OSEA-CITE: Ethnography of the Future / Interdisciplinary Cultural Anthropology / Study Abroad

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Ethics & Human Subjects



OSEA Emerging Scholars Research Conference, 2011 July 13-15

Conference Schedule
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Concept of Emerging Scholars Research Conference
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See photo gallery of the conference on FB OSEA Ethnographic Field School

Day One
Georgia Hartman
Subject in Theories of Migration: Ethnography of Transnational Yucateco Community
Commentator: Matilde Cordoba Azacarate

Mirian Solis Lizama
La vaquería en Los Ángeles: tradición y política
Commentator: Sarah Taylor

Victoria Beltrán Kuhn
Mayabilidad, mayas y mayeros en Yaxunah: la luz de Chichén se enciende por sombras
Commentator: Christine Preble

Justin Quinn
Roads to Past are Future: Networks of Power, Ideas, & People in Pisté, Yucatán
Commentator: Veronica Miranda

Day Two
Christine Preble
Modern Mass Tourism: Comparison of Free Trade Zones Cozumel & Cancun
Commentator: Justin Quinn

Matilde Cordoba Azcarate
Tourism And Uneven Development In The Peninsula Of Yucatan (México)
Commentator: Mirian Solis

Sarah Taylor
NGOs, Federal Funding, Community Participation in Ecotourism Development Ek Balam
Commentator: Georgia Hartman

Veronica Miranda
Cash Transfer Programs and Maternal Health in Rural Yucatán
Commentator: Victoria Beltran

1. 40 Minute Paper Presentations
2. 10 Minute Commentator’s Constructive Critique
3. 25 Minutes Open Discussion
[Total 75 Minutes or 1 Hour 15 Mins.]

List of Participants by Abstracts:

Beltrán Kuhn, Victoria (Universidad de las Américas Puebla)
Mayabilidad, mayas y mayeros en Yaxunah: la luz de Chichén se enciende con sus sombras
ABSTRACT: Categories and identities are social constructions that emerge in specific ecopolitical contexts and have also concrete material implications. Social categories are not neutral, nor their construction process in which archaeologists and anthropologists have participation. The academic field is also part of a bigger network of power relations and it is necessary to start including the anthropologists and their own political context in the subject of study. The construction of mayan and indigenous identities have particular implications for the populations usually assigned or auto assigned with those terms. Promoting those terms and silencing others are part of the power implications that have to do with our text production as academics. The relationship between Chichen and Yaxunah, the place of fieldwork, shows material to deconstruct all these implications in the actual neoliberal context.

Cordoba Azcarate, Matilde (The City University of New York)
Tourism And Uneven Development In The Peninsula Of Yucatan (México)
ABSTRACT: This paper analyzes how different forms of tourism have become uneven development practices in the Peninsula of Yucatan, fostering a worrying panorama of spatial segregation, social marginalization and environmental degradation. Patterns of uneven development will be specifically traced by analyzing tourism practices, material arrangements and spatial tactics operating in three different tourism models: mass tourism, natural tourism and elite tourism. First, the paper will situate the pair tourism-development in the context of Yucatan’s history. Second, it will analyze critically mass tourism as the favorite development strategy for the peninsula during the 70s. Third, it will discuss the emergence of alternative forms of tourism, especially natural tourism, during the early 90s and their associated dilemmas regarding community participation and sustainability. Fourth, it will explore hacienda tourism as a distinctive form of elite consumption emerging in the mid 2000s. The paper will engage with these tourism strategies through the materials collected in three specific sites, namely: the city of Cancún, the Biosphere Reserve Ría Celestún, and the Hacienda Temozón Sur. As the paper will show, although these tourism models embrace different discourses and imaginaries, in practice they produce similar patterns of uneven development which tend to reproduce tourist sites as enclavic, highly patterned, and secluded spaces along the Peninsula. The paper ends by offering a set of possible avenues to better plan tourism as a real development tool in each of the selected sites.

