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Revista Uruguaya de Antropología y Etnografía

Print version ISSN 2393-7068On-line version ISSN 2393-6886

Rev. urug. Antropología y Etnografía vol.6 no.1 Montevideo June 2021  Epub June 01, 2021 



Sonnia Romero Gorski1 

1Editora. Instituto de Antropología - FHCE, Montevideo

In December of last year, 2020, I had conceived and written the Editorial of vol 2 of that date as a farewell from the place of Editor of the Revista Uruguaya de Antropología y Etnografía. I had thus evoked not only the time elapsed, events, and the multiple supports that made possible a long journey in the self-imposed task of "giving existence and continuity to the publication in Uruguay of an academic journal of anthropology", in my own expression.

It is well known, but perhaps it is not excessive to review the history, that I first took care of the Anuario de Antropología Social y Cultural in Uruguay, between 2000 and 2015. At the behest of parameters required by the Scielo Uruguay portal, the publication had to be transformed into a biannual and digital journal. Since 2016 it was then called Revista Uruguaya de Antropología y Etnografía, RUAE, incorporated not only to Scielo Uruguay but also in Latindex, DOAJ, among others. From 2016 to date, the digital publication in OJS format was completed, as well as the full PDF version continued to be published by courtesy of the UNESCO-Montevideo website.

Now it is important to point out that one of the main parameters to remain on the podium of academic journals in the country (and in professional relation to Scielo Brazil that opens the entrance to Web of Science), is the periodicity, the punctual respect of the commitment to deliver the publication so that it "rises" to the expected places.

This is the reason why I am currently, in the first semester of 2021, editing the first volume of the year, since it was not possible in the short term to complete the organization of the relay for the management and editorial work of RUAE. This situation will change in the second half of 2021 when a new staff will be in charge and fully operational.

For my part, I am pleased to have reached this final point in which I can see the growth of the publication and its continuity assured.

As I have always done and with even more reason in this formal farewell, I must thank the plurality of support and the work incorporated, in each issue, in each biannual volume.

I want to remember with great appreciation the authors, evaluators, translators, the cultural management and the artists who each year allowed us to compose covers of great quality. Great work has been done by our professional layout designer who maintained the careful style of the publication; I thank the team of collaborators who have supported the editing work, in multiple details, the assistant editor who has been in charge of preparing the digital version, I also thank the person 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 checker, to the Scielo Uruguay team, to the AURA team (Uruguayan Association of Academic Journals) with whom we managed the DOI numbering and the Crossref anti-plagiarism program, to the LATINDEX team that in 2020 gave us the qualification to enter the catalog 2. 0 catalog, to the authorities and to the person in charge of the UNESCO web page, to the space on the web page of the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences, managed by the publications department of the FHCE.

In this synthesis of farewell once again, I would like to emphasize (as I did in the farewell of December 2020) the importance of the real and symbolic support we had from renowned colleagues, national and foreign, who agreed to support first the annual publication, integrated in the Editorial Board since 2010, then in the Editorial Board of RUAE, colleagues who gave the academic support that any scientific publication requires, professors and colleagues from Argentina, Brazil, USA, France, Italy and Uruguay, from public and private university services, and representation of the MOST program of UNESCO.

In this regard, I consulted with Scielo Uruguay about the relevance of maintaining or not the Editorial Staff for this transitional issue, and the answer was that the data that were established along with my responsibility as Editor of RUAE, that is from 2016 to date, had to be respected.

We will only omit the name of Professor Alberto Sobrero of La Sapienza University of Rome, because of his death in February 2021. Due to the significant academic exchange, the links he maintained with Uruguay, with the FHCE, with the Yearbook and then with the RUAE, material of interest was created for the Dossier included in this issue.

In 2019 an Executive Editorial Committee was incorporated, which has the role of proposing changes in editorial responsibilities and decisions to ensure the continuity of the publication from the second half of 2021.

We reach this point with tranquility and confidence, betting that RUAE will continue in a line of growth, of high-level academic exchanges, with a vocation to go far without losing footing in the local space, capturing the time incorporated, deepening the tension of scientific, relevant and updated narratives.


