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People: 2016 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. To see a more complete collection of recent field research photography, visit the LAII's 2016 Field Research Flickr Album.

Naomi Ambriz

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Afro-Latino political identities in the wake of newfound Cuban-U.S. relations

Naomi Ambriz, a Ph.D. student in the Department of American Studies, will travel to Cuba during the summer of 2016 in order to continue her work on Afro-Latino political identities in the wake of newfound Cuban-U.S. relations. Naomi is committed to documenting how marginalized communities, such as Afro-Cubans, respond to and are affected by socio-political and economic changes. In particular, she will investigate how the internal cultural resistance of Afro Cuban women will reshape and influence racial identities in capitalist structural intricacies. Naomi feels that, as Cuba braces for the introduction to the U.S. lifestyle, it is vital to record Afro descendants’ voices during a crucial transformation period. Her project will intervene by representing Afro Cuban political identity formations. In particular, her project addresses the following questions: How are Afro Cubans engaging in social and personal choices that reshape and reimagine their identities through refusal and negotiation within global economic, politically gendered and racialized hierarchies? How will U.S. relations alter their self-recognition, self-determination and sovereignty? Naomi hopes that this opportunity to work in Cuba will allow her to build on preliminary research that weaves another thread towards a feminist decolonial transnational project.

Holly Brause

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Examine chile production in New Mexico and in Mexico

Holly Brause, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology, will travel to Chihuahua, Mexico during the summer of 2016 in order to examine chile production in New Mexico and in Mexico. New Mexico chile is popularly imagined as a quintessentially place-based agricultural product; however, an increasing amount of chile processed in New Mexico is sourced from Mexico. After the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, chile production in New Mexico declined sharply, while increasing across the border in Chihuaha. Thus, Holly feels that the transnational chile industry is an ideal lens to explore the relationship between neoliberalism, borders, and agriculture. She argues that the shift in chile production from New Mexico to Chihuahua is due to the industry’s integration into the global food regime. She asks the following question: What kinds of vulnerabilities and opportunities are created by neoliberal reforms, such as NAFTA, in the chile industry on the Mexican side of the border? Holly will explore how chile is used in the local gastronomy, conducting research that will set a foundation for her dissertation project that will explore this question on both sides of the U.S./Mexico .

Anna Calasanti

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The Impact of Uneven Policy Implementation on Marginalized Groups: The Case of Abortion in Argentina

Anna Calasanti, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science, will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina during the summer of 2016 in order to explore the uneven enforcement of punitive laws in Latin America. She focuses on Argentina, where abortion is illegal but common. Her project examines what pathways and networks women use in order to find abortion services in this environment. She hypothesizes that the means and hardships involved with finding abortions vary based on socioeconomic status and other characteristics. Anna’s study will consist of an ethnography, which will map out how women circumvent punitive laws and identify the different ways they do so. According to Anna, there is a gap between formal reproductive health policies and their actual implementation. Most studies of this gap focus on the macro level and apply to multiple cases. What Anna proposes to do is test theories at the micro level, and in the process, tease out more information about the individual mechanisms. By evaluating the institutional differences that influence how women gain access to reproductive health care, Anna will expand on theories of uneven access to democratic structures among marginalized populations, as well as political motivations behind policy implementation decisions. This trip will serve as preliminary research exploration before the writing of her dissertation prospectus.

Teresa Drenten

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My Many Tíos: Rural-Urban Connectivity in Cuzco Peru

Teresa Drenten, a dual M.A. student in Community and Regional Planning and Latin American Studies, will travel to Cuzco, Peru during the summer of 2016 in order to conduct research for her thesis on the issue of social connectivity between geographic regions in Peru. Her main focus concerns the urban-rural connectivity and emigration patterns within the Cuzco region. She wishes to learn how families organize themselves through multi-regional connectivity. Her main questions ask: How do families connect across geographical divides? What is the composition of the social network between familial and extra familial ties? For what purpose does this interconnectivity serve (e.g. social, economic, cultural, etc.)? Teresa will utilize participatory research by coordinating an oral history workshop for young adults, in order to demonstrate to the students their own academic prowess and the importance of their local histories. This project will set the foundation for her future in Community Development as she prepares for her entrance into a Ph.D. program and the professional world.

