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Revista Uruguaya de Antropología y Etnografía

versión impresa ISSN 2393-7068versión On-line ISSN 2393-6886

Rev. urug. Antropología y Etnografía vol.5 no.2 Montevideo  2020  Epub 01-Dic-2020 



The reference to time was present in the theme of the Call during all of 2020 and without having foreseen it, it became immediately very appropriate and unavoidable in this year dominated by the arrival and installation of the global sequence of the pandemic.

Then the reflection on time, as a chain of events, and with the sense of uninterrupted narration, now leads me to evoke everything that has happened throughout the years in which I have been in charge, as Editor, of giving existence and continuity to the publication in Uruguay of an academic journal of anthropology.

The first was the Yearbook of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Uruguay, from 2000 to 2015. In 2016 it became the Uruguayan Journal of Anthropology and Ethnography, RUAE, incorporating qualitative changes, such as the semester frequency, with parameters required by Scielo Uruguay, Latindex, DOAJ, among others.

From 2016 to 2020 the RUAE has punctually fulfilled its commitments to publish in digital format, OJS; it also continued to publish the full version in PDF thanks to the location given to it on the UNESCO-Montevideo website.

Needless to say, I did not manage alone such a journey, of 20 full years.

In honor of the plurality of support and work incorporated, in each issue, in each semester volume, we always make the acknowledgments explicit, which I now highlight here, in no order of priority but with the concern not to omit anyone from the significant set of contributions, without putting the proper names in each function, because it would exceed the space of these editorial lines.

I want to remember with enormous appreciation: authors, evaluators, translators, cultural manager and artists who allow us to compose high quality covers every year, our professional designer who maintains the careful style of publication, the assistant of edition that deals with the digital version, who performs the specialized work of the procedure called markup so that the journal can be disseminated by the Scielo platform, to the bibliographic standards corrector, to the Scielo Uruguay team, to the AURA team with whom we manage the DOI numbering and the Crossref anti plagiarism program, to the LATINDEX team that this year gave us the qualification to enter the catalog 2.0, to the authorities and in charge of the Unesco website, to the space on the website of the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences, managed by the publications department of the FHCE.

The final product contains complexities and moments of entry into the scene, which must be orchestrated to arrive in good shape and on time according to the delivery dates; RUAE must respect the rhythm imposed by being part of the collection of scientific journals of Scielo Uruguay, a collection that is systematically evaluated, with punctuality and content, elements that contribute to the optimal general certification that is achieved.

I confess that it was difficult, and at times frustrating, the learning that we had to go through to be able to deliver all the material satisfactorily. At this point it was always important to have a good team of Editing Assistants, whom I thank for all the work. At the end of 2020 and with ten editions completed in five years of the RUAE, I can recognize and thank all that demand that they imposed on us, because we had a notorious qualitative growth, gaining a place in the world of digital academic journals.

In this farewell synthesis I also want to highlight the importance of the real and symbolic support we had from well-known colleagues, nationals and foreigners, who agreed to first endorse the annual publication, integrated into the Editorial Board since 2010 when the Yearbook was admitted as a refereed journal in Latindex, later in Scielo. In 2016, already converted into RUAE, we had to change the name of the group of colleagues who give us academic support, becoming the Journal Editorial Board, always counting on professors and colleagues from Argentina, Brazil, USA, France, Italy and from Uruguay, both public and private university services. In 2019, new names entered, from Argentina and Uruguay, highlighting a greater multidisciplinary integration from the Anthropological Sciences themselves, also with representation from the Unesco program and other Social Sciences.

In 2019, an Executive Editorial Committee was incorporated, which has the role of proposing changes in editorial responsibilities and decisions to ensure continuity in the coming year. We are, at the end of 2020, at the right time for these changes. We arrive here with tranquility and confidence, betting that the RUAE continues in a line of growth, of high-level academic exchanges, with a vocation to go far without losing footing in the local space, thus capturing the aroma of time (Chul Han dixit ) already incorporated, deepening the tension of the scientific, relevant and updated narrative.

Special mention deserve those who supported materially and with printing work so that the existence of an Anthropology publication in Uruguay was made concrete, which in the first years came out thanks to the Fontaina-Minelli Foundation, then thanks to the support and continued work of the Nordan Publishing House -Community, including solidarity of adherents to the Southern Community in Sweden.

I end this historical account by returning to the mythical moment of the origins, founding and unrepeatable brilliance: when in 2000 we made the presentation of the first number in the auditorium of the Faculty of Humanities and Education Sciences, with the support of the Embassy of France traveled from Buenos Aires the anthropologist Gilles Riviére, then director of the Franco-Argentine Center of the UBA-EHESS, who made an intervention together with the dean of the FHCE, Adolfo Elizainzín and the sociologist Marcos Supervielle. There was an artistic moment, with theatrical performances by Luis Vidal and Pepe Vázquez. And a toast, of course, because by toasting, long life vows are made.

