Person in car with Spanish words overlaid
September 14, 2021, 5:00 PM EDT

Sabemos Aguantar: Living with and Leaving Behind the Violence of Everyday Life

In this talk, Amelia Frank-Vitale will explore the Honduran usage of the term aguantar (roughly, endure), to examine how people understand their own mechanisms for survival in a city considered to be among the world’s most violent. While scholars have developed multiple ways to discuss how people survive – and often thrive – in situations of great hardship, she suggests aguantar specifically in contrast to the idea of “resilience” that is frequently deployed in Honduras and elsewhere by international humanitarian and development organizations. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in San Pedro Sula and among Honduran migrants in transit through Mexico, Frank-Vitale uses aguantar to argue that migration must be understood as driven by both aspiration and desperation. Attempting to migrate out of Honduras is at once a way to exercise agency – to break out of a delimited life – and a relinquishing of agency, a kind of giving up, when one simply can no longer aguantar.

AMELIA FRANK-VITALE (Ph.D., University of Michigan). Frank-Vitale is an anthropologist of migration, deportation, and violence in Central America and Mexico. Her current research project examines how Hondurans navigate life after being deported back to neighborhoods labeled as some of the world’s most violent. Her work connects regional immigration and security policies, organized crime, state violence, and the everyday experience of life in and around San Pedro Sula. She has been published in Geopolitics, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, EntreDiversidades, and Public Anthropologist. Her commentary has also appeared in The Washington Post, Fortune Magazine, NACLA Report on the Americas, ContraCorriente, and The World Policy Journal. Her work has been supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, The Social Sciences Research Council, the Inter-American Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.