Connecticut College faculty and guest speakers from various disciplines will explore topics related to Latin@ culture, childhood, social and physical boundaries, law, theater, immigration, literature and poetry in the continuation of a successful speaker series. The Latin@ Studies Speaker Series started in 2013 as the result of growing student interest in the field of Latino studies.

“In response to students’ interest, we developed the Latin@ Studies Lecture Series last year,” said Ana Lilia Campos Manzo, assistant professor of sociology and one of the series’ organizers. “This year, it features experts in Latin@ Studies from a variety of fields, including dance, sociology, law, history, theater and literature. Nurturing students’ intellectual curiosity is a priority at Connecticut College.”

All the following events in the Latin@ Studies Speaker Series will take place in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room in Shain Library. They are free and open to the public.

On Thursday, April 10, Robert LeRoux Hernandez, a lecturer in the Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies at College of the Holy Cross, will lead a discussion on law and Latinos in American society. He will examine the evolution of "Latino" as a legal category since the 1970s, the concept of legal status in the United States in the context of Latino "cultural citizenship," and the critical role of language in controlling Latino access to justice, focusing on the 1991 Supreme Court decision in Hernandez v. New York, which upheld exclusion of Spanish-speakers from the jury in a criminal case involving Spanish speakers. The discussion will also explore some of the interactions between various areas of the law and Latinidad. This event is at 4:30 p.m.

On Friday, April 25, Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, the director of El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies and associate professor of history at the University of Connecticut, will deliver “Immigration and its History in Post-Pinochet Chile.” During this presentation, Overmyer-Velázquez will share his most recent work, which examines how the related emergence of Chile’s Pinochet-era economic and immigration legislation was shaped by a long history of racist policies that privileged white European immigration while subordinating perceived non-white migrants. With a focus on Chile’s recent wave of Peruvian immigration, the study also analyzes the country’s histories and historiographies of immigration, racialization and nation-state formation. This event is at noon.

The series will include a workshop on Wednesday, April 30, titled “Puerto Rican Women's Literature in the U.S.” Elizabeth Garcia, the College’s dean of multicultural affairs, will present her most recent work on how the absence of Puerto Rican women's history in the national historical narratives of the United States has been contested by Puerto Rican women writers through their literary narratives. The workshop is at 4:30 p.m.

And the series concludes on Friday, May 2, with “Latino Poetry: From the Streets of El Salvador to Housing Projects and to the Halls of Academia,” a presentation by Jose B. Gonzalez, professor of English at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and renowned poet. A featured speaker at colleges, universities and organizations throughout the country, Gonzalez has contributed essays and poetry to many journals and other media, including National Public Radio. His presentation for this event will take place at 4:30 p.m. and will include pieces from his upcoming poetry collection, “Toys Made of Rock.”

Previous events in the series include a talk by Martha Chew Sanchez, associate professor in the global studies department at Saint Lawrence University, titled “Cultural Identities on the Mexican-U.S. Borderland,” and a performance by Teatro Luna, a troupe that uses performance, movement, music and humor to explore gender, race, class and identity while provoking social and political dialogue.

The Latin@ Studies Speaker Series is sponsored by the Department of Sociology, the Joseph Henry Seldon Lectureship Fund, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the departments of history, government and Hispanic studies. All talks are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Campos-Holland at 860-439-2006.

March 3, 2014