London Latin American Anthropology Seminar | Just another SAS blogs site

Past Events

Autumn 2019

Thursday 13 February 2020

Contesting Mestizaje: Exploring the politicization of blackness in Venezuela, by Nadia Mosquera, ILAS

From the colonial era to the present day, race has been assembled along class lines in Venezuela’s social structure. However, the number of Venezuelans who identify with unambiguous categories of blackness is low. The reasons for this lie in the ways in which the population reproduces dominant ideologies of race and racial mixture known as mestizaje. This is noteworthy if we consider that Venezuela is said to have the third-largest percentage of Afro-descendants in South America, only superseded by Brazil and Colombia. This seminar will explore how black activists and cultural producers are reaching out to black Venezuelans through a form of oral poetry dated from the 16thcentury known as décima. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Venezuela’s northern state of Vargas between 2015-16, I will address the ways in which cultural resources such as décimasallow us to broaden mainstream discussions on how Afro-Latin American populations mobilise themselves politically. Using the case of Afro-Venezuelans, I will argue that décimasemerge as sites whereby circulations of ideas of race, nation, racial mixture and gender are discussed before an audience to revalorise blackness whilst challenging manifestations of structural racism.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Dancing the Andes: Andean Techniques of Otherness and Positionality, by Francisco Vergara, UCL

This work analyses the rhythm of a dance named Wifala, performed by the Folkloric Artistic Group Sacred Valley of the Incas. This group is one among many others that exist in the Region of Cusco, Perú, devoted to the making of traditional dances. The analysis of rhythm was done through participatory observation and structured interviews. Interviews sample the group’s understandings in terms of gender and roles. The results reveal that for the group, dance is a way of doing anthropology, a way of knowing and disseminating the ‘traditional,’ whereas rhythms are the ways in which ‘one’ can become that Other. In other words, rhythms became a pathway of embodying otherness. These results are discussed in light of two main topics. First, the relationship between rhythms and the Andean techniques of otherness. Second, how through dance and rhythms, people embed the ‘traditional’ on a temporal universe which interweaves the Andean and the modern and urban, and therefore, as a way of locating themselves rhythmically.

Thursday 12 March 2020 (CANCELLED DUE TO UCU INDUSTRIAL ACTION)

From Coloniality to International Climate Negotiations: Different Understandings of Vulnerability among Indigenous People and the Chilean State, by Rosario Carmona, University of Bonn

Drawing from research among the Mapuche, this presentation seeks to discuss how climate vulnerability has been socially constructed in territories that are inhabited by indigenous communities. Since the constitution of the republic (1818), a regime of coloniality has been strengthened in Chile through a development model based on an extractive economy, where the forest industry is the second largest sector. Due to its huge environmental and social impacts on indigenous territories, this activity has increased poverty and inequality levels, creating barriers that are very difficult to overcome. These local impacts are generating forms of vulnerability that are part of broader climate change processes.

However, the asymmetries involved in these processes have not been sufficiently discussed by officials and climate change policymakers. In line with the international agenda, Chile is designing strategies to address climate change. Yet it is doing so without critically reviewing the factors that produce inequality and increase climate change vulnerability. Nor have the contributions of indigenous knowledge to address climate change been considered, despite Mapuche communities’ long coexistence with the environment.

Notwithstanding, in the last few years indigenous knowledge has gained particular relevance in the academic and scientific worlds and indigenous actors are getting prominence in international negotiations. Since 2016 political parties and indigenous organizations are working on a Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP). This presentation will analyze how these international mechanisms have promoted the relationship between indigenous people and climate policymakers in Chile, especially since the country assumed the COP Presidency in 2019.

Thursday 26 March 2020 (CANCELLED DUE TO THE PANDEMIC)

Windmills, Land and Social Difference: Two Decades of Change in La Venta, Mexico, by Gerardo A. Torres Contreras, University of Sussex

Wind energy is playing a significant role in Mexico’s energy transition, representing an investment between US $13-15 billion. The majority of this industry is located in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the narrowest point between oceans in Mexico, where 25 wind farms operate. Although scholars have studied wind energy expansion in the region, they have often neglected the long-term effects of wind energy on land dynamics and social differentiation processes. However, because of the way wind energy investments operate, this is a critical dimension. Wind energy infrastructure occupies between 5 and 7 per cent of the leased area, while the rest of the land remains productive. The town of La Venta, where the first wind farm in Latin America was installed in 1994, offers us insights in this regard. After 25 years of wind energy investment, it is possible to observe how land dynamics emerge and how processes of social differentiation are reinforced.

This paper asks how patterns of social differentiation, centred on land ownership, have evolved in La Venta as a result of wind energy investments. By analysing data on de-regularised land and by drawing on 40 interviews, this paper will argue that wind energy has accelerated patterns of social differentiation in two respects: among landowners and between landowners and landless people. Wind energy has increased social differentiation because it relies on previous land inequalities. While landowners with more than 20 hectares are able to combine windmills with investments in agriculture and cattle grazing, those with less than 20 hectares utilise the income from wind energy for basic needs, while others have been obliged to sell some of their land to support the household. By contrast, those without land have benefited from the investments, depending on their engagement with the urban economy. The wind energy industry has resulted in a local boom in non-farm activities and opportunities for employment and service provision. Again, this pattern is differentiated. While some have been able to explore successful business ventures in town, others have been forced to migrate.

The paper will therefore argue that wind energy development in La Venta has resulted in different material and social relationships between local people and wind energy, with actors benefitting (or not) in various ways, linked to patterns of social differentiation. The paper thus seeks to contribute to the debate on rural change resulting from renewable energy investments in the Global South.

Autumn 2019

Thursday 24 October 2019

Opening session by Jan David Hauck, LSE.

