Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Abstract: Participants in this roundtable will discuss how ethnography can intimately engage large-scale political and economic phenomena that earn significant media attention as sources of crisis by grounding them in the complexity and messiness of the ordinary. Here, we convene authors of newly published ethnographies of the Caribbean and Latin America, including Haiti, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, and the US-Mexico border. These books offer new insights into ongoing struggles for the good life among Caribbean and Latin American populations, whose lives have long been subject to international media distortion. This roundtable puts the authors in conversation with other anthropologists and audience members to focus on themes that emerge across the books: migration, health intervention; social inequalities; human rights; gender; race; and crisis, humanitarianism, and disaster. A key focus of the discussion will be the possibilities for new approaches to writing about and thinking about these themes inside and outside academic settings. This roundtable will critically engage with the main themes of each of the books and will discuss the challenges and possibilities that emerge from the methodological and narrative approaches to intimate ethnography. Newly published books up for discussion include Ieva Jusionyte’s Threshold: Emergency Responders on the US-Mexico Border; Sean Mitchell’s Constellations of Inequality: Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil; Daniel Renfrew’s Life without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay; Greg Beckett’s There Is No More Haiti: Life and Death in Port-au-Prince; and Amy Cooper’s State of Health: Pleasure and Politics in Venezuelan Health Care under Chávez. The chair and discussants are uniquely poised to engage these works in roundtable discussion, having also published ethnographies of Latin American politics and social life in the past year (chair and discussants’ books include Wendy Vogt’s Lives in Transit: Violence and Intimacy on the Migrant Journey; Florence Babb’s Women’s Place in the Andes: Engaging Decolonial Feminist Anthropology; and Ben Junge’s Cynical Citizenship: Gender, Race, and Political Subjectivity in Porto Alegre, Brazil).