London Latin American Anthropology Seminar | Just another SAS blogs site


Spring 2018

All seminars are held at 17:30 at the Senate House (Room 234, South Block, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU).

All are welcome. Attendance is free.

Thursday 12 April 2018

The Spirits’ Power: Poetics and Crisis of a Pastoral Society in the Colombian Eastern Plains, by Johanna Pérez Gómez, UCL

This paper discusses the first findings of my fieldwork about occult forces and conflict in Colombia Eastern Plains: there was little that was “occult” about forces intervening in all sort of magical happenings there. The forces scaring people in the wilderness, moving furniture in houses, causing illness and misfortune or providing protection for paramilitary groups are well defined “spirits,” generally humanized ones. Based on one year of ethnographic observations in the oldest town of the Colombian Plains, San Martin, the paper explores these spirits’ “humanity” and its relation with the “civilizing” landscapes of stockbreeding. This mode of production has been naturalised over the last three centuries, initially in violent opposition to the sociocultural orders of the indigenous communities in the region.

Thursday 26 April 2018

Childlessness in Colombia: Changing Family Formation and Non-Motherhood in Intergenerational Perspective, by Cristina Perez, UCL

Between 1965 and 2015, Colombia experienced a dramatic fertility decline, as the ‘average’ woman went from having 7 children to just 2. Since the 1980s, in particular, this decreasing family size has been accompanied by concomitant, and substantial, increases in women’s educational and professional achievements: Colombian women now outperform men at every level of education, and female labour-force participation has also expanded markedly. This broadening of non-reproductive roles and opportunities has transformed society, particularly in urban areas, by opening space for new choices like voluntary childlessness, albeit unequally across class, racial, and regional boundaries. While ‘childlessness’ unrelated to infertility has received increasing attention in Europe and North America, Latin American perspectives remain relatively uncharted.

The proposed paper seeks to address this gap, by exploring childlessness (in all its forms) against the backdrop of the socio-demographic transformations described above. Drawing on a year of ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life history interviews with women living in Bogotá, Colombia, it will critically engage with demographic transition theories from a gender-sensitive, anthropological perspective. This paper presents part of an interdisciplinary study that integrates anthropological fieldwork with the analysis of large-scale demographic survey data, to address childlessness as both a micro- and macro-level phenomenon.

Thursday 10 May 2018

Young Lives at the Outskirts of Progress: A Child-Centred Study of Indigenous Exclusion and Marginalisation in Amazonian Peru, by Camilla Morelli, Bristol University

This talk examines the challenges faced by indigenous children and youth in Peru who are rejecting hunter-gathering lifestyles in the rainforest in the hope to access market-based, urban livelihoods. Using visual collaborative methods, I examine how young indigenous people are receiving, and actively negotiating, the impact of urbanisation, political readjustments, and rapid expansion of neoliberal markets in Latin America. The analysis draws on ethnographic fieldwork with Matses people in Peru, who have recently ended a long period of voluntarily isolation in the rainforest and are currently adjusting to the national economy and enhanced relations with the state. I argue that children and youth play an active role in appropriating national and transnational influences beyond their communities, including urban practices, globalised media, and developmental policies centred on specific ideas of ‘progress’ promoted by the Peruvian state. And in choosing to do so, they are entering unprecedented conditions of poverty and marginalisation as they become part of a global economy in which they occupy a peripheral position.