News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2015

Immigration and Human Rights In Hemispheric Perspective: the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria visits W&M

Early in the spring semester, W&M welcomed a most special delegation coming from the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria, in La Plata, Argentina.  As is well known, the Comisión is our partner institution in La Plata and coordinates W&M’s study abroad program in Argentina.

Sandra Raggio (director of the CPM), Bruno Carpinetti (CPM & Universidad Nacional Arturo Jauretche), and five young interns & volunteers at the CPM (Ángeles Lucía Fernández, Ignacio Abel Gil, Gabriel Illescas Álvarez, Victoria Collado Ferrari, and Camila Marchione) were invited to explore issues of immigration near Tucson, AZ, at the US-Mexico border.  After a week of intense physical and psychological fieldwork, the delegation arrived in Williamsburg in order to share their experience and their perspective with different student groups and the community at large.  As part of their visit to the College, the delegation offered a comparative analysis of the challenges and issues of immigration and human rights both at the US-Mexico border, and in Argentina.  The event, “Crossing Borders in the Americas: A Roundtable on Immigration and Human Rights,” was moderated by Prof. Silvia Tandeciarz (Hispanic Studies & Latin American Studies).

[the full video of the roundtable, without English subtitles, can be found here]

During their time at the College, the delegation met with W&M students who had also visited the US-Mexico border earlier in January studying global complexity with Prof. Jonathan Arries (Hispanic Studies & Latin American Studies) and Bill Fisher (Anthropology & Latin American Studies).   They also shared their insights with Prof. Jennifer Bickham Méndez (Sociology & Latin American Studies) and students in her advanced seminar, SOCL 409 – ‘Immigration and Human Rights.’

The visit of the Argentine delegation was sponsored by the Reves Center, the Latin American Studies Program, the Charles Center, and the Hispanic Studies Program. Technological assistance for the production of the videos was generously offered by Pablo Yáñez and Mike Blum; subtitles were generated by Prof. Jorge Terukina.

Faculty Awards Jefferson Award News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2015 More

Riofrio honored with Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award

[Original story by Cortney Langley; for Prof. Riofrio’s remarks upon acceptance of the award during Charter Day, February 6, 2015, click here]

John 'Rio' RiofrioAssistant Professor in Hispanic Studies
John ‘Rio’ Riofrio
Assistant Professor in Hispanic Studies

To John Riofrio, the day a student walked out of his class in frustration represents as large a teaching victory as the day a quiet conversation led another one to remain in William & Mary and later choose teaching as a career.

That might seem a strange posture for an instructor who during Charter Day will be bestowed the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award. But it’s a perfectly consistent attitude for the Hispanic studies professor who goes by “Rio” and who daily tries to prod students into challenging intellectual territory.

His efforts will be rewarded on Charter Day, Feb. 6. The award is given annually to a younger faculty member who has demonstrated – through concern as a teacher, character and influence – the inspiration and stimulation of learning to the betterment of the individual and society.

“I’m not a highly awarded anything,” Riofrio said. “This is the first big award I’ve won, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

Hispanic Studies Professor Ann Marie Stock said in a letter of support from the Modern Languages and Literatures Awards Committee that in 2009 the department envisioned hiring a Latino cultural studies specialist mainly to create and offer courses in the emerging field.

“But we gained so much more: a brilliant scholar whose work is shifting paradigms in ethnic and area studies across the hemisphere; a highly effective teacher consistently lauded by his students for ‘life-changing’ experiences and sought out by his colleagues for pedagogical advice and curricular enhancement; and a generous citizen devoted to the greater good. Professor Riofrio inspires us all, and his leadership and collaborative spirit have left us changed,” she said.

Riofrio emphasizes a hemispheric approach to identity politics by examining Latino cultural production, border studies, globalization, immigration and migration, Stock said. Classes such as Border Theory, Constructing the Barrio and Critiquing the American Dream expose students to new perspectives, and they respond enthusiastically in evaluations that rank Riofrio and his classes “well above” the departmental mean.

“It was one of the first classes I had that really required me to think,” wrote Chenoa Moten ’12 in a letter of recommendation. “There was no ‘remember, recite, repeat’ going on in Rio’s classes. He would constantly challenge us to have an opinion and to share it.”

Another student, Jin Hyuk Ho ’16, said the class lit up when Riofrio walked in. “He was genuinely interested in what everyone had to say and, for the first time in my life, I got to experience a classroom in which no student held back his or her thoughts for fear of sounding stupid.”

For his part, Riofrio dodges credit, pointing to the nature of teaching and the students themselves for his success.

“Good teachers are constantly critiquing themselves. One of my advisers once said that good teachers were inherently like thieves: They would see a good idea and steal it, take it for their own classrooms and their own pedagogy. He’s absolutely right about that.

“William & Mary is absolutely sincere about its dedication to teaching. I never felt like if I had published two brilliant books in my field and had been a terrible teacher, I would have been able to stay.”

In the classroom Riofrio sparks discussion and sniffs out dissent. If students feel like it’s the first time they are being asked to think deeply about a subject, Riofrio said it’s more a commentary on K-12 education emphasizing standardization than it is on him.

“William & Mary students are often the students who have best been able to negotiate that context. The problem is I don’t know that that necessarily qualifies you to be a critical thinker. But what does it mean to actually spend time teaching critical thinking? It’s time consuming, and it’s often really frustrating for students.”

Enter the student who exited. Riofrio recalls the class was discussing consumerism, and what it means to live in a country whose economy is dependent on citizens buying all the time. One student argued that “sometimes shopping just feels good,” but balked when asked what generated that good feeling.

“I remember she was upfront that this was so frustrating, that she just felt like, ‘Where’s the right answer? Should we buy stuff or not?’

“And that frustration is actually what my classes are about. I don’t pretend I have any answers to these things. And our efforts to work through them, to just wrestle with them, was precisely what they hadn’t been asked to do in high school. What I love about teaching here is that when they do come to my classroom, almost across the board they are ready to think about these things.”

Students say Riofrio is just as inspiring outside the classroom. Daniel Vivas ’11 had already met with a recruiter, having decided to drop out of school to join his brother in the military, when he went to see Riofrio.

