Atlantic World Research Network

Atlantic World Lunchtime Colloquia 2016

Everyone has to eat, and scholars and researchers usually like to talk. So the Atlantic World Research Network sponsors lunchtime colloquia to encourage the exchange of ideas around the table.
These lunchtime gatherings bring together 15 or so selected UNCG faculty and graduate students from a variety of disciplines, along with other guests, to enjoy a hearty lunch, thanks to the support of College Dean Tim Johnston, and to share in interdisciplinary conversations about doing Atlantic-World-related research. These conversations are led by fellow UNCG faculty members or by distinguished visiting scholars.
Lunchtime colloquia will meet in 2015-16 on varied weekdays (see below) from 11:45 am-1:30 pm. We usually meet in MHRA 1607, the Research and Partnerships conference room on the first floor of the Moore Humanities and Research Administration Building's research wing. Colloquia will be led by colleagues from varied disciplines, but with a shared purpose: to explore life around the Atlantic Rim in ways that will spark new approaches, provide useful responses to work-in-progress, and reflect on the shared project of transatlantic studies.
As of February 2016, the 2015-16 Colloquium schedule is as follows:


Date

Topic

Presenter(s)

Thursday, March 22, 2016

Democracy and Dictatorship in the Atlantic World since 1900

Fabrice Lehoucq
Professor of Political Science

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

“Errant Modernism” and the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s Pan-American Exhibit

Esther Gabara
E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Romance Studies, and Art, Art History & Visual Studies
Duke University

Although each Colloquium will be by invitation and space is limited, you’re welcome to inquire about the availability of spaces on particular dates at awrn@uncg.edu.


“Democracy and Dictatorship in the Atlantic World Since 1900”—Fabrice Lehoucq
Thursday, March 22, 2016

Dr. Fabrice Lehoucq, Professor of Political Science at UNCG, presented the research for his forthcoming book in a talk entitled “Democracy and Dictatorship in the Atlantic World Since 1900.” The purpose of Dr. Lehoucq’s work is to create a framework of statistical analysis of Latin American political regimes that was free of explicit or implicit comparison with the United States. In models where all Latin American countries are placed vis-a-vis America, analysis can obfuscate the similarities and differences Latin American countries have with each other.

Dr. Lehoucq noted that a consistency among all Latin American governments was the holding of regular elections – the frequency varied between four and six years. While elections occurred an average of every 5.2 years among the eighteen countries examined, however, nearly half involved major electoral violations which rendered the results at least somewhat compromised. This compromise was reflected by the fact that in two in five elections examined, the winner received more than sixty percent of the vote – as opposed to other western elections where the winning candidate receives far less than that.

One of the primary factors in creating pluralistic electorates was the embrace of universal suffrage – Dr. Lehoucq contends that the main hindrance to this electoral process was more pronounced in countries which possessed higher populations of native tribes or former African slaves, though most had achieved full manhood suffrage by the first decade of the twentieth century. Female suffrage was relatively soon to follow, being enacted in most countries by 1930.

Dr. Lehoucq concluded by demonstrating what was distinctive about the Latin American political process is its instability - coups, civil wars, and changes in the constitution are all common occurrences, though they tend to occur in more or less mutually exclusive spaces.

Colloquium attendees were invited to ask questions of Dr. Lehoucq. One colleague asked whether political contagion was due substantially to external covert meddling. Dr. Lehoucq indicated from his research that foreign intervention – principally American – had little to do with most political instability, with internal factors found to generate most coups and rebellions. Dr. Lehoucq also noted that coup attempts tend to beget coup attempts with the most telling indicator of an overthrow being the length of time since the last coup. Stable Latin American democracies exist due to an arrangement between factions of the political class.

Just as critical in the preponderance of coups and civil wars is the fact that many Latin American militaries are not subordinate to civilian governments, though it appears that most political upheaval seems to have largely cleared up by the end of the twentieth century. Dr. Lehoucq concluded by noting that the increasing wealth gap which has grown in developed countries, including Latin American ones, has created political conditions that are more unstable.

“‘Errant Modernism’ and the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s Pan-American Exhibit”—Esther  Gabara, E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Romance Studies, and Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

In her presentation entitled “Errant Modernism,” Dr. Esther Gabara of Duke University spoke to the connection between, photography, the avant-garde, and modernity in Latin America. This talk was given in conjunction with the Weatherspoon Art Museum’s exhibit on Pan-American Modernism.

Dr. Gabara explained that the camera was first brought to Latin America as a tool of European imperialism and acted as a tool of imperial expansion. The context created by the photographer served European ends – to frame the Latin American experience in European terms and for European imperial ends. It also served to define native Latin Americans by controlling the context through which most Europeans experienced them. Latin American postmodernists sought to reclaim self-contextualization through errancy – both by expanding the use of the camera and distorting the context through which the subject is displayed. By making the camera take “bad” pictures – out of focus, poorly framed, etc. – the postmodern photographer sought to distort the European perspective by forcing the viewer to confront the subject from a novel perspective.
Latin American postmodern photography is not an original art form, nor does it attempt strictly to copy or duplicate European styles or tropes. Errancy offered an alternative to industrialized and commercialized photography and broke the control of imperialist contextualization. Photographers combined elements of modernism and communist ideology to deconstruct structures of inequality. These photographs were not meant to be statements of truth, but designed to take on a life of their own and create a context specific to that moment in time.

In a lively question and answer session following Dr. Gabara’s talk, colloquium attendees asked if Latin American modernists had visited Europe and brought back ideas about photography and modernism. They had not only visited Europe, but leveled the exchange of influence – European modernists were taking up some of the sensibilities of their Latin American counterparts. In a post-World War II world, former colonial peoples were changing the observer-subject relationship to a degree.

Dr. Gabara was also asked how European importation of photography to Latin America might have affected the spread and use of the technology. Dr. Gabara claimed that this particular aspect regarding the mechanics of distribution was an unimportant one in regard to studying the errancy of modernist photography. Likewise, Dr. Gabara regards the notion that race or creolization played any role or the originality of Latin American modernist ideas as secondary to the ideological concept of errancy.

Dr. Gabara answered one final question regarding whether Latin American modernism in photography took on an essential regional character or was unique to the region. The beauty of photography as both technology and art is that it has always been a portable, accessible medium. Modernist photography was not unique to Latin America, but it provided and continues to provide a useful medium of analysis and reflection.