This year’s events:
MLCP 2013 Spring Institute: “Rethinking Popular Cultures”
May 10-11, 2013
Friday-Folklore Building, 510 N. Fess Ave.
Saturday-Folklore Seminar Room, 501 N. Park Ave.
Soul Train Unbound: Rethinking the Current(s) of Diasporic Space and the Ethnographic Encounter
Dr. Andrea Queeley
Dept. of Global and Sociocultural Studies
Florida International University
April 15, 2013
The Minority Languages and Cultures Project was pleased to welcome Dr. Andrea Queeley to Indiana University on April 15, 2013. Dr. Queeley’s engaging talk was entitled “Soul Train Unbound: Rethinking the Current(s) of Diasporic Space and the Ethnographic Encounter” and drew faculty and graduate students from several departments, including Anthropology, American Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, History, and Education. Dr. Queeley received her PhD in Anthropology from the City University of New York Graduate Center is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. Her research is broadly concerned with African Diasporic subject formation, migration, and the negotiation of globalized structural inequalities.
Her talk at Indiana University focused on the possibilities for connection as well as the disjunctures of the ethnographic experience, particularly focusing on musical connections. She began by using Jay-Z and Beyonce’s recent trip to Cuba as an ideal moment to explore the possibilities of mutual recognition and misrecognition between two hyper-visible Black American celebrities and Black Cubans. She utilized Jay-Z’s line, “I done turned Havana into Atlanta” as an entry point to ask if this sort of encounter creates or simply capitalizes on diasporic space. Dr. Queeley then moved through her own fieldwork experiences around the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base among descendents of migrants from the British West Indies and Jamaica in particular. During her fieldwork she was surprised to learn that Black Cubans had been exposed to the music and dance of Black America through the iconic weekly variety show “Soul Train”, which ran from 1971-2006. This discovery opened up questions about the boundaries of the transnational social field and creation of diasporic space. These immigrants and their Cuban-born descendants were transnational social actors embedded within U.S. Empire via the integral role they played in the circulation of labor along a route that included the Guantánamo naval base. Soul Train thus served as a transnational media space that enabled connection through shared, albeit mediated, experience. This idea was linked to concepts of diasporic space that “provide space for universal Black self-recognition”. While highlighting multiple possibilities for connection and mutual recognition, Dr. Queeley also discussed the inherent dissonance of the ethnographic encounter. These disjunctures often include inequalities based on class, gender, and the possibilities of mobility.
Dr. Queeley’s talk was followed by a lively question and answer session, which touched on ideas of Blackness and mutual recognition. In particular, Dr. Queeley discussed other pop culture referents, musical genres, and social imaginaries that Black Cubans draw on in conceptualizing Blackness, which besides the United States and Soul Train, include Jamaica and Africa.
La cohabitation du français et du créole dans le système éducatif haïtien. Enjeux, défis et perspectives pour bilinguisme équilibré.
Rogéda Dorcé Dorcil
Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée
About the talk: Depuis l’Indépendance, le français a toujours demeuré, de facto, la langue officielle de la République d’Haïti. Langue de l’école, langue de l’administration, le français a toujours été perçu comme langue de la « classe dominante », langue de la « bourgeoisie intellectuelle », de « l’élite sociale ». Ainsi, est-il resté pendant longtemps une langue à grande attraction pour la grande majorité analphabète qui, créolophone unilingue, se sent obligée de consentir des efforts considérables pour pouvoir le faire apprendre à ses enfants pour leur assurer une promotion sociale. Cette situation a perduré de l’indépendance jusqu’à pratiquement 1979-1980, date de l’implantation d’une réforme éducative baptisée Réforme Bernard. Le créole, langue nationale, est toléré et même enseigné à l’école à la fois comme langue objet et langue d’enseignement, du moins en théorie. Cette décision a été des plus controversées même par les parents créolophones unilingues. Pour eux l’introduction du créole à l’école ne sera qu’une arme à double tranchant. Estimant leurs enfants être privés de l’accès au français, ils voient l’introduction du créole comme un « refus de la civilisation, de cette promotion sociale tant recherchée » à leur progéniture. La Réforme Bernard a donc été alimentée par toute une série de perceptions négatives qui vont l’empêcher d’atteindre son objectif : aboutir à un bilinguisme équilibré, français- créole malgré la consécration par la Constitution de 1987 du créole comme langue officielle à côté du français.
