MALAS Students Share Research through Conference Presentations

April 30, 2015

In Spring 2015, MALAS students shared their research both within and beyond the confines of the University of New Mexico (UNM) by presenting as part of the SOLAS lecture series and also by participating in conferences across the nation. The depth and breadth of their research exemplifies the benefits of an interdisciplinary degrees such as UNM's Latin American Studies master's program, wherein students can choose to focus in any of the program's seventeen concentrations spanning Anthropology to Urbanism and Community Development. Their presentations ranged from urban neoliberalism in Colombia to gender roles and rights in Mexico and Chile.


To learn more about their local presentations, visit the SOLAS website. Below is a selective list of their external presentations:

Jennie Greb (MALAS '16): Greb presented at two conferences. The first was the XXXV Annual ILASSA Student Conference, "A levantar la voz: Challenging Doctrine and Dogma," organized by the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The second was the 2015 Graduate Student Conference, "Subestimados: Prospects and Challenges of Social Mobility," organized by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Indiana University of Bloomington. At both, Greb presented research titled "Painting Resistance: An Analysis of the Critiques of Neoliberalism in Bogotá."

  • While known for its rainy days and grey skies, Bogotá's streets are filled with color due to its emerging graffiti scene. The images that fill the blank walls of the city range from tagging, stickers, stencils, to carefully constructed works of art. Through this venue, a sort of clandestine form of resistance has emerged, with many street artists openly critiquing the economic policies of a very neoliberal state. In this sense, the blank wall converts into an autonomous space of resistance, placed within the capitalist-driven setting that is Bogotá. The street art thus acts as a very unique form of protest, existing in the daily lives of the passersby, yet constantly evolving and changing through the culture of graffiti. But most importantly, the anonymity and not-for-profit characteristics of the Bogotá graffiti scene allow for the art to be even more effective in combating a materialistic country dominated by neoliberal policies and private enterprise. In my analysis of the critiques of neoliberalism in Bogotá's street art, I examine the work of notable street artists DJ LU, Crisp, and Toxicomano, among others, and draw largely from David Harvey's Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. The result is a study of how Bogotá's street art occupies a unique space of resistance that effectively critiques the neoliberal country in which it is placed.

Charla Henley (MALAS '16): Henley attended "Transformative Possibilities in the Global South," the 4th Annual Conference of the Sociology of Development Section organized by Brown University. She presented her research titled "Marriage in Mexico: Can Women "Move-up" by Marrying?"

  • In economics and gender studies alike, one topic frequently debated is the way in which women might achieve economic development. Scholars are constantly arguing that women's economic development is a result of social status, number of years in education, or age, among others. Yet, current literatures lack an argument for the importance of marriage in women's development. In this study, data from the Mexican Family Life Survey of Households from 2009-2012 are used to suggest that marital status also has an impact on women's development in Mexico. I argue that married women make more per hour in terms of wage and, in turn, enjoy a larger annual income than their unmarried counterparts. I also argue that married women spend more hours working in the home and fewer hours working outside the home, whereas single women tend to work more than one job and spend more time working outside the home. Specifically, in this study, I look at regressions for the number of hours worked outside the house, annual household consumption, hourly wage, hours spent in leisure activities, hours spent in household activities, hours spent caring for children or elderly, and hours spent studying and in education, in order to show how important marital status is for women's development. I discuss such factors as age, number of years in education, number of children in the household, number of adults in the household and household size, in order to reveal the previously misunderstood connections between marital status and women's success in Mexico. After performing regression analysis on the data collected in the Mexican Family Life Survey, I conclude that Mexican women may achieve greater economic development by marrying. By closely examining the impact the frequently cited factors have on women's development in juxtaposition with the impact marital status has, this project sheds new light on the importance of marriage for women in Mexico, and may open the doors for future research in women's economic development in other regions of the world.

Melissa Leonard (MALAS '16): Leonard attended the 2015 Graduate Student Conference, "Subestimados: Prospects and Challenges of Social Mobility," organized by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Indiana University of Bloomington. Her presentation was titled "The Fruits of Labor: Women's Advantages in the Chilean Fruit Industry."

  • The female labor force in Chile's fruit export industry has been largely ignored and extremely marginalized by the Chilean government, the media, and even scholars writing on the subject of Chilean labor. Despite their lack of recognition, women account for more than half of the country's temporary agricultural workforce. After the September 1973 coup and the rise of Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, the government pursued the growth of Chile's export economy enthusiastically. In the pursuit of an inexpensive and easily exploited working class, women were encouraged enter the workforce. These temporeras, or temporary workers, were sought out by the fruit industry for their inherent 'delicacy and efficiency,' and due to the ability to pay them less than their male counterparts. This paper seeks to explore the mass inclusion of women into the fruit industry during the Pinochet era, and poses the question of whether women were simply exploited by their entrance into the labor force, or if, in some ways, they benefited from it. I examine the years immediately following the overthrow of President Salvador Allende and trace women's involvement in the fruit industry to the present day. I seek to establish that although women were continuously discriminated against, their involvement in labor and in the national economy cannot be viewed simply from the stance of victimization, but also from a perspective of empowerment and independence.