Other forms of education

CEDLA also offers a number of educational activities with a different character. These aim to support students in preparing for their individual research projects. At the same time it its intended to introduce students to the specific research interested of the CEDLA staff.

Lecturas guiadas: tutorials and literature assignments
For Bachelor students, the lecturas guiadas (Spanish for literature assignments) can complement a course taken or provide in-depth studying of a specific topic. For MA students they aim to introduce new academic themes and developments in a certain academic field on an individual bases or in small groups of students. The lectura can form part of the preparation for field research or the writing of a thesis. Ideas for a topic of the lectura can be found in the themes mentioned under ‘Research topics for Lecturas Guiadas and theses’ below. There are various ways in which the lectura can be assessed. The assessment will take place during the reading process, in which the reading will be checked and judged by the staff member through abstracts or other forms of written reports that the student will hand in. The lectura will be completed with an oral examination. The amount of ECTs for a lectura guiada ranges between 5 and 10 ECTS, one ECTs stands for 28 hours of work. To register for a lectura, you can contact the relevant staff member.

Research topics for Lecturas Guiadas and theses
The CEDLA researchers are particularly interested in supervising students/offering lecturas guiadas on the following topics:

  • Prof. Dr. Michiel Baud
    History/Social Anthropology

    1. Nation building and inclusion in Latin America
    Latin American nations have a relatively long history. However, despite their constitutions and legislation there has been a constant discussion on the forms in which citizenship and nationhood should be defined and constructed. An important example has been the so-called indigenismo which in the early 20th century tried to rethink the position of the indigenous populations. Students interested in the past or present of these processes can investigate the situation in a specific Latin American country on the basis of fieldwork or archival research.

    2. Social movements and political participation
    Social movements have become an integrated element of Latin American politics. Some analysts consider them as a sign that Latin American democracy is still deficient; others see them, in contrast, as examples of new forms of political participation. They consider social movements as a crucial symbol of citizenship and a strong civil society. In the context of this debate there has been a tendency to focus on the activities and ideologies of social movements. There has much less attention for their internal structure, leadership and associational character in which individual members build networks of solidarity and civic engagement. This research project aims at understanding and analyzing these two connected elements in Latin America. First, it tries to understand the character of different types of movements and associations. Secondly, it aims to discuss to what extent we can understand the internal structures of social and political movements and in this way to acquire a different understanding of their societal and political role.

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Rutgerd Boelens
    Political Ecology

    1. The political ecology of water grabbing and water justice in Latin America

    Region/Country: Latin America (esp. Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia) The concentration of rights to access water and participate in decision-making on water governance is a historical problem in Latin America. In the current era of globalization, growing water demand among different use sectors, and decreasing water availability because of ecosystem degradation and climate change, contemporary water policies and legislative measures have tended to aggravate this huge societal problem rather than solving it. It is common to see that small-holder irrigator communities, indigenous territories, or drinking water committees, with their context-based and locally developed water practices, rights and management solutions, are constantly overruled by bureaucratic water administrations, market-driven water policies, desk-invented legislation and top-down project intervention practices. Research focuses on the dynamics of water accumulation in terms of class, gender and ethnicity; the nature and mechanisms of the water conflicts that result thereof; and the opportunities for multi-scale strategies by actors from civil society who look for ways to counter current water injustices.

    2. Governmentality and hydro-social territories Region/Country: Latin America (esp. Peru, Ecuador, Chile Colombia, Bolivia)

    Territorial places involve actively constructed socio-natural realities. River basins, water flows, water use systems or hydrological cycles are linked at micro, meso and macro scales, mediated by governance structures, power relations and human intervention. They constitute hydro-social networks. In practice, these have functions, values and meanings that are different or even incommensurable for the different parties involved. In Latin America, prevailing hydro-political configurations commonly respond to demands of growing urban water needs, globalizing commercial export agriculture and industrial growth sectors, but thereby often claim water resources that are currently being used by local communities and ecology, often implying an erosion of their territorial livelihoods. Research will examine: the conflicts and societal responses generated by the (re)configuration of hydro-social territories (e.g., hydropower, large-scale irrigation, etc.); how they may enhance unequal distribution of resources and decision-making power; impact on the socio-environment; and identify alternatives.

  • Dr. Fabio de Castro
    Brazilian Studies/Environmental Studies

    1. Communities and Nature

    Local communities and nature have always influenced each other, shaping social and environmental patterns in rural Latin America. The myriad of rural societies and their patterns of resource use and management we see today are an outcome of, among other things, the interplay between the environmental and social processes taken place in particular spatial and temporal context. This research line focuses on how communities use and manage their local resources, how their activities are influenced by external and local environmental and social factors, and how they interact with other actors (e.g., state, corporations, scientists and NGOs) in re-shaping their patterns of resource use and management in different regions in Latin America. Students interested in this research line are recommended to take the MA course Communities and Nature in Latin America.