Cette conférence examinera le rôle que doivent jouer les institutions de la République d’Haïti, en particulier la Faculté de Linguistique de l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti, dans l’établissement, le développement et le maintien de ce bilinguisme équilibré désiré. Certains défis doivent impérativement être relevés pour parvenir à ce bilinguisme équilibré, en particulier :
1-Réévaluation de la Réforme Bernard en ce qui a trait à l’enseignement et la pratique des langues en présence;
2-Conception et élaboration de manuels scolaires et de guides pour les maitres
3- Formation des futurs maîtres et des maîtres en exercice.
About the speaker: Rogéda Dorcé Dorcil is dean of the Faculté de Linguistique Appliquée of the State University of Haiti where he has taught since 1995. He has degrees from the Université de Franche Comté (Besançon) in France and the Université de Mons-Hainaut in Belgium. His particular research interest is lexicography. He has participated in the preparation of several dictionaries, including the current Dictionnaire scolaire bilingue, the first bidirectional bilingual dictionary destined for classroom use in Haiti. He served as field interviewer for the Atlas linguistique d’Haïti.
Dr. Claudia Leal
Department of History
Universidad de los Andes
March 21, 2013
On March 21, 2013 Dr. Claudia Leal visited Indiana University through an invitation from the Minority Languages and Cultures Project (MLCP) to give a presentation entitled, “Freedom in the Jungles of the Pacific Coast of Colombia”. Her talk was attended by numerous faculty and graduate students as well as Dr. Jason McGraw’s “Modern Latin America” course and was followed by a lively question and answer session with faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. Dr. Leal is currently an Associate Professor of History at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia and she received her PhD in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley in 2004. Her research focuses on the formation and the present state of peasant societies in rainforest environments, and on the role of racial categorization in shaping Latin American societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her work is thus both environmental history and post-emancipation studies, which refer to the fate of societies and Afro-descendant people after slavery.
The first half of Dr. Leal’s talk at IU focused on why self-purchase was the prevailing method in which slaves gained freedom in the Pacific Region of Colombia. She described the tenuous relationship that slave-owners and overseers had to slaves in a region where the vast majority of the population was Black and there was little or no police or army presence. In this situation, slaves used their considerable leverage in order to gain two days off a work a week. During these days slaves were allowed to do exploratory mining in which they kept whatever gold they found. Slaves thus were able to earn the income that in many cases led to the purchase of freedom for themselves or for family members. The limited data available shows that 58-68% of freed slaves gained their freedom from self-manumission, compared to 25-50% in other regions in Latin America. Dr. Leal’s research thus challenges prevailing conceptions of slavery in Latin America in which self-manumission plays only a minor role in gaining freedom.
The second half of Dr. Leal’s talk focused on the post abolition period and asked the question: what does freedom mean in a context where former slaves continue doing the same type of work? Dr. Leal argued that freedom in this context meant autonomy to determine how, where, and when to work. Autonomy in the Pacific Region meant access to a variety of resources in the vast environment, including mines, forests (with rubber and vegetable ivory), strips of agricultural land, as well as rivers, swamps and oceans for fishing. Dr. Leal thus argued that agricultural land in Colombia was not as critical as in other areas where former slaves mainly became subsistence farmers. In the Pacific Region, agriculture was only one of many forms of work practiced by former slaves, with mining, fishing, and various extractive industries often playing a more prominent role in maintaining the household economy. Dr. Leal’s research asks historians to rethink notions of what the Latin American peasantry looked like by showing that the peasantry in the Pacific developed a multifaceted economic approach based on access to the means of production of a variety of extractive industries as well as subsistence farming.