The normal and the abnormal... Disputed normativities

As usual, general information about the publication is detailed below:

    Studies and Essays

    In the Studies and Essays Section you will find three texts that refer to specific territories and theoretical reflections, topics and research of current interest in the continuity and expansion of anthropological interests. We are pleased to publish in this Section contributions sent to us by colleagues from Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay:

    The first text deals with a case of micro economy in a locality of Mexico, where the question of loans, interpersonal debts, has been institutionalized in an informal but firmly organized way. "We sustain ourselves from credits, because we can't count with cash. An ethnographic case of indebtedness on the coast of Nayarit, México", by Lourdes Salazar, (National School of Anthropology and History, Mexico). The research leads us to know a particular way of solving the lack of liquidity for people who need to migrate temporarily to the United States, take some money for expenses and leave something to the family, all until the first check is cashed when they begin to pay the "migration debt". Other types of "small debts" are generated locally by women to meet the needs and demands of a relative family welfare, such as buying changes of clothes and even what they call "knickknacks". The system of loans and credits, solved without going through any banking institution, generates an interesting social interweaving of solidarity, consolidating belongings in the community at the same time that it generates movements, changes of status. In the maintenance of balances, the word counts, the commitment; honoring debts is a matter of honor and also of protection for the families.

    It is anthropologically relevant to recognize the differentiated treatment that different groups and social contexts give to the same subject. In other situations or latitudes, debts have been the basis for installing real regimes of oppression. Undoubtedly, the socio-cultural components in the ethnographic case studied mark a different path of solutions, and have produced different regulations that are functional to the stability of life in this locality on the coast of Nayarit, Mexico.

    In his article "Beyond the dialectic between deterioration and gentrification", Eduardo Alvarez Pedrosian (Faculty of Information and Communication, University of the Republic, Uruguay) takes reflective tours through parts of the city of Montevideo, according to a professional will to follow urban transformations or building stagnation and decay. In Montevideo it is impossible not to be amazed by the contrasts that, according to the economy or trends, quickly change the focus. Entire areas fall into disgrace or surprisingly resurge in the interest of the real estate market and people. Movements of desires that literally dislocate public and private capitals, produce discontinuities in the map of the city. These shifts called gentrification, when they lead to a change in the social status of the inhabitants, without much regard for the location of the former residents, are not even the only evil to be feared. Ugliness (with a capital letter) can also threaten the city, and can be installed together with ambitious investments that in a scarce urban land raise projects of dubious quality but with the expectation of profitability. Not even the categorization of Historical Heritage puts totally safe from promises of investments in neighborhoods, buildings, houses. At the same time, deterioration is gaining central streets, as in the historic district, the Old City, where attempts at urban rehabilitation coexist with demolitions, with successful restorations and, on the edges, with some housing cooperative plans. But the truth is that the social fabric was not recovered there and it is an area practically discarded as a residential place, in spite of its excellent infrastructure, spaces with coastal and port landscape. The author highlights some rescue attempts, by urban policies of the municipality, creating public spaces with improvements and concern for the common inhabitants of Montevideo, which struggles to maintain its urban dignity. It seems that an interdisciplinary vision of the whole is lacking, treating the city as a living totality.

    The third paper of the Studies and Essays Section, "Rock art, ethnography and collective memory. The case of Cueva de las Manos, Patagonia, Argentina" brings us a very important contribution on the interpretation of the cave paintings of Cueva de las Manos, an archaeological site in Patagonia, already recognized by UNESCO as part of the World Heritage. Patricia Schneier, Agustina Ponce and Carlos Aschero, from different Argentinean university institutions, set out on a scientific search for keys to interpret reasons, options that were taken by ancient groups of the area. ¿Who were behind the figures that were drawn on the walls of the cave? Successive occupants in an amazingly long period between 9,400 years BP and 2500 years BP were leaving hunting scenes, animals, rather groups of pregnant guanacas, a large disk that is interpreted as a full moon, and hands in negative. More than 800 hands of adults, women and children, ¿do they reaffirm what the paintings "say"? ¿Do they express collective communion, between the living and the ancestors? A significant fact: the figures and hands were painted in successive and different epochs, but the most recent ones did not cover the previous ones. It is a continuum in the long period, with remarkable permanence of motifs and coloring materials. The authors searched for testimonies on memories, traces of travelers accounts, of local populations, especially the Tehuelche group, and refined the decipherment of mythical stories. They found a recurring theme in traditional stories, from Alaska to the deepest south: the daughter of the Sun and the Moon, desired by the mythical hero, there are obstacles to overcome, animals interacting with humans, a fight for fire, an episode of cannibal consumption. ¿How to put together the pieces of a very vast puzzle but which is known to be "true"? since it refers to what exists or what is forbidden, really. Something of that is since illo tempore on the walls of the Cueva de las Manos but there is no certainty of arriving at the true key to the whole. It reminds me of the enigma of The Purloined Letter by E. Alan Poe, hidden in plain sight.

