Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Abstract: The roundtable centers on what it means to be an ethnographer producing knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region facing constant shifts in political, economic, and ecological “climates.” Contemplating the ethics and racial politics of traveling and doing research abroad, the roundtable calls attention to the power and privilege that permit ethnographers to enter people’s lives, ask intimate questions, and publish these disclosures. Focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean, the roundtable asks: Why this place? What keeps them coming back? What role do they play in producing narratives of inequality, uneven development, and global spectacle? Speaking from the intersections of race, class, and gender, the panelists explore the hubris and nostalgia that motivate returning again and again to a particular place. Through personal stories, they examine their changing ideas of Latin America and the Caribbean and how they have shaped the people they’ve become, as writers, teachers, and activists. Their stories, in a sense, are an accounting of how to negotiate and resist reproducing empire. The roundtable emerges from a collection of essays forthcoming in the book, Detours: Travel and the Ethics of Research in the Global South (University of Arizona Press 2019), which challenges dominant ways of touring, seeing, and knowing. The panelists consider how first encounters—those initial, awkward attempts to learn about a culture and a people—evolved into enduring and critical engagements. Through critical, personal reflections of travel and tourism, the panelists grapple with legacies of cultural imperialism, struggles for justice, and efforts to build lasting and collaborative relationships.