In 2016, when the first issue of RUAE came out, times were different and existence in the virtual world caught us by surprise: we simply did not know how to give a welcome ritual to that birth. Or rebirth. With the same sobriety I am closing a cycle, barely leaving these marks in writing, with a significant and sufficiently expressive density of personal and collective issues.

Perhaps the unconscious, ungovernable side, led me to be more present in this volume.

With this second volume of 2020 I am leaving the place of Editor, although I am willing to make specific contributions in another position within the places and tasks required by the RUAE.

Studies and Essays

In the Studies and Essays Section there are two texts that refer to specific territories and to very different and topical theoretical reflections, topics and research:

The text on the case of autonomous cities on the African coast (which Spain understands as an extension of its own territory) places us in a highly topical political-cultural complexity. “En los pliegues del Mediterráneo: Ceuta y Melilla,” by Angela Sagnella, (Universitá per Stranieri, Perugia, Italy), allows us to capture something of the multicultural world of the Mediterranean Sea, to which we should turn much more seriously when it comes to locating, from South America, inheritances and genealogies.

It is that when speaking of Spanish and Italian immigrants in the Río de la Plata - as homogeneous ethnic origins in themselves - we obviate that at the origin there are centuries of diverse populations on one side and the other of the coasts of the Mediterranean Basin.

As Angela Sagnella points out, the two cities that were Spanish “territory” on the Maghreb coast, North Africa, have a special status as Autonomous Cities with some clause of International Law that leads them to be part of the European Union. It is evident that they constitute possible entry points for the immigration of sub-Saharan and Maghrebian populations, among others, the risks are raised in the article.

As for the settlement and local traditions, in these small territories, of little more than a dozen square kilometers, culturally diverse urban communities grew, professing all the monotheistic religions that were born on or near the Mediterranean itself, in addition to Hinduism that brought the population of that origin. There is a remarkably multicultural coexistence, which can feel fragile in the face of more or less ambitious advances by nations that claim supposed rights. A world that continues to be fascinating, with dramatic movements, but with a “solar” vitality. This is what the text of A. Sagnella reflects.

In his article “La emergencia disciplinar de los Science and Technology Studies, la génesis híbrida del ‘giro ontológico’ y algunos debates contemporáneosDavid Antolinez Uribe (Faculty of Psychology of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia. Master’s Program in Human Sciences, of the FHCE , University of the Republic, Uruguay) clearly expresses the goal of placing oneself on the theoretical plane where both philosophical and anthropological arguments and developments are articulated. Bruno Latour himself, whom he takes as a fundamental, creative agent of ontological changes and turns, is recognized as a debtor to both sources. The step that B. Latour took when he entered a laboratory went further and deeper than the application of ethnographic methodology. Beyond the discussion limited to Nature and Culture. The jungle of devices and reagents began to emit messages, the reality of acting entities, with multiple relationships to record and interpret. Another field, other objects that cannot be sheltered under a single disciplinary intelligence. That is why Mr. Antolinez Uribe allows himself a nod to the biblical sentence “that that discipline that is free of hybridization casts the first stone”.

Research Advances

In the Research Advances Section we propose two studies that delve into complexities that are not so obvious or apparent, that are embedded in the field of public health, on the street, in cities, in institutions.

With the research about “Influencia del imaginario social en período de pandemia, Uruguay”, the group grouped in the Anthropology and Health Program, of the FHCE, - Sonnia Romero, Fabricio Martinez, Fabricio Vomero, Virginia Rial, Selene Cheroni, Samuel Rodríguez, Gregorio Tabakian, Cristian Dibot, Rodrigo Abraira, Joaquín Martínez - reports on the results of the systematic registration of behaviors, objectification of ideational models captured live, without prolonged stay, but rather observations in several places at the same time in a limited period of two months, in the style of anthropological expert opinions when the investigation is concentrated on an object or problem in a densified way and then a report is tried, an interpretation of circumstances that can be considered as evidence in trials or other situations that need to be praised. There was, of course, at the beginning the temptation to approach what was understood as a total social fact, affecting multiple moments, characters, angles and gaps in a society attacked by Covid-19. The search, the registration, the discussion on the material obtained were the object of a collective approach, while the writing was assumed by the coordination of the study.