Finally Dr. Leal connected autonomy and access to the means of production that Afro-Colombians developed during the colonial and post-emancipation periods to the conception of Black as an ethnicity in Colombian policy today. Colombia is one of few nations in Latin America that recognizes Afro-descendent group rights in a manner similar to indigenous rights. These rights are based on ideas of collectivity, shared history, knowledge, and traditional productive practices. Afro-Colombians have drawn successfully on these shared characteristics in order to be recognized in ethnic, rather than, racial terms.
Graduate Student Roundtable
On Friday, November 30, the Minority Languages and Cultures Project held its fall 2012 Graduate Student Roundtable. The Roundtable featured Eric Bindler, an MA/PhD student in the Department of Ethnomusicology and Jennifer Boles, a PhD student in the History Department. The Roundtable emphasized both the fieldwork experience as well as the research itself. The presentations were followed by a lively question and answer session among the presenters and the audience of fellow grad students and faculty members.
Eric Bindler presented on fieldwork conducted during July and August of 2012 in Costa Rica. Eric’s research centers on questions of racial identity in Costa Rica and how racial relations work out through music, especially reggae. The emergence of reggae as national culture challenges Costa Rica’s historical imaginary of itself as a White nation. Eric discussed his intention to explore where the reggae scene locates Blackness, whether in Limón, Jamaica, or Africa and how different geographical imaginaries of Blackness invoke different concepts of identity in Costa Rica.
Jennifer Boles presented on her research, which looks at Mexico City’s counterculture film scene from 1968-1989. Jennifer spoke on how her project had developed and changed dramatically due to two chance events. First, she gained access to the personal archive and developed a friendship with one of the leaders of the underground film movement, Sergio Garcia. Second, Garcia unexpectedly died. Upon his death she was looked to as the “expert.” She has adapted to this new role as a sort of personal biographer of Garcia by including film more heavily in her own project and working to document the film and rock music scene from this period.
Dr. Quetzil Castañeda
Lecturer, Center for
Latin American and Caribbean Studies
November 28, 2012
Unitarian Universalist Church
With December 21, 2012 nearing, Dr. Quetzil Castañeda headed to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington to give a community presentation. Dr. Castañeda’s talk attempted to demystify the origins and nature of the current fascination with the Maya, their calendar, and the beliefs about prophecies for the upcoming solstice on December 21, 2012. After describing briefly some of these Maya practices and beliefs, Dr. Castañeda investigated the intersection of these beliefs with New Age spirituality. He argued that New Age spiritualists have misappropriated so-called “Mayan” 2012 prophecies. Central to Dr. Castañeda’s talk was the notion that New Age spiritualists have confused Maya systems of marking time, “counts” with predictive calendars. He explained how the Maya had many different ways of counting and marking time. However, there was only one which indicates the date December 21, 2012 and this count is neither a true calendar nor a predictive device. New Age spiritualists have therefore misappropriated Maya ideas and invented new purposes for them.
Dr. Castañeda argued that the central purpose of the New Age appropriations, whether they predicted the end of the world or simply a change of consciousness was to make the Maya into a figure of salvation and redemption. Dr. Castañeda connected this idea with the trope of the “Noble Savage” who will die away, but will pass on redemptive knowledge of survival to Western civilization first.
A lively discussion with the 35 or so community members in attendance followed Dr. Castañeda’s talk. Many of the participants were well-informed regarding New Age spirituality and the “Mayan” prophecies in particular and engaged Dr. Castañeda with thoughtful and provocative questions. Dr. Castañeda also gave a similar talk at Harmony High School on November 30.
