LALS UC President's Postodoctoral Symposium 2015

January 01, 2015


DAY 1: January 14, 2015 – Charles E. Merrill Lounge, 10AM-12noon

“From Oaxacans in Los Angeles to Farmers in Colombia: An Ethnography Panel on Musical Practice and Rural Resistance”

LALS is proud to host UC President Postdoctoral Fellows to UC Santa Cruz for a two-part symposium. This symposium’s first panel focuses on ethnographic scholarship related to Oaxacan women/youth and Colombian farmers. 

Presenter: Xóchitl C. Chávez, UC Riverside

Title: Booming Bandas of Los Angeles: Oaxacan Women and Youth as New Cultural Bearers of Philharmonic Brass Bands

Abstract: In my research on Oaxacan indigenous communities in California, my work explores how indigenous diasporic communities reproduce cultural practices such as the annual La Guelaguetza festival which showcase regional communal dances and musical forms. By focusing on these forms of cultural expression and the transmission of traditions to both adults and youth illuminates the ways in which communities actively claim cultural citizenship on both side of the U.S. and Mexico border. Through a case study of five Zapotec community based Bandas Oaxaqueñas (Oaxacan Brass Bands) this paper addresses the significance and proliferation of second generation Oaxacan philharmonic brass bands in Los Angeles. Imperative in this work are the forms of collective action amongst Oaxacan immigrant communities and highlighting how women and youth now fill the ranks of musicians and new leadership. The presence of second generation Bandas Oaxaqueñas further exemplifies the diversity of Oaxaca’s ethno-linguistic communities and how they strive to maintain their ethnic identity and a linguistic plurality within a bustling urban space.  

Presenter: Kristina Lyons, UC Santa Cruz

Title: Decomposition as Life Politics: Soils, Shared Bodies, and Stamina Under the Gun of the US-Colombia War on Drugs

Abstract: What does it mean to live in a criminalized ecology in the Andean-Amazonian foothills of Colombia?  How does antinarcotics policy that aims to eradicate la mata que mata (the plant that kills) pursue peace through poison? Relatedly, what is the significance of cultivating a garden, caring for forest, or growing food when at any moment a crop duster plane may pass overhead, indiscriminately spraying herbicides over the landscape? Since 2000, the US-Colombia War on Drugs has relied on militarized aerial fumigation of coca plants coupled with alternative development interventions in the aim to forcibly eradicate illicit-based rural livelihoods. With ethnographic engagement among small farming families in the frontier department of Putumayo – gateway to the country’s Amazon and a region that has been the focus of counternarcotic operations  – this article explores the different possibilities and foreclosures for life and death that emerge in a tropical forest ecology pushed to its metabolic limits.  By following farmers and their material practices and life processes, I closely narrate the way soils become an ally in rural resistance to the violence and criminalization produced by militarized, growth-oriented development. Rather than productivity – one of the elements of modern biopolitics – the stamina of these ecologies relies on organic decay, impermanence, even fragility, that complicates modern bifurcations of living and dying, allowing, I argue, for ecological imaginaries and life processes that do not rely on productivity or growth to strive into existence.



DAY 2: January 28, 2015 – Charles E. Merrill Lounge, 10AM-12noon

“Histories of Violence and Contested Spaces: The Politics of Art and Institutionalization”

LALS is proud to host UC President Postdoctoral Fellows to UC Santa Cruz for a two-part symposium. This second symposium’s panel focus is on research related to Puerto Rican art, juvenile detention, and the racial effects of tax reform for Latino non-profits.

Presenter: Javier Arbona, UC Davis

Title: Explosive Messages: Contested Lands in Puerto Rican Art

Abstract: This research project explores work by contemporary artists in Puerto Rico. I study how practicing artists are addressing the intertwined conditions of neoliberal austerity and colonialism by making the notion of "land" a central question to their creation. I am interested in how and why a number of practicing Puerto Rican artists engage with geography at a time when the "commonwealth" status under United States rule is widely perceived as having run its course. Some of the works from this cohort reveal histories of violence embedded in landscapes. Other pieces explore affect to generate a new, post-commonwealth politics of place. Although diverse, this generation's output hints at an emergent geopolitical imagination that resists market-imposed models of national resilience, sustainability, and development in times of insecurity.


Presenter: Jerry Flores, UC San Francisco

Title: “Staff here let you get down:” The cultivation and co-optation of violence in a California juvenile detention center

Abstract: Girls today are more likely to be arrested for violent behavior than in previous decades. In the U.S. more girls are also serving time in secured detention for violent offenses than in years past. While scholars have explored changes in institutional responses to girls’ violent behavior, few scholars explore how institutions like detention centers actively promote violence among girls. In this presentation, I provide an ethnographic account of how violence among girls is cultivated in one a juvenile detention center in California. Drawing on field research conducted over 24 months, I illustrate how correctional officers and other staff encourage, condone and co-opt violence among girls. Staff members use fights and girls’ reputations as fighters to achieve the organizational goals of maintaining the safety, security and order in the institution.

Presenter: Juan Herrera, UCLA

Title: Revolution Interrupted: Racial and Spatial Effects of the 1969 Tax Reform Act

Abstract: This paper analyzes how the 1969 Tax Reform Act changed the political nature of Latino nonprofit mobilizations. Scholars of nonprofit organizations have argued that the 1969 Tax Reform act curtailed nonprofit political possibilities. Another set of scholarship portrays this reform as a federal policing of the growing power of private foundations. Few scholars, however, have analyzed the role of race in deliberations over the congressional reform and its effects. Drawing from oral histories, interviews with nonprofit leaders, and archival research, this paper argues that the tax reform was a racial act that targeted race-based nonprofit organizations. This paper analyzes how the 1969 Tax Reform was a regulatory response to both rising anti-racist militancy and the racial diversification of the electorate. Congress saw both of these contentious processes as an imminent apocalyptic racial “revolution” that challenged democratic institutions. Through the tax reform, the federal government forbade Mexican American and African American nonprofit organizations from engaging in any form of electoral politics—including voter registration projects and official endorsement of candidates. While the federal government strictly linked “politics” with electoral processes, in practice the anti-political mandate limited other kinds of political activity as nonprofit leaders feared that their actions would be deemed prohibited. I show how despite the non-political clause of the 1969 Tax Reform Act, nonprofit organizations found alternative ways to build political power and wield their authority and expertise.