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"

ROSA FICEK, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, Puerto Rico, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2019 to aid research and writing on “More Than Modern: Mobility and Difference on the Pan American Highway.” Modern roads are closely tied to Eurocentric ideas of progress and development. This study of the Pan American Highway explores the power relations built into Latin America’s highway system through a decolonial framework that complicates assumptions about the political and economic benefits of roads. Through the analysis of archival documents, travel narratives, and ethnographic observations’at the scale of region, nation, and borderland’this book project demonstrates how modern roads are informed by, and reproduce, colonial logics and hierarchies. From engineers debating highway standards at regional conferences, to long-distance motorists on epic road trips, to the colonization and deforestation of tropical areas opened up by road construction, the practices that make up the Pan American Highway reorganize landscapes in ways that concentrate power in forms of whiteness that are imagined to exist outside of nature. An intervention in environmental anthropology and science and technology studies, this research contributes a decolonial approach to the study of the connections between infrastructure, capitalism and colonialism.