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Maintenance — Cultural Anthropology
"Designed worlds are produced and maintained by human labor. As such, maintenance labor is a key site through which ethnographers might rethink the design of our own research.

* * *

Living in Ladera Heights
The black Beverly Hills
Domesticated paradise
Palm trees and pools
The water’s blue
Swallow a pill
Keepin’ it surreal

—Frank Ocean

In “Sweet Life,” the artist Frank Ocean sings of the affluent Los Angeles black enclave of Ladera Heights. He describes life for the city’s young middle-class black inhabitants as insulated and undisturbed: the sweet life.

A meter shift in Ocean’s vocals and music encroaches on the fiction of this “domesticated paradise.” The veneer of an unblemished pool and of svelte skirted Mexican palms is undone by the song’s chorus: “You’ve had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born.” Ocean’s analysis of a black middle-class subject works to make visible immigrant maintenance labor.

In Ramiro Gomez’s acclaimed series of artworks Happy Hills, the serenity of affluent West Los Angeles is similarly recast by making visible the unmarked labor of Latina and Latino immigrant laborers. Gomez, who worked as a nanny, plants life-sized cardboard cutouts of gardeners on the sidewalk hedges of Beverly Hills mansions and inserts domestic workers into the immaculate kitchens shown in the pages of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens.

Gomez and Ocean make palpable the relationship across Los Angeles’s suburbs between affluent and working-class, leisured and laboring subjects. In their works, disparate social and material worlds overlap by making explicit the maintenance labor performed by workers who are themselves alienated from the very places they enrich.

* * *

How is maintenance work, which is to say life-creating and time-freeing labor (such as the domestic and gardening labor of Latina and Latino immigrant workers), a site from which to theorize ethnography and design?

Maintenance, as Ocean and Gomez highlight, is the work of fiction. It is the repeated labor that creates a neat story about the way things naturally appear to be. Ethnography—as the practice of approaching material reality—is itself a practice of repetition, from repeated travels to the field and reconsulting with field notes to the writing and rewriting of a supposed reality. Maintenance labor, like ethnographic narratives, produce an image of the way things supposedly are by erasing the trace of its constant reworking; that is to say, it makes invisible the labor necessary for its construction. In the case of maintenance work, as Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (2014) argues, labor is made invisible through its gendering and racialization. In the case of ethnography, on the other hand, the author works to remove their labor from the frame so as to represent an unvarnished texture of cultural difference. Or, as Kamala Visweswaran (1994, 1) puts it, the supposed division between fiction and ethnography “breaks down if we consider that ethnography, like fiction, constructs existing or possible worlds, all the while retaining the idea of an alternate ‘made’ world.”

Maintenance, for gardeners and domestic workers, involves the constant reworking of a lawn or the repeated wiping down of a kitchen counter—week after week, sometimes day after day. Conceiving of maintenance as the material accumulation of labor, resulting in well-fed plants or well-fed children, echoes what Keith Murphy and George Marcus (2013, 258) identify as “the complex processes” that designers and ethnographers undertake, which are “almost entirely obscured by the form of their products.” For maintenance, as for design and ethnography, the final products “receive most of the attention from those who consume them” (Murphy and Marcus 2013, 258). Yet there is a surplus contained in the seemingly invisible labor of maintenance.

For Latina and Latino immigrant gardeners, maintenance also means mantenimiento, a practice of organizing days into routes (rutas) and labor sites into divisions of labor shaped by differences in legal status, ethnicity, age, and ability between gardening company owners and their ayudantes or peónes (hired helpers). Mantenimiento reveals a practice of working around the designs of affluent gated neighborhoods, congested Southern California highways, imperatives of state exclusion, and the demands of homeowners and their plants. Mantenimiento challenges the naturalization of racialized and gendered labor, which forecloses the possibility of certain subjects being represented and casts laborers’ repeated reworkings as exacting and skilled labor.

Maintenance is the constant repetition of life-creating labor. As Kalindi Vora (2015) notes, reproductive and affective labor also contains traces of workers’ life activity that, although alienated from the laborers’ social world in order to enrich the lives of others, may retain a collection of stories and affective connections that happen in the service of others’ needs and that, for gardeners and domestic workers, occur in homes designed for others. Sometimes laborers take in excess of the demands of their labor, whether this occurs in the form of a gardener taking a botón of a succulent to reshape the landscape of their own or a domestic worker building a bond with an employer’s child; mantenimiento is attuned to the life that occurs in places where it is said not to exist.