“I Don’t Kill Them Anymore”: Ethics, Ontology, and the Face of the Other

Ethical concerns are always informed by relational and ontological schemas (who am I?, who is the other?, how do I relate to the other?). But questions of relation and ontology are by themselves also always-already ethical questions. In situations of cultural encounters and change especially, when social and cosmological orders have become unstable, the in-dissociable relationship between ethics and ontology becomes salient. This paper discusses a narrative of an Aché elder who remembers the experience of an ethical dilemma related to the loss of ontological certainty after contact with the Paraguayan national society. The Aché used to live as nomadic hunter-gatherers in the subtropical rainforests of what today is eastern Paraguay. The first half of the twentieth century was marked by violence. Persecutions by colonists, deforestation, and disease forced all bands onto reservations in the 1960s and 70s. There they now live in peaceful coexistence and close proximity to the villages of their enemies. The narrative tells the story of the death of a Paraguayan logger at the narrator’s hands.  He begins his narrative with an account of the mythical origin and hostile relationship of Aché and Paraguayans and morally justifies the killing with reference to deforestation and cruelties perpetrated by the latter. At the same time though, through intermittent reflections about looking into the victim’s face, which he experiences as “beautiful,” he questions the killing and reframes it as an ethical dilemma.  In my paper, I will analyze this dilemma and ask what it tells us about an ethical relation with the other in Aché understanding and experience before contact and after.  I will do so by attending closely to the face-to-face encounter, which, according to Levinas, is the foundation of human existence and the ethical being-for-the-other.

Thursday 7 November 2019

“The Community is a Family and the Choir is the Glue”: Power and Belonging in Gaiman Music School, Patagonia, by Lucy Trotter, LSE and Aberystwyth University

This paper is based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the village of Gaiman with a community of Welsh descendants who live in Patagonia, Argentina. From 1865, there were a series of migrations from Wales to the Chubut Province of Patagonia, motivated by the desire to escape the Englishness of Wales along with an offer from the Argentine government of 100 square miles in the prairie on which to live. Today, over 150 years later, Welshness is thriving in the Chubut Province, where we find around 5000 Welsh speakers, many Welsh choirs, Welsh tea-houses, Welsh traditional dancing, bilingual Welsh-Spanish schools, Welsh nurseries, Welsh chapels and Welsh festivals such as the annual ‘Eisteddfod’. This paper draws on fieldwork as an anthropologist, cellist and singer in Gaiman Music School to explore what rehearsing and performing Welsh music can tell us about notions of community and belonging in Gaiman. It also encourages us to think about the personal politics beneath the tutti through a consideration of what music can tell us about the power relations between those who identify as Welsh-Patagonians, local Argentinians, and tourists from Wales in this context.

Thursday 21 November 2019

The Contribution of Body Remains to El Salvador’s Transitional Justice: El Mozote Case, by Clara Guardado, Universität Zürich

In this presentation I would like to explore the scholarly production discussing the relationship between memory, justice, and aesthetics. I seek to explain the impact of the political violence of El Salvador’s civil war in the 70s and 80s on the everyday lives of populations still affected by it. I take El Mozote massacre in El Salvador as a case study, since it has been considered one of the largest in the region. As a different approach to study memory and the aftermath of war violence in the region, I aim to discuss the way in which objects (i.e. bones, pictures, archival material) have shaped settings of pain and its aesthetics. My goal is to contribute to rethinking narratives of political violence, memory, and justice by exploring the role that objects and its various meanings have for both, the communities and families seeking justice, and the state’s quest for societal reconciliation. I consider that studying the violence of the past through objects may contribute to clarifying why after signing peace accords some countries in the Central American region became some of the most violent in the world.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Indigenous Autonomy, Leadership and Local Political Conflict in Highland Bolivia, by Matthew Doyle, University of Sussex

Among the Quechua-speaking highland indigenous communities of Bolivar province in the Cochabamba department of Bolivia there exist multiple overlapping forms of local political authority, including the municipal government, peasant union and the traditional authorities who claim to pre-date the Spanish conquest. Ironically, the national project of the governing ‘Movement Towards Socialism’ (MAS) party to re-found the Bolivian state so as to include the country’s ‘indigenous majority’ has coincided with an intensification of conflict between them.

This talk will examine how legal and institutional changes that purport to further the decolonisation of Bolivian society through recognising indigenous forms of governance have served to further intra-community conflict among the inhabitants of this particular indigenous community. Specifically, one of the centrepieces of the incipient ‘plurinational state’ is the provision for indigenous peasant communities to become quasi-independent entities with their own forms of internal administration based on traditional customs. Yet the ambiguities of the conversion process and the ambivalence of the national government has meant that this has become the basis for conflict. This brings into sharp relief not only the differences between these forms of local authority but some of the central tensions within the MAS project of political reform.

Spring 2019

Thursday 28 March 2019

(Re)constructing Mapucheness: The Role of Mapuche Associations for Ethnic Identity Endurance in Santiago de Chile, by Dana Brablec Sklenar, University of Cambridge

The Mapuche culture is based on oral tradition and is customarily transferred within the family bosom. However, rural-to-urban migration, together with the multiple pressures the Mapuche face by living in an urban milieu, have resulted in the breakdown of traditional oral knowledge transmission. The distance of the Mapuche people from their rural communities of origin, coupled with the effects of socio-economic and racial discrimination, have resulted in a complex process of ethnic ascription, particularly impacting generations born in urban areas. Participation in ethnic associations has become one of the most effective ways of affirming an initially unexplored identity in the city. Mapuche from different generations have looked for opportunities to interact with their ethnic peers in order to express and recreate their ethnicity in the city through the development of multiple ethnic-based activities. Cultural-based workshops, organised by urban Mapuche associations, have provided a protective and familiar environment for the revival of traditional practices. In this paper, I argue that urban Mapuche associations have been transformed into one of the main conduits for learning about culture and idiosyncrasies in the city, making ‘traditional’ Mapuche knowledge operative by recovering, appropriating, and actively preserving it. Drawing on data gathered from an eight-month period of fieldwork in Santiago de Chile, this paper presents a unique perspective on the vital associational role in the rescue and revitalisation of ethnic-cultural practices, which are fundamental for the (re)construction of Mapuche identity in the city.

