Author Archives: Roberto Barrios

Roberto Barrios is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He received his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of New Orleans in 1996 and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2004. His research has explored the ways disaster-affected populations navigate NGO and governmental disaster reconstruction policies and practices, with a specific focus on how issues of personhood, embodiment, neoliberalism, governmentality, and developmentalism play out in these contexts.

Waiting for the Rain: Techno-Scientific Landslide Mitigation in Teziutlán, Puebla, Mexico (Part II)

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the relationships between people, policy, and materiality that make catastrophic landslides possible in Teziutlán, Mexico. In this second entry, I want to explore how the development of a landslide early warning system by National Autonomous University of Mexico researchers and National Center for Disaster Prevention engineers becomes a site where humans and non-humans become increasingly interconnected in the making of disaster mitigation techno-science. While doing this, I want to pay particular attention to those arrangements among people and between people that materiality engineers and researchers envision as optimal and those that are feasible in the context of contemporary Mexico. (more…)

Waiting for the Rain: Techno-Scientific Landslide Mitigation in Teziutlán, Puebla, Mexico (Part I)

On the first days of October 1999, the city of Teziutlán, Puebla, Mexico, experienced levels of precipitation that tripled its annual rainfall. Throughout the city, a number of hillsides occupied by working class family homes reached a critical point at which upper layers of soil and environmentally degraded rock began to give way under the weight of accumulated rainwater and settlements, creating major landslides. The most dramatic of these landslides occurred in the neighborhood of La Aurora, where settlement and land use practices came together with geological history and environmental factors to create a massive movement of soil, trees, rocks, and houses that killed 109 of the 200 people who died in similar events throughout municipality that week. The catastrophe was deeply traumatic at the local level, leading to a period of mourning that overtook the city, and it also gained national attention, resulting in a visit of the devastation (more...)