Graduate students

Spring Graduate Research Colloquium II: Resilience in Transnational Communities

April 28, 2022
3:30 pmto5:00 pm

CLLAS Research Series

125 McKenzie

Alejandra Pedraza (Global Studies)

“The expansion of caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from a migrant-sending community in rural Mexico” 

Alejandra Pedraza is a second-year graduate student in the Global Studies department. She received her B.A. from the University of Colorado Boulder in Environmental Studies and Biology. During her undergraduate career, Alejandra immersed herself in various conservation and sustainability projects in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. This is where her passion for international development and Latin American affairs first developed. Upon graduating, Alejandra joined Peace Corps Mexico, where she worked until the COVID-19 pandemic forced her evacuation. 

For two years, Alejandra called a remote Mexican village in the Sierra Madre Occidental home. Through integration in an isolated village entirely dependent on remittances and living alongside the people directly impacted by the dynamics of transnational family life, particularly the women and children that remain behind, Alejandra discovered her passion for understanding Mexican American migration, transnational families, and the gendered costs of migration.  

Alejandra is currently working on a qualitative research study seeking to elucidate the ways the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding gendered caregiving responsibilities in remittance-dependent households in rural Mexico. In her research, Alejandra forefronts the social conditions of migration that have been exacerbated during the pandemic and the deep wellbeing implications these changes have for the mothers in her sample.  

David Peña (School of Art and Design)

“Ecotone” 

David Peña is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and cultural organizer from the border region between Tijuana and San Diego. I use the visual vocabulary of patterns as a way to contemplate personal and public occurrences and as a point of collaboration. I seek to connect my visual practice with my commitment to people and place, exploring ways to bridge community. I use my work as a vehicle for collaboration with artists engaged in diverse media, students and the general public. These collaborations have been realized as interventions with text, photography, murals, and self-publishing. 

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Friday, March 18th, 2022 Events, Graduate students No Comments

Spring Graduate Research Colloquium I: Tension, Gender, Poetry, and Song in Latin American Literature

April 14, 2022
3:30 pmto5:00 pm

CLLAS Research Series

125 McKenzie

Marina Penalosa (Romance Languages)

“An Intellectual Field in Tension. The Other Borges”   

Marina Penalosa is a PhD candidate in the Department of Romance Languages. Her dissertation “An Intellectual Field in Tension. The Other Borges” explores how Jorge Luis Borges’ lectures shaped him as a canonical Argentine writer, through the global evolution of his role in the intellectual field. The project seeks to address Borges’ efforts to occupy a privileged position in the public sphere in the microcosm of the cultural field. I analyze the context of the cultural events from the 1920s to the late 1980s in Argentina through the lenses of literary analysis and cultural sociology. Her presentation is the result of the archival work she did in Buenos Aires. With the support of the CLLAS scholarship she worked on the archives of the National Library to find traces of the cultural events of the public lectures in the city during the 1920’s and 1930’s. 

Elizabeth Sotelo (Romance Languages)

“Beyond Gender: Inequalities and Invisibilities Among Female Literary Chroniclers in Peru and Mexico”  

Elizabeth Sotelo is a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon. She obtained an M.A. degree in Hispanic Studies from the University of California Riverside and a B.A. in Spanish literature and linguistics from California State Polytechnic University Pomona. Her research interests are Latin American literature and culture from the 20th and 21st centuries (emphasis on Peru and Mexico), the chronicle genre, postcolonial studies, critical race studies, critical theory, feminist studies, and narratology. Currently, she is working on her dissertation “The Urban Literary Chronicle in Peru and Mexico (1999-2021): Inhabitants, Peripheries, Epistemic Decolonization”, which focuses on how selected chronicles render visible a decolonizing and political stand through their writing. 