Venue: Room 234, Senate House, South Block, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU

Thursday 11 April 2019

Memory Dictated, Legend Official: Setting Down the Laws of the Land in the Entablo of Casta, Peru (1921), by Sarah Bennison, St Andrews

In 1921, times were about to change in the rural highland Lima village of San Pedro de Casta. Local authorities had begun a collective effort of setting down in writing a handbook containing instructions for a key economic and social event in the ritual calendar –the annual canal-cleaning event. If all functionaries could fulfil their duties sufficiently, then the ritual would go well and water would flow through the canals to the fields, should the sacred ancestors allow. As a key economic, political and legal document, The Entablo was written by and in consultation with village elders, drawing on centuries of ancestral (largely pre-colonial) irrigation knowledge. The manuscript was written primarily in Spanish, the language of the State and Lima city, and features Quechua lexicon as well as features of other languages. At the time of writing, Quechua language use was dying out in the Huarochirí province of Lima, where Casta is located.

This paper highlights the importance of The Entablo in Casta today, and explores key sections of the text, focussing especially on references to the remote past. The paper also demonstrates the essential nature of employing indigenous language lexicon in the context of localised ancestral ritual, where Spanish–a language which developed outside of the Andes– cannot fully communicate the nature of the proceedings and pacts set down as village law and legend official.

Venue: G17, Pearson Building (North East Entrance), Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Thursday 2 May 2019

El Camino de la Medicina: Medicinal Trade Networks in Western Amazonia, by Hernando Echeverri Sánchez, UCL

This paper is an overview of medicinal plant trade in Western Amazonia. It will highlight the trade between the highlands and the lowlands in the region of Putumayo Colombia. In particular, the paper will look at the networks of shamans and healers who live and move through the Andean foothills, trading and using biodiversity from a wide array of different ecosystems. It will also explore how this type of shamanism is incorporated into larger popular medicine networks, facilitating the flow of lowland medicines into highland cities.

Venue: G17, Pearson Building (North East Entrance), Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Thursday 16 May 2019

FOLLOWED BY A RECEPTION. With the kind support of UCL Anthropology Department.

Making Ceramics and Heritage in a Brazilian Quilombo: Reflections from Itamatatiua, by Katerina Chatzikidi, ILAS

 What is ‘quilombo cultural heritage’ and how does a ‘traditional practice’ transform into heritage in a Black rural quilombo community in the Brazilian northeast? How has the transmission of an old apprenticeship changed since it was recognised as part of the country’s intangible heritage?

Itamatatiua ceramics evoke, and tap into, a widespread imaginary of how ‘traditional’, ‘authentic’, and culture of ‘African-descent’ looks like. Quilombolas, the makers of the ceramics, are well-aware of the powerful evocative power their traditional practice has acquired in recent years. With a growing awareness of political rights and an established participation in quilombola social movements, the potters of Itamatatiua creatively communicate their ceramic production in order to call for visibility in a context of extreme land insecurity. On the other hand, and while official ‘heritagisation’ processes aim at protecting craftwork, less and less people are involved into the production of ceramics. The makers express their preoccupation about the future of their practice and its significance for quilombo land regulation.

This paper calls attention to modes of production and political engagement that have almost entirely been neglected in the anthropological literature on Brazilian quilombos. By investigating the ways Itamatatiua pottery relates to the socio-political context from which it emerges, it shows that ceramic craft work has acquired a rather powerful symbolic role in the community’s everyday life, being directly attached to its land struggle. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in Itamatatiua, a quilombo in Maranhão state, this presentation seeks to explore politics of heritage-making; the various nuances of quilombo cultural heritage, their influence on practices on the ground, and their significance for quilombola struggles for the establishment of land rights.

Venue: G17, Pearson Building (North East Entrance), Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Winter 2019

Thursday 31 Jan 2019

Absorbing Risk at the Societal Boundaries of Colombian Coal Mines: Temporalities and the Corporate Discourse of Closure, by Laura Knopfel, KCL

Around an extraction site, relationships between multinational mining enterprises (MNEs) and local communities are continuously emerging – not by chance but because of an unavoidable territorial proximity. From the perspective of the corporation, those relationships entail risks to the smooth functioning of the mining activity in its different stages – exploration, construction and assembly, exploitation, processing, transport and marketing. The risks arise at what I conceptualise as ‘the societal boundaries’ of coal mines. Based on my fieldwork with the subsidiary of a multinational mining enterprise in El Cesar, Colombia, in this talk I am going to analyse how, day-to-day, a corporation minimises the risks to its operations. I suggest that at its societal boundaries the corporation employs non-legal governance techniques in order to steer the continuously emerging relationships into a direction which is beneficial to the corporation. Closely connected to lived experiences of extraction, the governance techniques make use of the temporality of coal as a finite natural resource. A corporate discourse of closure shifts the responsibility for the economic well-being of the local population from the corporation to the individual persons. In addition, it helps to attenuate the claims for corporate accountability in regard to its negative impact on human and natural livelihoods. By disentangling the relationships between MNEs and local communities, the power configurations and material means that underlie the corporate discourse of closure will be examined. My approach is informed by actor network theory and the anthropology of modern time.

