Conference to explore transnationalism

by Roshan Dutta | 2/12/14 7:38pm

Focusing on topics like transnationalism, sexuality and agency, students and community members will discuss of Latino and Latina studies at “The Latina/o Century” conference today and tomorrow. Academics and activists participating in the interdisciplinary conference will focus on the importance of the field in the 21st century amid a changing national landscape.

After mingling at tonight’s wine and cheese reception, conference attendees with hear from keynote speaker Alberto Sandoval-Sanchez, a Spanish professor at Mount Holyoke College who will give a lecture titled “Occupying and Inhabiting Broadway: In the Heights’s Tangled Latinidad.”

Friday’s events will cover sexuality, politics, migration and spirituality. The day will conclude with a student workshop led by scholar, activist, sexologist and educator Bianca Laureano. Called “Unblurring the Lines,” Laureano’s session will address pleasure, sexuality, consent, power and agency with a focus on students of color.

In addition to the 14 invited speakers from other academic institutions, three Dartmouth professors will participate — speech professor Claudia Anguiano, theater professor Irma Mayorga and Spanish professor Israel Reyes.

Reyes said the conference aims to highlight the subject’s interdisciplinary nature and expand the community’s reach.

Jorge Duany, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, said he is looking forward to addressing the state of his discipline and the Latino community across the country.

“The Latina/o community in the United States still suffers from invisibility in major institutions such as the media, universities and museums,” Duany said. “I think that one of the major benefits of a conference such as this is to bring together faculty, students and members of the general community to discuss issues of common interest, such as migration, sexuality and religion.”

Frances Aparicio, a professor of Latina and Latino studies at Northwestern University, said the conference will highlight the work of many Latin American and Latino professors who favor privacy when conducting their work. While some believe the field exists solely to support Latina and Latino students, Aparicio said it is a growing discipline.

“The study of Latina/os in the United States and in their transnational connections to Latin America sheds new light on traditional notions of the United States,” she said.

The event, apart from focusing on the work of Latin American and Latino scholars and promoting the subject’s interdisciplinary nature, will emphasize the breadth of Latin American and Latino culture. Duany said that “The Latina/o Century” sets itself apart from similar conferences due to its focus on diversity within the subject and community.

“The conference can be a valuable venue to exchange ideas and experiences by scholars in different disciplines, regions of the United States, and groups under study — Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, and so on,” Duany said. “I feel there is much to be gained by comparing various communities that vary by geographic location and national origin from multiple perspectives.”

Hector Iturbe ’16 said he hoped to benefit from attending the conference.

“As a Latino student, I think it will provide me with a window into how people who share my heritage, or similar ones, are involved in the many issues of today and I look forward to it,” Iturbe said.

The conference will help create supportive and interconnected communities for the Latino community in the immediate vicinity of the College, Duany said.

The conference received funding from over a dozen College sources, including the Office of the President, the Dickey Center for International Understanding, Sigma Lambda Upsilon, the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean studies program and the African and African American studies program.