    2. Social Dimension of Biofuel Expansion
    Biofuel has become a key strategy of different countries in the mitigation of climate change and agrarian development. The expansion of energy crops (e.g., sugarcane, soybean and oil palm) has strongly influenced the reconfiguration of rural territories in Latin America by shifting farming land into energy production spaces and redefining roles of small, medium and large-scale farmers. This research line focuses on the social implications of the transformation of rural territories due to agrofuel expansion, and the role the state, oil companies and farmers play in this process. Students interested in this research line may be interested in conducting fieldwork in Latin America or the Caribbean. Students interested in this research line are recommended to take the MA course Socio-Environmental Changes in Latin America: Power, Participation and Governance.

    3. Governance of Protected Areas
    Protected areas, one of the main components of nature conservation policies in Latin America, comprise of two territorial models. In no-take protected areas, human occupation and extractive use of natural resources are prohibited while in sustainable protected areas are occupied by traditional populations who have exclusive rights of use and management of their local resources. This research line focuses mainly on sustainable protected areas in Latin America and includes questions related to the expansion of these territories, the different governance models, and the threats faced by the expansion of infrastructure and extractive industries and related socioenvironmental conflicts. Students interested in this research line are recommended to take the MA course Communities and Nature in Latin America.

    4. New Socioenvironmentalism
    Socioenvironmentalism in Latin America has been polarized around urban and rural issues. Despite different frames and strategies, both movements stem from common issues related to the decommonization of public and collective spaces and decoupling of production and consumption patterns. Despite the strong connected between urban and rural populations and their struggles, the fragmentation of socioenvironmentalism has gradually weakened its influence to societal and policy change. More recently, urban-rural connections have become more apparent in a new wave of socioenvironmentalism. Tradeoffs between water, food, energy and material production have raised concerns not only on conservation in rural spaces but also on implications to sustainability, security, and justice in urban areas. In this research line, we focus on new frames, communication strategies, forms of mobilizations and actions around rural-urban nexus such as ‘water crisis’, ‘food safety’, and ‘clean energy’.

  • Prof. Dr. Barbara Hogenboom
    Political Science and International Political Economy

    1. The politics of extracting metals, oil and gas in Latin America

    The multi-actor and multi-scale politics around extractive activities are a dynamic field of study. The extraction of fossil fuels and metals has become a repoliticized topic in Latin America since the 2000s. Booming markets coincided with the arrival of political regimes that took a strong lead over these strategic sectors and raised royalties and taxes to pay for social and economic programmes. This only deepened the extractive imperative. Despite CSR programmes of mining and oil companies, at the local level the rapid expansion of extractive activities often causes conflict and human rights violations. Recent corruption scandals, the drop in global commodity prices and the crisis in resource rich countries point at other problems related to large-scale extractive activities, which require further research attention.

    2. Environmental governance and environmental democracy
    This research approaches environmental governance as the social process in which formal and informal institutions and interactions at different scales shape the use of natural resources. While Latin American countries have established regulatory and institutional frameworks to protect nature and take the concerns of vulnerable groups into account, their interests and voices are often neglected by powerful public and private sector actors. This lack of environmental democracy is an incentive for interesting forms of resistance and initiative from the local to the supranational level, from civil society as well as governments and companies.

    3. Chinese involvements in Latin America
    Economic and political relations between China and Latin America have developed very rapidly. Especially Latin America’s resource wealth and China’s need for energy and raw materials are drawing them closer together via trade, investments and loans. Supported by government-to-government partnerships, Chinese imports, companies and banks have become very important for the region. While this research looks into the oil sector (in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador) and mining, students may also propose research on other Sino-Latin American interactions.

  • Dr. Christien Klaufus
    Human Geography/Urban Studies

    1. Transforming deathscapes in Latin American metropolises
    In the current ‘urban millennium’ adequate planning and governing, not only of spaces for the living but also of spaces for the dead becomes increasingly important. Environments with high population and building densities need to develop new arrangements to dispose of the dead and create dignified spaces for commemoration, especially when societies face an aging population and land scarcity. Latin America’s metropolitan deathscapes are currently undergoing changes to meet norms for cleaner, healthier environments, a decent disposal of the deceased affordable for all, but also a more rational use of scarce urban land. This project explores urban policies and daily practices surrounding cemeteries, crematoria and the places for commemoration of the dead. Students are encouraged to conduct fieldwork in Bogotá, Medellín, Lima, Quito, Buenos Aires or a large Brazilian city.