Indigenous Airwaves: The Mapuche Struggle against Acoustic Colonialism
October 19, 2012
Dr. Luis Carcamo-Huechante visited IU to give a presentation entitled “Indigenous Airwaves: The Mapuche Struggle against Acoustic Colonialism.” This talk was part of a broader research project that analyzes the linkages between the performance of sound identities and the politics of Mapuche nationhood (wallmapu) that constitute the metanarrative of Mapuche radio programs in both Chile and Argentina.
Dr. Carcamo-Huechante’s presentation focused on how radio is used among indigenous Mapuche people in Argentina and Chile to strengthen conceptions of Mapuche identity, build ties across urban-rural as well as national divides through shared listening experiences, and to challenge, albeit in an episodic, performative manner the acoustic colonialism of radio in Argentina and Chile. He emphasized that radio plays a central role in struggles to preserve and revitalize native forms of oral communication as well as the more explicitly political objective of “voicing” indigenous rights.
His talk focused on two radio broadcasts: Wixage anai!, a program which airs on Radio Tierra in Santiago, Chile and the radio shorts created by the Mapurbe Communication Team from Bariloche in Argentina’s Río Negro province. The radio program, Wixage anai!, which can be translated in a variety of ways, such as “Stand up!” and “Rise up!” was created by Mapuche educators and cultural promoters in Santiago in 1993. This program compiles and broadcasts oral Mapuche testimonies and music and airs weekly.
The Mapurbe Communication Team formed in 2003. Unlike Wixage anai!, it does not have a radio program of its own. Rather, Mapurbe produces radio shorts, Los Micros, of 3-5 minutes that are distributed to various radio programs. These radio shorts serve as “interruptions” in the neoliberal radio climate of Argentina. The radio shorts appropriate the mixed style of a video clip, interweaving several themes, such as ancestral legends, family stories, music, political struggles, land rights, and community activism into a polyphonic assemblage of narratives and voices.
Dr. Carcamo-Huechante concluded that both radio programs are drawing upon native oral traditions in an effort to create an indigenous public sphere of radio. These radio programs interweave political activism with cultural revitalization and thus perform a dissonant note in the colonized acoustic sphere of Chilean and Argentine radio.
The Social Construction of “Foreign” Sounds in Quechua-Influenced Spanish
Dr. Anna Babel
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Ohio State University
September 7, 2012
Dr. Anna Babel is assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Ohio State University. She is a sociolinguist and a linguistic anthropologist whose research draws on quantitative and qualitative data from a Quechua-Spanish contact region in central Bolivia. Dr. Babel investigates how linguistic features are linked to social representations and the way that complex social factors are integrated into language structure. Her talk drew a diverse crowd of faculty and students from various academic disciplines including linguistics, romance languages, anthropology, folklore, and education.
In her talk entitled, “The Social Construction of ‘Foreign’ Sounds in Quechua-Influenced Spanish” Dr. Babel explored questions of language contact, foreignness, and social context. She focused on research conducted in the valley region of central Bolivia among Spanish speakers who speak little or no Quechua. Dr. Babel discussed how and why speakers of Andean Spanish use aspirates and ejectives of Quechua origin despite their dissimilarity to the canonical Spanish sound system. She played several recorded examples of both of these linguistic features to illustrate their use, attention-grabbing quality, and dissimilarity to Spanish. Dr. Babel suggested that Spanish speakers use these Quechua origin sounds and loanwords consciously to index ideologies linked to Quechua and Quechua speakers as well as a general concept of ‘foreignness.’ She noted that under this construction many dissimilar elements are lumped together: a foreign sound could be classified as Quechua sounding, from La Paz, or English. Dr. Babel also demonstrated comically that when people wish to mimic English, they fill their speech with these Quechua origin aspirates and ejectives, which are not present in English. Dr. Babel’s research also suggests that Spanish speakers are more likely to utilize these Quechua origin loanwords and sounds in familiar contexts as opposed to official or institutional contexts, further reinforcing the notion that these sounds are used consciously to draw a particular affective stance.