Debates in Latin American Social Theory

Asynchronous Assignment on I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies


1. See the Dark Laboratory virtual exhibition “I’m New Here: Black and Indigenous Media Ecologies” curated by Tao Leigh Goffe and Tatiana Esh.

*Click on the photographs to see the individual artist’s work and their explanations.*

2. Read the curator’s statement by Tao Leigh Goffe (pages 174-181)

3. Choose ONE prompt. Post your answer in the comment section down below. 200-word minimum. The deadline is 5/4 before the class. 


Pick ONE of the artists showcased in the exhibition and analytically connect his/her/their work (and explanations) with ONE of these quotes from Tao Leigh Goffe’s curator statement.

a. The photographers featured in this exhibition present a vision of Black and Indigenous shared ecologies that hinges on the speculative capacity to imagine these entangled and distinct histories of struggle and survival. Beyond the narrative of racial suffering as totalizing, the Dark Laboratory is a space where campfire stories, fables, ancestral myths, and legends come alive at night.

b. Together members of the collective imagine and are inspired by the clandestine and fugitive itineraries of Native and Black people across the Americas of refusal. We understand what blooms at night and what needs the dark to grow.

c. We listen for echoes of this Afro-Indigenous dialogue in the landscapes and seascapes of the Americas. Native presence for thousands of years across the Americas is often overlooked or taken as a given and distant past. The dialogue of call-and-response that we imagine between Black people, forcibly transported here, and Indigenous people is taking place all at once in the future, present, and past. Since at least the sixteenth century, the Black Native dialogue has existed over generations, and it is one of shared bloodlines and extended kin.


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about the exhibition and/or the curator’s statement do you want to bring into the discussion?

Vox Atlas: The Amazon

Brazil has over 900,000 indigenous people, most of whom live in the Amazon. After centuries of persecution, they were given extensive rights under a new Constitution in the 1980s, including the right to claim and win back their traditional lands. Since then, hundreds of indigenous lands have been demarcated and protected by the Brazilian government. But in the last few years, those lands have come under attack by landowners, ranchers, loggers, and farmers who want access to the resources inside these indigenous lands. And since Jair Bolsonaro became president, the number of invasions into indigenous lands has skyrocketed.

How does the deforestation of the Amazon reproduce the logic of colonization in the Americas? What industries are causing the most damage?

What have been some of the most successful policies in stopping deforestation in the Amazon?

What type of sustainable economic practices were presented in the VOX video?

How do the global consumption of rubber, meat, and soy promote deforestation? Do you think that other nations beyond Brazil hold responsibility for the deforestation of the Amazon? How do you think other nations can help?

How does the case of activist Chico Mendes permit the creation of protected zones and sustainable economic practices? Do

How do the direct action techniques presented resemble those of indigenous people in other areas of Brazil?

How did the modernization project in Brazil create the first wave of deforestation?

What has been the role of right-wing governments in the taking of indigenous/forest lands? To what extent indigenous cultures and forest ecosystems are indivisible?

Contrast the perspectives on land hold by Brazil’s agro-oligarchy and indigenous groups in the Amazon.

Recommended Video

Asynchronous Assignment on Brazil’s Indigenous Ecological Warriors


1. Watch the Vice News Reportage Illegal Loggers: The Tribe Waging War in the Amazon (Vice News, 2015)

2. Choose ONE prompt. Post your answer in the comment section down below. 200-word minimum. The deadline is 4/27 before the class. 


Discuss the complicated process of recuperating and re-generating occupied Tembe land. What obstacles Tembe people are facing? What strategies are they using to regain their territory?


What are the benefits and the dangers of directly intervening with illegal loggers within Tembe land? What type of support do Tembe people need?


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about the video reportage Illegal Loggers do you want to bring into the discussion?

Natures’ Sonorous Politics- Joshua Tucker

Entry Question

.What elements and ideas from the short documentary stood out in terms of the Quechua’s ecological thought, spiritual views, and living?

.How this quote from Joshua Tucker’s essay resonates with what you saw in the documentary?

“chimaycha made seasonal change, pastoral subsistence, community geography, and the human life cycle—particularly the securing of a life partner—into distinct facets of one indissoluble ecosystem.” (75)

Nature’s Sonorous Politics

Radio Quispillaccta’s staff is sparking a profound change in local attitudes. Furthermore, they are doing it through broadcasts that center on the chimaycha music of their hometown, presenting it as part of a distinctive land ethic. Once inaudible within Ayacucho’s urban soundscape, chimaycha has become a favored genre and a symbol of Quechua cultural affirmation for the city’s youthful, indigenous migrant majority. It’s helping to shape a newly invigorated debate over indigenous self-determination. As such, it holds the keys to the ways that local leaders will organize their struggles in years to come.

