London Latin American Anthropology Seminar | Just another SAS blogs site


Autumn 2021

All seminars are held online via Zoom.

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

Thursday 28 October 2021

Opening session by Gabriela Zamorano (El Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico).

Indigeneity, Race, and the Media from the Perspective of the 2019 Political Crisis in Bolivia

In this presentation I analyse the disputes over images related to indigeneity and plurinationalism in the post-electoral crisis in Bolivia, focusing mainly on the realm of social media. I pay particular attention to how images such as memes, photographs, and videos produced and circulated by the movement for “democracy” opposed to Evo Morales and by sectors of the Right, project ideals of national unity based on racialised imaginaries that tend to obliterate references to plurinationalism. I also analyse the dichotomous ways in which multitudes and episodes of violence were represented by the two main sides in the conflict, such as the references to “mobs” and “hordes” versus “civic movements” and “resistance” respectively. I conclude by considering examples of promotional materials that the past interim government of President Jeanine Añez developed since its inauguration, in order to reflect on the ways in which these display certain images of the “permitted Indian” for the national project that the social sector represented by her government outlined.

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Thursday 11 November 2021

Peace Producing Science: Biological Expeditions in the Replacement of War 

Carolina Angel Botero (Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia)

After the signature of the peace treaty with the FARC guerrilla [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], the Colombian government ended a 60-year conflict with one of the oldest guerrilla movements in the world. Alongside the signature of the peace treaty began a national project to conduct biological inventories of species through a series of expeditions called “Colombia Bio”. The idea behind these expeditions is to explore and register biodiversity in places formerly occupied by the FARC. This talk recounts my experience accompanying five of these expeditions as an anthropologist. My interest has been to understand the relationship between science and peace as they are specifically enacted in the post-conflict moment. More specifically, I aim to explore how concepts of biodiversity and transitional justice become intertwined in this particular scenario, with materially significant consequences. 

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Thursday 25 November 2021

Skilling Race: Affective Labour and ‘White’ Pedagogies in the Chilean Service Economy  

Sofía Ugarte (University of Cambridge)

This presentation examines the effects of racialisation practices in quotidian encounters between migrant Haitian women looking for work and Chilean recruiters and employers in job interviews and skills-training programmes in Santiago. Drawing on ethnographic research, I show how racialised differences are made material and emotional based on a particular history of white supremacy and mestizaje. I argue that to become appropriate and hirable workers in the service economy, Haitian women transform their appearance, movements, feelings, and attitudes according to white pedagogies of affective labour. I also show how the skilling of labour performed through these pedagogies is deeply affective, shaping Haitian women’s sense of worth and their self-constitution as migrants beyond labour encounters. The analysis of how everyday anti-black racism toward migrant women perpetuates local manifestations of white-mestizo privilege reveals how affective labour and racialisation practices articulate intimate experiences of transnational mobility with intersectional scripts of power.  

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Thursday 9 December 2021

Leave if You’re Able: Deportation, Migration, and Survival in Honduras       

Amelia Frank-Vitale (Princeton University, USA)

In this talk, I argue that deportation and migration can be understood in terms of continuance, rather than rupture. Focusing on the experience of young Honduran men deported back to neighbourhoods with some of the highest rates of violence in the world, I show how deportation, intended to curtail mobility, provokes further movement as it becomes an extension across international boundaries of already existing exclusion. Drawing from long term ethnographic fieldwork in Honduras and extensive research on Central American transit migration through Mexico, I detail how a prior experience of circumscribed life chances is accumulated across time and space as people who are criminalised find themselves caught up in the evolving immigration enforcement regime that leaves them desperate to escape home yet unable to access refuge elsewhere. Through the stories of young men navigating survival on Honduras’s urban margins, I depict life after, and between, multiple deportations, showing how, for young Honduran men, deportability – the condition of always being potentially at risk of removal – begins well before they decide to migrate.

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Winter 2022

All seminars are held online via Zoom.