“What was said in that office will stay between him and me,” but the conversation changed his mind, Vivas told the awards committee. Today he’s himself teaching while pursuing a doctorate. “Every day I’ve spent as an educator, I’ve spent it trying to be as good a teacher as [Riofrio], and to be as impactful with my students as he was with me,” he said.

Riofrio denies he has a particularly nurturing demeanor and actually gave up freshman advising because he felt he wasn’t good enough at it.

“Mine is not the kind of office where a steady stream of students comes in to sort of pour their hearts out,” he said. “I don’t have a box of Kleenex ready to go. But I care about them, and I respect them.”

On campus, Riofrio is one of the inaugural group of Center for the Liberal Arts Fellows implementing the new COLL curriculum. He sits on the W&M Diversity Advisory Committee and has also served with the Ad Hoc Admissions Committee for Latino Recruitment. In 2011, he organized a national colloquium on minority studies on campus.

His forthcoming book, Continental Shifts: Migration, Representation and the Search for Justice in Latin(o) America, will be released by University of Texas Press this year. He has also published a series of opinion pieces inThe Huffington Post.

Off campus, he serves on the board of directors of All Together Williamsburg, a group promoting diversity in the Historic Triangle. He participated in a Virginia Department of Health workshop on Latinos and has co-facilitated public workshops in Williamsburg on Latino immigration.

“I’ve really wanted whatever I do to be relevant, particularly trying to bridge the disconnect between the public perception of Latinos in the United States and the reality,” he said. “There’s still an enormous amount of misunderstanding. I feel like my academic work shouldn’t be entirely distinct from my role in the community.”

Fall 2014 News News: Hispanic Studies

Testimonies of Trauma, Mourning & Remembrance: the Cádiz Memory Project

Robert Bohnke '17 (far right) and Prof. Francie Cate Arries (center) interview a family affected by the Spanish Civil War. Image © Mike Blum, 2014
Robert Bohnke ’17 (far right) and Prof. Francie Cate Arries (center) interview a family affected by the Spanish Civil War. Image © Mike Blum, 2014

In the summer of 2014, Hispanic Studies majors Michael Le (Class of 2015) and Robert Bohnke (’17) worked as research fellows with Professor Francie Cate-Arries, supported by a generous grant by the Weingartner Fellowship for International Studies. Cate-Arries’ historical memory project seeks to record and digitally archive testimonies gathered in the province of Cádiz, Spain from family members whose loved ones were murdered during the early days of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Francisco Franco dictatorship (1939-1975). In collaboration with photographer and videographer Mike Blum, W&M Academic Technology Specialist, the research team is creating a website to showcase the oral testimonies,  the objects of memory, and the places of remembrance that tell the story of the civil war’s losers. Spain’s new generation of activist grandchildren advocate for the exhumation of mass graves, recovering not only the remains of family members “disappeared” during the regime, but the buried history that now comes to light as victims’ descendents recount families’ tales of terror & resistance.

Robert Bohnke’s contributions included his transcriptions of recorded testimonies, and subtitles for a 2014 documentary about the 1936 civilian massacre of villagers of La Sauceda. He recalls high points of the project: “In Cádiz, the history of the Spanish Civil War is all around you. There are castles on the beach of La Caleta that were used as prisons for political prisoners and shortly thereafter as the sites of executions. In addition to the presence of this history, a growing number on Spaniards are working to create a social and political dialog about those who were executed during war… Some of the most inspiring, serious, and thought provoking moments of my study abroad came while I was working on my research project and while discussing the legacy of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) with the diverse assortment of individuals I met in Spain. I attended documentary screenings about a recent exhumation of a mass grave at La Sauceda, interviewed a historian, and traveled through Cádiz with Professor Cate-Arries observing how modern Spaniards remember and commemorate their past. I heard a member of the audience at the documentary say that equally as important as the disinterment of the remains is the ‘recovery of the ideas of these bones’.”

Michael Le similarly transcribed audiofiles and the documentary script. When one of his research blog readers asked him about the emotional dimension of working with testimonies of trauma–“Are there any narratives that stuck out to you as you transcribed?”—he responded: “I transcribed a bit of Andrés Rebolledo’s interview where he talks about his grandfather and this intense yearning to know his grandparents. It’s heartbreaking and feels very much like a need to know one’s identity, which has essentially been denied and stolen from him. I also recall the vocal Lucía Román, who spoke about how her grandfather died in her father’s place when the soldiers collected civilians. I also remember María Martín Pérez, the granddaughter of a desaparecido. She spoke about how the soldiers were killing children, and her grandmother had to leave her husband to protect her family. She ends up in tears when she says that her grandmother and mother were so consumed with the fear that the soldiers would find and kill them one day, that her mother ended up committing suicide years later. It’s rather hard to watch.”

Sample testimonies may be consulted online at

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

Teaching at a bilingual school in Costa Rica

Kate Wessman ('13) conducts an interview in Cádiz, Spain, during summer of 2014.
Kate Wessman (’13) conducts an interview in Cádiz, Spain, during summer of 2013.

Phi Beta Kappa scholar Kate Wessman (HISP ’13) is currently teaching 4th and 5th grade Mathematics, Science, and English at the bilingual Escuela Cristiana El Puente in Quepos, Costa Rica. After graduating with a major in Hispanic Studies, she went on to earn an MA in Elementary Education with endorsements for Spanish (preK-12) and English as a Second Language (preK-12) in 2014.  Kate explains her ow background, her academic trajectory, and her experiences at El Puente in her website.

During her years as an undergraduate, Kate spent semesters abroad in Florianópolis (Brazil) and Sevilla (Spain) to perfect her language skills. During the summer of 2013, and thanks to the support of a Weingartner Fellowship, she accompanied Prof. Francie Cate-Arries and fellow graduate Megan Bentley to Spain and conducted interviews in several small towns in the Sierra de Cádiz and in Madrid, with family members of victims of the Franco regime, and survivors of state repression and political exile.  Kate, Megan, Prof. Cate-Arries and IT Academic Liaison Mike Blum presented their project, “Franco’s War & Repression 75 Years Later: Picking Up the Pieces of Mourning & Remembrance,” in January 2014 as part of the Bellini Colloquium, a lecture series sponsored by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and named after the first professor of Modern Language at the College, Carlo Bellini.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

John E. Pence (’12) co-authors study on the history of corporate law in Brazil

John E. Pence ('12) is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese
John E. Pence (’12) is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese

Currently a J.D. candidate at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Hispanic Studies alumnus John E. Pence (’12) has recently co-authored a study on the history of corporate law practice in Brazil. His research, “Legal Elites and the Shaping of Corporate Law Practice in Brazil: A Historical Study,” is forthcoming (2015) in Law and Social Inquiry, an interdisciplinary academic journal sponsored by the American Bar Foundation.

