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Energy and Environment

Energy & Environment Working Group

Energy and Environment are two fundamental elements in promoting sustainable development, with significant impacts on politics and society as well. Latin America is a key region globally for energy: Venezuela has the world’s largest reserves of petroleum, Argentina the third largest potential reserves of shale gas, the region has the potential to generate the second highest proportion of electricity from hydropower, has the world’s largest solar farm, and holds the largest reserves of lithium. Exploitation of energy reserves has substantial political, economic, environmental, and societal/cultural impacts.

In addressing political, economic and community issues related to energy integration, our Working Group will bring together academics, industry, social groups and think tanks in a research-based effort with the knowledge to provide state of the art advice concerning efficient and environmentally sound options, community impact and buy-in including indigenous communities, regional markets and local politics. All energy production, even so-called “green technologies” represents a complex balance of environmental, social and political trade-offs with no “free” solutions. Shale gas produces substantially lower emissions than petroleum or coal, but raises concerns about water pollution, induced seismicity, land collapse and land pollution, as well as the use of large amounts of scarce water. Green technologies raise concerns regarding waste-water management and constant fluxes of sulfuric gas to the atmosphere from geothermal exploitation, habitat encroachment by solar panels, wind turbines and high voltage transmission lines, and the competition for scarce water involved in the mining of lithium for batteries to store ‘green’ energy. Thus the complex web of interactions among energy production and the distribution of costs and benefits provides a rich area in which the working group will engage with both research as well as policy foci, drawing on expertise from the social sciences, engineering, and the humanities.

Alan Sweedler joined the Working Group and organized the workshop “Lithium: Challenges and Opportunities on the Road to Cleaner Energy” on May 21, 2019. Participants in the workshop included faculty from Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the School of Medicine, the Jacobs School of Engineering, economic and marketing analysts from Bolivia and Argentina, and a lawyer involved in social license to operate issues. Following the workshop we began a series of discussions with the InterAmerican Development Bank on lithium prospects in South America.

Coordinator: David R. Mares, Political Science, UCSD

Full Members

David R. Mares, Political Science, UCSD

Ross Frank, Ethnic Studies, UCSD

Christine Hunefeldt, History, UCSD

Keith Pezzoli, Urban Studies and Planning, UCSD

Alan Sweedler, Physics Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University and Sr. Fellow, CILAS

Associate Members

Jeremy Martin, Institute of the Americas

Isidro Morales, Monterey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), Santa Fe, Mexico

Amado Villarreal Gutierrez, ITESM, Santa Fe, Mexico

Marcela Lopez Valledjo Olvera, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, Mexico

Affiliate Members

Amy Jaffe, Graduate School of Management, UCD  

David Victor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, UCSD

Global Mental Health

Global Mental Health Working Group

                                                                                        From left to right: Dr. Olga Olivas, Dr.  Olga Odgers, Dr. Janis Jenkins, Dr. Paula Saravia, Lillie Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez, Dr. Claudia Rafful-Ioera, Rogelio Scott-Inutarria (Dr. Thomas Csordas not pictured but present).

From left to right: Dr. Olga Olivas, Dr.  Olga Odgers, Dr. Janis Jenkins, Dr. Paula Saravia, Lillie Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez, Dr. Claudia Rafful-Ioera, Rogelio Scott-Inutarria (Dr. Thomas Csordas not pictured but present).

This working group seeks to serves as a meeting ground for scholars to engaged in important cross-disciplinary work in the field of global mental health in Iberian and Latin American settings.

We are interested in exploring how political events and policies affect mental health.

Research projects in global mental health are underway in Chile; Mexico; Spain; U.S.  These projects involve participants who have been experienced displacement—i.e. deportees, immigrants, refugees. We seek to comparatively analyze and understand how these conditions affect mental health and wellbeing specifically related to themes of precarity, social inequality, vulnerability, and racism. This center is interested in the question of whether policies that restrict immigration or deport vulnerable populations could be social determinants of mental health.

A working group meeting was convened in June 2018 to discuss these and other issues of political conflict, immigration, and mental health.  In addition, UCSD faculty from the working group attended a small three-day conference of 40 international scholars concerned with these issues in Poblet, Catalonia, where Prof. Jenkins gave the opening plenary address, and Prof. Csordas the closing address for the conference.  UCSD colleagues also met with colleagues and members of the community in Barcelona to brainstorm on how to make mental health services more culturally and politically attuned and personalized in light of lived experience of psychological challenges.

CILAS and CGMH Working Group Meeting, June 7th 2018 - CILAS & CGMH affiliated faculty and students met to discuss ongoing projects and publications. Topics discussed included adolescent mental health, climate change, and spiritism. 

 CILAS and CGMH Working Group Meeting, November 29th, 2018 - CILAS & CGMH affiliated faculty and students met to discuss migration and mental health in relation to the migrant caravan.

In January 2019 we convened a group of faculty and UG students to view a Spanish-language film and discuss the ramifications for health and wellbeing, to include humor!  Lively discussion ensued following the film presentation. 

In follow-up to the working group meetings, affiliated faculty and graduate students presented their research on migration, culture, and wellbeing:

-Society for Psychological Anthropology Conference, April 4-7 2019- CILAS affiliated graduate students and faculty were paper presenters and discussants at the SPA's which took place in New Mexico. 