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

Thursday 3 February 2022

Insurance Technopolitics: Car Theft and Contested Governance of (In)security in São Paulo, Brazil  

Deborah Fromm (University of Campinas, Brazil)

In Brazil, approximately 500 thousand vehicles are stolen per year. Car theft is perceived in public debate as a significant security problem. The country’s main insurance group has about 35 thousand vehicles stolen each year. Given this scenario, insurers create partnerships with public security agencies and develop new technologies to reclaim their assets. Based on ethnographic data, this presentation will focus on the responses of insurers to this safety issue, giving particular attention to the impacts of technisation processes in urban governance. Technology will be understood as a mode of politics, rather than merely a tool of politics. More broadly, it will explore how the car theft market, criminal logics, and disputes between private companies and public security forces have become entangled in the role technologies play in the process of vehicle recovery. Following the daily routine of a tracking team from a large insurance company that retrieves stolen vehicles, I emphasise their close and continual negotiations with the police and public authorities and reveal the key roles that insurance and private security companies play in the development of new technologies and systems of control and surveillance.

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Thursday 17 February 2022

Multiplicity of Beauty and Its Incarnations through Makeup Use in Mexico City    

Andrea Urrutia Gómez (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, Mexico)

In Latin America, beauty is not a straightforward concept. Intertwined with an ideological basis of oppression such as race and gender, beauty is a value that is incarnated in our bodies and demonstrated by the adherence of globalised aesthetic standards. In this paper, I aim to explore the multiple interpretations of beauty and its consequent bodily presentations, (re)produced with cosmetic tools. It will be founded on the ethnography done in Mexico City during 2017 and 2018 for my doctoral thesis, which was focused on aesthetic perceptions and performances of consumers and workers in the makeup industry, and how they affected the labour executed by the latter. The presentation will delve into the relationships of the resulting corporeities, examining its racial, class and political foundations at their loci of reference. It will also demonstrate that these appearances are not unilaterally imposed by the cosmetic sector, but they are rebuffed and criticised by clients and a certain segment of makeup producers. Finally, I will argue that the negotiated construction of corporeal presentations is situated on the inspection of beauty as a multifaceted quality and a desired merchandise to portray aspects that are still hierarchically evaluated.

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Thursday 3 March 2022

Collecting Shadows: Viewing the World through a Child’s Lens      

Sasha Flatau (LSE)

With the ethnographic setting of an indigenous community in the Colombian Amazon, this presentation is not only about the children who live there and how they see the world, but also the way in which they share their world with adults, interpreting and reiterating the things they hear and observe for one another’s curiosity and entertainment. In their native language, Cacua, the phrase ‘taking photos’ literally means collecting shadows or souls. Despite this eerie  translation, there was great enthusiasm from the children when I introduced cameras into our weekly activity sessions during my fieldwork in their community. As the weeks went on, as well as being an activity that the children clearly enjoyed, ‘collecting shadows’ was also a way for them to express where they felt safe and happy in the community and where they did not. Later, making short videos gave them the opportunity to narrate anecdotes about things that had happened in these different places. Their stories and perceptive comments during these sessions often brought my attention to points that I may otherwise have overlooked, especially regarding the shadows of communal living.

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Thursday 17 March 2022

The Haitian Proletarian Wager: The Case of Asylum Seekers on the Tijuana Border (Baja California, Mexico)     

Ulises Villafuerte (Dalhousie University, Canada)

The Mexico-US border functions as a material structure, an ideological superstructure, and a hegemonic field of contention, struggle and negotiation. As such, the border reflects an unstable balance of relationships between nation-states, socioeconomic regions, and trajectories of human mobility. Within the complexities that these relationships entail, I want to focus on the processes of working-class formation, particularly in the Haitian migration to Tijuana that began in mid-2016. The encounter of thousands of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers with the regimes of deportation, migration and border asylum was also the encounter with the dynamics of border exploitation, best characterized by the maquiladora industry. Within this process, it would be necessary to consider how the Haitian subjects forged their international projects of immigration through the American continent, the strength and history of the subaltern migratory wagers, and the transnational obligations that Haitians assume and reproduce. Thus, in this talk, I will address the processes through which a Haitian working class took shape on the border, considering how the integral Mexican state (political society and civil society) has administered in Tijuana the movement of various flows of asylum seekers. 

Book your place here.