* * *

My interest in maintenance as a concept that raises questions about ethnography and design arises from my experiences as a gardener and longtime manager of a small gardening company in Orange County. As a researcher, the parallels between my own repeated practices of maintenance labor and the repeated practices I employ in representing gardening laborers’ sociality are tethered to laborers’ careful design of their labor and lives."
maintenance  salvadorzárate  ethnography  design  anthropology  2018  via:shannon_mattern  labor  work  domesticworkers  gardening  gardeners  latinos  us  california  frankocean  laderaheights  losangeles  beverlyhills  westlosangeles  fiction  spanish  español  kalindivora  kamalavisweswaran  keithmurphy  georgemarcus  pierrettehondahneu-sotelo  socal 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Harvest of Empire – Harvest of Empire
[Available on YouTube, for now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyncOYTZfHE ]

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_of_Empire:_A_History_of_Latinos_in_America ]

"The Untold Story of Latinos in America

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies 
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.”
Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that reveals the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S.

As Juan González says at the beginning of the film “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists María Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada."
film  documentary  us  history  immigration  latinamerica  puertorico  mexico  guatemala  honduras  juangonzález  cuba  nicaragua  elsalvador  rigobertamenchú  jessejackson  anthonyromero  junotdíaz  lorenzomeyer  maríahinojosa  geraldorivera  2011  martínespada  luisenrique  dominicanrepublic  latinos  imperialism  politics  policy  foreignpolicy  braceros  wwii  ww2  civilrights  race  racism  migration  communism  redscare  centralamerica  caribbean  colonialism  socialism  capitalism  fidelcastro  rafaeltrujillo  spanish-americanwar  inequality  exploitation  sugar  cotton  revolution  resistance  fulgenciobatista  dictatorships  oppression  deportation  texas  california  newmexico  arizona  mexican-americanwar  nevada  colorado  florida  nyc  óscarromero  harrytruman  democracy  jacoboárbenz  unitedfruitcompany  eisenhower  cia  intervention  maya  ethniccleansing  land  ownership  civilwar  iran-contraaffair  ronaldreagan  sandinistas  contras  war  bayofpigs  refugees  marielboatlift  1980  jimmycarter  language  spanish  español  miami  joaquínbalaguer  hectortruji 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Latino Cultures in the US — Google Arts & Culture
"Discover the contributions and experiences of Latinos in the United States"

[via: "Google Just Launched One of the Largest Digital Collections of Latino Art & History"
http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/google-latino-cultures-in-the-us/

"In 1969, Raphael Montañez Ortiz founded El Museo del Barrio to provide a platform for the Latino art that mainstream museums ignored. Since then, things have changed. This fall, for example, LA museums will showcase an unprecedented number of exhibitions that explore the connections between Latin America and Los Angeles. But despite these strides, we still remain woefully underrepresented at these institutions. For years, Latino members of Congress have pushed for a national Latino museum (though the idea first emerged in the mid-1990s) without success. Because we also don’t often see ourselves accurately depicted in film, media, and even in US history classes across the country, many Latinos aren’t able to access their own histories. But a new Google Arts & Culture collection is hoping to correct this imbalance. Launched on September 7, Latino Cultures in the US is one of the largest digital collections of Latino art, culture, and history.

Google collaborated with about 50 institutions, including the Smithsonian Latino Center, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, California State Archives, and Miami Dade College. The collection features more than 2,500 pieces of art through 90 exhibits. (Google is also creating curriculums so that more students can learn about Latino history, the company reports.) The digital collection is impressive and much-needed, but it’s still incomplete because it doesn’t capture every facet of our identities."]
latinos  art  arts  culture  digital  collections  history  us 
october 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: A Chronicler of the State, in His Own Words - The New York Times
"Here are just a few highlights from Mr. Starr’s prose and interviews:

On recurring natural disasters (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 1993)
Southern California has used technology to materialize an imagined society of garden cities and suburbs. Now and then, it must pay a price for its reordering of the environment.

On diversity (San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 10, 2000):
Is there any people on the planet, any language, any religion not represented in California this very morning? ... This diversity, then, is the persistent DNA code of California.

