Current PhD candidates at CEDLA

Irene Arends (2016 – 2020)
Youth Practices and Social Media in Chile: An Ethnography of Young People`s Gender Negotiations in Everyday Digital (Sexual) Peer Cultures
Supervisors: Prof. Michiel Baud and Dr. Annelou Ypeij

Irene’s research project investigates how young people in Chile use social media to give meaning to and negotiate gender and sexuality. This feminist informed research concerns the anthropology of youth and uses both digital and in-person ethnography. It explores for example what the practice of making, posting and commenting on ‘sexy selfies’ can tell us about the constantly shifting boundaries of femininities and masculinities and how the meaning of gender is inflicted by sexuality, and vice versa. Moreover, this project looks at how various gender enactments (e.g. sex, love and relationship talk, sharing nudes, showing affection and the body) are incorporated in feminine and masculine domains and what this does to inter- and cross gender relations in general.
Irene has a bachelor in Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies and a master in International Development Studies. She briefly worked in the NGO sector and later started as a junior teacher at the Interdisciplinary Social Sciences of the UvA, where she began specializing in youth cultures. She started her PhD research at CEDLA in March 2016. Irene is chair of the Dutch PhD Forum on Latin America (OLA) and she is a board member of the Dutch Association for Gender Studies and Feminist Anthropology (LOVA).

Cristina Bastidas Redin (2014-2018)
Bolivia and Ecuador: A Comparison of Ten Years of Democratic Revolution
Supervisors: Prof. Michiel Baud and Dr. Ton Salman (VU University Amsterdam)

After arriving at CEDLA in September, Cristina Bastidas started to prepare her research proposal. Her PhD research will focus on the main changes that have occurred since the installation of the left turn in Bolivia and Ecuador. Based on theories that focus on collective actors and participation and that recognize that social actors play an important role in the consolidation of democracy and also taking into account the social dimension of democracy, this research will try to understand how these social actors have shaped a post-neoliberalist context. It will investigate what are the main political and collective projects that have appeared during the last eight years and which are the main differences between actors, projects and their interactions in Bolivia and Ecuador. Although Bolivia and Ecuador have been analyzed as part of the ‘radical left turn’ in Latin America, the comparative method will try to explain the different outcomes of Bolivia and Ecuador based on the different actors and projects that shaped these two process. The research will use quantitative data to understand the main tendencies in the opinion of the citizens expressed in the polls and also a qualitative research to understand the perspectives of organized groups in the Bolivian and Ecuadorian societies that are part of contemporary political process as well as the main challengers and contested ones. The research assumes that people and the ways they organize are the ingredients of democratic institutions.

Bibiana Duarte Abadia (2015-2019)
Hydrosocial Imaginaries, Territorial Transformations and Water Justice Struggles in Colombia and Spain
Supervisors: Michiel Baud and Rutgerd Boelens

The coloniality of power (Quijano, 2007) has produced specific modes of knowing and producing knowledge over management of the socio-nature world. As a result, other world views are being relegated to the domains of backwardness, non-knowledge and superstition. The history of the Andalucía region in Spain and the middle basin of the river Magdalena, Colombia show how paradigms of modernity/rationality, represented in hydro-social imaginaries- have triggered the transformation of these territories through the implementation of modern mega hydraulic infrastructure and the deconstruction of traditional local water management. Often, utopian-like hydro-social imaginaries are created under and legitimized by crisis situations and pursue an ideal societal situation, to be realized through a ‘pure’, unspoiled new sociotechnical and political-ecological order excluding anomalies. In this way, modernist notions of progress, desires of purity, violent exclusions and repressions, and commensurability of valuation languages are arranged so as to materialize these hydro-social imaginaries. As a result, an often mono-disciplinary, economist and engineering-dominated approach encourages water control practices at the local level and reinforces the power expansion of the state and transnational companies. The socio-enviromental impacts of these changes are unevenly distributed among different social groups and define process of exclusion, accumulation and dispossession regarding water access and control. This research is based on a political ecology approach and focuses on understanding the reconfigurations of hydro-social territories in the Guadalhorce basin, Málaga Province, Spain and in the Sogamoso and Lebrija river basin, Santander Department, Colombia. In a comparative study of these transformation process I will trace back the historical thought regarding the hydro-social imaginaries that have influenced water governance discourses and the construction of hydraulic infrastructure and territorial conservation policies during nineteenth, twentieth and current century. Likewise, this research will explore the ways in which people strategize to shape alternative political ecologies, rebuilding socio-ecological identities and culturalecological differences by means of breaking normalization circles, liberating knowledge production from neo-colonial, utopian-modernist schemes, and escaping from governmentality processes. Bibiana is an ecologist, she did her Masters in International land and water management at Wageningen University , she worked as researcher at Alexander von Humboldt Institute, Biological Resources, Bogotá, Colombia. Bibiana started her PhD in September, 2015 and in May she will submit her PhD research proposal.

