Lima, Peru (29 April-13 May)

This visit to Lima,indigenous Peru was only my second time to the southern hemisphere, after visiting Santiago, Chile last December. However, I am committed to regularly visiting South America in the future as I get serious with my Spanish-learning and extending my research into Latin America and the Caribbean. My research will look at gender and the tattoo industry, in which there are significant differences between nations. My other research project will look at cannabis consumption and gender in various countries with different laws and policies. Finally, I am also interested in researching digital nomad women, as I start to get a bit involved with that community.
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In Santiago, Chile, everyone had tattoos, both men and women sported extensive artwork and tattoo shops were prevalent. But in Peru, there were only a handful of tattoo shops found on the map, and I only saw about five during the whole time I was here. I noticed that tattoos are fairly rare, but the ones I did see were small, black ink, and simplistic, script or small designs. While walking through old town, I heard two or three people calling out, “tatuajes.” I took the flyer from one guy and he led me to his shop, in the back of a small shopping center oriented towards cell phone sales. He said there were five artists working in their shop, and their portfolios reflected the small black ink designs I had seen around town. Apparently the popularity of tattooing hit between four and ten years ago, and the skill level remained in early stages of simplicity. My extensive, colorful artwork branded me as a gringo, along with my other cultural markers. Artwork that one would see in the U.S. was just not seen in Lima, except on other American or Europeans. But interesting enough so that I would love to return and interview tattoo artists and collectors to find out about this growing commercial development.

The reason I chose Lima, was that I was attending the Latin American Studies Association, because of my research interests. It was my first time attending the conference, and I enjoyed the opportunity to attend sessions in both Spanish and English.

On my first night of arrival, I landed around 11pm and took a taxi to my reserved hotel. But once I got there, they didn’t have my reservation, and gave me the only cebiche and causaroom they had left–the worst room in this low-budget hotel. Luckily, I was too tired to get depressed and wonder on the even of my eight-month excursion, “what have I gotten myself into?” It reminded me of a place I would end up as a teenage runaway. Therefore, the next day was spent getting into a better hotel, but in the downtown area of Jesus Maria, the real-gritty city feel, before I moved into my bourgie airbnb accommodations next week in the wealthy neighborhood of San Isidro. From this central location, I could check out the Parque de la Reserva, Old Town, and Chinatown. I was happy to learn that Peru has the largest community of Chinese people in South America, and Lima alone has 6,000 “Chifa” restaurants, a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian food. I ate plenty of this food, as my Chinese-themed hotel had a Chifa restaurant in it, as well as the barrio Chifa restaurants on every block. I enjoyed eating in the small, local restaurants, so much like walking into someone’s home, with kitchens just like those of a personal dwelling.

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 9.51.45 AM.pngMoving to San Isidro was like moving back to the U.S. The neighborhood was full of upscale clothing stores and restaurants that were a shock to the budget after eating for $3 meal. Sterile. Pretentious. And white. I hadn’t seen many white people for my entire week in Jesus Maria, thinking that must be the racial composition of Peru. Nope, there is just strong segregation, with white Peruvians and foreigners staying in their turf. The nicely manicured park next to the apartment had police patrols that were constantly passing by, a reminder of the security and police state present in South American cities. I walk around the touristy neighborhood next door, Miraflores. Also the seafront touristy neighborhood of Barranco, with great street art murals. I did manage to get a good amount of work done, balanced with the sightseeing, but know I have only scratched the surface in a country I hope to explore more in the future. Next stop, Buenos Aires, Argentina… To see an overview of all the places I have visited, check out the world travel agenda.

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Around the world in 2017

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My first EVER sabbatical from school has finally arrived. I am planning to take a trip around the world: Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It has been a long time coming, after paying off student debt, becoming a material minimalist, and sublet-hopping for years, paying down other debts. I’ve gotten to a point where I want to be as free and mobile as possible, not even committing to a year-long lease in an apartment, for fear of sacrificing my summer vacations by being stuck in boring Albany, NY when I could be traveling the world. During the eight months of travel, I’ll combing tourism with work, following a digital nomad lifestyle. I’ll teach two summer courses online, work on revising two articles under contract, collect data for three ongoing ethnographies (tattoos, marijuana, digital nomad women), sketch out one or two article drafts, and immerse myself in Spanish language learning. At least, these are the grand goals at the beginning of the adventure, we will see how reality shrinks the list of accomplishments.

indigenous29 April 2017–13 May. Lima, Peru. [photos] [blog post] The first activity of the journey was attending the Latin American Studies Association. I am just beginning to expand my research projects to include Latin American and the Caribbean, as well as beginning to get serious about my Spanish acquisition. Therefore, it was a pleasure to attend panels in Spanish. I stayed in three different locations, getting a perspective of the city. And I had enough time to balance sightseeing with work, including submitting final grades for the semester.