Vida Michiy (Page 48)

Making Music Indigenous Popular Music in the Peruvian Andes (Joshua Tucker)

How does the concept and practices of “vida michiy” let us understand Quechua’s ways of life?

How can indigenous nightlife hold political significance according to Tucker?

Can you think of other Latin American, Latinx, and/ or Afro-diasporic cultural or musical movements that promote ethnic and linguistic pride, and cultural (and ecological) well-being?

Self-representation through audio recordings

“The Centro de Capacitación Campesina (associated with Ayacucho’s Universidad Nacional San Cristóbal de Huamanga) established a Quechua-language radio program, featuring field recordings made by and for rural musicians with borrowed cassette recorders. This radio program drove the creation of a chimaycha performing scene, made up of young musicians eager to hear themselves on the radio. More importantly, it established a cassette archive of traditional music.” (75)

Radio Quispillaccta

“We are a Peruvian station that has the purpose of disseminating the process of affirming our culture and strengthening its organizations and encouraging respect for the cultural diversity of our people, thus imposing our own style out of the conventional radio stations in the region.”

“Listen to Radio Quispillaccta, then, and this is what you will hear: community news, programs about human rights and agricultural techniques, exhortations about the value of indigenous tradition, and a lot of chimaycha.” (76)

(Tucker, 128)


By encouraging listeners to valorize “autochtonous” music, Radio Quispillaccta became instrumental in building an indigenous public, composed of Quechua-speaking people with common investments, but also cognizant of their membership in an ethnic group with distinctive rights.

Asynchronous Assignment on Nature’s Sonorous Politics


Read Joshua Tucker’s “Natures Sonorous Politics” and choose ONE prompt. Post your answer in the comment section down below. 200-word minimum. The deadline is 4/13 before the class. 


What is chimaycha music and what are Joshua Tucker’s views on its political implications?


Joshua Tucker says that chimaycha music “has always been an eco-centric idiom,” what does he mean by that?


What has been the role of Radio Quispillaccta in promoting indigenous self-determination in the region?


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about “Nature’s Sonorous Politics” do you want to bring into the discussion?

Even the Rain and Reflections from Bolivia- Iciar Bollaín and David Solnit

Group Discussion

How do Taino rebellions of the early 1500s and the Cochabamba water wars of the early 2000s as represented by Even the Rain resemble? Under the global climate crisis, is water the new gold?

Cochabamba Water War- Historical Context

“[In 1998] in an attempt to stimulate economic development in the country, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) persuaded the government to allow privatization of formerly state-owned industries. This included SEMAPA, Cochabamba’s water company. In the year that followed, citizens saw price hikes in their water supply due to tariffs that SEMAPA had introduced. Nonetheless, the World Bank discouraged the Bolivian government from providing subsidies. According to The New Yorker’s William Finnegan, the World Bank’s decision was all part of it and the IMF’s broader plan to encourage “market discipline and efficiency.”

Their plan failed miserably in reducing poverty. Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of the US-based multinational company Bechtel, purchased Cochabamba’s water distribution system. Soon thereafter, the company raised water prices even further — in some cases by upwards of 50 percent. Bechtel denies that the price of water increased in Bolivia to this extent as well as any wrongdoing in the matter. Still, in December 2005, Bechtel and the Bolivian government released a statement announcing the termination of “the concession for the supply of water services and related contracts to the city of Cochabamba.”

Nithyani Anandakugan, “Hopes For a Rainy Day”

Class presentation (s)



Open Group Discussion

Reflecting on the ongoing water crisis, David Solnit argues that “Bolivian social movements catalyzed by the Water War are, perhaps, the most radical and visionary in the world with their mass participatory, democratic and horizontal way of organizing and mobilizing, drawing on the communitarian roots of the majority indigenous country.” He highlights the 2010 Feria del agua and Water Committees as examples of community-led projects of autogestión (self-management).

Thinking of the Bolivia case, what do you think about the indigenous strategies of creating a horizontal self-managed organization to deal with the effects of climate change and corporate and governmental mismanagement?

An ongoing crisis

Two decades have passed since the original water crisis in Bolivia. The dust has settled on the matter of water privatization, but the country still faces issues related to its water supply. A 2017 report from Public Radio International (PRI) noted that Bolivia “is suffering from its worst drought in 25 years.” Ill-equipped to handle this new crisis, the country once again found itself in a state of emergency except for this time the shortage is not artificial due to astronomical prices, but rather environmental.

While the Bolivian people suffered from economic neocolonialism during the Cochabamba Water Wars, this time the issue lies in large part with mismanagement of water on the part of the state. Water conservation has been a major issue that the government ignored for years, leading to a naturally occurring drought to be exacerbated into a full crisis.

Recommended Videos: Water Crisis in the US