While at William & Mary, and thanks to the support of the Philpott-Pérez Award,  John was able to travel to Nicaragua with Prof. Jonathan Arries and W&M alumna Lauren Jones (’04) to work on “Poets and Pedagogy,” a service-learning, community-based research project that investigated the role of poetry as a tool for critical literacy in Nicaragua.  John was also able to provide English-language instruction in an under-resourced elementary school in Managua.

The Philpott-Pérez Award in Hispanic Studies was generously established by Sharon K. Philpott in 2010 in order to support faculty-student research.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

Katie Brown (’13) publishes article on Libro de buen amor

Libro de buen amor (manuscript S; 1343), fol. 2r.The manuscript has been digitized by the Biblioteca Nacional de España
Libro de buen amor (manuscript S; 1343), fol. 2r.
The manuscript has been digitized by the Biblioteca Nacional de España

Hispanic Studies alumna Katie Brown (’13) recently published an article on orality and performativity in the 14th-century Libro de buen amor by Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita.  The article appears in the latest issue of the e-journal eHumanista. Journal of Iberian Studies: “La voz performativa y el voluntarismo en el Libro de buen amor“. eHumanista 28 (2014): 748-58.  Katie is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University.

During her years at the College, Katie was a Monroe Scholar who travelled to Cusco to study Quechua and carry out research on the political issues surrounding the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua.  She also studied abroad in Seville, and wrote an Honors Thesis on the use of science as a political tool to justify the subordination of the indigenous people in the Andes in the early modern Spanish empire: “Imaginando el derecho “natural” en el imperio español: apropiaciones del discurso científico y la posesión de los Andes en la historiografía colonial.” She was also awarded the J. Worth Banner Award in Hispanic Studies.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

Teaching English in Chile

Kristin Giordano, surrounded by her students, at an English public speaking competition
Kristin Giordano, surrounded by her students, at an English public speaking competition

Since graduating with a double major in Hispanic Studies and Linguistics, Kristin Giordano (’14) has been teaching English at the Liceo (High School) Pablo Neruda in Temuco, Chile.

A Phi Beta Kappa Scholar who worked as a Teaching Assistant for the Hispanic Studies program, Kristin’s deep interest in the way language shapes our lives and the realities we inhabit led her to apply to the English Open Doors Program, an initiative launched by the Chilean government and supported by the United Nations Development Program.  Upon arrival, prospective teachers receive intensive language-teaching training, and are then transferred to their respective institutions, which are located throughout Chile.

A dynamic English classroom
A dynamic English classroom

While Kristin had already taught English during her semester abroad with the W&M program in La Plata, Argentina, prior to traveling to Chile, she enrolled in the special MDLL course “Teaching English Abroad” (MDLL 348).  During her undergraduate trajectory, Kristin also participated in Prof. David Aday’s project M.A.N.O.S. (Medical Aid Nicaragua: Outreach Scholarship), and interned at the Embassy of Spain in Washington D.C.

For more information on teaching English in Chile via the English Open Doors Program, please consult their website.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

In Flux: A Conversation on the Art of Translation

Traduttore, traditore (roughly, ‘translators are traitors’) is a phrase frequently invoked when discussing the art of translation. Why would the act of translating be considered analogous to treason? What lies behind the act of translating? Can we speak of an ‘original’ and a ‘subservient translation’ or ‘copy’? What are some of the challenges a translator may face? How does one transit between texts and languages?

Neva Mícheva
Neva Mícheva

On November 13, 2014, a group of Hispanic Studies students and faculty members convened to discuss these and other questions related to literary translation.  As a special guest, they were joined by Neva Mícheva, one of the most accomplished translators of contemporary literature in romance languages into Bulgarian.

Neva Micheva, a polyglot with M.A. degrees in Italian Philology and Journalism, was distinguished with the coveted 2014 Hristo G. Danov National Literary Award for her translations into Bulgarian of Los poemas de Sidney West (1969) by Argentine poet Juan Gelman, and Centuria: cento piccolo romanzi fiume (1979) by Italian writer Giorgio Manganelli. This fall, Micheva has been a Writer-in-Residence at the renowned and highly selective Omi International Arts Center (Ghent, NY). Thanks to Micheva’s translations, Bulgarian readers can enjoy the works by notable Hispanic intellectuals such as Eduardo Galeano, Manuel Puig, and Augusto Monterroso, Catalan writers such as Manuel de Pedrolo, and Sergi Belbel, and Italian authors like Antonio Tabucchi, Italo Calvino, and Dino Buzzatti, among others.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

Farmworker Culture, Social Justice, and Hispanic Studies

Kate Furgurson ('14)
Kate Furgurson (’13)

Since graduating in May 2013, Kate Furgurson has been trying to ameliorate the lives of farmworkers in North Carolina.  A double major in Environmental Policy and Hispanic Studies, Kate joined Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) in order to work on helping farmworkers access health care services.  Her proficiency in Spanish (which she uses on a daily basis) and her commitment to social justice, which reverberated throughout her trajectory in our Hispanic Studies program, played a major role in her professional decision.  Through SAF’s Sowing Seeds for Change fellowship, Kate received the necessary training to work in rural health clinics in NC, and provide health care education.  Kate’s work in this leadership program was showcased in the following video, in which farmworkers from Coahuila, Mexico, share their experiences, concerns, and anxieties with her.

During her undergraduate trajectory Kate worked with Students Helping Honduras and participated in the W&M study abroad program in La Plata, Argentina.  She was also a Sharpe Community Scholar.  Kate is currently Farmworker Health Outreach Coordinator at the Surry County Health & Nutrition Center in Dobson, NC.