    Research Advances

    In the Research Advances Section we propose three studies that delve into complexities that are neither obvious nor apparent, underlying public discourses, places of exhibition and virtual monitoring, sensitivities and ways of being present during fieldwork. The papers were proposed by colleagues from Argentina, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

    The first text refers to Discursive analysis of an open letter about fires on islands in the Parana Delta (year 2020). Francisco J. Preiti - from the University of Rosario, Argentina, takes an "Open Letter to President Alberto Fernández" that circulated after the occurrence of fires in the islands of Paraná, Province of Entre Ríos, Argentina, and applies a discourse analysis, which the author took from the French School of Discourse Analysis. This allows him to grasp the implications of the enunciative configuration. According to the author, this piece, object of the analysis, constitutes part of the corpus of a much more exhaustive analysis, because at the time a mass of media pieces, mobilizations and social interventions were produced. The whole mobilized within a promoted "socio-environmental problematic". The Open Letter was uploaded on the Internet to collect signatures for the creation of the "Parque Nacional del Gran Rosario, Manuel Belgrano" and was contextualized in the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the death of General Belgrano. The discursive strategy, of two authors, included as support the evocation of a national hero, the qualification of the fires as part of an intentional undertaking on the part of "others", province against province, denunciation of the attack on a common good such as Nature and Life, all in a construction or presentation of Yes on the side of truth in front of a scene of conflict. Postulation of a doxa thanks to a common ground, to collective symbolism. Necessary construction of "others" guilty or accomplices.

    The author's intention of denaturalizing common places of a polemic discourse, entered in the field of political disputes, is fulfilled.

    Understanding pornography as a relational process through the transformation of the researcher, was the text proposed by Natasha Alpizar Lobo (School of Anthropology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Costa Rica). It is largely based on her research conducted between 2012 and 2015 in an online forum for discussion and exhibition of the topic. An unusual place for an anthropological type of research, which required no little courage and style on the part of the author to "stand up" as a self-confessed observer and maintain her own code of ethics that included the refusal to show her photo in the forum or communications, refusal to present "her pornography" as requested by the other members of the forum or WhatsApp group. In her research exercise she takes into account Tim Ingold's distinction between Observation and Ethnography. For Ingold, (participant) observation is a practice of correspondence, while ethnography is a practice of description. It is in this game that the author will find the way to configure her presence, her methodology during the research. She discovers an a priori unsuspected world, full of rules, of levels of action, of classificatory forms, in short. He achieves a position of observation and registration, which does not allow itself to be interpreted as a voyeuristic practice. It puts into perspective the question of "coexistence" as a condition of the ethnographic enterprise, opening itself to no less real forms of participant observation. Without proposing its physical presence, nor its image. It is an exercise that is innovative, because of the subject, because of the approach. Fields in which some women are also experimenting in the anthropology of the 21st century.

    The third text of this Section, "The frolic: eroticism and ethics in my ethnographic work", by Yoseline González Cabrera, coincides to some extent with the previous one in the sense that it expresses a boldness on the part of young women who address little-used topics in the sexual-erotic field, which had not been represented in the RUAE until now. In this case, the author draws a veil over her own experience during the fieldwork, when she experienced mixed feelings with the acceptance of an erotic seduction game. The risk, a priori manageable, led her to sincere doubts, anger, searches. Something that seemed displaced to herself, but that once analyzed, objectified, allowed her to discover a subtle reality beyond herself and her specific circumstance of fieldwork for a curricular research. In the world of a hospital kitchen, where the author was investigating labor relations, daily "frolics" were uncovered, elementary forms of eroticized fun that linked women and men in the time of a rather hard work, thus composing a motive of containment for tiredness, weariness. These were not sexual relations stricto sensu, but rather links between people who, during working hours, had "invented" an eroticized pastime, but in a certain way not very offensive, although it maintained a certain masculine supremacy, culturally diffused in social sectors where the salaried labor force comes from. The eroticized "playfulness" can be interpreted, in the context studied, as another expression of companionship, something suggested by the author. An ethnographic observation is not enough to prevent the whole range of situations and relationships that can manifest themselves during a field research, there always remains underlying in different moments and situations a certain disciplinary fear, a methodological dramatism that threatens the lonely presence of the ethnographer in his/her field.