Yuliana Kenfield

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Examine the struggles young indigenous people in Peru face in maintaining their cultural practices while simultaneously succeeding in the global community

Yuliana Kenfield, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies, will travel to Cuzco, Peru during the summer of 2016 in order to examine the struggles young indigenous people in Peru face in maintaining their cultural practices while simultaneously succeeding in the global community. In Cuzco, speakers of indigenous languages live predominately in rural areas and commute to and from the city for market business. While a certain number of rural students commonly migrate to the city for college, the number of bilingual indigenous Andean and Amazonian college student populations has increased dramatically after recent affirmative action regulations were implemented. Yuliana’s initial exploratory research will address the following questions: What languages are spoken by college students in Cuzco? What motivates their acceptance or resistance to use any indigenous languages? What are the attitudes toward indigenous language and language practices of both indigenous and non-indigenous college students residing in Cuzco? Yuliana feels that her native ability to speak in both Quechua and Spanish, the majority languages spoken in Cuzco, will enhance access to resources during this first research visit toward her dissertation.

Shelby Magee

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Deciphering the Inka Roads: A Pilot Study on the Use of Non-Reconstructive Least Cost Path Analysis on the Roads of the Loa-Salado Region of Chile

Shelby Magee, a Ph.D. student studying Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology, will travel to the Atacama region of northern Chile during the summer of 2016 in order to research the role of road systems in expanding the Inka Empire. She will be working as part of the Proyecto Historia y Paisajes del Rio Salado, an international archaeological project that focuses on the role of agriculture in Inkan imperial activities through a suite of related studies in the Rio Salado drainage basin. Shelby will survey the archaeological roads between the sites of Turi, Topaín, and Paniri in the Rio Salado drainage and how they reflect the means through which the region was brought under Inka rule. The three closely spaced and related sites have pre-Inka and Inka components (settlements, pasturelands, agricultural fields, and imperial administrative facilities) and can provide information on life before and during imperial rule. Shelby will utilize this research to complete her Master’s paper and as a basis for her dissertation. Her long-term goal is to identify the conceptual divisions of society and space that were implemented into the area as a means to reinforce Inka rule, as well as local responses to imperial strategies.

Victor Oneschuck

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Unearth the transnational influences that helped refashion middle class identity in Chile during the second half of the twentieth century

Victor Oneschuck, a M.A. student in the Department of History, will travel to Chile during the summer of 2016 in order to conduct research which aims to unearth the transnational influences that helped refashion middle class identity in Chile during the second half of the twentieth century and explore higher education as a primary mode of U.S. foreign policy and aid between the 1950s and 1973. He asks the following questions: How and why did higher education become a central feature of United States foreign aid in Chile after 1950? What was the connection, whether real or imagined, between higher education and the “middle class” in the minds of U.S. and Chilean policy makers, and how did U.S. foreign policy and aid shape higher education and class identity on the ground? Where was the Chilean “middle class” constructed, contested, and deployed in an emerging global Cold War? Victor seeks to explore these questions and to better understand the relationship between United States Cold War policies, foreign aid for higher education in Latin America, and the (re)creation of the “middle class” in Chile from the 1950s to the 1973 coup. Victor hopes to utilize this research for a paper he will write in a Fall 2016 course on Chile, which he will also utilize as his PhD writing sample and submit for publication.

Maria Jose Ramos

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The relationship between foreign-led economic and environmental exploitation and their sociocultural effects on the Costa Rican Pacific

María José Ramos, a M.A. student in Latin American Studies, will travel to Costa Rica during the summer of 2016 in order to investigate how the fast growth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the lack of legislative control over the exploitation of natural resources have environmental and social consequences in communities. She seeks to analyze the relationship between foreign-led economic and environmental exploitation and their sociocultural effects on the Costa Rican Pacific. Her central research questions are: How have local and statewide regulations regarding FDI and foreign-led physical infrastructural development changed from the 1990s to today? How have they affected employment and salary rates, quality and type of employment, literacy rates, and household access to public services in the Pacific region? Maria Jose believes that her research will bring insight to how the government can improve in mitigating the adverse impacts of FDI, environmental exploitation, and how to maximize the benefits of FDI in the development of the Pacific. With the completion of this project, she feels she will grow professionally as an academic, gaining a broader and deeper understanding of the aspects related to her topic, and have conducted research that will provide pivotal steps for her future doctoral and postdoctoral career, functioning as the basis for her dissertation.