Every year, Student Action with Farmworkers accepts applications for their 10-week summer internship “Into the Fields,” and for their Sowing Seeds for Change Fellowship.  For their 2015 programs, the application deadline is February 4, 2015.  For further information, please consult their website.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

The Camino de Santiago and the Forging of Galician Identity

Since the Middle Ages the Camino de Santiago has been a major goal of pilgrimage in the Christian West, but its role in shaping a distinct Galician identity in our age is still a matter of research.  Thanks to the generous endowment of the Philpott-Pérez Award, professor George Greenia and Hispanic Studies major Ryan T. Goodman (’14) were able to present their initial findings at a most unique conference on Galician studies held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwakee in May 2014, and to extend their collaboration by carrying out field research in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, during the summer.

Ryan Goodman (’14) presenting his research on “Patron Saint of King, Country and Post-National ideal” at the 2014 Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies

At a conference on (Re)Mapping Galician Studies in North America: A Breakthrough Symposium (May 2-3, 2014), Prof. Greenia and Ryan participated in a session exclusively devoted to the Camino de Santiago.  Prof. Greenia presided the session and offered his remarks as a respondent, while Ryan presented his paper on “Modern Galician Youth: Pilgrimage and Diaspora.”  Soon afterwards both travelled to Spain as Professor Greenia co-led the W&M summer study abroad program in Santiago de Compostela and mentored over a dozen student research projects. Ryan remained in Santiago after the William & Mary study abroad experience interning at the cathedral’s Pilgrim Office and conducting further work on Galician identity amid competing claims of loyalty to the Autonomous Region of Galicia and the Spanish monarchy.  Ryan was even present for the new King’s inaugural speech on the Feast of St. James when Felipe VI and his wife the Queen gave their formal declaration of support to the pilgrimage while Galician nationalists protested outside the cathedral precinct.  Goodman presented the results of his summer research as a poster presentation for the 2014 Symposium on Pilgrimage Studies, Shared Journeys: The Confluence of Pilgrimage Traditions, celebrated at William & Mary (September 26-28, 2014), and Goodman and Greenia are coauthoring an article entitled “Santiago: Patrón de una nación y protector de su monarquía y un ideal posnacionalista.”

Ryan’s internship in Santiago also captured the attention of local media. For a full story of Ryan’s experience, please read the following article prepared by staff reporters of the College.

The Philpott-Pérez Award in Hispanic Studies was generously established by Sharon K. Philpott in 2010 in order to support faculty-student research.

Fall2014More News News: Hispanic Studies

La Plata, Argentina: A Student’s Experience

Comisión Provincial por la Memoria (La Plata, Argentina)
Comisión Provincial por la Memoria (La Plata, Argentina)

When she was 17, Sarah Caspari (’15) decided she would apply to William & Mary and spend a semester abroad in La Plata, Argentina.  During the fall semester of 2013, Sarah was finally able to realize her dream.  She prepared herself as much as she could taking several classes in Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies, but, as she puts it, “there’s only so much you can learn from books.”  Hers was a transformative experience: “The experiences I had abroad re-lit my fire and gave me new inspiration to advocate for people who continue to suffer, and for the people who gave their lives for the legacy of human rights, who are presente: ahora y siempre. They’re here: now and forever.”

Sarah shares her thoughts on life, culture and politics in Argentina, and several other intercultural insights, in her article “La Plata’s legacy: igniting passion and freedom,” which appeared in the latest issue of the Reves Center’s magazine, World Minded (Vol. 6, No. 2, Spring 2014; pp. 4-5).

Sarah Caspari is a Robert M. and Rebecca W. Gates Scholar. Her passion for La Plata led her to return last summer in order to conduct on site research for her honor’s project on a series of kidnappings and forced disappearances of young students in La Plata.  Sarah is also a Teaching Assistant in the Hispanic Studies program.

News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2014 More

Acclaimed Cuban filmmaker visits William & Mary

Prof. Ann Marie Stock introduces Mr. Carlos Y. Rodríguez at the public screening of his work.
Prof. Ann Marie Stock introduces Mr. Carlos Y. Rodríguez in Swem Library, at one of the many events during his visit.

During the month of April, 2014, renowned Cuban filmmaker Carlos Y. Rodríguez visited the College. Mr. Rodríguez is part of Televisión Serrana, a community media collective that trains young people from the Sierra Maestra mountains in video production so that they can tell the stories of their communities and culture.

After a first visit to William & Mary in 2011, he returned in April 2014 to serve as the second Swem Media Artist in Residence.  Additional support from Hispanic Studies, Film Studies and AMP (Alma Mater productions) made possible Carlos’ collaboration with students and faculty on several audiovisual projects.  In addition, Mr. Rodríguez introduced some of his films at a public screening and participated in a lively Q&A.

For Carlos Y. Rodríguez and Televisión Serrana film allows Cubans to tell their stories.
For Carlos Y. Rodríguez and Televisión Serrana film allows Cubans to tell their stories.

The director of a series of award-winning documentaries, Mr. Rodríguez is currently at work on a more personal project about his parents. Before joining the Television Serrana, Carlos worked as a Director for Cuban National Television (ICRT) and the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Arts and Industry (ICAIC), as a curator at the Provincial Center of Art, and as a Professor.

You can read the full featured story here.

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2014

Intercultural Competence: A Conversation with Hispanic Studies Alums

Prof. Terukina, Ben Boone, Prof. Root, Sarah Parks, Maybelline Mendoza, and Prof. Stock
Prof. Terukina, Ben Boone, Prof. Root, Sarah Parks, Maybelline Mendoza, and Prof. Stock

Following in the steps of a successful Career Panel held last year, Hispanic Studies majors and students welcomed our successful alums back on campus for a conversation.  On March 24, Ben Boone (HISP ’07; Ph.D. Candidate, Dean of Students Office at W&M), Maybelline Mendoza (HISP ’07; MBA Candidate), and Sarah Parks (HISP ’03; Master in Social Work) shared their experiences in the Hispanic Studies program (such as Sarah’s trip with Prof. Silvia Tandeciarz to La Plata that eventually led to the creation of our W&M study abroad program), their post-graduation trajectories, and their professional paths with some twenty Hispanic Studies students.  This brown bag event, “Putting Together Your Career Tool Kit: Hispanic Studies and Intercultural Competence,” highlighted the training our alums received in cultural competence and intercultural bridging, and the role that these skills play in their trajectories in higher education administration and non-profits in Nicaragua, the world of business and the beauty industry, and public service scenarios from community health clinics and low-income housing community center to welfare of immigrant children.

