London Latin American Anthropology Seminar | Just another SAS blogs site


Winter 2021

All seminars are held online via Zoom.

All are welcome and attendance is free. Registration is required to access the event link.

Thursday 4 February 2021

“There’s No Use for an Empty Database”: Techno-Politics of Brazil’s Forensic DNA Database and Its Promises

Vitor Richter, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

Since 2009, following a collaborative agreement with the United States` Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Brazil has increased its efforts to introduce forensic DNA databases in its techno-legal scenery. In 2012, a federal law regulating the use of this technology was approved in a rather fast legislative process and Brazil officially joined the large and expanding group of countries that store individuals’ genetic information in a national database for criminal investigations. It became the largest forensic DNA database network outside the United States. The introduction of this biotechnology, however, has been raising important legal, ethical, and practical challenges. Work around crime scene preservation, the mandatory sampling of DNA and its effects on prisoners’ bodily integrity and rights, genetic privacy and the right to refuse self-incrimination are among the main debates that are emerging from the early use of DNA databases for criminal investigations in the country. This paper will describe how Brazilian forensic geneticists face the practical challenges that emerge from relations with other institutions and infrastructures, such as the criminal justice system, police practices and the Brazilian carceral infrastructure, when the time to sample subjects’ DNA inside prison facilities and at crime scenes arrives. I will also address proposals to expand the criteria for inclusion of genetic profiles in the databases recently expressed in a bill written by the former Ministry of Justice, Sergio Moro, in an effort to think about the techno-politics of forensic genetic databasing, the grammar of punitivism, and rising authoritarianism in Brazilian politics.  

Book your place here.

Thursday 18 February 2021

River’s Rights – People’s Rights? Urban Socio-Ecological Conflicts in Asunción, Paraguay 

Facundo Daniel Rivarola Ghiglione, Graduate Institute Geneva

In recent years, there has been an emerging debate about the “right of nature” and “nature’s jurisprudence.” From rivers to forests to animals, holders or claimants of rights are no longer presumed to be exclusively “human.” This research project brings together recent scholarly engagement with more-than-human approaches, post-colonial critiques, and urban political ecology. It centers on the case of the Paraguayan river and marginalized indigenous/mestizocommunities’ struggle over access to urban spaces in the city of Asunción. State-run new urban redevelopment projects deem that floodplains areas of the city “rightfully” belong to the river and that marginalized communities living there should move elsewhere. However, these areas, known as Bañados, were never empty floodplains. Indigenous, mestizos and rural migrant communities have lived there since colonial times, forming a historically rooted socio-ecology with the neighboring river. This project aims to understand the way(s) in which the recent urban redevelopment projects in Asunción create a socio-ecological conflict between what is understood as the “rights” of the river (to space, to flow, to move, to “inhabit,” etc.) as opposed to that of marginalized urban communities. It combines ethnographic methods in different locations of Asunción city and state institutions with historical archival research. In this way, the research aims to advance understandings about novel forms of governing people and the “environment” in an era marked both by climate change and uncertainty as well as greater social and political inequalities.

Book your place here.

Thursday 4 March 2021

Trajectories to Understand the Absence: An Ethnographic Reading of the Materiality and Intersubjectivity of the [No]Body among Missing Persons’ Families in Peruvian Andes

Mario R. Cepeda-Caceres, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

The internal armed conflict 1980-2000, greatest episode of violence in the republican history of Peru. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (or CVR for its initials in Spanish), more than 69 000 Peruvians were murdered during those decades. Currently, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has managed to establish that the number of missing persons due to the war rises to 20 511. In this scenario, based on the ethnographic work carried out with the National Association of Relatives of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared of Peru (or ANFASEP in Spanish) —main Peruvian victims’ association—, this presentation will analyze how the violent experience of disappearance acts on the missing subjects, as well as on those who remain alive and undertake the search for their love ones. Two trajectories are identified through which disappearance passes between subjects: the materiality, linked to the body, and the intersubjectivity, linked to what will be called “the non-body”. The presentation will explore how disappearance annuls the body and, therefore, the ties of daily life and certainty between the subjects; while in the non-body realm, disappearance does not succeed in annulling the subjects as social beings despite ending their physical existence. Through each of the trajectories family member who seek will implement techniques in order to respond to the uncertainty of the loss of the body, on one hand, and to be able to build alternative forms of relationship with the non-body, on the other. The presentation will conclude that, based on these trajectories, ANFASEP’s members have managed to position themselves as political subjects, building citizenship from the margins of the State based.

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Thursday 18 March 2021

“Palabras contra balas”: Challenging the Nicaraguan State with Feminist Theatre in Exile        

Samira Marty, University of Oslo

This presentation revolves around a particular group of Nicaraguan dissidents, a collective in Berlin composed of educated but marginalised young women, who have supported the Nicaraguan uprising since April 2018.  For this particular group, the uprising was a culmination of a fight that takes its origins in the country’s revolutionary period. Since the successful overthrow of the authoritarian caudillo Anastasio Somoza by the left-wing insurgent Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1979, the FSLN has encouraged specifically women to engage in theatre as a form of revolutionary practice. This led to a widespread use of drama street performance as a means to promote gender equality and other revolutionary messages. Forty years later, and despite over two (albeit interrupted) decades of FSLN governance, the women in the collective still perceive gender inequality an unfulfilled goal – this time exacerbated by the exorbitant use of state violence as a reaction to the protests in 2018.  The young women in Berlin have returned to the revolutionary form of theatre to challenge restrictions of democratic rights by the FSLN-government, whom they call “Orteguistas” after its President Daniel Ortega, and gendered hierarchies predominant in the Nicaraguan social fabric. The paper explores how political ideology, revolutionary memory and gender identity are represented in theatre performances of the collective, the symbols they invoke, and humour they express.

Book your place here.