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Annual FRG Colloquium Highlights Student Scholarship

October 31, 2017

Annual FRG Colloquium Highlights Student Scholarship

Image: Photograph of Shelby Magee conducting survey in Chile, Summer 2016.


On Friday, November 3, 2017, from 12:00-2:00 p.m., the LAII highlights graduate student scholarship with its third annual Field Research Grant (FRG) Colloquium and reception. Six recent FRG recipients will share their respective research experiences and findings in a series of presentations. Afterward, current and past FRG recipients and members of the LAII community are invited to mingle and learn more the exciting research initiatives of UNM's Latin Americanist graduate students. 

Funded in part by the Tinker Foundation, LAII Field Research Grants provide support for graduate students in any UNM department to conduct field work in Latin America. FRGs are meant to assist students in obtaining their first or second field research experience in Latin America. The grants are generally for fairly brief periods of research (typically two weeks to four months) and provide funding for airfare, in-country transportation and some expenses in the field. Awards are given annually each spring. For more information, see the complete description of Field Research Grant funding.

To learn more about other current and recent FRG awardees, please see the LAII's FRG profiles.

Below is more information concerning each colloquium presenter:

Diego Bustos

Title: Historicizing Development: Periphery, Social Mobility and Saraus in Rio de Janeiro

Abstract: Brazilian saraus (community cultural or musical events) became the quintessential cultural space of the urban peripheries during the first part of the twentieth century. The presentation examines how the current scene of saraus in Rio de Janeiro reflects the inequality reduction policies implemented in the country during the last fifteen years. Drawing on past and current scholarship on the topic, Diego discusses the relationship of these cultural spaces to larger issues of Brazilian democracy, inclusion and human rights.

Bio: Diego Bustos is a doctoral student in Hispanic and Portuguese literature in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at the University of New Mexico. His research interests focus on discourses of social mobility and new middle classes in contemporary literary production of Latin America, particularly in Colombia and Brazil. He is currently an LAII PhD Fellow.

Diana Chavez Vargas

Title: An Exploratory Study: Creating a Trans-Indigenous Zone at Pastaza, Ecuador

Abstract: An exploratory study to inquire how Amazonian indigenous people from Pastaza, Ecuador would create an Intercultural Indigenous City in a contested tract of land.  The study intends to articulate the perspective of Indigenous people on planning processes and alternative ways to live within the urban area.

Bio: Diana Chavez Vargas is a master's student in Community and Regional Planning. Her concentration is in Indigenous Planning. She is from Ecuador and identifies herself as an Amazonian Kichwa woman.

Emma Elliott-Smith

Title: Using chemistry to unravel complex marine food web dynamics in northern Chile.

Abstract: A fundamental area of biological and conservation research is characterizing how energy flows through natural systems. This is especially important for marine ecosystems, as fishing intensity and the rate of anthropogenic habitat alteration in these regions has increased nearly exponentially over the past century. The aim of my fieldwork in 2017 was to begin to characterize the energy flow and dynamics of nearshore marine food webs of northern Chile using stable isotope methods, in the hope of ultimately providing meaningful biological information for local authorities to set management targets. 

Bio: Emma Elliott-Smith is a PhD student in Biology working under Dr. Seth Newsome. She is interested in animal ecology, with an emphasis on how retrospective studies can aid conservation efforts. She uses stable isotope analysis to characterize food web dynamics of ancient and modern ecosystems in various coastal regions.

Kalyn Finnell

Title: Ya no tengo vecinos: Local understandings of neighborhood change in Cusco

Abstract: Kalyn conducted field research in the San Blas neighborhood of Cusco, Peru. Since Cusco's tourism boom in the 1990s, San Blas has changed dramatically; rises in property values and the arrival of tourism have played a large part in long-term residents' decisions to move from the neighborhood. Kalyn conducted mapping sessions and semi-structured interviews with long-term residents to learn about local perceptions of neighborhood change and to assess neighborhood needs and possible solutions for improving qualities of neighborhood life.

Bio: Kalyn Finnell is a dual degree master's student of Latin American Studies and Community & Regional Planning. Her concentration within the field of planning is Indigenous Planning, and her thesis concerns neighborhood change and gentrification in Cusco, Peru.

Pablo Lituma

Title: Community and Culture in Architectural Aesthetics

Abstract: Architecture is a language that expresses values of time, space, and social relationships in societies. The influences of migrants and globalization have an impact on the vernacular indigenous architecture in the Quilloac community in Cañar city, Ecuador. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to understand perspectives from residents and architects from this region. This analysis demonstrates the change in cultural landscapes and process for designs to support culture resiliency.

Bio: Pablo Litumais a graduate student in the departments of Architecture and Community and Regional Planning. He was born in Azuay, Ecuador and raised in Newark. He is interested in studying the built environment and culture in both Ecuador and US.

Laura Steele

Title: A Journey to Buenos Aires and San Rafael, Argentina: In Search of an Archaeological Collection

Abstract: Laura traveled to Buenos Aires and San Rafael to research how Spanish colonial rule impacted indigenous diets in Argentina.  Laura’s research tests two hypotheses about the impact of Spanish colonization on indigenous Argentinians: (1) the indigenous camelid relationship was equivalent under Inkan and Spanish rule, as at Malata in Peru; and (2) the indigenous-camelid relationship shifted drastically from the Inkan to Spanish rule, with camelids becoming a less important part of the diet. To investigate this, Laura accessed previously collected and well-curated zooarchaeological assemblages, intending to identify faunal collections. Laura’s research serves as a critical step in developing her dissertation research proposal.   

Bio: Laura W. Steele is a second-year PhD student in Archaeology at the University of New Mexico. Laura is interested in subsistence patterns of prehistoric human beings (or how individuals fed themselves in the past). Previously, Laura conducted her Master’s research at Eastern New Mexico University on Puebloan subsistence from AD 1350-1550, and became interested in studying broad-scale change that occurs during periods of invasion and conquest.