Magela Baudoin (Romance Languages)

“Poetry and Popular Song in Matilde Casazola and Violeta Parra: The Journey of the Seed”   

Magela Baudoin is a Bolivian writer and journalist, author of the books “Mujeres de Costado” (Plural 2010), “El sonido de la H” (National Novel Award 2014-Bolivia), “La composición de la sal” (Gabriel García Márquez Hispano-American Short Story Prize-2015), and “Vendrá la muerte y tendrá tus ojos” (finalist for the VI Ribera del Duero-Páginas de Espuma Award in Spain-2020). Her work has been translated into English, Italian, Portuguese and Arabic. Together with Giovanna Rivero, she directs Editorial Mantis, specialized in publishing the work of Spanish-speaking women. In 2021 she received the Anna Seghers award. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Literature and Romance Languages at the University from Oregon (USA).

 

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Friday, February 18th, 2022 Events, Graduate students, Research No Comments

CLLAS Graduate Student Research Grants

March 4, 2022
12:00 pm

CLLAS calls for proposals for the 2022 Field Research in Latin America and 2022 Summer Research grants. You can watch a recording of our grant-writing workshop here.

2022 Field Research in Latin America

CLLAS invites graduate students to submit proposals for field research in Latin America (Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries). We expect to award at least three grants for up to $3,300 each to advance research for either master’s students and doctoral candidates. Find the full call at this linked PDF: https://cllas.uoregon.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2022-Call-for-Latin-American-Field-Research-Proposals-.pdf

2022 Summer Research Grant

In order to encourage and support interdisciplinary graduate student research in the areas of Latinx and Latin American Studies, CLLAS offers summer research support. We expect to award up to three summer grants for $1,500 each to advance research for either master’s or doctoral candidates. We are especially interested in projects that link Latinx Studies or Latin American Studies with other disciplines. Find the full call at this linked PDF: https://cllas.uoregon.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2022-Call-for-Grad-Proposals-Summer-Research-Grant.pdf

Application Deadline: 12:00 pm (Noon), Friday, March 4, 2022

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Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022 Funding, Graduate students, Research, Uncategorized No Comments

Grant-Writing Workshop for Graduate Students

February 1, 2022
12:00 pmto1:00 pm

Event Video

The Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies held its annual Grant Writing Workshop targeted toward graduate students on February 1, 2022. This workshop was led by CLLAS Director Chris Chávez and the CLLAS team.

You can watch a recording of our grant-writing workshop here.

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2021 CLLAS Notes Part 2

Graduate Research Reports

Lola Loustaunau and Polet Campos-Melchor each received a 2020 CLLAS Summer Research Grant.

From Disposability to Collective Care: Experiences of Migrant Essential Workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Lola Loustaunau, PhD candidate, Department of Sociology

Fruit packing workers organized in the independent union Trabajadores Unidos por la Justicia pose with researcher Lola Loustaunau after holding a vaccination event at their new union local, Yakima, WA, April 2021.

At the time I was about to begin the field work for my dissertation, COVID-19 became a worldwide pandemic. The workers whose experiences are the focus of my research—migrant women employed in the industrial processing of food including fruit, vegetables, meat, and baked goods—suddenly made national headlines as their workplaces became sites of some of the biggest virus outbreaks. As their situation rapidly changed, so did my own work: the research questions, the data collection methods, and my goals as an activist-scholar.

Working conditions in the food processing industry have historically been poor: long and physically demanding workdays, unpredictable schedules, low wages, and the highest accident rate in manufacturing. As outbreaks led to spikes in the number of infected workers (Dyal 2020; Lakhani 2020; Taylor, Boulos, and Almond 2020), industry and government responded by attempting to maintain the status quo, further deregulating the sector and failing to mandate any protections against outbreaks or infections (Commissioner of Food and Drugs – 2020; Memorandum United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2020; Executive Order 13917 2020).   

Food processing workers soon realized that while their work was essential, they were not. Expected to continue working with little or no protective gear, they faced increased workplace risks, new caregiving responsibilities at home, and limited access to public support or healthcare.

