Colloquium: Tomas Matza

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Date(s) - 04/11/2016
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

AP 246


Friday, November 4, 2016

Prof. Tomas Matza (University of Pittsburgh)
At the Edge of Assistance: The Social Life of Transnational Care in El Salvador
Anthropology Colloquium Series co-sponsored by the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies (CDTS)
2:00-4:00pm, AP 246, 19 Russell St.

This talk describes in-progress research, which is rather messily set in the midst of an intervention and its evaluation in El Salvador. A US-based NGO is hoping to positively affect child wellbeing by intervening in the ways that daycare center caregivers build attachments with children. This pedagogy of care, which targets communities that are underserved and frequently beset by gang violence, draws on psychological theories of Ainsworth, Bowlby and others. Meanwhile, a group of US-based researchers is evaluating the NGO’s intervention in order to create an evidence base for project effectiveness and possible replication elsewhere. Together these two parties comprise what I term an “assistance apparatus”—that is, a complex assemblage of social scientific knowledge, metrics, pragmatics and personnel. In this talk I reflect on the complex social life underlying forms of care such as these, which, spreading under the impetus of global mental health, aspire to a kind of transnational modularity. I am particularly interested in the everyday work it takes to achieve the status of the “evidence-based.” Writing from within the intervention, I also elaborate a critically complicit ethnographic approach adequate to this global knowledge production, which I liken to Latour and Woolgar’s “Laboratory Life.”


Bookings are closed for this event.