On California’s rising Latino population (New York Times, March 31, 2001):
The Anglo hegemony was only an intermittent phase in California’s arc of identity, extending from the arrival of the Spanish.

On the Central Valley (“Coast of Dreams,” 2004):
Mesopotamia, the rice fields of China, the Po Valley: the Central Valley stood in a long line of irrigation cultures which had, in turn, given birth to civilization itself.

On California at the millennium (“California: A History,” 2005):
California had long since become one of the prisms through which the American people, for better and for worse, could glimpse their future.

On the drought (The New York Times, April 4, 2005):
Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here.

On the Golden Gate Bridge (“Golden Gate,” 2010):
Like the Parthenon, the Golden Gate Bridge seems Platonic in its perfection, as if the harmonies and resolutions of creation as understood by mathematics and abstract thought have been effortlessly materialized through engineering design.
"
kevinstarr  california  diversity  socal  demographics  technology  history  identity  2017  2010  2005  2004  2001  2000  1993  drought  environment  goldengatebridge  engineering  infrastructure  mesopotamia  irrigation  civilization  society  latinos  future 
january 2017 by robertogreco
National Portrait Gallery | Face to Face blog: Telling the Latino Story through Portraiture
"Taína Caragol, curator for Latino art and history, has only been at the National Portrait Gallery for two years, but visitors are already sensing her influence through recent acquisitions to the collection and in popular exhibitions, such as “Portraiture Now: Staging the Self.”

Committed to raising the visibility of Latino figures in U.S. history as well as Latino portrait artists, she has acquired more than eighty portraits, among them images of writer Sandra Cisneros and singer Marc Anthony. Her effort is part of a Smithsonian-wide initiative to integrate the story of Latinos in our national museums and pave the way for other underrepresented cultures.

Many of the images that Taína has acquired are groups of photographic portraits that document figures within specific Latino communities. A one-of-a-kind portfolio by ADÁL (a.k.a. Adál Maldonado) features crucial figures of the Puerto Rican diaspora, from actors Raúl Juliá and Rita Moreno, to trombonist Willie Colón, fashion illustrator Antonio López, and poet Pedro Pietri. Paying homage to the Nuyorican (New York–Puerto Rican) literary tradition that emerged in the 1970s and its alternation of Spanish and English, ADÁL titled this portfolio Los Portraits.

Continuing in the vein of cataloguing important personalities, George Rodríguez’s photographic series records Chicanos and West Coast Latinos who have distinguished themselves for their work in the performing arts, and on behalf of public education. Among the portraits are actors Anthony Quinn and Edward James Olmos and educators Sal Castro and Jaime Escalante.

In July, Taína will present her first historical show for the Portrait Gallery, “One Life: Dolores Huerta”(on view July 3, 2015–May 15, 2016). Huerta, an activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association in 1962 with César Chávez, quickly became a major force behind the United Farm Workers union a few years later. Although Chávez was the public face of their campaign, Huerta was instrumental in lobbying for the rights of California migrant workers (most of whom were of Mexican and Filipino descent), protesting hazardous working conditions, negotiating contracts with growers, and pressing for passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975.

In the mid-1960s she was one of the main strategists behind the national grape boycott, which called on consumers to stop buying grapes from growers who refused to cooperate with the union. She was the first woman in U.S. history to spearhead such a movement and now, at age eighty-five, she continues to work for justice and reform.

The exhibition features photographs of Huerta as a young girl in Stockton, California; her early years as a volunteer for the Community Service Organization of California, run by her mentor, Fred Ross; championing the rights of farm workers with Chávez in the early 1960s with the National Farm Workers Association; during the founding of the United Farm Workers; and raising a “Huelga” (“Strike”) banner. Also included in the exhibition are items from the farm workers’ movement, such a flags, pins, boycott posters, and flyers.

The mother of eleven children, Huerta saw no barrier between her family and work. She believed that women were essential to the fight in the struggle against injustice: “People are poor so the whole family works together and the whole family strikes together and pickets together. . . . We are nonviolent, and the women bring a lot of dignity to our movement.”

