Connecting the past to current development
Nicaraguan Fernanda Soto has a PhD in social anthropology from University of Texas and a post doc from Stockholm University, but it is Latin-America that holds her academic passion. Her research has focused on subjects such as interethnic relations in Nicaragua and Honduras, political memory and territorial governance. The opportunity to discuss with teachers and students with different cultural backgrounds attracted her to Kulturstudier´s Latin-American studies in Nicaragua.
What makes Nicaragua an interesting place to study Latin-American studies?
- Nicaraguan colonial history - being placed at the outskirts of the main Colonial economic and political centers in the region, the country´s relation with the US, the political propositions crafted in the country during the 80s and the implications of the post war experience in the 90s and 2000s offers the possibility of engaging with some of the fundamental debates of Latin-American societies. The intensity with which many of these issues are lived in the country also provides a fruitful “fieldwork” space for students. They also gain an insight into perspectives of a region that is, lamentably, often excluded from academic spaces of discussion.
What do you see as the most exciting current developments in Nicaragua and Latin-America?
- The most interesting development in Latin-America is the development of new propositions regarding the role of the state. In the case of Nicaragua I believe it is the discussions about the revolution´s legacies and its relation to current economic and political propositions.
Do you see any changes in how Nicaragua is perceived in Europe and the US?
- I believe the country has moved from being perceived as a war-torn country to a space for economic “investment”. It seems like Nicaragua is perceived by some people abroad as a “safe country to invest”. That shift does open economic possibilities, but it is also a challenge. What sort of investment will come? What sort of economic future do the Nicaraguans want or long for?
What insight would you like the students to leave your classroom with?
- In the case of debates around the revolution and the post war times in this country I would like the students to leave the class pondering about the dimensions, beyond the economic and political, of a revolution and the war in people´s lives and in what way such processes has shaped their understanding of important concepts, such as; what does it mean to “live a good life” in a society or what democracy means for some Nicaraguans.