Stefanie Graeter joined CLAS in September 2017. She holds a BS in environmental sciences from the University of California, Berkeley and an MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Davis. Her research in contemporary Peru analyzes lead exposure science and politics as a key nexus of ethical disagreement about Peru’s transnational mining industry, one of the world’s top metal commodity producers. Her book manuscript, Mineral Incorporations, ethnographically conceptualizes contemporary environmental politics and humanitarianism within spaces of presumed ecological ruin; there, profound entanglements of labor and life-making projects expose the limits of prevalent forms of environmentalism and human health. Her work integrates environmental and medical anthropology approaches and engages with cross-disciplinary social science and humanities scholarship on Latin America, racial capitalism, political ecology, religion and ethics, and social movements. At UChicago, she teaches the MA Proseminar in Latin American Studies as well as three courses related to her research interests.
Winter 2018: Science in the South: Decolonial Approaches to the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in Latin America LACS 24706/34706
This seminar will bridge anthropologies and histories of science, technology, and medicine to Latin American decolonial thought. Throughout Latin America, techno-scientific objects and practices, with their presumed origin in the Euro-Atlantic North, are often complexly entangled with neo-imperial projects of development and modernization that elongate social forms of colonization into the present. Technoscience and its objects, however, can also generate new creative, political, and life-enhancing potentials beyond or despite their colonial resonances, or even provide tools to ongoing struggles for decolonization. Together, seminar participants will explore what a decolonial approach to the study of science, technology, and medicine in the Global South, particularly in Latin America, has been and could become and how decolonial theory can inflect our own disciplinary, conceptual, and political commitments as anthropologists of technoscience.
Winter 2018: Corporeal Collisions: The Catholic Church and Life Politics in Latin America LACS 26414
Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato si’ proclaimed an eco-ethical vision of Catholicism squarely aligned with environmental and anti-capitalist agendas the world over. Echoing a past of liberation theology in Latin America, Pope Francis has fortified leftist resistances to ecologically destructive practices, often already allied with local Catholic priests and institutions. On the other side of the political spectrum, however, Opus Dei and other factions of the church align themselves with the agenda of the right, including opposition to LGBT and abortion rights legislation of the past decade. The aim of this course will be to historicize this complex and heterogeneous relationship between the Catholic church and Latin American life politics. Considering its wide range of influences, the course will hone in on the relation the church has had on the conceptualization of corporeal life, which unites its involvement in both ecological and procreative politics in Latin America today.
Spring 2018: Latin American Extractivisms LACS 26416
This course will survey the historical antecedents and contemporary politics of Latin American extractivisms. While resource extraction in Latin America is far from new, the scale and transnational scope of current “neoextractivisms” have unearthed unprecedented rates of profit as well as social conflict. Today’s oil wells, open-pit mines, and vast fields of industrial agriculture have generated previously unthinkable transformations to local ecologies and social life, while repeating histories of indigenous land dispossession in the present. Yet parallel to neo-extractive regimes, emergent Latin American social movements have unleashed impassioned and often unexpected forms of local and transnational resistance. Readings in the course will contrast cross-regional trends of extractive economic development and governance with fine-grained accounts of how individuals, families, and communities experience and respond to land dispossession, local and transregional conflict, and the ecological and health impacts of Latin American extractivisms.
Miguel Caballero Vazquez, Collegiate Assistant Professor, Humanities
Caballero's academic background is in linguistics and literature, which he complemented with cultural and architectural studies during his PhD (Princeton University, 2017). He studies how public and private spaces—monumentality, domesticity, and intimacy—are constructed in 20th and 21st century literature, architecture, art ,and urban planning. He is currently completing a book manuscript, Monumental Anxieties, on the controversy of monumentality and the reinvention of monuments between the 1920s and 1970s. He argues that while the monumental scale of construction was viewed with suspicion in Europe after the totalitarian experiences, it was embraced by countries such as Mexico and Brazil as a symbol of their aesthetic independence. He also shows how both capitalist and socialist states redefined the role of monuments: instead of keeping societies rooted in their past, monuments were built to transform communities and embrace the ideals of an utopian future.
Ryan Jobson, Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar (2017–2019), Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Anthropology (2019– )
Jobson is a social scientist and Caribbean cultural critic trained in anthropology and African American Studies. His research and teaching engage issues of energy and extractive resource development, technology and infrastructure, states and sovereignty, and histories of racial capitalism in the colonial and postcolonial Americas. His first book manuscript, Deepwater Futures: Sovereignty at Risk in a Caribbean Petrostate, is an ethnographic study of fossil fuel industries and postcolonial state building in Trinidad and Tobago. Jobson examines the disintegration of creole nationalist and state socialist visions of Caribbean modernity alongside a valorization of risk as a hallmark of neoliberal governance. A second research project will comprise a historical ethnography of oil and bauxite development in the Guianas: Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. This research traces the emergence of the Guianas as an area of strategic development following the nationalization of oil assets in neighboring Venezuela.
Stuart McManus, Postdoctoral Researcher (2016–2018), Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge (SIFK)
McManus is an historian of global empire with a particular focus on Latin America and Iberian Asia. He received his PhD in history from Harvard University in 2016. His first book project “Empire of Eloquence: Humanism and Iberian Global Expansion” argues that the classical rhetorical tradition was a key technology of empire and evangelization in the early modern Americas and Asia that can be only understood fully from a global perspective. This project relies on archival work undertaken in 13 countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. He has published widely on the cultural history of Latin America, ethnohistory, and the classical tradition. At Chicago, he teaches courses on Mexico in global context.
Danielle Roper, Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar (2016–2018), Department of Romance Languages & Literatures
Roper graduated with a PhD from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at New York University in 2015 where she defended her dissertation "Inca Drag Queens and Hemispheric Blackface: Contemporary Blackface and Drag performance from the Andes to Jamaica." Currently, she is preparing her book manuscript by expanding the scope of her dissertation. Her book develops the concept of “hemispheric blackface” to examine the role of parodic performance in upholding or countering discourses of racial democracy, mestizaje, and non-racialism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Challenging traditional geographic paradigms, it uses Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica as case studies in order to investigate the function of blackface and drag performance in different locales and to argue that these representations of blackness are not unique; they are part of a regional network embedded in global economies of representation.
Fidel Tavárez, Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar (2016–2018), Department of History
Fidel Tavárez holds a PhD in history from Princeton University. His area of study is the intellectual, cultural, and administrative history of the Spanish Empire, with a particular focus on the eighteenth-century Bourbon Reforms. More broadly, he is interested in understanding how and why commerce became a matter of state in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This question has propelled him to study the origins of political economy, colonialism, imperial rivalry, globalization, and international law. He will transform his dissertation into a book manuscript, tentatively titled "The Imperial Machine: The Invention of the Spanish Commercial Empire, c. 1740–1808." This project investigates the rise of a new imperial program among officials who served in the main governing institutions of the Spanish Monarchy.