[URBANTH-L] CFP for AAA panel: Engaging Meanings and Movements of Middle-Class Latinos, Latin Americans, and Caribbeans

Maldonado, Andrea Andrea_Maldonado at brown.edu
Mon Mar 3 03:31:55 EST 2008



Call for Papers: American Anthropological Association (AAA), 19-23 November, 2008

Proposed Session: Engaging Meanings and Movements of Middle-Class Latinos, Latin Americans, and Caribbeans

Maureen O'Dougherty, Chair

Andrea Maldonado and Sarah Muir, Co-Organizers


Recent decades have seen far-reaching political-economic and social shifts in Latin America and the Caribbean. This panel will explore the implications of these changes for the middle class in Latin America, among Latinos, and in the Caribbean. We invite submissions that employ a wide range of approaches and questions that may include but are not limited to the following.


How have the "lost decade" of the 1980s, the structural reforms of the 1990s, and more recent shifts in political leadership-epitomized by Lula, Morales, Chávez, and others-affected ideologies of progress and upward social mobility, so strongly associated with the middle class? How do the ways middle-class people remember and narrate these epochal shifts inform the ways they imagine and plan for personal, familial, and national futures? How should we analyze the-real or perceived-threats (such as crime, corruption, or economic crisis) that often seem to consolidate people's identification with the middle class? In what contexts does the middle class emerge as a relatively unified political actor?


In political speeches, academic treatises, mass media and everyday conversations, the middle class often figures-implicitly or explicitly-as the normative class. How should we investigate the processes that allow the middle class to occupy this position? What ideals and standards of practice orient the aspirations, strategies, and projects of middle-class people in the region? And what constitutes the failure or loss of that goal? 


Despite its normative status, the boundaries of the middle class are often decidedly vague. Who counts as middle-class and how are middle-class norms configured and reconfigured in any given situation? How does the meaning of middle-class membership shift in response to changes not only at the public level of political-economic disruptions, but also at the intimate level of life transitions?


The panel will also investigate the practical performance of middle-class identity in a variety of contexts-including interactions middle-class people have with one another and/or with those of other classes. What might patterns of attention and avoidance tell us about the performance, solidification, or contestation of class differences? How should we map the interior contours of this traditionally heterogeneous class? How should we conceptualize the interplay between class norms and those governing other dimensions of social difference (such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or religion)? What forms of identification and subjectivity emerge out of the interplay among these differing performances? 


Across the region, practices of middle-class distinction and segregation are incorporating relatively new building styles-such as gated communities and malls-as well as gentrifying popular residential areas, and, in the process, reshaping social geographies and reconfiguring social relationships. What social relationships and exclusions do these novel social geographies entail? What are the implications of these shifts in the built environment for the role of the public sphere, for conceptions of the common good, and for opinions concerning public institutions?



Please send abstracts (250 words) for 15-minute papers to Sarah Muir (muir at uchicago.edu) by Saturday, March 15, 2008.



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