Mònica Martínez Mauri

Mònica Martínez Mauri

Mònica Martínez is a senior lecturer at the University of Barcelona. Doctor in Social Anthropology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). Since 2000 she has conducted field work on and with the Guna people of Panama, specifically in Guna Yala province. Her research has investigated cultural mediation, representations of the environment and animals, the effects of tourism development, collective rights in relation to territory and intellectual property. Her publications include two monographs published by the publisher Abya Yala in 2011: Kuna Yala tierra de mar. Ecología y territorio indígena en Panamá y La autonomía indígena en Panamá. La experiencia del pueblo kuna. Mònica Martínez Mauri has been a principal investigator and collaborator on numerous projects financed by Panama’s National Secretariat for Science and Technology (SENACYT) and Spain’s Ministry of the Economy and Competitiveness. she has a good knowledge of Catalan, Spanish, English, French and Guna.


Research at MEDIOS

Within the framework of this project, Mònica Martínez Mauri investigates the use and appropriation of communications media by Panama’s Guna people, a population renowned worldwide for having achieved a high degree of autonomy in regard to the Panamanian state.

This research began to be developed in July and August 2016 and continued into the early months of 2017. The field work was undertaken both in Guna Yala province − carrying out participating observation in the community of Gardi Sugdub (western sector) − and in Panama City, based on interviews conducted with diverse actors in the communications sector (journalists, traditional indigenous organisations, government organisations and NGOs).

The aim of this work is to map the media reality of Guna Yala province. Based on this case study, we want to know how daily use of the new media (social networks) is integrated with traditional media (press, film, radio and television) in the indigenous sphere and to what extent the Guna control these media to become news broadcasters – and not mere recipients – at a local, national or international level. In this analysis, both the historical dimension and the technological reality are fundamental. Many Guna communities started to use radio, telegrams and telephones during the 1930s and some adopted television in the late 1970s. Although there is currently an area of Guna Yala province (Corregimiento 3) that has no mobile phone coverage, the vast majority have had a good mobile phone signal since the late 2000s. In recent years, thanks to smart phone purchases, the inhabitants of Guna Yala are now in contact with the world of social networks. Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat have become the new meeting places for Guna people in the province and the city. Through this research we also propose to investigate how the people remain Guna in this new virtual world.

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