It was at this time that workers started organizing. Conversations on the processing line soon turned into Facebook groups and Whatsapp chats as a platform to share information about the virus, about who was getting sick, what the plant managers were doing or saying, about how to navigate a fragmented benefit system that was ill prepared to aid workers during this crisis. Workers reached out to organizations, advocates, and journalists.

Family members got involved: wives and husbands worried about their partners, young teens worried about their non-English speaking parents, neighbors worried about each other. I soon found myself joining these conversations, going to Zoom meetings with other advocates and organizers, and trying to figure out what my role as a researcher could be. While hesitant at first, I quickly understood that registering the workers’ experiences and their organizing efforts was important not only as part of a broader discussion on the U.S. food supply chain, but because helping workers to get their stories out could have immediate impacts on their situation.

Vegetable processing workers rally outside Twin City Foods, in Pasco, WA, demanding protections and hazard pay, October 2020.

Certainly, doing research during the COVID-19 outbreak had great challenges. For safety reasons I couldn’t do in-person actions with the workers until October; yet in the months prior, I spent most of my time trying to get in touch with workers and organizers, doing phone interviews, and collecting online data. Unlike my previous experiences doing qualitative research, this time around things were put together remotely.

By the time I was able to travel to the sites where most of the organizing was happening, I had established closer relations with some workers and organizations, so my work focused on expanding those connections. I participated in rallies and community forums, went to workers’ homes and met their families, attended testing events, and volunteered at vaccination clinics. I loaned my translation skills and transferred resources from the university to these communities by compensating workers for their time spent collaborating on my research. Instead of focusing on writing an academic article or a chapter, I prioritized putting together a public policy oriented report, which became the basis of my testimony at the Washington State Legislature when the food industry’s pandemic response was under discussion, and which I later presented alongside many of the workers over Zoom.

I found that discourses about essential work did not necessarily translate into making workers feel like heroes, but actually quite the opposite, with many expressing that they felt “disposable.” However, I also found that workers translated this feeling of disposability into an opportunity to struggle for better working conditions and to build new and expansive communities of care.

Workers at Allan Bros in Yakima create an altar for a co-worker who died due to COVID-19, November 2020.

Through my research I captured how workers at different plants experimented with different forms of resistance and organizing: from creating online groups to help each other apply for benefits, to massively walking out of their jobs, to striking for several weeks, to starting their own unions or joining existing ones. Workers built spaces for mourning their co-workers and processing the loss they were collectively experiencing. They helped each other by making and sharing masks and hand sanitizer, preparing food, and coordinating pop-up vaccination clinics and know-your-rights’ trainings. They expanded their networks and built alliances with farmworkers, grocery workers, and multiple community organizations. In so doing, food processing migrant workers reverted the feelings of disposability, fear, and anger brought by the employer’s response during the pandemic and created spaces of collective care. These actions also brought new emotions, this time allowing workers to feel strong, beautiful, energized, and excited.  

Based on this insight, in my dissertation I argue that unpacking the affective dimension of their working conditions and their collective organizing allows for seeing how these workers turned fear and anger into courage, and how they defied the structural oppression that had rendered them disposable. By highlighting the emotional dimension both of disposability and the struggle against it, we are able to gain a deeper understanding of what the past year has been for these workers in the front lines and how they have struggled, and continue to struggle, for their survival and the survival of their communities.

Lola Loustaunau is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology. Her research focuses on precarity, low-wage migrant workers, emotions, and collective organizing. She has received several awards for her dissertation work and will be a Wayne Morse Graduate Fellow for AY 2021-2022. She has recently co-authored: ‘No choice but to be essential: expanding dimensions of precarity during the COVID-19’ (Sociological Perspectives, 2021) and ‘Impossible choices: how workers manage unpredictable scheduling practices’ (Labor Studies Journal 2019). For a longer report on her work, “Essential Work, Disposable Workers.


