Hurricanes and Crisis in Puerto Rico

In 2017,  Altamente was in midst of writing up an historical review of that contextualized the climate of crisis and its impact on social research, when Puerto Rico faced the wrath of two hurricanes, Irma and Maria within the span of a couple of weeks.  From theoretical analysis to praxis, "crisis" took on a new meaning on the Island. The government fiscal crisis, the Fiscal Control Board, were second to the unfolding humanitarian crisis.  Having witnessed dramatic re-mapping of the crisis narrative, Altamente sought to collect stories about surviving "María".  How do people navigate crisis? What are their Anti-crisis strategies? How can we overcome or plan to work through crisis?

Unquestionable Failure?

The American Ethnological Society Spring Conference 2017, celebrated at Stanford University, invited anthropologists to submit proposals that addressed "exposure as a ground for making sense of urgent issues in the world today".  Reflecting upon her work with public schools, Altamente's lead researcher, used this venue to share with colleagues some of her preliminary insights from her ethnographic fieldwork on teachers. Key in her findings, Gorbea addressed in her conference paper the push back she faced several fronts when "questioning the concept of school failure."  What began as a matter of theoretical grounding, unexpectedly became an act of exposing "school failure" as an "unquestionable assumption." Her paper went on to address questions such as why? when? how? what?  and join many others exposing inconvenient or invisible truths.  "Exposure has long been part of many a knowledge maker’s toolbox, and it is certainly indispensable today for whistleblowers, community activists, and investigative journalists who use exposure for their progressive projects of speaking truth to power."  The abstract of the conference paper follows:

Ethnography and Intertextuality in the Corporate Social Responsibility Toolbox

In 2016, the Society for Applied Anthropology asked its members to reflect upon the role of the anthropologist in “Intersections,”during its annual meeting celebrated in Vancouver, Canada. The theme highlighted "one of the great strengths of anthropology and related engaged social sciences: the ability for strategic engagement with other domains of knowledge and problem solving."  Altamente's lead social researcher, Dr. Laura Gorbea was selected to present her work on Puerto Rico as part of a panel entitled "Business and Economic Development: Negotiating Local, National and International Identities and Politics" along with colleagues presenting case studies from Russia, the US, and Belize.

Ethnography of Policy: Puerto Rico's Roadmap to High Tech (1998-2008)

There is pressing interest in economies around the world to foster entrepreneurship, and technological innovation. Can we build "McSilicon Valleys," can the ingredients and special sauce and sprinkle it around the globe. Though many have tried, few have succeeded. There is a growing realization that entrepreneurship and innovation eco-systems need to be ethnographically studied to explore the unique variables behind each success and each failure. The challenge is breaking into this high speed world as an anthropologist.