Lucia Galarza Suárez (2014-2018)
Undoing toxic relations: reconfiguring gender, nature and cultural change in the southern coasts of Ecuador
Supervisors: Michiel Baud and Rutgerd Boelens

This PhD project takes an ethnographic approach to examine the complex interconnections between environmental transformations and cultural changes in Ecuador, focusing on two case studies located among banana plantations and shrimp farms in the southern province of El Oro. Triggered by a growing trend to commoditize nature and remodel agricultural and aquaculture practices along the lines of modern scientific design and global market demands, monocultures continue to colonize the biodiverse landscapes of the southern coastal plains expanding into the mangrove forests of the Archipelago of Jambelí. Meanwhile, vernacular knowledge systems and ways of life are driven to adapt and resist the discourses and practices of modern capitalist development. As a result of these multiple interactions that connect both human and nonhuman actors in mutually constituting networks, environmental problems continue to rise while social inequalities remain unresolved. In addition, the scarce literature available suggests that inequalities have strong gendered elements – a problematic that this research sets out to unpack. Drawing from the fields of political ecology, feminism, science and technology studies and post-colonialism, this research conceptualizes modern capitalist development as a political, economic, social, ecological and cultural project. It seeks to interrogate the effects of such a project on the emergence of alternatives for the future in Ecuador’s reconfigured landscapes. Lucía began her PhD research in October 2014 and completed a period of fourteen months of fieldwork in December 2015.

Juan Pablo Hidalgo BastidasJuan Pablo Hidalgo (2013-2017)
Reconfiguration of Hydrosocial Territories in Ecuador:
Power Relations and Multipurpose Hydraulic Projects
Supervisors: Prof. Michiel Baud and Prof. Rutgerd Boelens

In Ecuador, as in other places in Latin America, the implementation of mega-hydraulic projects such as multipurpose ones is highly controversial and contested at local, national and international arenas. Their intrinsic socio-ecological and political-technological characteristics exert an enormous influence over hydro-social territories, tending to reproduce socio-environmental inequities.
Multipurpose hydraulic projects (MHPs) are likely to cause socio-environmental conflicts and reconfigure waterscapes as the direct result of uneven power relations. On the one hand, megaprojects are visibly underpinned by utilitarian state structures, market-based norms, scientific-expert knowledge and technocratic governmental discourses that naturalize notions of hydro-social territories as technical and a-political construction. On the other, local peoples claim and practice different and generally divergent socio-cultural, economic, legal, and political notions of hydro-social territoriality. Despite the controversy and conflict that this type of hydraulic projects entail, Ecuador has enthusiastically embraced the idea of hydraulic modernization driven by technocratic and expert discourses that link MHPs with clean energy, economic development, and industrialization. The aim of this research is to unpack both the power relations that shape MHPs implementation and to bring to the front the dominant and alternative discourses and practices that underlie the reconfiguration of hydro-social territories. By doing so, this project would open spaces for debate which make alternative notions of hydro-social territoriality countable for a more just and democratic water governance around mega-hydraulic projects. Juan Pablo finished his PhD research proposal in May 2014 and it was approved by AISSR in September. Meanwhile, he went to Ecuador – from June to September – in order to carry out field research in the Daule-Peripa MHP. In September he went to Valencia, Spain to participate in the Congress ‘Irrigation, Society and Territory’ with the conference paper: ‘Sistema Multipropósito de Agua Daule-Peripa: Una Reconfiguración Tecnocrática del Territorio Hidro-Social y Despojo en la Costa Ecuatoriana’. In November he went back to Ecuador in order to research on the second case study: Chone Multipurpose Hydraulic Project. Currently he is doing field work which finishes in May 2015, doing action-research with the grassroots in the Daule-Peripa MHP.