Expect to see more of Latino art and culture at the Portrait Gallery as Taína’s contributions go on view. She is hoping that that visitors will start to make interesting connections among the works, so that a portrait of Puerto Rico’s first governor, Luis Munoz Marín, will generate discussion about the migration of Puerto Ricans to the United States, which will in turn lead them to ponder the image of Sonia Sotomayor, the daughter of Puerto Rican migrants and the first Latina justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

—Amy Pastan, for the National Portrait Gallery"
portraiture  nationalgallery  2015  latinos  doloreshuerta  via:publichistorian  amypastan 
july 2015 by robertogreco
A conversation with President David Skorton and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz MFA '95 - CornellCast
"Each year, the Olin Lecture brings to campus an internationally prominent speaker to address a topic relevant to higher education and the current world situation. Junot Díaz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)."

[Great chat with Junot Díaz (is there any other kind?) and I especially love the part towards the end in response to a prompt from the audience about social action.

“There is no more important mandate to anyone living in a society than civic engagement. Civic engagement is just what's owed. There is no person, poor or rich, who does not take more out of this country than what they put back in. No one. There is no one so afflicted that doesn't owe this nation a debt. Civic engagement is how we begin to pay the interest on that debt. And, part of civic engagement is looking for places that we think that we can improve and trying to improve it. It is just something that has been lost for a long time, something that I think isn't valued enough. I think that what you are doing is incredibly important under the most fundamental level of what it means to be alive in a civic society. To give back, to attempt to engage yourself in that way is absolutely essential.

The thing is that we live in a society that has spent the last thirty or forty years promulgating, convincing people that the only thing that matters is you and how much money you have made. A perverse neoliberal individualism that has collapsed a lot of what we would call our civic communities. People aren't just bowling alone, gang. People are also not engaged in civic society the way they used to. They've got us all mad at each other, whether we're Republican or Democrats because that is a way to convince people that this is civic engagement. Partisan politics is not civic engagement. We think it's civic engagement, but it's not. And I think the nature of civic engagement is that in a country like ours, in a moment like ours, it is going to be very hard to convince people to go against the pied piper music of individualism and neoliberal profit-making and to think more seriously about what our community requires and what is owed of all of us. And I think that the nature of this work, is that you are going to find that it is going to be difficult to engage large movements of people. And that despite this, what you do is utterly invaluable.

My sense of this is that you've got to constantly model, you've got to constantly reach out, and you've got to everything you cant that when you're home, or wherever you settle, to go to every damn school and get every teacher who is an ally and let you make a presentation. And try to get allied teachers to come and visit your project so that at least the young people are exposed and given some modeling. And it is the same thing. How many people are at home looking for things to do? And, again, I don't know what community you are in or what kind of space, but if you can sort of figure out a place where there is a lot of traffic that you could present and model your work, you can begin to slowly pull people in. Will it be a lot? No. Will it be as much as you need? Perhaps. Will it be transformational and save individual lives through that engagement and through that reaffirmation of the most important values of our civic society? Absolutely. Being an artist in some ways is no different than being someone who wants to make this country better. there is very little money in it, especially if done correctly.

You know, there is little acclaim and respect. And in fact, there is very few signs that what you're doing is working. And yet, without your presence, what remains is not worth calling a society. Nothing is more a faith-based initiative than the kind of work you're doing. But I would argue, trying to get into the schools, trying to get into the places where a lot of adults flow through who don't have that kind of training or don't have that kind of literacy, and tying to kind of increase the exposure, that is what tends to work best in this battle. And I leave you with this: whether you're someone who is trying to do the work this young sister is doing or you're a teacher trying to convince their students that reading is good, in this battle, it is hand to hand. If you can transform one life, you've given more than most of us can dream. And, that life may do the work the future needs to make the future that we all dreamed possible. And therefore you must stick with it.”

See 1:02:29 for that.]
junotdíaz  art  activism  writing  race  2015  via:javierarbona  howwewrite  whywewrite  experience  socialjustice  us  education  highered  highereducation  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  immigrants  immigration  elitism  politics  struggle  mfas  hardship  gratitude  civics  citizenship  engagement  migration  bilingualism  language  accents  rutgers  cornell  stigma  latinos  patriarchy  capitalism  publicadministration  socialaction  society  movements  storytelling  neoliberalism  individualism  money  wealth  inequality  transformation  modeling  lcproject  openstudioproject  inlcusivity 
june 2015 by robertogreco
San Diego Native Tackles Immigration In New Animated Series 'Bordertown' | KPBS
"A San Diego native is on the team behind a new animated comedy sitcom tackling changing demographics and immigration.

