exchanges about folklore and popular culture which helped shape and influence social practices. In this talk, Prof. Sandroni will link present debates on ICH to Brazilian experiences in related fields since the 1930's and discuss recent Brazilian ICH cases in music and dance.
Vicky Unruh, Professor Emerita of Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Kansas
"Intimations of Mortality: The Cemetery in Post-Soviet Cuban Film and Fiction"
The Necrópolis Cristobal Colón in Havana, one of the largest cemeteries in the Western Hemisphere, is a popular tourist stop for visitors to contemporary Cuba. The site of Fidel Castro's first memorable public appearance in 1951, the Colón entrance also witnessed Fidel's first use of the word "socialism" in 1961 to describe the Cuban Revolution. Decades of official oratory have reinforced the cemetery as a renewable site of ostensibly immutable state authority but have also rendered it the rich target of cultural inquiry, satire, or critique. This talk explores Post-Soviet Cuban fiction and film representations of the cemetery as a cultural "vortex of behavior," to use Joseph Roach's concept, or a "practiced place," in Michel de Certeau's terms, for unpacking, critiquing, or recasting residual, if threadbare revolutionary ideals. The talk examines the cemetery as a ground zero of Cuban filmic and literary imaginings of confrontation with a seemingly eternal revolutionary state and the fertile terrain these imaginings offer for disassembling the all-encompassing national communities that modern cemeteries ostensibly embody and for generating smaller-scale, tentative, and mortal models for community and affiliation.
Andrés Guzmán, IU Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
"Immigration and Mass Incarceration in the U.S.: Law, Capital, and the Criminalization of Surplus Labor"
Criminalization is today one of the primary governmental responses to the crisis of surplus labor. Beginning by examining the governmental logics that underpin the related phenomena of immigrant detention and deportation, the criminalization of non-citizen behavior, and mass incarceration in the U.S. during recent decades, this presentation follows by proposing a theoretical framework through which to think the political capacity of such figures as the (Undocumented) Immigrant and Criminal.
Terri Francis, IU Associate Professor, Communication and Culture
"UnExpected Archives: More Locations of Caribbean Film"
Regional and national boundaries parallel disciplinary ones and they present instructive challenges. Latin American film criticism excludes the anglophone Caribbean. The borders of the United States define American film history. Even scholarship on cinema of the African diaspora can be limited to countries in Africa, Europe, and North America. Because Caribbean film history stands at the crossroads of all three areas of scholarship, it tends to fall through the gaps between them. What to do?
Albert Valdman, IU Rudy Professor Emeritus of French Linguistics and Director of the Creole Institute
"Language and Education in Haiti: Reviving the Réforme Bernard"
The Réforme Bernard, launched in 1979, instituted a transitional bilingual approach in which Haitian Creole (HC) became the primary language of instruction during the first four years of elementary education.
Lucia Guerra-Reyes, IU Assistant Professor in Applied Health Science, School of Public Health
"Remaking Health Care in Latin America: The Challenges of Applying Intercultural Policy"
This presentation traced the trajectory of interculturality in health in the region; it explored the meanings of intercultural health in Latin America and presented an application which exemplifies the challenges faced by policies based on this framework.
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