Living Uncertainty in an Argentinian Villa

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Alexandra APAVALOAE, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Canada
In-depth interviews were conducted with residents of a villa (an informal urban settlement) in Argentina, a South American country that historically experiences cyclical economic crises and their corresponding political consequences, although at the time of the study it was going through a period of relative stability. Participants identify a number of urgent issues, related to employment, living conditions, the possibility of being translocated, delinquency and drugs, that impact their daily lives and, in response, they demand solutions. Intuition, based more in the researcher’s experiences than the participant’s, would have us think that the prevailing sentiment in such a micro and macro social context would be vulnerability driven by uncertainty. However, enriching interactions with the participants and deep critical analysis grounded in the data invalidate these preconceived notions and point towards the normalization of uncertainty. As such, the local experience is lived not as trauma but as “more of the same”, a continuous and circular recurrence of events in mundanity. In consequence, a call to individual action prevails as a coping strategy among participants who perceive not only a need, but also an obligation to fend for themselves. Thus they become trapped in a contradiction between the perceived individual responsibility to “get ahead” on their own through work and study and the ability to voice criticism of insufficient social policy. In conclusion, we explore a few avenues for future research that are opened by the reflections in this article.