Our alums, students, from freshmen to seniors, and faculty engaged in a lively dialogue that underscored how our program contributes to creating global citizens.

The event was kindly co-sponsored by the Cohen Career Center, and the Charles Center.

Fall2013 News News: Hispanic Studies

Cuban Film and Culture at W&M

Oneyda Gonzalez meets with W&M Students

The Hispanic Studies program hosted the U.S. premiere of two films by Oneyda Gonzalez in October.  “The Elf” and “Waiting for the Wild Boar to Fall” were screened in the Botetourt Auditorium.  The newly reconfigured space was filled to capacity.  Students had several opportunities to meet with the Cuban filmmaker, scriptwriter and poet during her week-long visit to W&M.  “Introduction to Hispanic Studies” sections learned of her experiences writing and filming and living in Cuba; “Mapping Cuba” sophomore seminar participants filmed an interview that will become part of the Cuban Cinema Classics DVD

series; and Translation students conversed with the guest about her book of interviews with filmmakers and script writers.  Professors Buck, Cate-Arries and Stock deemed the experience exceedingly productive, noting two exciting follow-on projects.  In faculty-student research collaborations, W&M Hispanic Studies teams will translate Ms. Gonzalez’s book for publication in the U.S., and will subtitle her short film, “The Elf”, for circulation at international film festivals. Oneyda enjoyed her stay immensely, and even took time out to celebrate Hispanic Heritage at the LASU event. This visit was sponsored by Hispanic Studies, Film and Media Studies and Swem Library.


Troy Davis, Emma Rodvien, and Prof. Ann Marie Stock work on a video project

October was a busy month for Professor Ann Marie Stock and Latin American Studies student Emma Rodvien as they worked to  submit the completed manuscript for the Havana volume in the “World Film Locations” series.  Stock signed the contract to edit the book, and then invited Emma, a student in her freshman seminar who had expressed an interest in Cuban culture, to assist.  With support from a faculty-student research grant (Christianson, administered through the Charles Center), Emma was able to devote the summer to collaborating with Dr. Stock.  She translated submissions from Spanish into English, selected the screen shots that will illustrate the volume, and wrote four original “scene description” essays.  Watch for more news when the volume appears in print in 2014 (Intellect, U.K.)  

Fall2013More News News: Hispanic Studies

Handbook of Fashion Studies, Regina Root, co-editor, hot off the presses

9780857851949The first handbook of fashion studies and a work that has been heralded as “essential” reading by folks at some of the top design schools, among others, is hot off the press.  At almost 700 pages, it can be added to the list of books published by members of our department.  This project began in 2008.  It was an international project, too.

A few select reviews of the book can be found here.

The handbook’s already getting some coverage across the Atlantic.  But it’s an international initiative that also began here at W&M.

Fall2013More News News: Hispanic Studies

Raft Debate ’13: Hispanic Studies Prof. John ‘Rio’ Riofrio Defends the Humanities

Hard sciences the ‘natural’ choice in annual Raft Debate

John Riofrio and his children perform during the rebuttal portion of the event.Photo by Stephen Salpukas
John Riofrio and his children perform during the rebuttal portion of the event.
Photo by Stephen Salpukas

Dressed as Charles Darwin and armed with an erupting bottle of “science juice,” Dan Cristol scored a victory for the natural and computational sciences on Wednesday night at William & Mary.

The biology professor was this year’s winner of the annual Raft Debate, held on Oct. 2 in the Sadler Center’s Commonwealth Auditorium, which was packed with students, faculty and staff.

The event begins with this premise: Three professors are stranded on a desert island with only one chance of escape: a life raft. The professors – representing the humanities, social sciences and natural and computational sciences, overseen by a judge and opposed by the notorious devil’s advocate — battle it out to determine academia’s most valuable discipline.

In addition to Cristol, the debaters for this year’s competition were Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies John Riofrio for the humanities and Associate Professor of Sociology Thomas Linneman for the social sciences. Presiding over the debate was Virginia Torczon, the dean of graduate studies and research for Arts & Sciences, and playing the part of the devil’s advocate was Associate Professor of Mathematics Sarah Day.

Some students come in with an idea of who they want to win—a number of students in the front row were wearing homemade “Dan Fan Clan” T-shirts sporting Cristol’s face on them—but a number came simply to watch the fun. Some switched allegiances midway through the performance, and others even went for the nihilistic third option.

“In the beginning I was probably rooting for the devil’s advocate,” said Cole Pearce ’15.  “It’s fun, incites some conflict.”

Each of the professors and the devil’s advocate were given seven minutes to make their case. Then, after each had gone, they were given another three minutes for a rebuttal.

Cristol led the debate dressed in official robes and a fake beard, claiming to be Charles Darwin and giving a case for why the natural and computational sciences should claim the dinghy. Painting a world with only humanities as full of “naked people rooting around for tubers” and only social sciences as “like a world with only humanities, but with more marketing research,” he brought up natural sciences’ role in helping humanity through medicine, agriculture and the scientific method.

The high point of his statement was his inclusion of Mentos and a bottle of Coke, which produced a fizzy explosion onstage.

Riofrio, not one to be outdone, complemented Cristol on his use of “words and language” to give his presentation, and talked about the use of humanities in things such as the clothes Cristol was wearing (fashion design), the food everyone was eating (culinary arts) and general “expression and communication,” or language. Comparing his opponents to the Jersey Shore cast, he threatened that a world without the humanities would result in nothing but terrible reality TV shows, and gave the other professors a number of Jersey-Shore themed props.

Defending the social sciences last, Linneman brought up a number of issues with both of the other fields—that the natural sciences were more focused on the “coulda” rather than the “shoulda,” and the “outrageous obfuscation” present in the humanities—before insisting that the social sciences had a lot to offer.

“These other fields, they’re too old,” he said. “Nothing new is coming out of them anymore. Social science though is new, young: it’s still got a lot of area to explore.”

Finally, the devil’s advocate came up to speak her mind. She argued that in order for any of the fields to be of use, they had to be used in conjunction with all of them.

“A world with only humanities is like a bunch of brilliant actors and a great script in a room with no way to broadcast them,” she said. “With only social sciences, it’s a bunch of CSI shows with no actors, only real crime labs; and with only the natural sciences, it’s a reality show with no talented people at all.”