Lalo Alcaraz, creator of the first nationally syndicated and politically themed Latino daily comic strip, “La Cucaracha,” is writing and consulting on the Fox show “Bordertown.”

The show focuses on the relationship between two neighbors, a border agent and an immigrant, living in a fictional town along the U.S/Mexico border.

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the popular animated series "Family Guy," is the show’s executive producer and not necessarily known for being racially sensitive leading to criticism.

"We have a lot of cultural comedy, stuff that has been unseen on television about Mexican culture, Chicano culture and immigrants. It's going to be groundbreaking," Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz, a San Diego State University alum, is also the illustrator behind the new book, "A Most Unperfect Union."

His comic strip, "La Cucaracha" is printed daily in U-T San Diego.

"Bordertown" is set to debut on Fox in fall 2015."
laloalcaraz  sandiego  comics  lacucaracha  politics  film  2014  race  bordertown  immigration  chicano  activism  california  cartoons  latinos  mexifornia 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Everything You've Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong
"Overall, the last 10 years have revealed that while Big Data can make our questions more sophisticated, it doesn't necessarily lead to Big Answers. The push to improve scores has left behind traditional assessments that, research indicates, work better to gauge performance…

Even the godfather of standardized testing, the cognitive psychologist Robert Glaser [26], warned in 1987 about the dangers of placing too much emphasis on test scores. He called them "fallible and partial indicators of academic achievement" and warned that standardized tests would find it "extremely difficult to assess" the key skills people should gain from a good education: "resilience and courage in the face of stress, a sense of craft in our work, a commitment to justice and caring in our social relationships, a dedication to advancing the public good.""

"A look at Maria's schoolwork, on the other hand, is a glimpse at a learner's progress. …"
standardization  standards  commoncore  publicschools  history  tfa  wendykopp  billgates  michellerhee  latinos  immigration  learning  sanfrancisco  missionhigh  bigdata  education  policy  robertglaser  assessment  standardizedtesting  rttt  nclb  kristinarizga  2012  teachforamerica 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Primary Source Sets - For Teachers (Library of Congress)
"Sets of selected primary sources on specific topics, available as easy-to-print PDFs. Also, background material and tools to guide student analysis" [See also the "For Teachers" page: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/ AND "Using Primary Sources" http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/ AND "Classroom Materials" http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/ among other school-specific resources available through the Library of Congress website]
congress  loc  curriculum  primarysources  research  government  education  history  lessonplans  teaching  socialstudies  classideas  tcsnmy  civilwar  baseball  dustbowl  poetry  immigration  assimilation  wrightbrothers  jamestown  wwii  ww2  jimcrow  naacp  civilrights  thanksgiving  war  veterans  westwardexpansion  suffrage  women  latinos  exploration  gender 
august 2010 by robertogreco
'Wondrous Life' Explores Multinationality : NPR
"Novelist Junot Diaz's first novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao explores the complexities of living in two cultures at once. Set in both the United States and in the Dominican Republic, the novel follows the story of Oscar Wao in prose that frequently mixes Spanish and English in the same sentence."
culture  literature  ethnicity  latinos  multinationality  junotdíaz  toread  geek  nerds  thirdculture 
december 2009 by robertogreco
tuBabel.com (beta) - español confuso. contagioso. divertido.
"Es el diccionario social de regionalismos latinos más completo del mundo. Llegará a ser el más completo porque nunca se termina de definir... cada persona puede agregar nuevas palabras, definiciones adicionales en palabras existentes o comentarios...
spanish  español  language  latinos  reference  slang  dictionary  jerga  culture  regional  dictionaries 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Cover story: 'America still works' by Michael Lind | Prospect Magazine February 2008 issue 143
"Barring catastrophes, US in 2050...more racially integrated; remain culturally/linguistically homogeneous...easily afford social security & decent healthcare....challenges-not the ones usually identified....class lines are hardening"
us  economics  pessimism  race  politics  culture  society  religion  racism  diversity  history  future  health  healthcare  immigration  latinos  demographics  census  statistics  language  spanish  secularism  trends  socialsecurity  class  doomsayers  optimism  linguistics  productivity 
january 2008 by robertogreco

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