Dear Alumni, Students, Colleagues, and Friends:
The past year has been a busy and productive one for Latin American Studies Program. Several highlights from this year are collected in the pages of this newsletter. In particular, this volume of LAS Noticias is filled with the stories and successes of several students and alumni. Our students—not just our majors and minors—have participated in several new courses, engaged in independent research, participated in service learning trips and study away programs to various parts of Latin America, received fellowships and awards, and contributed to a myriad of curricular and co-curricular activities on and off campus. This issue includes two “Student Focus” interviews with graduating seniors Juan Del Toro and Call Nicols as well as shorter pieces highlighting several other students’ accomplishments.
Bowdoin students’ profound engagement with the region is indicated by what they do during their four years at Bowdoin and by their continuing work, study, travel in Latin America after graduation. This year’s newsletter also highlights two alumni, Teona Williams (’12) and Amelia Fiske (’06). Teona writes of her work in Brazil while on a Watson Fellowship and Amelia’s “Alumni Focus” interview describes her dissertation research on the oil industry in Ecuador. Please look through the “Alumni News” to find notes from other alumni (’94 to ’12).
The Program has grown substantially since a major in LAS was established just over a decade ago. This is in part due to the engaging courses and the innovative scholarship of our faculty members. This past year, a total of 31 courses were taught in LAS, and 484 students were enrolled in these courses. The social science curriculum was enhanced by new courses such as “The Caribbean in the Atlantic World” and “Children and Youth in Global Perspective.” New courses in Music, French, and Spanish explored the intersection of literary and artistic production and social inequalities such as race and gender, including “Music and Race in Latin America,” “Voices of Women, Voices of the People,” “Bad Girls on Stage in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America.” Attention to transnational and global relationships in contemporary and historical periods was strengthened by courses such as “Dictatorship, Human Rights and Memory in Latin America,” “Indigenous Identity and Politics in Latin America,” and “Demons and Deliverance in the Atlantic World.” Students chose from both electives and required courses focused on the French- as well as Spanish-speaking Caribbean, on indigenous, African, and Hispanic populations in Latin America, and on communities of Latin@s in the U.S. Finally, service learning, hands-on research, bilingual pedagogy, and co-curricular events continue to be an important part of LAS curriculum. “Translating Cultures” and “A Journey around Macondo” were just two of the courses that provided students opportunities to learn beyond the classroom.
This year we were very happy to have Greg Beckett begin teaching in a tenure-track position in Anthropology; he is a political anthropologist whose research focuses on the Caribbean region, particularly Haiti. We were also pleased to welcome Margaret Boyle, a specialist in early modern women’s literary and cultural history in Spain and Latin America, to a tenure-track position in Romance Languages. We have appreciated the pre- and post-doctoral fellows and visiting faculty who have so successfully brought attention to areas of scholarship that both support and enhance continuing offerings. Laura Premack’s (Mellon Predoctoral Fellow, Africana Studies and Latin American Studies) research and teaching on Brazil has enhanced understanding of this important region of Latin America; she will continue as a post-doctoral fellow for a second year. Elizabeth Shesko (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, History and Latin American Studies) brought attention to state violence, human rights, and indigenous histories of Latin America, and we are very happy that she will continue as Research Associate in the coming year. In the Fall 2013, Marco Lopez will join us in a tenure-track position in Sociology teaching courses on Latinos in the US, immigration, and class. A Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow, Melissa Rosario, will teach courses in Anthropology on Puerto Rico and on new media and technology. The accomplishments of our faculty members are detailed in “Faculty News.”
As this is my final year as Director of LAS, I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their willingness to contribute time and energy to the Program; their work to support LAS reflects their commitment to their scholarship and students and their love for the region. I have also learned a tremendous amount from our students—their intellectual curiosity and public engagement are inspirational. I have relied upon the exceptional organizational skills, good humor, and very hard work of Jean Harrison; the Program would not be what it is without her work as Department Coordinator. Finally, thanks to all of you who have kept in touch, contributed photos or updates, supported LAS through your presence and interest in courses, events, and programs, and in a myriad of ways have shared a passion for learning about the literature, landscapes, cultures and societies, art, music, history, and political and economic relationships of the Americas.
Krista Van Vleet
Associate Professor of Anthropology