The courses I am teaching at Harvard University in 2016-2017 include Grounding the Global: Anthropological Perspectives, State and Violence in Latin America, and a junior tutorial in social studies focusing on Crime and Governance in Latin America.
While at the University of Florida, where I held a joint appointment as Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies, I developed four new courses: Law and Order in the Americas, Crime and Violence in Latin America, Anthropology of Borders, and Media Anthropology. All of them examine topics that I have studied as an ethnographer working in the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, the co-called “frontera caliente”, infamous for organized crime and everyday forms of violence. In my field research I have focused on the relationship between news media, informal and illicit economies on the border, and security, and I have been using my ethnographic experience to formulate the core questions underlying my course syllabi and to provide my students with behind-the-scenes stories during our conversations in the classroom.
Through public-oriented teaching, which includes bringing guest speakers to engage with my students and asking students to write about the relevance of their research for the broader non-academic audience, I seek to connect instruction in the classroom with real-life situations. With the same goal, I have also been taking students on tours to the Florida State Prison in Raiford. FSP is a maximum-security prison and one of the largest penitentiary facilities in the state; it is also where the state’s execution chamber is located. After the visit students write their reflections about the tour, often calling the trip to FSP one of the most shocking and significant experiences of their education at the University of Florida. I wrote about the pedagogical effectiveness of this non-traditional teaching method in a piece “I Took My Students to Prison,” published as a blog entry by the Association of Political and Legal Anthropology. By designing assignments that extend beyond the classroom I am establishing links between academic research and the broader community, encouraging students to be engaged scholars and civic intellectuals.
In 2015 I received the Junior Faculty Teaching Award from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP).