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Latin American Studies

Student Research


Latin American Studies Research Award

Established in 2000 by the Latin American Studies Committee, and funded by the office of the Dean for Academic Affairs, the LAS Research Award Program supports student research in Mexico, Central or South America, the Caribbean, or on Latinos and Latinas in the United States. The awards are intended to increase understanding and awareness of the region among sophomores and juniors majoring in any academic discipline. The on-site research can be conducted after July 1 during the summer months, between semesters, or to extend off-campus study experiences. Funds are available for travel, room and board, and research expenses up to a maximum of $3000.

You may read previous grant awardees’ reports here >

2013 Recipients

This year Latin American Studies Research Awards were given to Chris Robleto (2014) and Elizabeth González (2015).

Chris Robleto LAS Research Award RecipientChris will be conducting research in Nicaragua during the summer of 2013 under the mentorship of Prof. Greg Beckett (Anthropology). Chris’ project is entitled, “Narratives of Nationalism in Nicaragua: A Multi-Level study of Nationalism in Managua, Bilwi, and Bluefields.” His proposed research explores the ways that ideas of nationality and especially national belonging are shaped by varying parameters of who is included and who is excluded, all of which are marked by language, ethnicity, geography and race. A significant aspect of his project is that he integrates attention to Miskito (indigenous) Nicaraguans through attention to the city of Bluefields and to Caribbean coast Nicaraguans through his attention to the city of Bilwi. He hopes to collect information in various contexts including didactic texts from public schools (which particularly impact children), everyday talk about the nation that he will access through observation and interviews, local government policies and statements, and art and cultural production including music. Chris has been influenced by courses such as “The Caribbean in the Atlantic World” and “Modern Latin America” as well as by several Government courses including “International Relations.” Chris plans to use this research in an Honors project in Latin American Studies in the 2013-2014 academic year.
Liz González will be conducting research in Bogotá, Colombia under the mentorship of Professor Nadia Celis (Spanish). HeLiz Gonzalez LAS Research Award Recipientr project is entitled, “Prostitution and ‘narcocultura’: Violence, Sexuality, and Beauty in Colombia.” Liz intends to study the connections between drug related violence and women, focusing on the representation of female bodies in written texts such as testimonies and novels and in visual texts such as telenovelas and films. Many of these representations narcocultura, or the culture around narcotrafficking, have emerged in the last decade as the government has relaxed repression of public discourse on this issue. Liz will travel to Colombia this summer in order to gather material unavailable in the United States including primary sources (such as telenovelas) and secondary sources such as works of criticism, newspaper articles, and books published in Colombia. She also plans to talk with scholars in the Escuela de Estudios de Género in the Universidád Nacionál de Colombia and the Instituto Pensar in the Pontifica Unversidad Javeriana. Liz has taken several courses in Latin American studies and has been influenced by scholarship on media representation of Latinos in Prof. Celis' "Latino Fictions" course and on notions of beauty in Brazil in Prof. Premack's "Beyond Capoeira" course.

2012 Recipients

Alexandra Fogarty '13
"The Identification of Argentine Horsemen with the Literary Image of the Gaucho: the Impact of Modernization on Identity"
The notion of national identity remains very convoluted in many Latin American nations to this day. Argentina presents an interesting case -the boundaries between the city and the pampas remain punctuated due to ethnical and social differences. However, through the glorification of a "traditional" past, many different groups are brought together under what remains today a celebrated symbol of the nation -it was the idealized gaucho that became the first figure of national identity, and its significance today is at the center of this study.

Hannah Lorastein
'13 "Everyday in Black and White: Toward a New Understanding of Race in Lima, Peru"
This summer, Hannah conducted research on the lived experience of racial labels and categories in Lima, Peru. Read her report here.

The John Harold Turner Prize in Latin American Studies

Named after Professor Emeritus John H. Turner, this prize is awarded to a graduating Latin American studies major who, in the judgment of the Latin American Studies Committee, has achieved academic distinction and has contributed to an understanding of the region.

In 2013 the John Harold Turner Senior Prize in Latin American Studies was awarded to Juan Del Toro and Matt Silton.

