Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Working with community members is the crux of ethnographic research in dynamic economic, social, political and environmental milieux. Whether we refer to these individuals as informants, friends, or family, we anthropologists are increasingly taking a collaborative approach to scholarship, be this through formal agreements, co-authorship, or more tacit relationships that endeavor to protect locals’ identities. In some cases, this includes advocating for social justice or documenting cultural resistance through local narratives. In others, we document the realities of daily life and lived experiences. In a more applied context, we work collaboratively with local residents, including them directly in the design and implementation of projects. Each approach is applicable in Mexico, with its’ long history of anthropological inquiry with local and global dimensions that moves from the pioneering rural studies conducted by Robert Redford and Alfonso Villa Rojas (1937), Ralph Beals (1945) and Oscar Lewis (1951) to myriad studies of urbanization, and migration across international borders. Building on this foundation, the authors in this session explore a range of contemporary issues that researchers encounter in the field, including the vicissitudes that emerge in the sensitive area of gendered violence (Whitaker), tensions related to tourism and state policies around an archaeological site (Castañeda), ways that proximity and distance shape evolving fieldwork relationships (Brulotte), collaborative anthropology with coastal populations coping with climate change (Wood), and links between schooling, formal and informal employment (Howell). These papers that embrace personal, community, national and global concerns about representation, social justice, ethics, and economic precarity ultimately remind us of the importance of establishing connections and relationships in the field. Collectively, they reify the importance of reciprocity and shared knowledge as essential elements of the research process and in our interactions with members of our research communities.