Josh Metanko, Ph.D. Candidate, History
The annual meeting of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is the largest gathering of scholars working from a variety of disciplinary perspectives who are united by a research focus on the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. This year, the meeting was held in Boston over the course of five days at the end of May.
The main reason for my attendance was to present on a panel of junior and advanced scholars as part of the Gender and Sexualities section of LASA. I presented at 4:00 PM on Monday May 27, 2019 at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. The title of my panel was “The Construction of Biopolitics: Space and Representation in Chile, Mexico, and Brazil.” My paper was title “Medical Acculturation, Gender and Fieldwork in Rural Mexican Development, 1950-1970.” The other papers on the panel examined homosexuality and AIDS in Chile and the lives of Black transwomen in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. The combination of papers provided a multi-sited perspective on gender, race and sexuality in Latin America, both historically and currently. I received generous feedback from the audience on my paper. In addition to engaging in a discussion on midcentury anthropological constructions of “normal/abnormal” sexuality in indigenous communities and how this linked into the state’s project to modernize indigenous health practices, I also received suggestions on additional readings to help contextualize my findings.
In addition to my presentation, I had the opportunity to attend numerous presentations, panels, and film screenings. I attended several panels in the Science and Technology section of LASA, all of which gave me the opportunity to hear about cutting edge research from the top scholars in the history of science and technology in Latin America. I also attended panels that spoke to twentieth-century Mexican history, including one panel about the 2018 Presidential election which presented interesting data that contradicts mainstream media reports about the historic nature of the election. Finally, I also took advantage of this meeting of scholars and publishers to have several one-on-one meetings. The most significant meeting I had was with the editor of a university press. We spoke for about 45 minutes about the possibility of publishing my dissertation as a book. In sum, I benefited enormously from attending LASA’s 2019 meeting in Boston, both by having the opportunity to share and receive feedback on my dissertation research as well as by taking advantage of the opportunity to network.