She gave each of the professors a gift she thought they could use: including yarn to Cristol to make a “bird harness,” a book on “how to speak bird” for Riofrio and a notebook and pens for Linneman, so that he could implement some thought experiments “while they were all alone on the island.”

The rebuttals began again with Cristol, who started with the claim that the humanities were “a luxury we simply can’t afford without science.” He further added that the social sciences, far from the clarity Linneman was touting in his opening remarks, were in fact riddled with obscurity.

Riofrio’s defense rested on the guest appearances of his two kids, who helped him perform a song loosely adapted from a Rihanna tune. This was met with great applause from the audience.

Linneman, however, didn’t seem impressed.

“I’m not even going to stand up,” he said, shaking his head. “Can’t even do anything once you break out the children.”

Day, in one last plug as the devil’s advocate, urged the audience to embrace balance between the disciplines and leave them all on the island.

After a quick round of questions from the audience, the votes were taken. All four contestants received a considerable amount of applause, but Cristol clearly took the cake.

“That’s what you get for telling your 500-student class that they get extra credit for coming to this,” quipped Judge Torczon.

Still, the audience seemed pleased by the result.

“I thought it was great,” Cole said. “I was happy to see Cristol pull through with a Dar-Win.”

Fall2013More News News: Hispanic Studies

Cate-Arries honored for ‘broad scope’ of professional achievements

Francie Cate-Arries was just about to leave the stage after giving a lecture at the College of Charleston on Sept. 12 when she was stopped by Mark Del Mastro, the executive director of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society.

He had an announcement to make, he told the audience: Cate-Arries, a member of William & Mary’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures since 1986, was being awarded Sigma Delta Pi’s Order of the Discoverers.

At that moment, three student members from the College of Charleston’s chapter stepped forward and presented Cate-Arries with the commemorative plaque.

Professor Francie Cate-Arries (second from left) was awarded the Order of the Discoverers on Sept. 12 following her lecture at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Also in the photo are (from left) Justin Lyons, College of Charleston chapter co-vice president; Jocelyn Moratzka, chapter president; Rachel Wadsworth, chapter co-vice president and Mark Del Mastro, executive director of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society.Courtesy of Mark Del Mastro
Professor Francie Cate-Arries (second from left) was awarded the Order of the Discoverers on Sept. 12 following her lecture at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Also in the photo are (from left) Justin Lyons, College of Charleston chapter co-vice president; Jocelyn Moratzka, chapter president; Rachel Wadsworth, chapter co-vice president and Mark Del Mastro, executive director of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society.
Courtesy of Mark Del Mastro

“I hadn’t shared with my hosts that it was my birthday,” Cate-Arries said. “It is an understatement to say that being honored this way was a most memorable surprise birthday gift.”

The prestigious Order of the Discoverers recognizes, among others, outstanding teachers of Spanish or Hispanic studies at the college or university level, as well as university personnel who have served the cause of Sigma Delta Pi in an exceptional way.

Cate-Arries, who was nominated by the national executive committee of Sigma Delta Pi based on her scholarship and the scope of her activities in the profession, qualifies on several levels. She is a professor of contemporary Spanish cultural and literary studies, and teaches courses at all levels of the curriculum, including Fundamentals of Literary Criticism; The Art & Literature of the Spanish Civil War; Film under Franco; Literary Landscapes of Spain, 1800-2012; Phantasms of Francoism: History, Literature, Memory; and language courses at all levels.

“Dr. Francie Cate-Arries’ impressive record of scholarship along with the broad scope of her other professional accomplishments earned her this important international distinction, which is among Sigma Delta Pi’s top honors,” said Del Mastro.

Cate-Arries regularly serves as a faculty adviser for W&M’s Semester in Sevilla program, which includes an innovative “International Service-Learning Internship” opportunity for qualified students. She also frequently directs the W&M Summer in Cádiz, Spain program, celebrating its 10-year anniversary in 2013. She supervises on-site undergraduate research projects about contemporary topics in today´s Spain related to, for example, women´s issues, cinema, immigration, historical memory, music, commemorative cultures and youth cultures.

Her book Spanish Culture Behind Barbed Wire: Memory and Representation of the French Concentration Camps, 1939-1945 (Culturas del exilio español entre las alambradas: Literatura y memoria en Francia, 1939-1945), was the first monograph written about the literature and culture of the French internment camps for Spanish war refugees.

She is no stranger to awards. Cate-Arries was a 2007 recipient of the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia´s Outstanding Faculty Award and received the Plumeri Award for faculty excellence in 2010.

Her relationship with Sigma Delta Pi dates back to the 1970s and her days as an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia when she was inducted into that university’s chapter.

“One of my earliest memories as a new faculty member more than 25 years ago was attending a candlelight induction ceremony in the Wren Chapel for new undergraduate initiates into our local chapter,” she said. “During the years of my tenure at the College, I’ve seen our most outstanding students of Spanish language and culture, under the leadership of my colleague Carla Buck (long-time faculty adviser for our local chapter), join the ranks of the national membership.

“To have the society officially recognize my work as a professor and a scholar in the field of Hispanic studies is an especially satisfying connection to have with this accomplished body of university students. Good company to keep!”

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2013

Hispanic Studies Career Fair

On February 25, 2013, the Hispanic Studies Program hosted a career-panel for majors and potential majors. The panel, which was the result of engaged dialog between the Cohen Career Center and faculty in Hispanic Studies, featured four outstanding Hispanic Studies alums: Sara Gilmer (State Department), John Cipperly (National Center for State Courts), Jennifer Primeggia (physician) and Maybelline Mendoza (MBA student in Marketing and Development). These four alums agreed to come back to William and Mary to talk about their career choices, to discuss how their decision to major in Hispanic Studies has influenced their career paths and opportunities. Here is a video interview with Prof. Jonathan Arries about the event and its impact.

The event was an enormous success! Roughly twenty-five current and would-be majors listened attentively to stories and advice from alums in the fields of medicine, business, government and social services. Our students, as always, shined with provocative, thoughtful questions and were treated to insightful, considered answers from successful practitioners who were able to express in precise terms how their work in Hispanic Studies had prepared them to negotiate linguistic and cultural situations but also how Hispanic Studies had given them the necessary tools for engaged, critical thought in a wide variety of professional situations. After the panel, students were invited to stick around for a reception where they were able to spend time chatting-with and getting to know our alums and vice-versa. The event is a model for the powerful synergy between Hispanic Studies faculty, alums and the Cohen Career Center and was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the spring semester.

