Kellie Cavagnaro

Kellie Cavagnaro
Vanderbilt University | Vander Bilt · Department of Anthropology

M.A.

About

3
Publications
315
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1
Citation
Introduction
I am a dual-Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology and Comparative Media Analysis & Practice at Vanderbilt University. My multimedia dissertation examines the interplay of gender rights, media ecology, resource extraction and indigenous resistance in the altiplano of Peru, focused on Aymara communities along the shores of Lake Titicaca. My work contextualizes the relationship between expanding global media communications, climate change and gendered indigenous relations to the landscape.
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - May 2021
Vanderbilt University
Position
  • Analyst
Description
  • Cultural anthropologist, digital humanities scholar. Researching indigenous media activism, environmental justice and women's rights among the Aymara of Peru. With current funding by the Mellon Foundation & the Social Science Research Council.
August 2014 - present
Vanderbilt University
Position
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant
Description
  • Vanderbilt University Certificate in College Teaching and Pedagogy, 2016 Syllabus design and instruction for Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Anthropology of Religion, Medical Anthropology, Anthropology of the State and Food Politics
August 2010 - June 2012
Bishop Brady High School
Position
  • Spanish Teacher
Description
  • State certified K-12 educator, taught intro, advanced and honors Spanish to High School student at a private preparatory school.
Education
August 2014 - May 2020
Vanderbilt University
Field of study
  • Anthropology
August 2012 - May 2014
Wake Forest University
Field of study
  • Global Studies

Publications

Publications (3)
Article
Full-text available
In response to a recent surge of openly misogynistic political discourses at the highest levels of government, a vibrant wave of hashtag feminism across the Americas evidences women’s widespread concerns over their bodily and territorial rights. Engaging Twitter and Facebook as digital archives-of-the-present, in conjunction with ethnographic inter...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Herein, I critically analyze rhetorical and ontological claims of Andean political actors and the social needs and political demands of Andean women in support and/or protest of the Morales administration. Situating the animate and gendered landscape that supports Quechua and Aymara spirituality, this project considers Andean ecological politics wi...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Why are urban-dwelling Maya in Chiapas, Mexico, moved to study and reclaim indigenous Maya spiritual practices? The answer to this question requires an understanding of the complex church-state-indigenous relationship that spans the modern sociopolitical history of southern Mexico, and involves an emerging web of connectivity with the pan-Maya Move...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
A growing number of indigenous peoples are harnessing radio and social media to mobilize resistance against the nonconsensual development of their territories. But just how is social media transforming these indigenous resistance movements? In 2011, Aymara men and women along the border between Peru and Bolivia successfully halted the Santa Ana silver extraction project in its prospecting phase using radio messaging and Facebook posts to garner local and international support. After weeks of sustained protest and several incidents of police brutality, during which protesters were joined by thousands of supporters and featured in international broadcasts—including on CNN and Fox News—the Peruvian state halted the mine’s operations and revoked the company’s prospecting license. Building on the groundswell activism following this rare, if precarious, victory, Aymara women have become the backbone of various anti-extraction campaigns as defenders of an animate landscape that they call Pachamama, or “Earth Mother.” These women are now beginning to organize at indigenous communications summits, where tensions between conference organizers and indigenous participants highlight the gendered struggle for power and voice within the emerging indigenous communications networks. Organizers claim that using “media power,” one of several foci at these congresses, will help advance gender equality in communities. But to what extent does this struggle for parity and representation through media activism take place, and what are its characteristics? My research investigates the strategic use of gendered narratives within the context of community resistance to extraction projects imposed upon the Aymara Nation by the Peruvian State. Development of mining operations is accelerating in the region, and moving toward a more destructive, open-pit model that devastates local ecosystems (Rasmussen 2015). In the process, these activities also destroy sacred spaces within Aymara landscapes—places understood as vital beings (De La Cadena 2015). Broader community narratives about industrial assaults against Pachamama generate a particular gender narrative about environmental activism for the Aymara. Ironically, despite intra- and inter-community discussion about the need to defend the “Earth Mother,” the economic, social and environmental fallout from open-pit mining is disrupting community gender norms and exacerbating rates of abuse within communities, particularly spousal and other forms of interpersonal violence against women (Jenkins 2014). Challenges to community norms that traditionally center male leadership in public spheres and stress women’s responsibilities to the homestead are rooted in women’s frequent traveling outside of the region and their increased political activity within local municipalities. Their increasing vocal presence on the radio also actively challenges existing gender roles in these communities, creating opportunities for Aymara women’s empowerment. Women are adopting new leadership roles in meetings to discuss strategies for confronting state and industry, and are being recognized in their role as “comunicadoras,” or community news reporters. The broader aim of my research is to investigate how and why expanding global and digital communications may be affecting gender relations in rural communities, and more specifically, to identify any relationships between gender narrative and environmental resistance in the Andes and among the Aymara. With funding from the Vanderbilt Institute of Digital Learning, a University School of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Award, and generous Anthropology Department funding for a Panasonic Lumix GH5, I will spend June and July of 2017 conducting participant observation and videography of radio production and broadcasting, protest activities and women’s empowerment training sessions to gather pilot data (speech, body language, spatial organization, protest tactics) to investigate the ways women are mobilizing social opportunities within these moments of community unrest.