Juan Del Toro and Matt Silton, were awarded the John H. Turner Senior Prize in Latin American Studies this year for outstanding scholarship and public engagement related to the discipline. Juan del Toro completed an Honors project under the direction of Nadia Celis which explores how gay Latino authors narrate their multiple social identities within their memoirs with attention to the intersections of race/ethnicity and sexuality. The project is entitled, “Gay Latino Life Writings: Narrative and Identity at the Intersection of Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality.” With Professor Desi Rios, Juan has also presented scholarly work at conferences. Their most recent paper, “The experiences of queer men of color in higher education: Managing multiple identities in college" was presented at the Biennial National Latina/o Psychology Association (NLPA) Conference. Juan will begin a PhD in psychological development at NYU in the fall. Matt Silton completed an Honors thesis in Latin American Studies under the mentorship of Nadia Celis. His thesis is entitled, “Identidades en conflicto: Nacionalidad, raza y género en la narrativa nuyoriqueña (Conflicting Identities: Nationality, Race and Gender in the Nuyorican Narrative).” Matt’s research focuses on the writings of Puerto Ricans who move between the island and New York City and examines the ways nationality, race and gender impact the lives and creative processes of these writes.Matt will be traveling to Brazil in the coming months to work for the Department of Commerce in Brasilia (and to learn some Portuguese)! We wish both of these students congratulations for excellent work during their time at Bowdoin and continued success in the future.  


Professor Rios and LAS Major, Juan Del Toro, present research project at Biennial National Latina/o Psychology Association (NLPA) Conference

"The experiences of queer men of color in higher education: Managing multiple identities in college"

Prof Rios and Juan Del Toro at NLPA conference

To date, psychological research on underrepresented groups in higher education has focused on race and gender, but the question of how holding multiple marginalized identities influences a person’s college experience remains largely unexplored. Additionally, research on men of color who identify as gay, bisexual, or queer in higher education, particularly Latino and Asian men, is sparse. In our research we examine how college men who identify as sexual minorities 1) make sense of multiple identities in a college context, particularly men of color who must often negotiate multiple marginalized identities; 2) are influenced by race/ethnic cultural norms in terms of “coming out” stories, and whether they choose to come out at all; 3) challenge stereotypes about their many social identities; and 4) describe the positive aspects of their identities and their college experience. Our interviews with college-age men who identify as queer, gay, or bisexual provide useful information about the stage of identity development known as emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000). This stage of development is considered a critical point in a person’s identity development and college provides an optimal space for people to explore their identities. However, cultural remnants of the academy’s white heterosexual male origins (Stewart & Dottolo, 2005) present some challenges for underrepresented groups who may perceive the college environment as unwelcoming, particularly for those who hold multiple marginalized identities (e.g. men of color who identify as gay). How these men negotiate their multiple identities remains largely unexplored with most psychological research done in the college context focusing on attitudes held by heterosexual students about sexual minority students (Evans, 2001), but there is little research on the experiences of sexual minorities themselves, and particularly men of color in the college context (Patton, 2011; Wilkerson, 2010). Assuming that “coming out” is an important process for all groups of men (Hall, 2009), racial comparisons have not adequately addressed how culture informs how and if a gay, bisexual, or queer man chooses to come out. Our research examines positive coping strategies employed by gay, bisexual, or queer college men of color with the goal of providing empirical evidence to colleges that will aid in the development of interventions as well as affirming practices already in place at  colleges.

Exploring Issues in Latin American Studies with the Global Citizens Grant

The Global Citizens Grant, initiated in 2007 by Willy Oppenheim ’09, and awarded through the McKeen Center for the Common Good, provides Bowdoin students travel funding to spend 8-10 weeks learning about issues such as public health, elder and disability rights, education and environmental sustainability through serving with grassroots organizations outside of the United States. Since the grant’s inception, eight recipients have worked with organizations in Latin America, building on their experiences through academic and service work on their return.

This year's Global Citizen is Emma James.  For more information on Emma and her work in Bolivia, please visit the Global Citizen Grant Recipient page

Information on previous recipients of the Glabal Citizen Grant can be found here.

Jae Lee '06

With the support of the LAS Research Grant, Jae Lee '06 collected on-site information for her Honors thesis, "De Coreano a Coreguayo: The Korean-Paraguayan Community, 1964-2005."

See other examples »