Fall 2012 News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: “The Art of Medical Interpretation: Service-Learning on the Eastern Shore” (video)

That is the title with which Vivian K. Cooper (Major in Biology, Minor in Hispanic Studies, ’13) captured the real-world connection between the liberal arts, the sciences, and the College’s mission of service to national and international communities.  Vivian’s upperclassman Monroe Research Project was based on her research about medical interpretation and her experience as a volunteer medical interpreter in a four-week summer externship with Eastern Shore Rural Health System (ESRH) in July and August of 2012.  Hispanic Studies and ESRH have a partnership that began in 1998; in those fifteen years selected Hispanic Studies majors and minors who are fluent speakers of Spanish have helped physicians and nurses at ESRH treat thousands of Spanish-speaking farmworkers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  In this video interview with Prof. Jonathan Arries, Vivian describes how she first became interested in her research topic, how she prepared to be a volunteer medical interpreter, and her most memorable experiences.



Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: Anne Foster (Class of 2011) teaches English in Spain through the Cultural Ambassadors Program

Every year, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain offers the opportunity to teach English in different educational scenarios throughout Spain.  College graduates, seniors and juniors can apply for the very competitive Cultural Ambassadors Program for North American Language and Culture Assistants in Spain in November /December (dates vary) for the following academic year.

During late spring of 2011, Anne Foster (Hispanic Studies & History ’11) was delighted to find out she had been selected by the Program to teach English in a High School in Madrid during year 2011-12.  She describes her experience as follows:

“In four years in the Hispanic Studies program I focused heavily on issues and research in the Americas.  My freshman seminar was Mapping Cuba with Professor Stock followed by Mexican Cinema with Professor Buck.  The closest I came to taking a class on Spain was my senior seminar with Professor Terukina in which we discussed Spain as a colonial power, but even so it was more of a class on philosophy and colonialism than Spanish culture.

“So when I heard about the Spain Cultural Ambassadors Program through Professor Buck I was unsure if it was quite what I was looking for.  On one hand I thought it would be a great opportunity to travel to a new country and a new continent.  At the same time I thought—I know so little about Spain!  My hopes of travel and employment trumped my doubts and I added the Cultural Ambassadors application to the whirlwind of applications I was working on in the spring of 2011.

“The application process was a little daunting.  To apply I had to submit documents such as a notarized copy of an FBI background check.  Obtaining some of the documents meant navigating a maze of bureaucracy but it was for my own good.  The Spanish Embassy required me to submit these documents so that when I went through the process of obtaining my visa, I would be ready to go.  A few months later, the program offered me a placement at a school in Madrid, and I had to proceed to the visa application.  But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I already had all the necessary documents for the application.

Anne Foster (’11) received the Howard M Fraser Award in Hispanic Studies.

“But navigating the application and visa process were small feats compared to actually teaching.  The Cultural Ambassadors Program explained the guidelines and roles of the foreign teaching assistants in Spanish schools.  However, the specific duties of the assistant depend on the needs of his or her school.  Some assistants work one on one with students or small groups, some work alongside Spanish teachers.  I, however, found myself instructing classes of ten to twenty high school students on my own.  The first month made me rethink my ideas about teaching and social responsibility.  And gave me a new appreciation of every teacher I ever had growing up.

“A recurring theme of my job and travels in Spain was that of defining the Spanish nation as well as trying to define America.  My students were often eager to hear about the United States and they asked me open-ended questions such as, Does everyone get a car when they turn 16?  Is everyone fat?  What’s prom like?  They were just as eager to share with me their concepts of Spain: Spain is party.  Spain is lazy.  Some of them said.  Every time the class discussion turned to the country comparison game I couldn’t help but remember my Introduction to Hispanic Studies class in which we studied the concepts of imagined communities and nations.  The very concepts were playing out right in front of me as Spanish high schoolers and me, a young American, tried to describe entire countries with a mere few adjectives…lazy, rich, independent, extroverted.  But as we discussed in Intro to Hispanic Studies, these imagined national personas are nothing more than that: imagined.  Instead of encouraging these national stereotypes in the classroom, I looked instead for the things that my students and I had in common.  Music was a common class discussion.  I discovered that my students and I shared a fondness of Queen and ABBA, which are ironically neither American nor Spanish bands.  Another popular class activity was the “phrase of the day”; I would share an English phrase and the students would try to find a similar phrase in Spanish.  For example, one day I chose the phrase, I’m fed up.  And my students shared with me a Spanish phrase that expresses the same idea—hasta las narices (literally, up to the nose).

“I realized after a few months of teaching that, even though I didn’t have much hard knowledge on Spain before I arrived, I had been well educated in the ways of critical thinking.  My studies focused on Latin America, but Hispanic Studies as a concentration taught me how to question and critique my own country and to look beyond the façade of the nation-state.  In the end these qualities prepared me for work abroad not only in Spanish speaking countries, but anywhere in the world.

While at W&M, Anne received the Howard M. Fraser Award in Hispanic Studies.  This award recognizes the graduating Hispanic Studies major who has made significant achievements in the area of research and service related to the field of Hispanic Studies.

Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: Eleonora Figliuoli (Class of 2012): Critical Thinking and Graduate Studies

After interning at the Library of Congress during last summer, this fall Eleonora Figliuoli (History & Hispanic Studies, ’12) started her graduate studies in Hispanic Studies at the University of Virginia.  In the following lines, Eleonora reflects upon her experience at W&M, and the critical thinking skills she acquired through the Hispanic Studies program; skills she considers crucial for success in graduate school.

“My experience at William & Mary helped greatly in preparing me for the work I am currently engaged in at The University of Virginia, both as a graduate student and as a graduate teaching assistant. More broadly, my studies at William & Mary helped hone the critical thinking skills necessary for life in graduate school. I graduated from college as an independent thinker. Throughout my time as a student at William & Mary, I perfected listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, and I am now able to call upon those skills and strategies when necessary in the graduate classroom. Similarly, I come out of my undergraduate institution feeling prepared with knowledge of foundational concepts in my field of specialization, and the ability to form a concise and well-developed argument.

