London Latin American Seminar Series
Unless otherwise indicated, all seminars are held at 17:30 at the Senate House, Room 234 (South Block, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU)
Lent Term 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
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
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.
Anthropology of Africa Seminar Series
All seminars take place in the Seligman Library (OLD 6.05) Old Building, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE between 4.00pm-6.00pm.
Lent Term 2018
20 February 2018
"Rural Herders, Urban Elites, and the Political Economy of Kinship in Kenya"
Cory Rodgers (School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford)
The expansion of urban economies, state funding and rural development in Kenya is placing more power in the hands of political elites. These changes engender new claims of kinship and patronage among many rural families. I explore this process through the example of Turkana County, a predominantly pastoral region in north-western Kenya. In Turkana, customary kinship principles such as patrilineality that are historically based on herd ownership and bride-wealth exchange are now being renegotiated to accommodate contemporary relations across the rural-urban divide. To understand the contestations and ambiguities that ensue, I approach patrilineality not as a model of social organisation, but as a basis of belonging that is variously invoked, disputed, and circumvented by differently positioned people.
13 March 2018
Urban Baptists and the Ritual Force of Wedding Ceremonies in Harare, Zimbabwe
Leanne Williams Green (University of California, San Diego)
The focus of this paper is deliberations about marriage practices taking place among a group of Baptist Christians in Zimbabwe’s capital. As part of a cosmopolitan and multicultural middle-class, these urbanites find themselves navigating processes of social change in a tumultuous economic and political climate. When they marry, they may do so by one or more cultural institutions available for wedding: a civil court process, the increasingly popular European-style white wedding ceremony, lobola brideprice payment, or some combination thereof. Each option, however, entails risk for the believer: the material power of white weddings has the potential to overshadow the immaterial importance of marriage recognition in God’s sight, while lobola payment poses a parallel risk of excessive commodification of a ritual relation-making process. The risks are addressed in part by believers’ efforts to rework the performative power of the wedding ceremony. I suggest that the practice of choosing and performing the wedding ceremony, for pastors and participants alike, becomes an avenue to reorder ritual meaning according to both urban, cosmopolitan sensibilities and Baptist religious values.