The NYU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), presents a talk by Patricia Oliart (Newcastle University) titled Photography collectives and anti-racism in Peru and Argentina, as part of the Racisms in Comparative Perspective Working Group, moderated by Deborah Poole (Johns Hopkins University).
This chapter examines the context, format and content of a set of photographs by Adrián Portugal, a member of Supay Colectivo de Fotografía based in Lima, Peru, and two photographic productions by Colectivo Manifiesto, based in the city of Córdoba, Argentina.1 Although different in purpose, these interventions into systems of racialised social representations are manifestations of anti-racism, which challenge the stereotypes and practices that mark groups of the population as different, undesirable and even dangerous. With their images, these photographers deliberately reinforce ideas, aesthetic expressions and forms of living in Lima and Córdoba, which challenge the status quo by actively defying clichés about ‘the other’, the urban poor. As Sassen (2013, p. 213) states, the incompleteness of cities makes them ‘a space where the powerless can make history’. By recording acts of ‘innovation under duress’ performed by ‘the powerless’ (p. 210), these photography collectives embrace a role as trustees of historymaking actions that need to be recorded and, in doing so, they inspire political imaginaries about the social transformations that could take place in their countries (Pinney, 2016).2 The documentary photography that both collectives practise is at the crossroads between the arts, photojournalism and political activism. Both Supay and Manifiesto use collaborative forms of production and open-access platforms to disseminate their work, in order to intervene actively in their societies’ system of representation. Both collectives are part of a large network of numerous photographers in the region and beyond, who are engaged in a high degree of reflexivity about their practice and social position. Having taken a critical stance against social injustice and discriminatory practices.
About the Speakers:
Patricia Oliart is Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies and Head of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies in the School of Modern Languages at Newcastle University (UK). This semester she is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC) of The Graduate Center in CUNY. Her book Políticas educativas y la cultura del sistema escolar en el Perú (2011) is about the role that racism and corruption play in the reproduction of ‘poor education for the poor’ in the Peruvian education system. Other publications are about the circumstances and particular shape that emancipatory ideas take in the political and intellectual life of individuals in Peru. Her current project is about youth cultural and political collectives and the political subjectivities emerging around them in Latin America. She is preparing a book on youth activism in Peru in the past twenty years, and an edited volume on the pedagogies of dissidence in Latin America.
Deborah Poole is Professor of Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA). Her research explores the intersection of sentiment, history, visuality and state form in local political life in Mexico and Peru. Her publications include Peru: Time of Fear (1992; with Gerardo Rénique), Unruly Order: violence, power and cultural identity in the high provinces of southern Peru (1994), Vision, Race and Modernity: A Visual Economy of the Andean Image World (1997), the Blackwell Companion to Latin American Anthropology (2008) and Anthropology in the Margins of the State (2004; with Veena Das). She has also authored numerous articles on customary law, cultural politics and performance, corruption, photography, violence, indigenismo, race and the state in Mexico (Oaxaca) and Peru. She is currently engaged in two book projects, a collaborative ethnography of state decentralization in Peru, and a historical ethnography of the liberal state in Oaxaca, Mexico.