Rosa Elena Ficek

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Puerto Rico, Cayey, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9879

Approve Date

October 9, 2019

Project Title

Ficek, Rosa (University of Puerto Rico at Cayey) "More Than Modern: Mobility and Difference on the Pan American Highway"

This book project, an ethnographic and historical study of politics of the Pan-American Highway, disentangles roads from modern ideas and practices, opening up possibilities to think about how roads can be made otherwise. It examines three sites where forms of difference are produced and contested: international meetings where engineers debated how and where to build the highway, transcontinental road trips undertaken by South American motorists, and the Darien region of Panama, where colonists along with black and indigenous peoples navigate the muddy, deteriorating surface of the only section of the Pan-American Highway that remains unfinished. They drive similarly, I argue, to how residents have long navigated rivers to support local relations of sociality and exchange. Driving the highway like a river does not refer to non-modern practices that emerge from indigenous ontologies. Rather, these are more-than-modern practices that include and exceed indigenous, black, white, and mestizo subject positions. These practices alter the meaning and materiality of the highway, inviting us to think about how worlds can be constructed from positions of difference.