AAA 2011: Technological Aesthetics: The Ethnography of Contemporary Culture

November 18th 2011

What are the aesthetics of everyday life, and how do they change when we bring technology into the picture? This session examined the interactions of various technologies with local aesthetics in Mexico, Turkey, Haiti and the United States.

In her paper, Noise, Music and Technology in Urban MeridaGabriela Vargas-Cetina (Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan) discussed how musicians in Merida, Mexico, are responding to the noises in the surrounding city and incorporating them into their own music. She explains how trova performers consider noise to be the opposite of music, whereas her own students of the anthropology of music (who are also musicians) think that noise is music.

AAA 2011: Mobile banking and mobile phone aesthetics: Observations from Haiti

November 16th 2011

This paper was presented at the AAA Meetings, Montreal, November 2011, as part of a panel called 'Technological aesthetics: The ethnography of contemporary culture'.  It is co-authored with Dr. Espelencia Baptiste and Dr. Heather Horst.

Into the field

In a cybercafé in downtown Port-au-Prince, Jean Yves deposits 100 gourdes into his TchoTcho Mobile account. His brother Michel, who owns the business, recommended that he register for this mobile money service so that he doesn't have to carry money across town and risk being robbed. Taking his brother's advice, Jean Yves deposits the cash on his phone, and when he arrives at his final destination he withdraws it via his phone at another agent, this time a clothing store.

Excavating Ocupa Rio I: 'We Are the 99%!(?)'

November 7th 2011

David Thompson has been travelling around South America since he completed his Honours thesis on cosmpolitanism and urban poverty in Latin America at The Univeristy of Sydney, Australia, in late 2010. He is currently in Rio de Janeiro, where he is flash-researching the Ocupa Rio protests. This is the first entry in a two-part series. Part II, 'Excavating Ocupa Rio II: Trouble on Love Street', was published on Wednesday 9th November, 2011.

On Saturday October 22 a group of approximately sixty protesters began an occupation of the Floriano Plaza, a historical point of protest located in Cinelândia, part of the city's financial centre. While the first meeting was on October 15 next to the nearby Municipal Theatre to decide on whether to protest, the following Saturday was the beginning of a permanent presence and camp in the plaza, which has seen crowds of up to 500 people and approximately 120 tents.

Commonsense practice or state-sponsored caste system? Social stratification in Bogotá, Colombia

October 28th 2011

Steven Bunce is a PhD candidate at The University of Sydney, Australia. He is currently living in Bogotá, Colombia, where he is researching the nation's class system and the incorporation of internally displaced persons into the city's sociocultural landscape. 


A running joke in Colombia is that the rich want to be English, the intellectuals want to be French, the middle class want to be Americans, and the poor want to be Mexicans.  - William Ospina, 1996

Since 1988, residential zones in Colombia’s capital have been organized into six strata (estratos). This holds an important administrative function by which the upper classes pay a higher rate for their services or utilities to subsidize the costs of services for the lower classes.

While degrees of social stratification and grouping based on socio-economic status are evident in all societies, there are very few cities in the world in which income-based class divisions are explicitly categorized and its citizens classified and demarcated via a public policy.