Thursday 14 Feb 2019

San Jacinto or San José? The Mis/Recognition of Catholic Saints in Oaxaca, Mexico, by Alanna Cant, Kent and Cambridge

Locked away in the sacristy of the parish church in Santa Cruz Mixtepec, Mexico, antique carvings, crucifixes and paintings gather dust. Santa Cruz was one of the first sites of Christian evangelization in the region; the ruins of its 16th century Dominican monastery are currently undergoing restoration. This heritage project has increased locals’ interest in all of the church’s historical objects, including a carving that they identify as San Jacinto (St. Hyacinth of Poland), who is understood to have been the village’s original patron saint. However, the art historians/conservationists and the parish priest identify this carving as San José (St. Joseph). This paper argues that these divergent identifications do not represent competing regimes of knowledge (ie: art history versus local knowledge), but rather indicate different historicities, both of which are religious in nature, and which connect to particular Catholic modes of understanding the past. The paper further shows that because of the Catholic belief in the immanence or the ‘real presence’ of holy personages in their images, narratives about the mis/recognition of saints not only conjure the past, but also can affect the present and the future.

Thursday 28 Feb 2019

Playing Together and Living Apart: Contemporary Dynamics of Sharing among the Waorani, by Andrea Bravo, UCL

This paper is an exploration of contemporary egalitarian dynamics among the Waorani, indigenous people from Ecuadorian Amazonia. For this, I offer two ethnographic examples of how the Waorani are domesticating Ecuadorian practices and infrastructure. First, the daily practice of football as a preferred environment for the creation of healthy bodies, socialization and sharing. Second, the incorporation and resistance towards cement houses that challenge their traditional dynamics of living together and sharing. I suggest that Waorani autonomy for designing their contemporary sharing spaces, and therefore remaining egalitarian and ‘living well together’, is challenged by the State’s developmental agenda.

Thursday 14 March 2019

The Long Road to an Andean Catholic Clergy: From Solórzano to Pèlach I Feliú, by Christine Lee, St Andrews

The development of a native clergy in the Andes has long been called for but only recently achieved. In the early colonial period, doubts about the authenticity of Andean conversion to Catholicism—doubts which were rooted in mainstream Spanish skepticism of and disdain for Andean culture and customs—served to prevent the ordination of native Andeans. The underlying thread of anti-Andean ethnic discrimination continued to hinder the incorporation of indigenous Andeans into the clergy, and it was only within the last fifty years that a native clergy has developed in the southern Andes in the Peruvian diocese of Abancay. The second bishop of Abancay, Mons Enrique Pèlach i Feliú, founded the diocese’s first seminary in 1977 and, in contrast with previous generations of foreign clergy in this area, actively promoted local Catholic devotions and recruited local boys for the priesthood. Today, the diocese of Abancay in the south-central Peruvian Andes boasts its first generation of native clergy, made up entirely of men who were born and raised in the diocese in which they now serve, and which promises a new institutional relationship between what it has historically meant to be Andean and what it has meant to be Catholic.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Hashtag Feminism and Sexual Violence in Brazil: An Anthropological Approach, by Heloisa Buarque de Almeida, University of São Paulo and LSE

Definitions of what violence is are related to gendered sexual moralities, notions of sexual intercourse, personhood and rights. This work reflects on internet and social network campaigns against sexual harassment and sexual violence, when they reached first alternative and then mainstream commercial media in Brazil in 2015. Feminist campaigns and social movements tried to change what they named as “rape culture” through images and narratives of the self, searching for voice and recognition. They did so in a media context that, although it seemed hypersexualized, could be described as “post-feminist”. They were part of a larger struggle that has been able to launch in 2018 a new law on harassment. Nevertheless, at the same time, there is an ascension of far-right hyper-masculine representations and political agents that classifies such acts of violence as mere sex, and Bolsonaro’s government is already demolishing public policies and facilities that deal with violence against women and attend victims.

Autumn 2018

Thursday 11 October 2018 (Room 246). Opening session. Followed by drinks.

The Houses that Evo Built: Autonomy, Vivir Bien and Viviendas in Bolivia, by Dr Jonathan Alderman, ILAS 

This paper examines the contradictory nature of the concept of Vivir Bien (living well), the concept which became ubiquitous in Bolivian state discourse and policy since the election of Evo Morales as Bolivia’s president in 2005. While Bolivia’s constitutional refounding as plurinational is supposed to facilitate indigenous peoples in living according to their conception of living well, the state still appears to attempt to implements its own conception of good living through rural social programmes promoted as enabling rural indigenous peoples to live well. I focus in this paper on the implementation of one such social programme, a housing donation programme in the municipality of Charazani, in the north of the department of La Paz. The engagement of the communities of Charazani with the housing programme serves to demonstrate differing notions of Vivir Bien between neighbouring communities, but also that a programme designed to facilitate Vivir Bien may actually provide obstacles to the realization of an indigenous conception of Living Well.

Thursday 1 November 2018 (Room 234)

The Power of Dreams: An Ethnography of Start-up Companies in Brazil and the United Kingdom, by Louise Scoz Pasteur de Faria, UFRGS (Brazil) and UCL

Start-up companies are at the epicentre of narratives about contemporary capitalism. These lean organisations represent the very edge of business and take shape amidst profound changes related to the restructuring of productive forces under flexible accumulation regimes. The image of the entrepreneur as “the neoliberal subject”, an agent that dwells in this economic environment of risk and uncertainty, is an example of economic subjectivities that began to emerge from contingent conditions in different levels of vulnerability of the Post-Fordist Era. Ethnographic approaches are beginning to complexify the understanding of entrepreneurialism to encompass situated and contextual meanings and practices in order to produce a more textured account of the contemporary experience of living under changing socioeconomic structures. In this contribution, I seek to continue on this critical perspective through an ethnographic focus on Brazilian start-up companies based on research conducted between Brazil and the United

Kingdom during the years of 2014 and 2017 among young entrepreneurs and networks of investors, consultants and experts in the making of their own start-up companies. My interest is to reflect upon the process through which a start-up enterprise ceases to be simply a project of economic livelihood to become a primary site of self-creation, embedded in their ways of being, feeling, thinking and acting in the world.

