|I would say that some of the richest memories from my travels come from those moments in which my footsteps happened to cross just in front of someone else’s...In every case, they gave me a sense of the kind of place that Buenos Aires is, who its people are, what they care about, what they value in their country and culture, and, more often not, what they think about my country.
- Marshall Worsham '09
Name: Hugh Marshall Worsham III
Time Period When Grant was Used:
December 29, 2008- January 11, 2009
Where you Went:
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Type of Experience (organized program, internship, independent travel, etc):
Specific information about your experience (DO NOT leave this blank. We need this information so that your opportunity will be available to other students):
Name of program or organization:
Independent research on cultural democratization
Contact Name(s) and Title(s): Please see attached list of interview contacts
Brief description of project, including any changes from the original plans described in your application:
Over winter break I undertook an independent research trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I spent eleven days in the city, living in Palermo Soho, a recently revitalized art district. In my project I researched the extent to which attempts at "cultural democratization" after the military dictatorship (1976-1983) have supported Argentina's formal democratic institutions. The study was intended to complement my text-based research for my senior honors thesis in political science. I conducted a total of ten interviews with directors of local NGOs and cultural centers, as well as officials in municipal and national government agencies. The interviews dealt with how each organization has interacted with government and other civil society groups, the obstacles it has encountered, and the extent to which its work has impacted Argentine society. My questions dealt with broader issues about the cultural ethos of participation, free speech, and pluralism of ideas as they relate to Argentina. Interestingly, because of the answers I received in several of my earlier interviews, I began to focus toward the end on the idea of "collective memory," that is, how individuals and organizations have worked to create a national memory of the dictatorship, to prevent a relapse and to recreate a national identity in light of the history of state terrorism. I now plan to use collective memory as a central critical lens in my honors thesis.
Ways in which you have shared and plan to share what you learned from your project with others at Davidson and beyond:
Already I have spent hours telling my family about the impact the trip has had on me. I'm currently working on short fiction and nonfiction pieces about my experience in Argentina, and I plan to submit them to on-campus publications such as the Dean Rusk Program's Degrees of Freedom and Hobart Park. I would also consider it a privilege to give a presentation on the trip for the student body, perhaps in coordination with Dean Rusk's International Experiences 101. I have experience in delivering presentations about my international travel. Following the Davidson college Chaplain's Office Journey to Nicaragua in 2006, I gave a talk on the Nicaraguan economy to about sixty students and to members of the DCPC Social e Bible Study group. After my internship with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh over the summer of 2007, I gave a lecture in my international Political Economy course about the Bank's operations and the complexities of international development. I look forward to similar opportunities this semester. To that end, as my research in Buenos Aires is going toward the honors thesis, I will be discussing my work at length in May, in my defense before the political science department, students, community members.
Short evaluation of your experience and whether you would recommend it to another student:
The people in Buenos Aires gave generously of their time and emotional energy, explaining at length the personal and public impact of a very brutal period of state repression. I am grateful for them. I am in love with the city, with its respect for the creative arts and the persistence with which its people strive to define themselves in relation to their past and their relationship with the rest of the world. For the sake of understand the relationship between people and power--for the sake of knowing a rich, restless, and cosmopolitan city--for the sake of acquiring self-knowledge that only independent travel affords, I would enthusiastically recommend the experience to others.
Marshall's Reflective Essay