October 21, 2016

Abstract, Occupying and Reclaiming a National Historical Monument

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Occupying and Reclaiming a National Historical Monument
Francisca Márquez and Valentina Rozas-Krause                                                                      

Conceptual and ethnographic examination of the ideology that has given form to one of Chile’s most representative national historical monuments, the Casa Central of the Universidad de Chile, indicates that monuments are a complex social construction of historically situated ideologies and practices and that, simply by being artifacts, they are always at risk of never achieving unanimity as to their truth. The controversial nature of the monument’s meaning presents us with a problem with regard to its verisimilitude and its incorporation into a shared history. It may be suggested that the historical meaning of a monument is manifested in its commemoration and in corporal uses and practices.

October 20, 2016

Book, The Tourism Encounter: Fashioning Latin American Nations and Histories by Florence Babb

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The Tourism Encounter: Fashioning Latin American Nations and Histories 
by Florence Babb

In recent decades, several Latin American nations have experienced political transitions that have caused a decline in tourism. In spite of—or even because of—that history, these areas are again becoming popular destinations. This work reveals that in post-conflict nations, tourism often takes up where social transformation leaves off and sometimes benefits from formerly off-limits status.

Comparing cases in Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru, Babb shows how tourism is a major force in remaking transitional nations. While tourism touts scenic beauty and colonial charm, it also capitalizes on the desire for a brush with recent revolutionary history. In the process, selective histories are promoted and nations remade. This work presents the diverse stories of those linked to the trade and reveals how interpretations of the past and desires for the future coincide and collide in the global marketplace of tourism.

October 19, 2016

Political Report # 1191 Ecuador's Legal Battle With Chevron Foreshadows Global Corporate Coup D'état

A hand covered in crude oil from one of the hundreds of open toxic pits Chevron abandoned in the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest, near Lago Agrio, in a photo taken on April 15, 2010. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)

By Kyla Sankey, Truthout 

In the past 50 years, the lives of Indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon have been completely transformed. Since the arrival of Texaco in 1964, extensive environmental damage wrought by the extraction of oil and dumping of toxic waste has devastated the land, water and natural resources on which the Indigenous tribes of these regions have depended for more than 8,000 years.
Today, two of these tribes have ceased to exist due to the deaths of all their members, and others are at risk of being wiped out soon. In the remaining tribes, community members have suffered extensive and irreversible health problems: toxic exposure has generated a health crisis involving cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and leukemia.
Texaco's operations included drilling and systematically dumping crude in the Amazon. During its operations between 1964 and 1990, it left 880 pits of solid waste, poured 60 billion gallons of toxic water into local water sources and spilled 650,000 barrels of crude oil in the jungles and pathways. Perhaps the most striking feature in the case of Texaco is that the damage caused was not accidental but deliberate, a result of cutting costs on safety regulations and environmental technologies in order to maximize profits.

Abstract, Choreography of a Massacre Memory and Performance in the Ayacucho Carnival

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Choreography of a Massacre Memory and Performance in the Ayacucho Carnival
Renzo Aroni Sulca

On August 14, 1985, during the armed conflict between the Communist Party of Peru, known as Shining Path, and the Peruvian state, an army patrol entered the town of Accomarca, in the Andean region of Ayacucho, and assassinated 69 peasants, presumed sympathizers of the insurgents. The majority of the survivors were displaced to the city of Lima, where they created an organization of victims and joined the Asociación de Hijos del Distrito Accomarca. Since 2011, the survivors and relatives of the victims have been remembering the massacre and transmitting their memories to their children through a Carnival performance of music and dance. Carnival is a constructive space for the production of other forms of memory and for the pursuit of justice and reparations through participatory choreography and musical performance.

October 18, 2016

Political Report # 1190 There's Still Time for Peace in Colombia

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos in September 2010. 
Sara Rojas / Flickr

By Kieran Duffy, Jacobin

The past couple weeks have been full of ups and downs for Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
On October 2, he suffered a surprise defeat when Colombian voters narrowly rejected his peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After four years of negotiations with the rebels, it seemed his plan to end the fifty-two-year conflict - the plan he had hoped would define his presidency - had come to nothing. As he negotiated with the deal’s opponents in a desperate bid to find a compromise, many Colombians feared that the country would be plunged back into war and that a unique chance for peace had been lost.
Less than a week later, Santos was no doubt in a cheerier mood. The Nobel Committee had just announced it would award him its peace prize, making him only the second Colombian Nobel laureate. The august body praised Santos “for his resolute efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end, a war that has cost the lives of at least 220,000 Colombians and displaced close to six million people.”