Hartman, Georgia (U.C. Irvine)
Uncovering the Subject in Theories of Migration: An Ethnographic Account of Migration in a Transnational Yucateco Community
ABSTRACT: A significant amount of social scientific research has been devoted to developing theories that explain the causes of migration. These theories deploy a universalizing discourse about the way migrants -­- as rational economic actors – make decisions about migration. While useful tools for understanding general trends, these theories lose sight of the migrant subject they seek to explain. Using ethnographic research from Tunkás, Yucatán and with the Tunkaseño migrant community in Southern California, I seek to reverse the universalizing tendencies of theories of migration by focusing on the underlying causes of migration as they manifest in the lives of individuals and families in this transnational community. In this research I aim to ground migration theories in the experiences of migrants themselves. I find that macro-­-level forces such as government policies and private investment in the manufacturing and tourist industries have real, tangible effects on the everyday lives of Tunkaseños. Economic and cultural changes exerted by these forces has dramatically altered the way individuals and their families are able to sustain themselves. One of the major responses to these economic pressures has been to rely on traditional methods of economic diversification. Maya families have long utilized multiple means of generating income in the solar, such as raising animals for sale and consumption, preparing food for sale, and making hammocks. Today families continue to rely on economic diversification to support the family unit, though they employ means of doing so that are unique to the current economic climate. Migration is one important strategy utilized for economic survival. Particular family members migrate to the U.S. and/or the Mayan Riviera, leaving other family members to tend the milpa, and care for aging parents. By tracing these and other methods utilized by migrants and their families as they cope with a changing economic climate, I aim to critique economic and immigration policies affecting this population.

Miranda, Veronica (University of Kentucky)
Cash Transfer Programs and Maternal Health in Rural Yucatan
ABSTRACT: Mexico’s conditional cash transfer program, Oportunidades, is revered both nationally and internationally as a model poverty alleviation and maternal health program. In Oportunidades, poor pregnant and nursing mothers are required to participate in specifically designated practices that are intended to increase their human capital. Mexico frames Oportunidades as an agreement of “co-­-responsibility”. This co-­-responsibility is two sided. The Mexican state will help poor and indigenous women by giving them financial cash stipends, providing them with health education and access to health care so that they can succeed and live a healthy life. Yet, it is important to remember that Oportunidades is a conditional program. Participants are required to follow all of the program's demands or face immediate removal. The other part of the co-­-responsibility falls on the individual participants. While Oportunidades might have many beneficial health effects for poor and indigenous women, a critical examination needs to take place in order to see how the program might produce unintended negative consequences (such as monitoring, surveillance, and coercion). In the case of Oportunidades, it is important to critically look at the ways in which women’s lives are being overburdened by their added responsibilities. Looking at the experiences of rural Yucatec Maya women enrolled in Oportunidades, it is clear that the program’s practice of monitoring, coercion, and surveillance benefit the larger political and economic goals of the state government and not the participants. Oportunidades has the possibility to be a program that can really help poor women transition out of extreme poverty and live healthier lives, but this is only possible if the voices and concerns of its participants are included into the development and implementation of the program.

Preble, Christine (SUNY Albany)
Modern Mass Tourism in the Yucatán: A Brief Comparative Study of Tourism Free Trade Zones in Cancun and Cozumel
ABSTRACT: Sanitized cultural contacts with host populations lay at the core of mass tourism. Exemplified in zones of mass tourism, commoditized vacations are tailored around the ease at which the exotic is consumed and homogenized difference is sought. The industry has constructed compounds similar to Westernized mall-like environments in the forms of all-inclusive hotels and cruise ship terminals. Interestingly, tourist's quest for the exotic is sought through the purchase of souvenirs, engaging in packaged tours, or eating at Westernized restaurants-- all with Maya themes. The mass tourism industry consciously keeps reality away from tourist’s idealized representation of paradise and exoticism. Subsequently, the modern mass tourism vacation has become commoditized, as its packaged quality makes it easy for tourists to purchase and consume. With supremely large amounts of money flowing in and out of popular mass tourism sites, local, national, and global stakeholders in the tourism industry are controlling the ways tourists experience culture of the toured destination to garner the most economic profit. Tourism free trade zones in the Yucatán are established as spaces constructed for tourism by neoliberal state or corporate entities (Castellanos 2010). Tourism free trade zones reflect the development and maintenance of mass tourism as dictated by national and multinational stakeholders (Clancy 1998). Nationalist and multinational development projects are working to build a uniform package of sun, sand, and sea for tourist consumption (Crick 1989; Pattullo 1996, Castellanos 2007). Perhaps nowhere is more historically entrenched in the hyper development of mass tourism is Cancun and Cozumel, Mexico. This paper will compare and contrast tourism free trade zones of these two regions in Eastern Yucatan. I seek to describe their relation in terms of historical development, current economic and social manifestations, and the ways space is constructed to satisfy the tourist gaze in a modern mass tourism free trade zone.