From Mexico came the proposal to publish a text with provocative and even debatable aspects, (but accepted by the external evaluation), “El secreto como base de la camarilla: un estudio etnográfico encubierto en una organización hospitalaria”, by Víctor H. Robles Francia, ( Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco, México) and V. Adrián Robles Ramos (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Hidalgo, México) considered it important to report progress on the results obtained through ethnographic records in a hospital institution without specifying any intentions, or moments in who were paying attention to capture the signs that would confirm the assumptions of the inquiry. The different activity groups and professionals handle information, manipulate secrets when it comes to covering responsibilities, even when the consequences are extreme for patients. One reason given for launching into this covert ethnography practice in a public hospital in Mexico is precisely “to make procedures transparent, to defend the rights of patients.” Because the trust with which patients give themselves to what is specialized care is violated. The modality of revealing bad practices registered with the knowledge of one’s own experience, without the filter imposed by an announced observation, has a part of interest and a part of discussion about the ethnographic research ethics that urges us to make explicit when we act in the observer role and when we act in another role. The authors do not avoid the problem, rather they have arguments to “liberate” the ethnographic practice from an excessive frankness, a bit limiting.


In the Dossier Section, following the policy of proposing works or instances that mean participation, exchanges, with broad academic fields, we gather comments on two studies published in Buenos Aires. They report on socio-anthropological research in Bella Unión (2016) and Montevideo (2019). Both books belong to the Ethnography Collection of Popular Sectors, Editorial Gorla, under the direction of Pablo Semán, an Argentine anthropologist who rightly chooses these works that produce “unpublished” knowledge through a qualitative and updated approach to old realities. Thanks to Pablo Semán for these titles in his collection.

The Dossier is completed with a brief report on the recent OASPA World Conference. In virtual mode, it reached a qualified participation, in which the RUAE was represented.

“Detrás de la línea de pobreza. La vida en los barrios populares de Montevideo”, by Verónica Filardo and Denis Merklen (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of the Republic and IHEAL, Institut de Hautes Etudes de l’Amérique Latine, Paris, France, respectively). A team worked with the authors and those responsible for the study, among whom I gladly recognized young anthropologist colleagues. The enormous field work, in the problematic edges of the city of Montevideo, reconstructs and interprets social effects, possible impacts, of programs carried out by the Ministry of Social Development, in recent years when the intervention of the State in the neighborhoods was extended , in people’s life. The dimension that Social Policies reached in the official debate and public opinion is a fact that marks, for the country, a new time in the 21st century.

“Los peludos. Cultura, Política y Nación en los márgenes del Uruguay”, by Silvina Merenson (National University of San Martín, UNSAM, Buenos Aires), came into my hands a little after the publication date, so I hope the spirit of the comment remains in force . The work is the result of a professional and personal commitment of S. Merenson with the time and population of the extreme north of Uruguay. There where the fight of the sugarcane farmers, the hairy ones, was born, where a union and a movement were born that are in the epic history of the last decades of the 20th century. Excellent result of a personal investigation, including displacement and stay effort.

The third comment, “Noticias desde el lado abierto del acceso. Nota sobre la Conferencia de la Asociación de Editores Académicos en Acceso Abierto (OASPA) 2020”, by Gerardo Ribero, it should be included in the Dossier because it comes to provide us with a timely update on the growing academic bubble and its production practices for specialized publications. G. Ribero was able to attend the OASPA virtual congress by invitation to the RUAE from the leadership of Scielo Uruguay. Opportunity that we appreciated and for which we now share information and results. It brings impressive data, which give us an idea of ​​the phenomenon of refereed magazines. Galaxy in which we exist, like a dot that shines among so many others. No more no less.

Open space

In this Section we present, in brief format, news of the national academic activity and around the region.

We highlight the coincidence of topics covered in this RUAE, but in an artistic key in the triptych of Santiago Estellano, a Uruguayan artist based in Buenos Aires. With anthropological inspiration and a critical spirit typical of the so-called Anthropocene epoch, he proposes three works that refer to the moment of world domination of Covid-19. It adheres to the current that gives Gaia a voice, asking questions about capacities to respond to “natural” disasters (very much in line with Isabelle Stengers, in Aux temps des catastrophes, 2013, La Découverte, Paris).

We gladly share the announcement of the presentation of a solidarity work in Chiloé, thanking Natalia Picaroni, a Uruguayan anthropologist who is enthusiastic about working with the communities in that archipelago for the communication.

As always, we call for reviews of theses already defended within the framework of the FHCE Postgraduate Program, Doctorate in Anthropology and Master in Anthropology of the Cuenca del Plata Region.

The reviews received refer to the theses approved in the second semester of 2020:

PhD Thesis in Anthropology: by Fabricio Vomero

Master’s Thesis in the Cuenca del Plata Region: by Marina Pintos, by Magdalena Mislev, by Karina Abdala, by Magdalena Curbelo, by Maria Julia Barboza, by Eloisa Rodriguez.

Reviews of master’s degrees by Eliana Lotti and Ana Laura Meroni were not included. When they are sent, they may be broadcast in another RUAE delivery.

Close this Open Section, and on vol. 2 of 2020, the cover of the compilation Anthropologies made in Uruguay, by Pablo Gatti and Gregorio Tabakian, with a photograph of Ignacio Expósito, “Romería de Farruco, Uruguay” on a beautiful cover.

The book was soon on the precise date of the VI ALA Congress, 2020.

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