Reciprocity in Conducting Fieldwork in Ciudad Juárez

by Polet Campos-Melchor, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology

After my 2019 summer fieldwork at Respetttrans, a trans asylum seeker shelter in Ciudad Juárez, I was inspired to return in summer 2020 to create a lotería with the community and a transfronteriza artist. The pandemic made the return impossible. While my summer 2019 fieldwork examined trans asylum seekers’ practices of care and mutual aid during their experience with the Remain in Mexico Policy in Ciudad Juarez, my 2020 summer fieldwork was set to document the lives of trans asylum seekers being celebrated in Juárez. With the support of the Center for Latino/a & Latin American Studies, I was able to finalize transcription from my 2019 research and conduct ten follow-up interviews with my interlocutors. This resulted in my master’s paper, submitted to the Department of Anthropology and approved in December 2020. In this newsletter post, I share an introduction to my 2019 summer fieldwork and how the lessons moved across borders and relations.

About a week into my fieldwork in Juárez, I met Grecia, a mother and nurse and the Rarámuri and Mennonite “mother” of Respetttrans. I had walked through Calle Hospital’s streets with Dr. Yolanda Leyva and Gabriela Muñoz, arriving at a bright pink house with a rainbow and trans flag hanging from the roof. This was Respetttrans, where Grecia had been awaiting our arrival. A tall, pale woman with nineties-style rolled bangs and warm brown eyes, Grecia welcomed us into the space. An active member of the LGBT community in Ciudad Juárez, Grecia told us that her goal is to keep LGBTQ+ migrants off the streets and get them into homes where they feel safe and welcome.

Two shelter members shape each others’ eyebrows. Next to them are the photos of Joha and Fiorela (captioned “No más muertes en el ICE (No moredeaths in ICE). Respetttrans-Ciudad Juárez, 2019.

By working towards building a reciprocal relationship with the LGBT+ community in Ciudad Juárez, I set my intentions on working closely with Respetttrans. Along with this feeling of caring for the house members came the responsibility of returning. After my first visit, I was tasked with bringing back items for the house members. Grecia asked for a new set of clothes for Leslie, a recent deportee, as well as a change of clothes for the two young boys of the house. Wily, a gay boy, also asked for a soccer ball. Two days later, I returned with all the items. One of the women was surprised that I had returned; she said reporters and other visitors do not.

Respetttrans is and continues to be a site that is frequented by nonprofits and government agencies who ask the residents about their struggles and repay them with a meal for their stories. There was a case when representatives from three different organizations arrived at the house on the same day. Community members said they felt like the house was a zoo and they were the animals. Although the girls joked, the sincerity in their eyes showed that they were hurt.

In another case in mid-August, I witnessed first-hand how rare it was for the autonomy or consent of migrants to be acknowledged. I was sitting in the living room with Courtney, Michele, Leslie, Minerva, Aneliz, and Andrés talking about foods we missed from home. Courtney was lying on one of the couches, closely watching Pose on my phone. Andrés continued to bring up chicken gizzards. When three guests entered with Grecia, we suddenly found ourselves in a group interview. The visitors were from an organization in the United States and were looking to fund spaces in Ciudad Juárez. I noted that consent for an interview had not been sought but presumed.

After that particular witnessing of the lack of consent or care given to the house members, I began to take photos of them on my polaroid to provide them with immediate copies. The women would pose, take pictures of each other with my camera, and then use the photos to decorate their living spaces. As I continued to visit them, I learned that collaborative relationships in the field require care and mutual support that center celebrating queer lives in the present.

Polet Campos-Melchor is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology and Graduate Certificate student in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Oregon. Her research explores how trans and lesbian migrants and scholars articulate and narrate strategies of love and care, expanding beyond only the imaginary into tangible strategies of survival. Polet is also a UO Promising Scholar. Her research has been funded by the Tinker Foundation, the UO Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, and the UO Center for the Study of Women in Society.

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Spring 2021 CLLAS Notes Part 1

Spring 2021 CLLAS Notes Part 3



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