Thursday 15 November 2018 (Room 234)

This session’s presentations are part of the University of Aberdeen and El Colegio de Michoacán ESRC-funded project ‘Assesing the Potential for Civil Organisations within Regions Affected by Criminal Violence to Hold State Institutions to the Goals of Human Rights-Based Development’.

“Un hombre es para lo que se ocupa”: Civilian Responses to the Security Crisis in Mexico, by Dr Irene Álvarez, University of Aberdeen, COLMICH and CIDE

I am interested in exploring the effects of criminal violence, performed by illicit private companies and agents of the State, in the context of the War on Drugs, among rural populations of Western Mexico. The activities of organized crime—this understood as a set of relations between private and public actors—against citizens impacted the social organisation of sexuality and family, threatening moral values linked to a hegemonic masculinity. Therefore, I argue that in some cases, the civilian response to criminal violence can be understood as an attempt to restore a patriarchal moral order.

The Mexican Avocado Agribusiness and the Fragmentation of Sovereignty: A Case Study in Michoacán, by Dr Denisse Román Burgos, University of Aberdeen, COLMICH and CIDE

On November 16th, a group of agribusiness men from the municipality of Tancítaro, Michoacán (in southwestern Mexico), started an armed uprising with the help of the vigilante groups from that same state. The aim of the uprising was to expel the Templar Knights Cartel, a local drug cartel that had managed to seize control of the production and circulation of avocado. After the events, vigilante groups were established in Tancítaro. These groups set up network of checkpoints around the municipal borders and at the entrance of each of its towns.  How can the overlapping of a growing agribusiness with the presence of local vigilante groups be characterized? What does this overlapping mean in terms of sovereignty? Drawing on eight months of ethnographic fieldwork, the aim of this paper is to analyze the formation of what I call the “agro-industrial enclave” and its implications for state sovereignty.

Thursday 29 November 2018 (Room 246) (PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SESSION HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS)

Indigenous Autonomy, Leadership and Local Political Conflict in Highland Bolivia, by Matthew Doyle, University of Sussex

Among the Quechua-speaking highland indigenous communities of Bolivar province in the Cochabamba department of Bolivia there exist multiple overlapping forms of local political authority, including the municipal government, peasant union and the traditional authorities who claim to pre-date the Spanish conquest. Ironically, the national project of the governing ‘Movement Towards Socialism’ (MAS) party to re-found the Bolivian state so as to include the country’s ‘indigenous majority’ has coincided with an intensification of conflict between them.

This talk will examine how legal and institutional changes that purport to further the decolonisation of Bolivian society through recognising indigenous forms of governance have served to further intra-community conflict among the inhabitants of this particular indigenous community. Specifically, one of the centrepieces of the incipient ‘plurinational state’ is the provision for indigenous peasant communities to become quasi-independent entities with their own forms of internal administration based on traditional customs. Yet the ambiguities of the conversion process and the ambivalence of the national government has meant that this has become the basis for conflict. This brings into sharp relief not only the differences between these forms of local authority but some of the central tensions within the MAS project of political reform.

Spring 2018

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.

Winter 2018

Thursday 18 January 2018 (Room 246)

Revisiting the Devil: ‘Resource Curses’, ‘Gold Curses’ and Potentiality, by Pablo Jaramillo, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá

From bureaucrats worried about mining transparency in the framework of ‘the resource curse’ economic and political theory to small and traditional miners worried about gold’s maldiciones, there is a renewed sense of damnation around the precious metals in Colombia. In the context of current precious metals super-cycle in Latin America, the presentation analyses the ‘varieties’ of gold curses in the Colombia under a common framework that focuses on the temporality, affects and potentiality of capitalism in the country. The presentation is based on ethnographic research around the mining conflict in the town of Marmato carried out between 2016-17.

Thursday 1 February 2018

‘The Face of the Corporation:’ Understanding Corporate-Community Relations through the Eyes of Villager-Employees, by Anneloes Hoff, University of Oxford

My doctoral research is an ethnographic study of a large gold mining corporation in Colombia, with a focus on its encounters, interactions and entanglements with local communities. It speaks to the emergent body of anthropological scholarship on corporations that seeks to ‘study up’ and shift the ethnographic lens towards corporations, in order to better understand their internal dynamics, interests, boundaries, ambiguities, and responsibilities. In this talk, I will explore the fuzzy boundaries between corporation and community at the village level, by focusing on the village residents who work for the Community Relations Department. They represent, as their manager would frequently tell them, ‘the face of the corporation in the community’. How do they understand and perform their hybrid ‘villager-employee’ identity? To what extent do they identify with the corporation? As the local agents of corporate social responsibility, they are central to the construction of the so-called ‘social licence to operate’. How do they portray and defend ‘their corporation’ to ‘their community’? How are they, and their work, perceived by other local actors? How do they justify their work to themselves and their social environment? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with the local Community Relations team of a gold mining corporation, my talk explores how local workers navigate the boundaries between corporation and community, the role they play in building corporate legitimacy in the community, and the implications this has for the anthropological understanding of the corporation.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Sex, Privacy and Violence Online: The Construction of Revenge Porn as a Public Debate in Brazil, by Beatriz Accioly Lins, Universidade de São Paulo