Geraldine Lamadrid Guerrero (2015-2019)
Title of Proyect: Defying violence through art in political memory construction, Latin America beginnig of the 21st century
Supervisor: Dr. Arij Ouweneel

This PhD project focuses on the cultural processes of political memory construction through artistic practices. The general objective is to make a qualitative and comparative study between three to four Latin American experiences that are part of social movements life, in which art represents a means to be part of political memory construction in specific communities and at the same time a way to define their own peace culture. All of these actions are guided towards political violence contestation. I would like to highlight the particularities of each one of the experiences selected for this analysis, in order to show how every context has its own necessities and at the same time it is possible that they share a common ground, which is defined by the potentialities that art as a human development tool offers to those who are challenged by political violence harms in order to create nonviolent resistance practices. I recover Laurence Cox academical statement to guide the critical reflection on this topic and if possible to prove that “[...] visible social movements from below represent the elaboration and articulation of everyday ways of doing things which cut against the grain of dominant social relationships, and that these oppositional popular cultures can be connected and extended into more direct challenges”.

Christian Esteban Ramírez Hincapié (2015-2019)
Children Audiovisual Production in a War Zone area in the South of Colombia
Supervisor: Dr. Arij Ouweneel

Co-supervisor: Dr. Christien Klaufus

War does not exhaust at all. Neither people’s imagination, its social fabric, nor the willingness to overcome any vicissitude that armed conflict bring about to community’s social lives. This PhD project at CEDLA pretends to focus on how community’s in armed conflict areas in Colombia use media technologies to create life projects among young people. Unalike the regular ones offered by the war industry. By focusing on the social aspects that surround the audiovisual production of a community media project based in the south of Colombia (Belén de los Andaquíes Children’s Audiovisual School – EAIBA-), the PhD project will follow children’s own social processes when producing, socializing and recounting their own stories through the audiovisuals they produce at EAIBA. This research also attempts to add critical elements to the theoretical discussion in the growing field of Communication for Social Change by incorporating children as relevant actors as they perform as media content producers, and to investigate how the processes of recounting stories allows children to become – and be considered – valuable cultural agents within their own communities.

Alexis SossaAlexis Sossa Rojas (2014-2018)
Working Out in Gyms. An Ethnographic Comparison of Practices, Meanings and Experiences in Gym Culture in
Santiago de Chile and Amsterdam
Supervisors: Prof. Michiel Baud and Dr. Annelou Ypeij

Alexis Sossa started his PhD project at CEDLA in September. On the basis of his previous research in Santiago, Alexis will compare gym culture in two major cities in two different regions of the world: Santiago de Chile and Amsterdam. His aim is to compare the varied forms in which fitness is embedded in local urban culture by looking at practices, meanings and experiences from people who work out. The interesting and often hidden relationship between culture, body and society is the motivation for this research. By focusing on people who attend gyms and fitness clubs, the project hopes to increase our understanding of the different contextual practices of attendance and the cultural implications of these differences. The comparative approach will be applied both within the two cities, where a great social and cultural diversity of fitness use exists, and between the two cities. The dissertation will use a qualitative, ethnographic approach in which the practices, meanings, experiences and imageries of gym users in different fitness clubs will be studied and compared. During the first stage of this research project an analytical framework was designed which will enable the comparison of different cultural practices. On the basis of this framework, views of health, gender, beauty and the body academic will be studied, analyzed and compared.

Karolien van TeijlingenKarolien van Teijlingen (2014 – 2017)
The Governance of the Mining-Development Nexus:
A Political Ecology of the Mirador Mine in the Ecuadorian Amazon region.
Supervisors: Prof. Michiel Baud and Dr. Barbara Hogenboom

