Sara Kauko

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Emory U.

Grant number

Gr. 9490

Approve Date

April 27, 2017

Project Title

Kauko, Sara K., Emory U., Atlanta, GA - To aid research on 'Coloring Across Class Lines: Socioeconomic Mobility and Changing Subjectivities among Mestizos in Provincial Argentina,' supervised by Dr. Bradd Shore

Preliminary abstract: This research examines Argentine mestizos’ socioeconomic upward mobility and how it reflects in their self-perceptions and identifications in relation to local understandings of class, race, and ethnicity. The research takes place in Santiago del Estero, a northwestern province about 600 miles from Buenos Aires with a visible mestizo population. Santiago is one of Argentina’s poorest provinces, and its large mestizo population stands in stark contrast to hegemonic ideas that posit Argentina as a ‘white’ middle-class country. Yet during the past decade Santiago has experienced unprecedented economic growth. This, in turn, has helped many mestizos ascend the local socioeconomic ladder; through access to education, better paying jobs or more prestigious professions, they have started to identify as middle-class. Mestizos’ recent social mobility raises the question: how does the changing color scale of Argentina’s class organization recast forms of class and ethno-racial identifications? And, how do ideologies of middle-classness, distinction, and difference mutate as mestizos begin to participate in the historically ‘white’ social field of class mobility? My project challenges ideas of middle-classness as numerically measurable and definable. I approach it instead as a processual and malleable identity that is intrinsically tied to local cultural categories of race and ethnicity. I will conduct ethnographic research with two generations of self-identifying mestizos and collect and analyze their life histories, and narratives of current preoccupations and future aspirations. With this methodological approach, I intend analyze the intersections of middle-classness, race and ethnicity not through the lens of ‘otherness’ and distinction, but rather through inquiries on assimilation and inclusion.