Smartphones, social networks, the proliferation of technological devices that enable the production and exchange of information online. The term “revenge porn” is being used in several countries and contexts to refer to the non consensual disclosure of intimate, erotic or sexual images via the web. In Brazil, especially after 2013, with the suicide of two teenagers after similar episodes of exposure and the creation of bills to criminalize the practice, the debate around the issue became a concern amongst feminists, different segments of the media, law and policy makers. Sometimes perceived as a sexually permissive country, Brazil can be very conservative when it comes to sexuality and nude bodies. Placing various legal questions about privacy and the liability of Internet providers, sexual morals and the use of online platforms in everyday life, “revenge porn” and the debate that surrounds it allow us to reflect on how some “social markers of difference”-gender, sexuality, class and generation-operate in an intersectional way in creating several forms of conceptualizing and legislating sex. In this debate, I will bring a Brazilian perspective, with special attention to different nomenclatures in use and in dispute in the identification of this “phenomenon”, underlining differences, similarities, questions and ambivalences in the use of these terms, also thinking about what they can say about the moralities, women, and notions about intimacy and sex.

Thursday 1 March 2018 (PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS SESSION HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO 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.

Thursday 15 March 2018 (PLEASE NOTE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT INDUSTRIAL ACTION THIS SESSION HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO 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.

Autumn 2017

Thursday 26 October 2017 (Room 246)

Opening session by Mette Louise Berg, UCL. Followed by drinks.

Jointly organized with the Centre for Integrated Caribbean Research.

Schooling, Mobility and Belonging in Socialist Cuba and its Diaspora

Based on an ethnographic study of transnational networks of alumni of an academically selective boarding school in Havana known as La Lenin, this paper explores the nexus between social and spatial mobilities and belonging in the context of socialist Cuba and its diaspora. La Lenin was founded on Ernesto Che Guevara’s ideal of the Hombre Nuevo or New Man, and was part of the revolutionary project of constructing an independent, modern, and socialist Cuba. Today, many alumni of La Lenin participate in transnationally extended affective webs of belonging forged through family links and friendships fostered at the school. These webs constitute not only emotionally sustaining networks, but also provide material support for those alumni who emigrate from Cuba. Through the networks, alumni embrace belonging to the school but implicitly reject Cuban nationalism, and intriguingly reproduce many of the cultural forms of nationalism and nationhood in the process. The school has thus come to represent a site of identification for a globally dispersed non-national diaspora. The paper concludes by arguing for a fuller understanding of how different kinds of mobilities are interlinked with each other and with the production of migrant subjectivities, and that scholars of migration need to embed international migration and its significance within people’s lives broadly understood, including their pre-migration experiences.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Philanthrocapitalism in the Brazilian Context: Corporate Elite Engagement in a Localised Development Agenda, by Jessica Sklair, ILAS

The emergence of new forms of philanthropy under the banner of a globalised ‘philanthrocapitalism’ has been accompanied by claims for the potential of corporate and wealth elites to bring about sustainable social change, through the application of market-based solutions to a diversity of global development challenges. How is this trend taking root in Brazil, and what can it tell us about the engagement of Brazilian elites in attempts to alleviate enduring patterns of poverty and inequality in their own country? This presentation will look at the changing relationship between elite philanthropy and wider third sector activity in Brazil since the fall of the military dictatorship, and through the years of Workers’ Party rule, examining how the recent philanthrocapitalist turn has influenced philanthropic trends already in course amongst Brazilian elites. It will also discuss the symbolic role played by philanthropy within elite Brazilian families, where family narratives of socially responsible business practice are increasingly central to processes of identity building and family business succession. Pulling together these different strands of ethnographic enquiry, this paper will examine the role that Brazilian elites see for themselves in tackling the country’s development challenges, the ideological framework on which this philanthropic intervention is posited and the broader implications of these emerging forms of elite engagement for Brazil’s development agenda.

Thursday 23 November 2017

The Pine Nuts are Waiting for You: Pine Nut Gathering and Time Travel in the Pehuenche Veranadas, by Gabriela Piña Ahumada, LSE

Life in a Pehuenche rural community is spent in two stations, the invernada (winter station) and the veranada (summer station). The invernada is the lowlands of the community where families live roughly from May to December. There they build their houses, raise their animals and grow vegetables in small orchards. As the temperatures begin to raise and the snow melts on the mountain tops, families move to their veranadas with their cattle. These places are too cold and remote to inhabit throughout the year, but during the summer and early autumn they represent a generous source of pasture for the cattle, firewood and the araucaria pine nuts the Pehuenche gather for family consumption and for selling to traders. The proposed paper explores the space of the veranada as a place that allows for particular experiences of the past and nature that are constitutive of Pehuenche personhood.

Thursday 7 December 2017

Darkroom Revolutions: Photography and Political Life in Nicaragua, by Ileana L. Selejan, UCL

Politically motivated imagery has had a prominent role in Nicaragua’s recent history, particularly in the aftermath of the Sandinista Revolution (1978-79). During the decade of the 1980s the Sandinista government utilised photography in a variety of settings, illustrating newspapers and magazines, producing posters and pamphlets, in order to promote revolutionary idealism and to implement its agenda. Paralleling these movements, various communities and citizens’ groups sought to affirm their own ideals, and to voice their claims in a public forum, creating new images or repurposing extant ones to their ends. Nation-building efforts thus coalesced at the intersection of state programs and citizen demands.