Quinn, Justin (University of Florida)
Roads to the Past are the Future: Networks of Power, Ideas, and People in Pisté, Yucatán
ABSTRACT: In 2009, tourism to Pisté, Yucatán was profoundly affected by a pair of crises involving international financial markets and a global influenza pandemic. This was of considerable significance to Pisté, because of its dependence on international tourism due to its proximity to Chichén Itzá, a U.N. World Heritage site. Tourism-oriented development in the region, which began as part of a broader national tourism development initiative in the late 1960s, has aided tourism to displace agriculture as the region’s primary economic base over the last three decades. This growth is tied to the development of Cancun, a former fishing village that has been developed into a major resort destination during this period, and also to the growth of international tourism in the same period; many of the tourists who visit Pisté arrive via Cancun, and, until recently, both Pisté and Cancun have seen nearly uninterrupted growth as part of a larger network of international tourism destinations in the region. Both the influenza pandemic and recession involved the movement of capital and populations through multiple, contested fields of authority, which were restricted or obstructed because of or as a response to these phenomena. In this paper, I argue that these events are emblematic of how multiple fields of related cultures of intervention have evolved into a singular mode of governmentality I term ‘envelopment’, employing the discourse of science, economy and human rights to maintain and extend transnational networks of power. These networks are articulated as both ideational and concrete realities via various modes of transport vital to the functioning of late capitalist economies, and, through these literal and metaphoric pathways, are the space where various stakeholders produce, reproduce and contest the local manifestation of this network.

Solis Lizama, Mirian (UNAM)
La vaquería en Los Ángeles: tradición y política
ABSTRACT: El objetivo del trabajo es mostrar cómo la vaquería yucateca que se celebra en la ciudad de Los Ángeles, California es, por un lado, un medio para recrear la cultura y por otro lado, una arena política. La vaquería es el baile tradicional yucateco con el que inicia la fiesta de los pueblos. En 2007 los clubes de migrantes que se encuentran en el área metropolitana de Los Ángeles realizaron por primera vez la vaquería en esta ciudad, y desde entonces la celebran año con año. Con la vaquería los migrantes reactivan la identidad del ser yucateco, refuerzan lazos de amistad y paisanaje, en otras palabras recrean Yucatán en un nuevo escenario. Pero la vaquería además de reactivar la cultura de los migrantes también se ha convertido en una arena política. Esto se debe a que los funcionarios públicos que contribuyen a la realización de la vaquería -apoyando con recursos económicos a los organizadores-, han tratado de aprovechar el evento para promover la participación de los migrantes en programas que lleva a cabo el gobierno. Esto ha llevado a que surjan momentos de conflicto y tensión entre migrantes y funcionarios públicos, conflictos que aparecen porque existe una diferencia entre la finalidad que tiene la vaquería para cada grupo.

Taylor, Sarah (SUNY Albany)
NGOs, Federal Funding, and Community Participation in Ecotourism Development in Ek Balam
ABSTRACT: Maya heritage is embraced throughout Yucatán as a crucial component of tourism promotions. This, coupled with an emphasis on multiculturalism, makes the state itself a local actor in the marketing of Maya identity through the creation and funding of community-based tourism projects. Once funded, these CBT projects become the focus of the numerous local, national, and international non-governmental organizations NGOs) working throughout the region. This process in Ek’Balam, Yucatán results in a shift toward reliance on tourism in place of farming and other economic strategies, however the recent decline in arrivals has led to hardship for many families. This paper discusses strategies and tactics employed at the household level to negotiate tourism and identity, and questions the utility of tourism as a sustainable tool for development. The goal is an understanding of the articulation of local tactics to conceal cosmopolitanism while remaining competent in the eyes of the funding agencies to build and manage a tourism project, and the strategies employed by the state that reinforce the importance of “performance” for tourists. It is here that the ideas of modernity, authenticity, tradition, and cosmopolitanism become fluid and difficult to identify as discrete characteristics within an individual and a community. The desire on the part of state agents to designate and market “local” leads to situations in which the individuals defined as such are expected to exist in concurrent states of authenticity and modernity, as traditional and cosmopolitan.

Paper Proposal Form (use this form to propose a paper and a film screening)

Request to Screen Ethnographic Film (use this form if you only wish to screen a film)

2011 Emerging Scholars Research Conference: Details, Objectives, Eligibility

2011 Emerging Scholars Research Conference Schedule
TBA after Selection of papers and films, estimated February 28, 2011

OSEA Student Research Conferences

OSEA Hosted Wenner Gren Workshop on Social Archaeologies



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