13 May–17 May. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

17 May–17 June. Montevideo, Uruguay.

17 June–24 June. Mexico City, Mexico.

24 June–?. Las Vegas…

Costa Rica, Jamaica, Miami?

Spain?

More to come…

Global Cannabis Culture and Gender Research

quality drugsLaws, policies, and cultures are quickly shifting around cannabis consumption as a few countries experiment with legalization, while others maintain a rigidly prohibitionist agenda. Colorado state has dominated the news and popular imagination on representation of legal weed, but it is only the tip of the iceberg within a global landscape. Women have been at the forefront of the shift-in-image for cannabis legalization, from one previously associated with racially-criminalized, or comically-stoner, masculinities. Organizations such as Women Grow have networked professional business women into an industry where they hope it could be “the first billion dollar industry not dominated by men.”  But will this be the case in a future projecting a rapid expansion of legalization to the remaining United States? What are the experiences of women working in the industry; as well as women cannabis consumers, in state both legal and not? How does the experience of women of color differ from that of white women? And what about other countries, such as Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia, Europe, Africa, and Asia? I am interested in interviewing both women and men on the topic of how gender issues are manifested in cannabis culture. I am interested in talking to people all over the world, in various countries, in English or en Espanol. Attached, you will find the Questionnaire,  Information, as well as the Consent Form. Please contact me at bevyuen@gmail.com.

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Global Tattooing and Gender Research

tattoo.jpgMy new research project, Global Tattooing and Gender, will continue the work I began in my book Covered in Ink, by extending the perspective of gender issues related to tattoo culture, to countries outside of the United States and Canada. How does the tattoo culture in other countries compare to that of the United States? Do other countries have different gendered experiences for tattoo collectors and artists? How do “developing nations” compare in their tattoo culture to that of post-industrial nations? I am looking for participants who are interested in being interviewed on this topic. Both men and women are invited to talk about gender norms in global tattoo subcultures from their perspective as artists, collectors, or observers. At this stage of the research, I am specifically focused on Latin American (Se habla Espanol) and Caribbean countries and Australia. In the future, I would like to focus on Asian countries. I would also be interested in interviewing folks about tattoos in the U.S. within the Chicanx/Latinx, Black/African American, Asian, or Native American communities. Attached you can find the global tattoo questions for participants as well as an Informed Consent Form. Please do contact me at bevyuen@gmail.com in order to set up an interview on Skype, phone, or email.

The Outsiders

The_Outsiders_bookThe Outsiders novel turned fifty years old on April 24, 2017. It had been made into a popular 1983 movie by Francis Ford Coppola, as well as a less rated television show. This movie was an important part of my 1980s t.v. watching childhood. The story of parentless boys from the other side of the track–Greasers–sparring with their enemy Socs has resonance for each generation. Combining it with Howard Becker’s sociological text Outsiders, can provide us insight into this phenomenon of labeling, social groupings, and social class. My blog on Sociology in Focus describes these themes in my sociological blog posting, “Fifty Years of Outsiders.”

Pacific Sociology Association 2017

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I presented a paper along with my co-author John Scott called: “Marijuana Policy Liberalization in the Americas and Australia” at the  Pacific Sociology Association conference (Schedule), which took place on April 6-9, 2017 at the Hilton in downtown, Portland, Oregon. This research overviews the drug laws and policies internationally and how the shift from prohibition to decriminalization and legalization of marijuana represents a neoliberal shift in the logic of state approaches to cannabis policy.

The Politics of Difference, A conference in law

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I presented a paper entitled: “Marijuana Policy Contradictions at the International, Federal, and State Level” at The Politics of Difference and the Threshold of Law: A Conference in Law and the Humanities, sponsored by the Liberal Studies Program, University at Albany and Albany Law School. March 31–April 1, 2017. This research exams the what is needed to change at the international drug convention level in order to allow for the legalization of cannabis markets at the federal and state levels in nation-states. It also overviews how Latin American countries are leading the way towards decriminalization of all drug possession in small amounts and the hypocrisy of the United States’ conflicts of state and federal policy and its international responsibility.