-American Anthropological Association Conference, November 19-24 2019- CILAS affiliated graduate students and faculty were paper presenters and discussants at the AAAs which took place in Vancouver, B.C.



Indigeneity Working Group

Since the time of the European conquest of Latin America, indigenous communities have borne the brunt of colonialism. Our group initially focused on one significant dimension of colonialism: natural resource extraction. In colonial times, Europeans extracted gold and silver, fueling the Industrial Revolution with these riches. Today, extractive development such as mining, dams, and oil and gas extraction continues to threaten indigenous lands and livelihoods across the continent. Scholars and activists have described how this development model has exacerbated racial inequalities, fomented socio- environmental conflict, and, more recently, contributed to climate change. As extractivist development continues to threaten indigenous peoples’ lands, they face pressing issues of loss of control over local resources, migration, loss of biodiversity and indigenous languages, pollution and toxins, and climate change with melting glaciers.

We have expanded beyond our focus on extractivism and resource governance to a wider angle, focusing on the related questions of sovereignty, nature, and agency. We ask: What does indigenous sovereignty mean? What sorts of agentive and sovereign practices do they exercise? How do they perceive and manage “nature”? What political and economic projects are they currently engaging in, and what forms of justice are emerging? What spatial practices and projects are emerging? How are the debates about coloniality of power influencing the ways indigenous knowledge is portrayed and deployed by various actors?

This year, our group continues to be strong, with 7-10 people attending most meetings. We chose a different strategy this year, spending the first part of the year discussing readings on these issues, and then hosting a final one-day workshop to synthesize our ideas. We are collaborating with another faculty group, the Nature, Space, and Politics group, to hold a conference on June 10th, called: Nature, Space, and Politics: Investigating Diverse Ways of Knowing. We are thinking together about the many divergent ways we “know” nature, and the practices of development, extraction, and
inhabitation that result. We are bringing together indigenous scholars and activists with scholars thinking about natural resource management, in order to cross pollinate seemingly different disciplines. What different ways of knowing, managing, and living in nature and space exist, and how do they overlap or conflict?

Coordinator: Nancy Postero, Anthropology, UCSD

Group members: 
Matilde Córdoba Azcárate (Communication)
Paul Goldstein (Archaeology/Anthropology)
Christine Hunefeldt (History)
Luís Martín Cabrera (Literature)
Nancy Postero (Anthropology)
Paula Saravia (Anthropology)
Matthew Vitz (History)
Elana Zilberg (Communication)

Graduate Students: 
Amy Kennemore (Anthropology)
Josh Jones (SIO)
Sofia Lana (Anthropology)
Jorge Montesinos (Anthropology)
Jessica Ng (SIO)
Jorge Ramirez (History)
Nancy Turtletaub (Anthropology)
Ninna Villavicencio (Anthropology)
Jorge Montesinos(Anthropology)


Populism Working Group

The objective of the Working Group on Populism is the study of populist regimes, movements and ideologies in Latin America. Populist regimes, from the classical ones of Vargas or Peron to the contemporary cases of Maduro in Venezuela and Kirchner in Argentina, constitute a variety of plebiscitarian democracy that should be distinguished from more social-democratic regimes, like those of contemporary Brazil, Chile, or Uruguay, which are closer to the liberal-democratic model. They are characterized by a very high level of centralization of power in the hands of the president; nationalist and even autarkic economic policies oriented toward short-term political advantage; and, to a larger extent than other regimes, expansion of participation through corporatist or clientelistic mechanisms and inclusionary social policies focused on the poor and the underprivileged. Our working group focuses on questions such as the conditions under which mass populist movements appear, populist ideologies become hegemonic, and populist regimes come to power; the domestic and international conditions under which they might institutionalize; and the economic, social, and political consequences of their success or failure.

In 2018-19, the populism working group co-sponsored a conference on comparative populism at the Universidad Tres de febrero in Buenos Aires, which will lead to a volume published by the UNTREF University Press, in Buenos Aires. There was a follow-up conference in 2019 at Tulane University, where the participants presented more polished versions of their papers. This volume will be published by Sussex Academic Press. In the fall of 2019, we invited Oscar Mazzoleini, a professor of political science at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, who gave a talk on borders in populist discourse. 

In addition, in 2019 Waisman presented papers on comparative populism at Charles University in Prague, Tsinghua University in Beijing, and at the Annual Meeting Of The American Sociological Association. 

                                                                                                                                                                                 Coordinator, Carlos Waisman, Sociology, UCSD

  • Full Members

Carlos Waisman, Sociology, UCSD

Scott Desposato, Political Science, UCSD

Simeon Nichter, Political Science, UCSD  

  • Associate Members

Manuel Anselmi, Political Sociology, University of Perugia

Michael Monteon, History, UCSD

Moira MacKinnon, Sociology, Universidad Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Peter Smith, Political Science, UCSD

Richard Feinberg, School of Global Policy & Strategy, UCSD

Samuel Amaral, Sociology, Universidad Tres de Febrero, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Affiliate Members

Sebastian Edwards, Anderson School of Management, UCLA