Tulane Home Tulane Home

Keeping up with Altmans: Rachel Lewis Participates in TUSCLA Conference

December 13, 2017 4:30 PM

Rachel Lewis at TUSCLA 2017

On December 2, 2017, Senior Rachel Lewis participated in the XV Annual Tulane University Student Conference on Latin America, or TUSCLA. Sponsored by the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, TUSCLA allows undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present their findings from individual research projects on Latin America. Rachel spoke on a panel entitled People, Politics and Policy: Perspectives on Argentine History and Society.

Rachel shared her thoughts on the experience:

“The TUSCLA Conference is an academic conference where undergrads and graduate students in the Stone Center for Latin American Studies (along with a few students from other departments studying Latin American content) are invited to share their research to their fellow students, professors, faculty. I presented on the panel entitled People, Politics, and Policy: Perspectives on Argentine History and Society. When selecting my research topic, I wanted to utilize both my business major and my SLA major and capitalize on what I learned during my semester abroad in Buenos Aires. This led me to the themes of ethnonationalism, economic protectionism, and black market economies in Argentina. Preparing for this conference was a semester long process of interdisciplinary researching and constantly tailoring my thesis to finally land on a new finding that pushes the boundaries of existing knowledge in the field. I had attending this conference when I was a sophomore, and was amazed at the level of professionalism and expertise that the panelists exhibited. It was such an empowering experience to actually be one of the panelists I had admired just a few years ago and present my research to a new generation of Latin American Studies students. The Altman program definitely gave me a leg up in the area of interdisciplinary work because I had been trained to think with both business and liberal arts mind sets since my first day at Tulane. Being able to utilize multiple disciplinary epistemologies not only provided me with a more complete understanding of my research topic, but it also allowed me to transcend the boundaries of any individual subject area and create my own means of investigation to create a unique thesis. I would definitely encourage my fellow Altman students to participate in TUSCLA or any other academic conference that accepts student work.”

An abstract of Rachel’s presentation, “The Case of the Missing iPhones: Understanding Protectionism and Ethno-nationalism in Contemporary Argentina,” can be found below:

Can you imagine living without taking selfies on your iPhone? In Argentina, protectionist economic policies created by President Cristina Kirchner forced Apple Inc. out of the country, thus making it impossible to legally acquire an iPhone within national borders. As a response, an informal market for iPhones has arisen that is dominated by the white-European upper class that keeps prices high and the market exclusive. These same protectionary measures landed Argentina at #169 of 178 countries classified by the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom in 2015. One would assume that Argentinians would vote against policies that restrict their economic liberty. However, protectionist platforms have maintained a stronghold in the Argentinian political sphere. Studies I engage in my paper demonstrate quantitatively the negative welfare impacts of protectionist policies, suggesting that Argentinian citizens, especially those in the working class, are voting for a system that actively mitigates their ability to make a living. Considering the history of civilian support for protectionism as well as the tools used by protectionist politicians to push their agendas, I explore the reasons that Argentinian citizens advocate for an economic model that is not in their own self-interest. By dissecting speeches made by Cristina Kirchner, analyzing popular news platforms, and delving into a case study of the iPhone black market, this paper contends that Argentina has a unique homogenous ethnic landscape riddled with ethnic anxieties that propels people to favor protectionism even at a cost to their own economic opportunities. In sum, it is ethnonationalism, a form of nationalism rooted in ethnic solidarity, that leads citizens to promote activities that infringe upon their own financial security. This discussion, thus, indicates that sociological phenomena within the collective consciousness of a people can have the power to influence policy making whether these policies are positively impactful or not.

Congratulations, Rachel!


Read more about TUSCLA on the Stone Center’s website:



Rachel Lewis at TUSCLA 2017