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People: 2015 Field Research Grant Recipients

With support from the Tinker Foundation, the LAII provides field research grants for graduate students in any UNM department who conduct field work in Latin America. Current recipients are listed below; past recipients may be viewed by clicking on the previous year's tab.

Josefina Bittar

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Sociolinguistic variation in Guaraní and Paraguayan Spanish

Josefina Bittar, a M.A. candidate in the Department of Linguistics, traveled to Paraguay during the summer of 2015 to conduct research for her Master's these on Guaraní, a prominent indigenous language, and the multiple phenomena that arise from incidents of bilingualism. While in Paraguay, her research goals included describing and analyzing the presence of Spanish-origin verbs in current spoken Guarani, describing and analyzing the absence of direct object pronouns in spoken Spanish, and to create a database of current spoken languages in Paraguay. In order to carry out her research, Josefina conducted sociolinguistic interviews with native speakers of Guarani and Spanish, analyzing them for possible correlations between the characteristics of the speaker and the presence of the phenomena in his or her speech. She believes that the creation of a database of current spoken languages on Paraguay will facilitate access to data and, therefore, increase research in unexplored topics.

Eric Griego

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Comparative economic development policy

Eric Griego, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science, and Doctoral Fellow at the RWJ Center for Health Policy, traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador during the summer of 2015 to conduct exploratory research on comparative economic development policy, specifically the role that micro enterprises, NGOs, and public institutions at the local, national, and international level play in shaping economic development policies and practices at the community level. Eric is interested in studying the similarities between local communities in New Mexico that have suffered poverty and disinvestment, and learn what other local communities in developing countries, such as Cuenca, Ecuador, are doing to address local economic development. Eric's ultimate research and professional goal is to build expertise in alternative approaches to local economic development across countries at different stages of development.

Kathleen Hoeppner

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Food Sovereignty Tours, in Latin American

Kathleen Hoeppner, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico during the summer of 2015 to conduct preliminary fieldwork that will lay the groundwork for her dissertation. Her research examines the participation of food producers, activists, policy-makers, and tourists in Food First's education travel program, Food Sovereignty Tours, in Latin American contexts. Kathleen explores critiques of tourism and seeks to determine how Food Sovereignty Tours' model functions when it is used as a means to empower the very people that conventional tourism often disenfranchises. Katie's project explores how cross-cultural networks might be formed through educational projects that bring people together who share frustrations with a global food system that privileges profit over people.

Beau Murphy

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Inka Empire and Political Economy in the Atacama Desert

Beau Murphy, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to northern Chile during the summer of 2015 in order to prepare research for publication and to explore potential dissertation projects in the area. Beau's fieldwork took place in conjunction with Agriculture and Empire in the High-Altitude Atacama Desert, an international archaeological project. This collaboration investigates past Inka imperial activities in the upper Loa River region of northern Chile through a variety of interconnected studies. In 2014, Beau contributed to this collaboration by conducting a pilot study at the archaeological site of Turi, a large settlement and Inka administrative center within the project area. Beau believes that research on this topic can tell us how local people in the Atacama Desert interacted with the Inka Empire in the fifteenth century AD.

Laura Powell

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Indigenous communities in the Andes during the nineteenth-century

Laura Powell, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, traveled to Quito, Ecuador during the summer of 2015 in order to conduct preliminary research for her dissertation. Laura's research focuses on indigenous communities in the Andes during the nineteenth-century transition from colonial viceroyalty to postcolonial republic, as well as at communities in modern-day Ecuador. She aims to explore the survival of these communities under the administration of the nation-state. Laura hopes to answer questions about what the emergence of the nation-state signified to people largely considered outside of, or counterproductive to, projects of nation-building, and how they viewed themselves in relation to both the state and to their community.

Katie Sartor

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Indigenous Markers in the Modern Museum: State vs. Local Representations of Indigeneity in Argentina

Katie Sartor, a M.A. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to Argentina during the summer of 2015 in order to explore how indigenous groups are represented through museums. She compared state run museums in the large city of Buenos Aires with locally run museums in the smaller city of Resistencia in the northern Chaco. Through her research, Katie hopes to better understand how indigenous history and experience are presented to the general public through museum displays, programs, and tours. Katie believes her project will make important contributions to understanding the situation of indigenous people groups in Argentina, as well as contributing to the museum studies literature considering museums as places of knowledge production and social power.

Ed Seabright

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Strategies of Social Alliance and Network Formation in a Small-scale Society

Ed Seabright, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, traveled to the El Beni province in Bolivia during the summer of 2015 in order to lay the framework for future doctoral research. He aims to study how strategies of cooperation and social network formation vary over the human life course, and the role of social ties in human embodied capital. Specifically, he hopes to understand the contexts in which social bonds are formed and maintained, establish the benefits that can be gained from social ties, as well as the cost of disputes, and to examine the effects of age and gender on strategies of social network formation. Ed aims to further our understanding of how small scale societies in Latin America are evolving in response to increasing contact with industrialized societies. This may prove to be an increasingly important endeavor in the years to come as population growth, deforestation, and climate change push members of small-scale Amazonian populations into increasing contact with industrialized markets.

Lean Sweeney

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How we conceive the modern history of southeastern Mexico and Guatemala

Lean Sweeney, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, traveled to Mexico City, Mexico and Chiapas, Mexico during the summer of 2015 to conduct the research needed to complete her dissertation. Lean's proposed study posits a reformulation of how we conceive the modern history of southeastern Mexico and Guatemala. Her dissertation demands that we look at key topics of regional histories, such as the Guatemalan and Chiapan "caste wars," the region-wide contraband in aguardiente, and the revolutionary movements of contrabandists and political refugees, not as examples of "weakened" nation-states but as demonstrations of how the rhetoric of state-making supported a diversity of seemingly contradictory projects. Crucial to Lean's investigation into collaboration between the "criminal" behavior of borderland communities and the regional thinking of centralized government authorities are events which, in their translation into official documentation or published "news," demonstrate a negotiation of power between these actors.

Fiorella Vera

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What are the effects of reparative justice on democracy, socioeconomic development, and social conflict, and how can we capture these effects?

Fiorella Vera, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, traveled to Lima and Ayacucho, Peru during the summer of 2015 to collect empirical data for her field paper, which will allow her to move to the dissertation stage of her Ph.D. Fiorella's pilot study addresses the question, what are the effects of reparative justice on democracy, socioeconomic development, and social conflict, and how can we capture these effects? Her study addresses this question by focusing on Peru's reparations program for victims of the civil conflict (1980-2000) and examining the political, economic and social effects of reparations at the individual and community -micro - levels. Fiorella hopes to achieve preliminary goals in her broader research, which will address why government and other agencies choose to implement reparative justice programs, and if so, which types.

Julia Youngs

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Relationship between urban planning, transitional justice, and the process of memorialization

Julia Youngs, a dual M.A. candidate in Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning, traveled to São Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina during the summer of 2015 in order to carry out research for her thesis. She focuses on the relationship between urban planning, transitional justice, and the process of memorialization through the comparative examination of the former ESMA and DEOPS detentions centers, and how they function as memorial museums today. A qualitative examination of these two spaces illuminates how issues of urban planning and human rights merge in the realm of physical space. Julia believes that this project will highlight her work, which will bridge an important gap between the fields of human rights and transitional justice, and historic preservation, architecture, and urban planning.