    In the Dossier Section of the first semester of 2021, we continue the line of proposing works or instances that meant participation, exchanges, from and to outstanding areas, with a corresponding public. This is the case of the Dossier dedicated to disseminate and remember the link that Professor Alberto Sobrero maintained with Uruguay, the academic instances in which he imparted anthropological knowledge and promoted interactions between colleagues, graduate students, FHCE in Montevideo, La Sapienza in Rome, among other academic centers in Italy.

    The plan of the Dossier (submitted for approval by Professor Carla Maria Rita, La Sapienza) includes texts referring to Professor A. Sobrero's "word given" in class, or in preface of a book inspired by the Uruguay-Italy academic links.

    It includes contributions by anthropologist colleagues who were directly related to A. Sobrero and who gave continuity to the exchanges between the FHCE, in the Master's Program in Anthropology of the La Plata Basin Region, and undergraduate and graduate activities at La Sapienza in Rome.

      Open Space

      In this section we present, in brief format, news, news of national and regional academic activities.

      Gregorio Tabakian sent notes on his very recent experience in Armenia and especially in the territory of Nagorno Karabakh where an armed dispute took place in late 2020.

      The highlight is that G. Tabakian was recruited as an anthropologist (with sensitivity of Armenian descent) to advise and accompany a Uruguayan team filming a documentary on this armed conflict. They traveled in March 2021. This is a further proof of possible collaboration and work for anthropologists in connection with audio-visual productions. In the uruguayan anthropological scene we knew the work of Jose Lopez Mazz and Dario Arce in the audio visual field. Gregorio Tabakian had the role of anthropological advisor in the production team. On this occasion, Gregorio Tabakian was assigned the role of anthropological advisor to the production team.

      Publications of interest for national anthropology,

      Laura M. Alvarez, Uruguayan researcher based in Oslo, Norway. With anthropological inspiration, in ethnomusicological research, she conducted research in a rural area of Senegal, collecting stories and musical production of traditional troubadours, Trovadoras africanas: guardianas de la tradición, 2020, Perro Andaluz, Ediciones, Montevideo.

      In December 2020, the book was presented at TRIBU, with the presence of the author.

      Eduardo Alvarez Pedrosian, Uruguayan anthropologist who has extensive experience in published studies on the generic city and on Montevideo, sent us his latest work Filigranas. Para una teoría del habitar, 2021, Bibliotecaplural, Montevideo. The book has not yet been able to be presented in a face-to-face event. It is hoped that the health situation will improve..

      Sonnia Romero Gorski
      Editora Instituto de Antropología - FHCE Montevideo, mayo 2021

      Acknowledgements for this vol1 2021

      We are grateful for the contributions, author submissions and disinterested collaboration of reviewers.

      To date, we have maintained our determination to provide an account of the communication between the contents of the publication and the plastic works of national artists.

      Symbolizing the closing of a cycle of linkage, in this volume 1 of 2021 the cover is composed of a set of works of which Claudia Anselmi, Fernando López Lage, Alfredo Ghierra, Gerardo Mantero, Carmela Piñon Cadenazzi, gave us the use for the RUAE.

      We would like to thank Macarena Montañez, from the artistic enterprise Pozo de agua, for her artistic management throughout the period, and Javier Fraga for his careful layout.

      We would like to thank UNESCO-Montevideo for publishing the complete PDF of the RUAE on the MOST Program website.

      The RUAE is completed thanks to the professional work of Javier Fraga in the layout, the bibliographic review of Analaura Collazo, in which Inti Clavijo also collaborated. We also thank Gabriela Motta for the preparation of files for Scielo Uruguay, and Gerardo Ribero for the digital publication in OJS format

      NOTE: As usual the RUAE called for the submission of reviews of Theses already defended in the framework of the Postgraduate Program of the FHCE, PhD in Anthropology and Master in Anthropology of the La Plata Basin Region. We consulted the Postgraduate Unit of the FHCE, which informed us that in the course of this year 2021 to date no theses have been defended

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