This PhD research project analyzes the expansion of extractive industries towards new mining frontiers in Latin America, particularly the Amazon region. As large-scale mining operations cause considerable impacts to the landscapes and development trajectories of the regions in which they take place, mining and its relation to sub-national development have become ‘hot topics’ in both societal and academic debates. The public, private and civil society actors involved in the governance of the mining-development nexus in these regions hold different (and sometimes incommensurable) conceptualizations of development and territory, basing themselves on different sets of interests, knowledges and values. This has made these mining frontier regions into terrains of conflictive as well as more collaborative interactions through which these actors seek to promote and materialize their view of the mining-development nexus. This research aims to understand the interactive governance processes through which certain views and discourses on mining, development and territory gain importance over others and how these processes reconfigure the complex territories in which mining takes place. The Mirador copper mining project in Zamora Chinchipe - Ecuador, will be the main case-study of the research. A political ecology approach implies focusing on political spaces and the power mechanisms at play, as well as the patterns of inclusions and exclusions that are (re)produced in the course of this process. More generally, this research also aims to contribute to scholarship on the political ecology of extraction, environmental governance and post-neoliberal development in Latin America. Karolien began her PhD research in January 2014. During the first eight months of the year she carried out a literature review and wrote her research proposal, which she presented and discussed at various seminars. In September 2014 she travelled to Zamora Chinchipe, Ecuador to start her first five-month fieldwork period.

Julienne WeegelsJulienne Weegels (2013-2017)
Tracing the Nicaraguan Prisoner: Moving between Marginality, Violence, and Change
Supervisors: Prof. Michiel Baud (CEDLA) and Prof. Dennis Rodgers (University of Glasgow)

This PhD project is being carried out at CEDLA and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR). Prison establishes physical, symbolic, and discursive boundaries which are under constant pressure as inmates both overtly and covertly transgress and resist them. As prisoners find themselves in a liminal position, (temporarily) excluded from society, they are subject to sentiments of social disposability. The desire to undo social disposability makes the inmates´ capacity to deploy with greater or lesser ability scripts of violence or ‘change’ pivotal. It is through the prisoner’s performances of shifting identities, bodily artefacts, and media presence that this research attempts to make cultural, social, and historical sense of what it means to be a prisoner in Nicaragua. By contributing with in-depth ethnographic research to prison studies and the emerging field of cultural and critical criminology this research intends to shed light on discourses surrounding of crime, imprisonment, violence, and re-education in Nicaragua. In 2014 Julienne presented two papers at three international conferences: ‘The Delinquent´s Body: Representations of Crime and its Control in the Nicaraguan National Media’ at the Society for Latin America Studies (SLAS) Annual Conference in London, and ‘Researching the ‘Cemetery of the Living’: On the Limits of Immersion and Representation in a Nicaraguan Prison’ at both the European Association for Social Anthropology (EASA) Biannual Conference in Tallinn, and the European Sociologists Association (ESA) Methodology Conference (RN20) in Amsterdam. She furthermore presided the monthly meetings of the Dutch PhD Forum on Latin America (OLA) and co-organized OLA’s first annual seminar in celebration of its 25th anniversary.


Finished PhD projects

Håvar Solheim
Gobernabilidad y gestión local de la seguridad: La relación entre el gobierno municipal y la policía en Bogotá, 1995-2015.
Supervisors: Prof. Patricio Silva (Leiden University) and Prof. Kees Koonings.

This thesis was successfully defended on 5 July 2016. The dissertation focusses on the local public security management in Bogotá. The Colombian capital represents one of very few cases in the Latin American region where the local government has achieved notorious advancement in fighting crime, violence and insecurity. In particular between the years 1995 and 2003, the city enjoyed a transformation both in administrative and infrastructural aspects. A radical reduction of the city’s homicide rate and a moderate decrease of high-impact crime activities shows a positive development in security issues. This advancement occurred hand in hand with inter-institutional cooperation and integral security planning. Since 2004, the new political leadership has not been capable of maintaining, much less improved the foregoing years advancement. This has soured the relationship with the local police force. It has also diminished the general image of the city. Despite this recent decline, the Colombian capital city currently benefits from an institutionalized public security management. These institutional and legal instruments are required for facing complex criminal activities related to the national and international drug trafficking business and the country’s internal armed conflict. The project seeks to understand how the interagency relation between the local government and police in the city has developed between 1995 and 2015. It explores, at the one hand, the inter-institutional relation between the Municipality of Bogotá and the Metropolitan Police and, at the other hand, the top-down relation between the Metropolitan Police, the local government, and the citizens.