Grounded in this history, my project investigates forms of vernacular photography and their impact on politics through participation and identification across various social and cultural sectors. I seek to understand how photography has contributed to the formation of political identities in Nicaragua, evaluating the legacy of this ideological visual record and how it is reflected or overturned (perhaps altogether ignored) in present discourses. Building on dissertation work in art history, the paper will address recent ethnographic fieldwork, exploring current political imaginaries, as well as fractures and contestations in the story of the revolution.

This project is a part of Citizens of Photography: The Camera and The Political Imagination: “an empirical anthropological investigation of a hypothesis about the relationship between photographic self-representation and different societies’ understanding of what is politically possible.” http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/photodemos

Spring 2017

Thursday 4 May 2017

Blurring the Line Between Grassroots Activism and Green Imperialism: New Forms of Activism in Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, by Clate Korsant, Goldsmiths

The practice of environmental activism in the Osa Peninsula is varied and changing in ways revealed by research participants who discuss “grassroots” activism, the “new school” of conservation, and other forms of activism meant to empower communities through its outreach.  Many informants have demonstrated as much, as well as a passion for their work that has translated into better-established trust and communication between activists and communities than previously acknowledged. Because of the institutionalized character of Costa Rican environmentalism, meetings and collective action align with many state-sponsored objectives; and similar environmental meetings and festivals in the Osa are particularly revealing for understanding the nuances of conservation in local practice.  The semi-formal talks – for example – organized in Puerto Jiménez by a few Costa Rican environmentalists drawn to the Osa, were spaces that came to exemplify grassroots activism, demonstrate the tensions of community outreach, characterize a shift in our understanding of environmentalism, and expose how enviro-national values are negotiated in such a setting.  By exposing details regarding the practice of biodiversity conservation, this chapter complicates the “binary” of green imperialism and grassroots activism; explaining both as differing forms of normative action, but the effort to move towards the grassroots as more egalitarian and anthropocentric.

Thursday 18 May 2017

Connecting Sentiments, Separating Worlds: New Media and Transnational Families in the Colombian Context, by Maria Angel, UCL

My project aims to establish an account of the digital practices between transnational parents and the children they leave behind and how these practices alter the ways they express emotions and communicate at distance. These methods of communication, in turn, affect how the parents construct and frame their new experiences and their existing familial relationship.  This project bridges many areas of Anthropology. In this instance, I must establish semiotic patterns for these channels of digital communication, as they are essential in the construction of ideas of self, identity and the way that a person reflects upon their emotional life. It is also an interdisciplinary study, which integrates Social anthropology; New Media; Migration and Transnationalism; Colombia’s Kinship; Anthropology of Childhood; Anthropology of emotions. This study will compare and develop their work to establish a new theory of emotions through the digital age.

Thursday 1 June 2017 (PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED)

Screening and discussion of the ethnographic film Cuéntame, by Claudia Gianetto, Goldsmiths

Based on 14 months of fieldwork in an indigenous community of the Eastern Yucatan, the film explores the role and status of Mayan women within particular configurations of kinship and community. Through the protagonists’ personal narratives, the film looks in particular at women’s labour conditions in relation to male work migration, and at their contribution to the household economy as producers of embroidery for the tourist market.

Winter 2017

Thursday 2 February 2017

Sonya’s Place in the World: Spatial Negotiations of Class and Gender among Higglers in Jamaica, by William Tantam, ILAS

This presentation looks at spatial negotiations of class and gender in a small rural town in Jamaica. It examines how socioeconomic hierarchies are produced spatially, and specifically attends to how female market traders, or ‘higglers,’ experience their marginalisation as working-class women. I will explore the ways in which these women produce areas in which they can operate outside of formal and state institutions and locate the relationship between space, women, and the state within a wider historical perspective which traces the antagonism between higglers and the state in Jamaica to the plantation system in which female market traders first emerged. This presentation looks at the ethnography of a young higgler, Sonya, and how she locates herself within multiple, overlapping spatial levels. The paper points towards the everyday negotiations of space through which Shana experiences her place in the world, and uses such negotiations as a lens onto the contemporary Jamaican state.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Taxistas in Buenos Aires: The Contours of the Trade, by Juan Manuel del Nido, University of Manchester

This presentation is in essence ethnographic. I outline here a series of organising elements of the Buenos Aires taxi driving industry as they appeared to me during my fieldwork. Firstly, because of the unrepeatable, asymmetric and elusive character of taxi riding as an urban transaction, taxis are defined as a public service in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. This situates a number of fundamental aspects of the trade – fare, mechanisms of control, verification and scale of the industry – under the aegis of the city state. Secondly, I will look at how the fundamental relations of property (owns or does not own a car) and labour (drives for himself or drives for someone else) organise not only the political aspects of the trade, but also the economic, social, associative and recreational possibilities of taxiing in Buenos Aires today.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Narratives of Terror, Coffee Farming and Ethical Trade in Colombia, by Jonathan Newman, Sussex University

Ethical trading schemes, like Fairtrade, tell stories of production that offer a double fantasy about coffee:  our consumption of an inanimate object transfigures the lives of producers, delivering them from an uncertain, less radiant future, while the same farmers celebrate the magic of coffee that liberates them from globalised subjugation. Meanwhile, in the nations of coffee production, rates of homicide and other acts of violence are some of the highest in the world.

The anthropological canon also has a divergence between narratives about coffee production and narratives about violence. Seminal ethnographic studies that took place in Colombia during the 1980s appear to describe farming and terror as incompatible worlds. The talk examines the relationship between farming and violence in Colombia in order to explicate these two themes of ethical trading and the formation of anthropological silos. Comparisons between the two systems of knowledge production exposes conceptual and methodological questions that briefly take us through ideas on inter-sectionality, affect, performance and that ontological turn. The discussion reveals an unnecessary gulf between anthropologies of violence and economy that is reflected in the tales, and analysis, of ethical trading.