    2. Changing social landscapes in medium-sized cities

    This project addresses spatial transformations on the outskirts of medium-sized cities, where globalization and migration are known to change spatial patterns rapidly and in unforeseen ways, resulting in densification of the built environment and new forms of social inequality. The project aims to describe and explain the patterns of urban growth and social change in those peri-urban zones. The focus on urban change in intermediary cities has gained importance over the last decade: international organizations such as UN-Habitat and The Cities Alliance stimulate research and are building up publications and networks. Students are encouraged to conduct fieldwork in a city similar to Cuenca (Ecuador), Huancayo (Peru) or Quetzaltenango (Guatemala), characterized by high migration rates and a rapidly changing peri-urban area.

  • Prof. Dr. Kees Koonings
    Brazilian Studies

    1. Brazil, especially development, poverty, social exclusion, insecurity and violence, military, political transformation, citizenship, social movements, local democracy and participatory governance. Kees’ primary research interest in Brazil currently focuses upon urban violence and insecurity in a context of social inequality. This includes the broader problem of poverty in Brazilian cities and coping strategies of city dwellers, especially in favelas and other poor urban areas. Key themes are the nature and operation of armed actors in urban violence (the police, the military, drug gangs, militias, vigilantes) and the social, political, and cultural consequences of urban insecurity and fear. Of specific interest are (a) the coping strategies of urban populations in the face of violence, fear and insecurity that can be seen as part of the resilience of cities in the face of chronic violence; (b) changing public policies for urban security, especially regarding the police.

    2. A second research interest has to do with the conditions for enhancing local democracy (in cities) through social movements, community-based organizations and designs for participatory governance (such as participatory budgeting). A third research interest is the broader process of political transformation in post-authoritarian Brazil, especially questions of democratic consolidation and the changing political role political parties and the military. Finally, Kees Koonings has a long term interest in the political economy of development from a historical and contemporary perspective. This includes themes such as industrialization and the developmental policies of the state, economic regionalism, and the role of key stakeholders such as national business elites, trade unions, and foreign investors.

  • Dr. Arij Ouweneel
    History/Cognitive Cultural Studies
    Office hours: Mondays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Key Features of Latin American Mnemonic Communities: Performing Counter-Culture, Rebellions and Resistance in Latin America Ouweneel’s research interests are directed to analyze what may be called mnemonic communities. Studying mnemonic communities, which share common memories, a common past, a common heritage, is the next step in Cultural Memory Studies (formerly: Collective Memory Studies). The field was articulated to the politics of memory. However, in recent years scholars have widened their perspective, if only because the politics of memory appeared to have deep roots — deep into history, that is. For example, the politics of memory of the Dirty War in the Andes is closely connected to the views on the Amerindian population of Peru. The mnemonic community of the Dirty War share memories of perpetrators and victims, racism and decolonization.

    Research is done in different Spanish American countries. Theoretically, in his analysis of mnemonic communities Ouweneel works with insights from Cultural Schema Theory. The essence of schema theory in the cognitive sciences is that in large measure information processing is mediated by learned or innate mental structures that organize related pieces of our knowledge. Because a cultural memory is a specific cognitive schema, its parameters and elements can be identified. The corpus of material under scope includes feature fiction films from Peru, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia, paintings from Peru, Mexico and Bolivia, mural art from Peru, Mexico, and Argentina, musical clips from Bolivia, Peru and other countries, and novels from Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. This material will be contextualized with newspaper clippings, court sentences, and a series of non-fictional moving images, and analyzed from long historical perspectives.

  • Dr. Annelou Ypeij
    Anthropology/Gender Studies/Tourism Studies

    1. Social mobility, the metropolitan city and new gender challenges
    In the last decennia, major economic, social and political transformations have taken place, which resulted in a shift of the resources available to people of all strata of society. Because of their already vulnerable economic and social position, poor and recently socially mobile people grab new opportunities and adapt their everyday lives. The way individuals and members of households deal with these transformations is not gender neutral. Based on gender notions and practices, women and men develop different ways of dealing with their daily challenges and opportunities. This project will contribute to the debate on how do globalization processes take shape at the most intimate levels of family life? How does globalization confirm, reconstruct and challenge gender and family notions and subsequently change family life? How do people’s daily actions produce, transform and determine the specific directions that globalization processes take?

    2. Inca tourism, gender and ethnicity
    Tourism has the power to profoundly change the livelihoods of Quechua communities. It may offer new income generating opportunities that people take advantage of next to their agricultural activities. They may benefit from their cultural background as a Quechua community and turn their ethnicity into a cultural and economic resource. This project focuses on tourism in Southern Peru. Case studies are being executed in Chinchero and Huilloc located in the Sacred Valley of the Inca between the city of Cusco and the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, and at the island of Taquile located in the Titicaca lake. In all three communities people use their weaving art to attract tourists and present themselves in their most beautiful and typical attire. Research questions are: how have these shifts in livelihood opportunities changed gender and ethnic relations? How are identities recreated and interpreted? What are the consequences of these for family life and the communities as a whole?