Book, "The Meanings of Work: Essay on the Affirmation and Negation of Work"

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The Meanings of Work: Essay on the Affirmation and Negation of Work
by Ricardo Antunes

The Meanings of Work aims to explore some dimensions of the changes taking place in the labour-world, as well as looking at the consequences, theoretical and empirical, entailed by these transformations, such as the relevance and pertinence of the category of labour in the contemporary world. Billions of men and women depend exclusively on their labour to survive and encounter increasingly unstable, precarious or casual workers and the unemployed. As the contingent of workers has grown, there have been a vast reduction in jobs, rights have been corroded and the gains of the past have been eroded. The Meanings of Work starts with a wider conception of work and seeks to understand this new condition of labour today.

October 14, 2016

Political Report # 1189 Obama Appoints Social Security Critic to Fix Puerto Rico’s Budget

By David Dayen, The Intercept

Andrew Biggs, an American Enterprise Institute resident scholar and architect of conservative efforts to cut and privatize Social Security, has been named by President Obama to a seven-member fiscal oversight board for the debt-ridden U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. That board, which will work out restructuring for over $70 billion in debt, has widespread authority to institute additional austerity on the island’s citizens, including potential reductions in public pensions. And Biggs appears to be the only member of the board that has significant experience with social insurance.
Under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act signed into law in June, the fiscal oversight board will be effectively in charge of the island’s finances, usurping its democratically elected government. The oversight board is tasked with balancing Puerto Rico’s budget and pursuing all avenues to pay off its massive debt, including cuts to the island’s education, police, and health care systems. It can sell off Puerto Rican assets, lower the island’s minimum wage, order layoffs, and enforce a ban on public employee strikes. Only as a last resort can the island obtain court approval for a debt restructuring agreement, and negotiate with creditors, which include several “vulture funds” that scooped up Puerto Rican debt at a discount in the hopes of a big payday.

Abstract, Toxic Memories? The DINCOTE Museum in Lima, Peru

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Toxic Memories? The DINCOTE Museum in Lima, Peru
María Eugenia Ulfe and Vera Lucía Ríos

Memory museums exist as markers in the public domain; meanings and practices are created around them and assigned uses and silences. The Museum of the National Directorate against Terrorism in Peru displays artworks and archives seized from members of the Shining Path Communist Party of Peru and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and can be visited only with a special permit. The memories it contains are considered “toxic” and are exhibited in a private instead of a public space. This space cannot be understood as a “museum of conscience” or a “site of memory.” Victims are not dignified there, and no symbolic reparations are made. It houses memories in the form of artwork, books, and memorabilia of those who because of their participation in the armed groups during the conflict have been denied the status of victims as defined in the country’s reparations program.

October 12, 2016

Abstract, Historical Memory at El Salvador’s Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen

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Historical Memory at El Salvador’s Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen
Diana Carolina Sierra Becerra

The civil war in El Salvador (1980–1992) resulted in the death of approximately 75,000 people, the vast majority killed by state and paramilitary forces. In the postwar era, the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen in San Salvador promotes historical memory in order to denounce state violence and advance social justice. It departs from the historic role of museums in upholding ruling-class hegemony and offers a progressive model for disseminating and critically engaging with historical memory. This museum makes history relevant to younger generations through the use of oral history, popular pedagogy, and innovative engagement strategies. However, its impact is limited by neoliberal atomization and relatively low levels of grassroots mobilization—common obstacles faced by popular education initiatives around the world.

October 11, 2016

Book, "The New Century of the Metropolis Urban Enclaves and Orientalism" by Tom Angotti

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The New Century of the Metropolis Urban Enclaves and Orientalism

The problems created by metropolitanization have become increasingly apparent. Attempts to limit growth, disperse populations and plan neighbourhoods have been largely unsuccessful. Strategies are needed to improve the world's major cities in the twenty-first century.

Tom Angotti is fundamentally optimistic about the future of the metropolis, but questions urban planning’s inability to integrate urban and rural systems, its contribution to the growth of inequality, and increasing enclave development throughout the world. Using the concept of 'urban orientalism' as a theoretical underpinning of modern urban planning grounded in global inequalities, Angotti confronts this traditional model with new, progressive approaches to community and metropolis.