John Collins


Dr. John F. Collins is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center and a historical ethnographer of Northeast Brazil. He has directed the Queens College Program in Latin American & Latino Studies since 2011 and currently serves on the boards of the Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology. In addition to numerous articles, Collins is the author of Revolt of the Saints: Memory and Redemption in the Twilight of Brazilian Racial Democracy (Duke University Press, 2015), a historical ethnography of race, sexuality and history in the making of the Pelourinho UNESCO World Heritage Site in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He is also co-editor of Ethnographies of U.S. Empire (forthcoming, Duke University Press). He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan. He studies the processes shaping heritage preservation and revitalization of national patrimony in Brazil. His work focuses on the question of embodiment, nationalism, race, memory, and popular strategies of subversion of dominant planning processes, which he details in his book, Revolt of the Saints (Duke University, 2015) based on two decades of ethnographic research. Dr. Collins’ analyses capture the ways in which heritage and creative economy articulate with race and embodiment to produce certain people as key figures in the quest to create and preserve authentic national identity. Dr. Collin’s extensive ethnographic experience working with communities in the city of Salvador will bring a locally grounded richness to workshop considerations of the delimitations and possibilities for creative practice.


What is it that Data Do? Ethnographic Paths into Cultural Production and Bureaucratic Knowledge in a Brazilian World Heritage Site

In this paper I examine the shapes taken by, effects, and iconoclastic deployments of data by popular actors and cultural bureaucrats in Salvador, Brazil’s Pelourinho Historical Center. I follow Afro-Brazilians whose everyday activities are configured as raw materials that support attempts to redevelop a region configured as a backwards, “involuted,” source of infection of the nation. I focus on how citizens subject to this transformation of inchoate qualities into knowledge perceive not simply the process, but its mediating forms—an entity glossed as data. This paper thus explores the ontological status of data as media, and the extent to which their material manifestations and affective valences in a UNESCO heritage zone may be wielded in novel ways by people for whom the manipulation of data is an expressive cultural activity that challenges the sacredness of knowledge and boundaries between facts and interpretations, materials and ideals, and contemplation and action.

Talk Date1 : April, 27 9:00-10:30 Panel I (closed): Politicizing Creative Economy

Venue: University Senate Chamber

Talk Date2 :1:00-2:45 Public Panel I: Politicizing Creative Economy

Venue: Education Centre North Room 2-115

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