Behind these contrasting narratives are practices of representing conflict or production in far away lands. The talk concludes by reflecting on the location of knowledge publication, or performance, and questions the extent that this location is formative of a persistent narrative disjuncture between violence and economy.

Thursday 9 March 2017 (Please note this session will be held at the Seligman Library, 6th Floor Old Building (OLD 6.05)

Art Photojournalism in Amazonia: Wauja People in Sebastiao Salgado’s “Genesis”, by Christopher Ball, Notre Dame

My talk addresses the relation between primitivist realism as a genre of documentary photography and the representation of Amazonian peoples in popular media. Specifically I look at the work of photographer Sebastiao Salgado and I document his 2005 visit to the Wauja community in Central Brazil as he made photographs for his 2013 book Genesis. I discuss ethnography of the photographic encounter, and I also take up Wauja people’s reactions to the book a decade later in 2015. The analysis calls up the themes of representation and voice, the semiotics of images, and global indigenous politics.

Thursday 16 March 2017

‘My Phone is My Weapon’: Independent Media for Human Rights in Complexo do Alemão, Rio de Janeiro, by Charlotte Livingstone, Goldsmiths

Coletivo Papo Reto is an independent media collective from Complexo do Alemão, one of the largest favela complexes of Rio de Janeiro. The collective aims to produce media from and about the favela with a human rights ideology, challenging negative media stereotypes and physical and structural violence by the state. Based on collaborative ethnographic research in 2014-2015, this paper explores some of the ways in which the collective works, through a digital, collective and constantly evolving methodology, armed with little more than cell-phones and a Wi-Fi/3G connection. The Coletivo can be considered as one node in a global network of activists challenging racialized state violence who act and organised in the dialectic space between the online and the offline. Yet whilst groups such as Black Lives Matter have had some success in bringing international attention to police killings of black people in the United States, experience of grass-roots activism to draw attention to a much higher frequency of police lethal violence in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro is often met with an epidemic of indifference.

Autumn 2016

Monday 10 October (Room G26)

A Political Economy of Many Worlds? Latinamericanizing the Onto-Crowd.

Inaugural lecture by Sian Lazar, University of Cambridge. Followed by drinks.

The somewhat flippant title of my talk indicates its exploratory nature. These are first thoughts, resulting from a sense that recent ontological anthropologies from and of Latin America have an important intellectual and political history that is too rarely acknowledged. What does that mean for the politics of the ‘ontological turn’? Can this work be truly radical or is it little more than a sterile re-working of much older versions of identity politics? Could we imagine an alternative ‘cholo’ anthropology, one that privileges mixing, change, and the simultaneous occupation of different positionalities and perspectives?

Thursday 27 October (Room 234)

Off/On the Map and Beyond: Recalibrating Lima’s Art Scene and the Networking of Latin America, by Giuliana Borea, ILAS.

With a focus on references to be “on the art map” and other topographic announcements as the “new geographies of art,” I show how the expanding visibility and repositioning of Latin American art needs to be traced not only to strategies and projects in Euro-American circuits or in local art scenes but to art agents’ simultaneous multi-scale work. After explaining three key moments of the reconfiguration of the Lima art scene since the late 1990’s, I focus on the second period of institutional reinforcement and the expansion of networks, when Peruvian and other stakeholders initiated a set of strategic transnational practices in connection to the strengthening of Latin American art networks and platforms. I conclude that while new possibilities of participation and some different narratives of art have been addressed, the getting “on the map” has required adjusting to “global” standards and protocols: therefore, this expanded cartography lacks still of diversity.

Thursday 10 November (Room 234)

Is A Non-Bororo Man A Mr. Wrong?’ Exploring Gender and Kinship Through the Generation of Filmic Knowledge, by Flavia Kremer, University of Manchester.

‘Is a non-Bororo man a Mr. Wrong?’ is a feature length film exploring new configurations of kinship among the Bororo people in Central Brazil. In Bororo villages today there are a number of ‘wrong marriages’, marital alliances that classic anthropology would have classified as ‘incest’, which the Bororo justify through an idiom of ‘love’ and ‘modernity’. Building on a period of twelve months’ fieldwork, I explored this issue through a film experiment: the making of the ethnographic ‘romantic comedy’ ‘In Search of a Bororo Mr. Right’. In order to produce ‘Is a non-Bororo man a Mr.Wrong?’ I shall return to the Bororo village, screen ‘Mr.Right’ and then refashion some of its sequences whilst incorporating feedback from Bororo viewers. The film will integrate observational footage, interviews and a reflexive approach to the exploration of a ‘fictional’ ‘romantic comedy’ through memory and feedback. Through a mixture of inductive and deductive approaches to filmmaking, the project seeks to contribute to key debates around gender and kinship in anthropology.

Thursday 1 December (Room 234)

Taxing the Indigenous: A History of Barriers to Fiscal Inclusion in the Bolivian Highlands, by Miranda Shield Johansson, UCL.

Following the electoral success of left wing and pro-indigenous President Evo Morales, the indigenous poor in Bolivia find themselves at the centre of a new vision of the state, echoed by a fervent citizenship project to include them as contributing participants in this new Bolivia. The state is working to initiate these hitherto informally employed subjects into an individualised fiscal regime: to make them into “taxpayers.” While the highland indigenous population is firmly loyal to Morales, they resist the inclusion into a state sponsored project. This is not simply about avoiding financial obligations but their resistance is instead firmly rooted in the historical experience of fiscal exploitation, as well as suspicion of state sponsored projects. I argue that in order to overcome these barriers the state has to succeed in separating fiscal expansion from association with the state and instead link it to Morales and his project of indigenous inclusion.