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Iván Chaar-López joins Latina/o Studies & STS as Mellon Diversity Postdoc

Thu, 08/16/2018

By: Marti Dense, Latina/o Studies, 
August 15, 2018

When you return to campus this semester you will see a new face in Latina/o Studies. Iván Chaar-López joins Cornell's Latina/o Studies and Department of Science and Technology Studies as a Mellon Diversity Postdoctoral Associate beginning Aug. 1, 2018. For the next two years Chaar-López will be teaching two courses each year cross-listed with STS.
 
Ivan's work explores the co-constitution of digital technology, race and nation in a context of U.S. empire and his teaching reflects formation in traditions ranging from critical theory to digital media and focuses on creating learning environments based on dialog and community.
 
Iván holds a PhD from the Department of American Culture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research project, "Drone Technopolitics: A History of Race and Intrusion on the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1948-2016," traces the development of unmanned aerial systems and their uses in the U.S. borderlands. Since May 2016, Chaar-López has been a member of the Precarity Lab at the University of Michigan. In 2015, he won the Digital Studies Fellowship from the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. While in residence he studied the intersections of race and the automation of border control in the United States, post-1965. An article based on this research is forthcoming in American Quarterly.
 
You will find Ivan in his office on the fourth floor of Rockefeller Hall (433) and via email ic349@cornell.edu. Stop by to say hello and welcome Ivan and join us for a cup of Café con Leche.
 
Latina/o Studies: Can you tell us about your research?

Ivan: My research explores the emergence of drones as technologies of boundary control in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since the mid-20th century. It is generally assumed that drones or unmanned aerial systems are both a recent technological innovation and exclusively used as part of the War on Terror. But my work sheds light on the rarely discussed associations between drones and the history of border enforcement. I show how these machines are simultaneously producing and the product of a frontier racial imaginary through which brown bodies are identified as enemies of the U.S. nation.
 
Latina/o Studies: What challenges do you see on the horizon with respect to border security? Migrant rights?
 
Ivan: One key issue in conversations about immigration to the U.S. today is the fact that some political officials and advocates have been extremely effective in framing them in terms of border security. Such language, which my work traces back to the Cold War, treats migrants as imagined threats to the nation. And threats require their elimination for the sake of survival. Framing immigration as a security challenge thus opens the door to purported military solutions such as computers, sensor technologies and drones.
 
Latina/o Studies: What are your first impressions of Cornell?
 
Ivan: Long before I arrived in Ithaca, the faculty and staff in the Latina/o Studies Program and in the Department of Science & Technology Studies welcomed me as one of their own. They generously offered suggestions and support with my move, while also welcoming me into their intellectual circles. I am heartened by their kindness. One of the first things I learned about Cornell was that its students have been very active organizing and mobilizing around important social and political issues. It is inspiring to see folks tackling racism and Islamophobia as well as questions of women's, migrant and LGBTQ rights. I look forward to engaging and contributing to these community efforts.
 
Latina/o Studies: What can we look forward to seeing in your teaching? What courses will you be offering?

Ivan: I am excited to teach two new courses this upcoming Spring semester 2019. One will revolve around the study of digital technology, race and power. The other course will engage the digital performance and artistic practices of Latinxs since the 1980s.
 
Latina/o Studies: Do you think you will be involving students in your research?
 
Ivan: Yes, I am definitely interested in involving students in my research. I have various projects I plan to develop in the next two years and there will be opportunity for students to contribute to these. My aim is to establish a collaborating practice so that students can hone their research and writing skills.