Unpacking Latin America

Unpacking Latin America is a monthly podcast hosted by Professor Vicky Murillo on the exciting research produced by Columbia scholars about Latin American history, culture, and politics, which helps our understanding of the contemporary challenges of the region. It is produced in English and selectively in Spanish.

Available on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Filmmaker Frances Negrón-Muntaner on Puerto Rico and Latin America

Frances Negrón-Muntaner draws connections between Puerto Rico and Latin America based on a common history of hierarchies and coloniality and will discuss how the Puerto Rican society both in the island and in the Diaspora learned to self-organize in response to catastrophes seeking to replace the absence of by the federal state. She will also discuss how the current discussion on race and ethnicity highlights the hierarchies embedded in the Latinx and Latin American population and will tell us how her search for answering the question of Puerto Rican coloniality brought her to a career that transcends disciplinary boundaries. Listen on Spotify. September 10, 2020

Economist Jose Antonio Ocampo on COVID19 and Latin America

Jose Antonio Ocampo discusses the economic consequences of COVID-19 in Latin America, the new epicenter of the pandemic. He describes the dramatic effect of quarantine on employment and production, which are heightened by uncertainty on the future of trade and commodity prices. He also points to the emergence of new social policies reaching not only the poor, but also the vulnerable population as an important consequence. Listen on Spotify. May 31, 2020

Epidemiologist Silvia S. Martins on Spread of COVID-19 in Latin America

Silvia S. Martins, director of the Substance Use Epidemiology Unit at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, talks about the patterns of COVID-19 spread across Latin America and the importance of timely responses while emphasizing the challenges for the large vulnerable population of the region. She discusses the importance of faster and more coordinated health responses to the pandemic while highlighting the impact of unified as opposed to contradictory messages to the population. Listen on Spotify. April 1, 2020

Eduardo Moncada Discusses Urban Violence and Extortion in Latin America

Eduardo Moncada, assistant professor of political science at Barnard College, discusses his book on urban violence in Colombia as well as his recent work on extortion, a pervasive phenomenon that deprives citizens of basic public security in Latin America. He talks about its linkages to migration North and to the emergence of vigilantism seeking justice where the state does not provide it. Listen on Spotify. February 28, 2020

Economist Miguel Urquiola on the Role of Competition on Educational Outcomes

Miguel Urquiola, chair of the Department of Economics at Columbia University, talks about the role of competition on educational outcomes in a region where education coverage is larger than expected for the income level of Latin American countries, but where performance is lower than expected. In evaluating the experiences with competition and choice at different educational levels, Urquiola highlights that education markets do not always work as expected. Listen on Spotify. February 3, 2020

Historian Nara Milanich on Paternity, Family, and Inequality

Historian Nara Milanich talks about the shift from cultural to biological definitions of paternity thanks to DNA testing and how such testing could either be used to recover kids stolen by military dictatorships or to halt migration at the US-Mexico border. She also explains age-based violence suffered by migrant children in Central America. She discusses how family law was used in nineteenth-century Chile to preserve social hierarchies. Listen on Spotify. December 9, 2019

Interview with Journalist Daniel Alarcon

Daniel Alarcon is a professor of broadcast journalism at Columbia University and creator of Radio Ambulante, an award-wining Spanish-language podcast. We talk about how growing up in a Peruvian household in Birmingham, Alabama shaped his work in both Spanish and English. We talk about doing radio in Spanish and writing novels in English as well as the origins of Radio Ambulante. Listen on Spotify. November 11, 2019

Interview with Ethnomusicologist Ana Maria Ochoa

Ana Maria Ochoa talks about ethnomusicology and the connection between nature, sounds, and humans in defining what is music. She talks about how humanity and sound are defined contextually and she describes how she worked with written archives of sounds from the colonial era in Colombia and how the way we ‘record’ sound shapes our listening. Additionally, we talk about her work with Colombian indigenous filmmakers and the inter-disciplinary collective she convened to work on politics, environmental justice and aesthetics at Columbia University. Listen on Spotify. September 23, 2019