Latin American Landscapes Cluster

The Latin American Landscapes Cluster (2023-25) is funded by the Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters Offices of the Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the Provost & Vice-President, Academic, UBC Vancouver. It connects scholars from across Arts at UBC whose research engages with landscapes in Latin America. Our workshops, speaker series, and other activities will centre the question of extractivism and its impact on Indigenous peoples, Latin American societies, and the environment.

Major Outcomes 

  • Lay the foundations to create a Centre for Latin American Studies in the Faculty of Arts in 2025.
  • Apply for external grants
  • Push the research focus of UBC faculty and graduate students to dedicate greater attention to both environmental and Indigenous perspectives.
  • Organize four workshops, create a monthly speaker series, run digital humanities projects, and write policy pieces.
  • Coordinate a non-credit PhD seminar in order to mentor and involve PhD students in research and knowledge dissemination.

Funded projects, 2023-24

Breaking Down Borders: Debating Origins and Directions of Interregional Exchange in Latin America (Workshop), Aleksa Alaica (Archaeology)

  • This workshop brought together emerging and prominent scholars to engage with seminal and developing debates on the origins of key food sources (i.e. cacao and maize), technological advancements (i.e. metallurgy and ceramics), and the changing styles of material remains from prominent pre- and post-colonial contexts (i.e. stonework and textiles) in order to break down the limitations introduced by contemporary frontiers. Read more about the workshop here.
  • A workshop summary was published in CLAAS Notes (2024), vol. 3.

Museo de la Inmigración, José Ricardo García Martínez (FHIS/History)

  • During the month of June 2023, Dr. García did an internship at the “Museo de la Inmigración” in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He gathered documents for an upcoming exhibit by doing research at the Archivo General de la Nación. In particular, he sought out primary sources on the interaction between immigrants and Indigenous populations during the nineteenth and twentieth century in Argentina. This work also supported the virtual museum Bridge To Argentina, a collaborative project between UBC and the Museo de la Inmigración.

Palabras Madres/Mother Words: Bridging Peoples and Territories Through Poetry by Mapuche Writers from Patagonia in Translation, María Carbonetti (FHIS)

  • A community engaged learning project where two Spanish 301 classes worked guided by  Mapuche scholars and members of the community, reading and translating a curated collection of poems by Patagonian writers from the Spanish/Mapuche languages into English for public dissemination. This is an example of an embodied learning experience that included a creation of a podcast and a “visual translation” of those poems where students reflected creatively through art, composing AI images, photographs, paintings and drawings expressing not only their understanding of original the texts but also personal connections with their own experiences with local and home territories.

Telling alternative Sargassum stories: from monster to webs of responsibility, Juanita Sundberg (Geography)

  • In 2011, unprecedented, massive rafts of Sargassum, a seaweed, began landing on Caribbean coasts. What is Sargassum communicating about the state of the ocean? What can this brown algae teach us about the webs of relations in which we are immersed? We are producing a storybook that invites reflections on these questions. Our objective is to shift the story of Sargassum away from one of an invasive species – a monster from afar that darkens turquoise waters and befouls beaches – to instead locate readers in the webs of multispecies relations responsible for Sargassum’s proliferation in the Atlantic Ocean. Inviting locals and visitors to the Mexican Caribbean to imagine themselves in a world constituted by intimate relations with other-than-humans, including Sargassum, opens up possibilities for ethical and political change. Sargassum landings on Mexico’s Caribbean coast threaten already stressed marine life and a million-dollar tourist industry. However, reporting on Sargassum landings in Mexico frame the coast as under siege, with little to no information on the anthropogenic causes of Sargassum blooms. Doing so protects the tourist industry, but ignores the direct ways human activities, including tourism, contribute to the blooms.

Republic of Atlapulco, the politics of autonomy in the Mexican Metropolis, Daniel P. Gámez (Geography)

  • A series of workshops and community gatherings aimed at resignifying the political history of the Indigenous Nahua town of Atlapulco. These activities are guided by participatory-action and collaborative methodologies, where members of the community examine documents and archival ephemera to engage in discussions about the politics of self-government and its possible futures.