Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Technology
Conceptually, technology encompasses a multiplicity of meanings: it can be used to mean techniques, instruments, appliances, tools, and technoscientific products, among many others. In practice, technologies are imagined, created and deployed to have an effect on the material and discursive world. Very often, the use of technologies is tied to a vision of change. Technologies may be used to move toward an imagined future and thus informed by values such as those of innovation, the design of future worlds, and the improvement of different aspects of human and/or non-human life. But also, informed by different nostalgic views of social interaction, it can lead to forms of retro-innovation; that is, the recuperation of old or ancient technologies with the purpose of recovering old ways of living, forgotten or semi-forgotten flavors, sounds, ways of dressing, of social and political organization, and any other aspect that “modern” life has left behind. Indeed, technologies may also propitiate intermediate assemblages of practices, affects, discourses and imaginings of life. The papers in this session are concerned with the different ways in which different technologies mediate our imagination of the future and the past, and the efforts to transform the present moving forward, either to the future or the past among members of Latin American and Caribbean groups. Latin American and Caribbean societies, in general, are marred by deep inequalities that translate into different access to technological means such as instruments and tools. Consequently, people in these areas of the world forecast their immediate and mediate futures differently, while still sharing some apprehensions and optimisms about the possible future awaiting all just around the corner. The papers here assembled show how different technologies mediate different constructions of the social, economic and political subject. The authors examine the everyday imaginations of the future whereby local peoples understand that technologies will be instrumental in changing or preserving the world to come. Hence, in this session we discuss how cooks and professional chefs imagine the future of regional cuisine in Yucatán, in a context of the growing number of culinary schools; how different social media are used by local subjects in Trinidad in order to build the foundations of modern selves but also looking toward future local social developments; how different technologies are used by the middle and upper classes in Chile to communicate with the beyond and thus to influence the future through technological and paranormal interventions; how in Mexico young entrepreneurs use new Information technologies in post-organizational environments seeking to producing tangible and intangible goods and processes; how in Cuba, ways of fighting the lion fish invasion of Caribbean waters has spawned the imagination of change in the local diet in the replacement of fish for chicken; and how the ghosts of technologies have been and continue to be invoked in the rethinking of possible futures in Yucatan, Mexico. Together, these papers illustrate multiple forms in which technologies mediate the local imagination of change, and of the future to come.