Eleonora Figliuoli, who wrote an Honors Thesis on César Vallejo and Pablo Neruda from an eco-critical perspective, participated in our W&M Summer Program in Cádiz (Summer of 2011).

“Specifically, the topics presented in my Hispanic Studies coursework at William & Mary have proven of great relevance for my graduate studies at UVA. For instance, in my freshman seminar at William & Mary, and in an upper level seminar later on in my undergraduate career, I studied the literature of the Spanish Civil War, and particularly of Carmen Martín Gaite. This semester, I am reencountering these same works in a broader-themed course on contemporary Spanish literature. The sequence of courses I took at William & Mary also exposed me to an introduction to reading medieval Spanish, which few of my colleagues can boast, and which I am required to do on a regular basis in a course on the History of the Language.

“Moreover, though I was never formally trained to teach undergraduate students at William & Mary, there I discussed teaching Hispanic culture in a senior seminar on colonial Latin American literature. This knowledge gave me not only introductory knowledge of the canon of colonial Latin American literature, but also of a few important topics in foreign language pedagogy.

“Lastly, when the time will come to prepare for comprehensive exams, or write articles in my seminar courses, my confidence is boosted knowing that the research skills I gained at William & Mary allow me to reflect independently on the lectures or texts that I listen to or read, and on my own written and spoken work in order to constantly challenge my preexisting assumptions and form new paradigms. In my duties as a teaching assistant, I try to facilitate the development of the same learning skills and strategies in my students, so the knowledge I gained comes full circle.

At W&M, Eleonora received the R. Merritt Cox Fellowship in Hispanic Studies, awarded to the graduating student with an outstanding level of academic excellence in the field of Hispanic Studies, and who will pursue a graduate degree in the field in Hispanic Studies.  This award was established in memory of Professor R. Merritt Cox, a well-known 18th century scholar in Spanish Studies and a highly esteemed colleague in W&M’s Department of Modern Languages & Literatures for many years. With this award, the faculty recognize a graduating Hispanic Studies major who exhibits those qualities admired and embodied by Professor Cox: a deep appreciation and broad interest in Hispanic cultures, literatures, and the Spanish language.

Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: Prof. Cate-Arries’ book on Spanish Civil War refugees translated to Spanish

[By Jim Ducibella. You can read the full article here]

Every author knows that there are book signings and then there are book signings. The first are pro forma, a mere exercise of putting pen to paper. The latter can be profound, soul-sharing experiences.

Full Professor of Hispanic Studies
Francie Cate-Arries

William & Mary Professor of Hispanic Studies Francie Cate-Arries recently returned from Spain and nearly two weeks of profound experiences presenting her book Spanish Culture Behind Barbed Wire: Memory and Representation of the French Concentration Camps, 1939-1945. (Culturas del exilio español entre las alambradas: Literatura y memoria en Francia, 1939-1945.)

The book originally appeared only in English when it was published in 2004. While there had been significant scholarship published on the Spanish Civil War and General Francisco Franco regime over decades, Cate-Arries’ book was the first monograph written about the literature and culture of the French internment camps for Spanish war refugees.

By the end of the Spanish Civil War in March 1939, nearly 500,000 Spaniards had fled the country to escape Franco’s military dictatorship. More than 275,000 of them found themselves interned in concentration camps in Southern France, exiles and outcasts in every sense of the word.

Although they were anti-fascists who expected a very different reception in democratic France, the French government was ill equipped to handle hundreds of thousands of war refugees. The French state also didn’t want to show friendship to the losers of a war whose adversaries had been very publicly supported by Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, to the point that France established diplomatic ties with Franco before the general even declared victory.

Book examines cultural, literary legacy of refugees

Cate-Arries’ book examines the cultural and literary legacy of the thousands of exiles who were interned in these concentration camps. She examined the literature and art that was produced, as well as refugees’ memories of the camps published during World War II, but never viewed or read within Spain during the Franco regime.

After the Franco dictatorship was dismantled in the late 1970s, there was a tacit understanding throughout the country that Spaniards were just going to move forward, not look back at this sad chapter of their history and wrestle with human rights violations and refugees.

Three years after Cate-Arries’ book was originally published, the Spanish Parliament modified this position in 2007 with its passage of complex — and controversial — legislation popularly known as the Law of Historical Memory, which opened the door for vigorous debate and coincided with new exhibits. In the case of Cataluña, museums were even opened, which focus on the history and cultural legacy of civil war exiles, including the inhabitants of those camps.

Culturas del exilio español entre las alambradas. Barcelona: Anthropos, 2012.

In March, an expanded version of Cate-Arries’ book was published in Spanish by Editorial Anthropos, a Barcelona publishing house, and in June she was invited to make presentations at four venues: the Museum of Catalonian History in Barcelona, the University of Barcelona, the Ateneo de Madrid in that city, and the Memorial Museum of Exile in La Junquera, right on the Spanish-French border, the 1939 gateway to exile for hundreds of thousands of war refugees.

There, her audience, whose questions to Cate-Arries were often in French, not Spanish, was almost entirely made up of the now-elderly children of exiles who crossed the border at that very spot, some of them babes in arms at the time. Most of them attended the lecture by way of Argelès in Southern France, once the site of the largest, most notorious internment camp, where their parents settled, often never to return to Spain.

They have formed a citizen’s group – FFREEE Association — dedicated to keeping alive the legacy and memory of parents who fought and fled Franco in the name of democracy.

After the presentation, a man approached Cate-Arries and asked her to sign a book for his mother.

Emotional encounters with those who were there

“He said, ‘You know, my mother is 94 years old and she’s blind, and she’s not going to read this book,’” Cate-Arries recalled. “He said, ‘But I’m going to read it to her, and I’m going to read her the dedication that you write today. She was 21 years old when she went into that camp and that was a transformative moment in her life.’”

In the presentation at the Ateneo de Madrid, Cate-Arries shared the panel with Maria Luisa Libertad Fernández who was three weeks old when her parents carried her from Barcelona across the Spanish border, just before Franco’s troops captured the city at the war’s end. She spent the first four years of her life interned in a series of French camps.

“I told her, ‘I wrote this book for you before I ever even met you,’” said Cate-Arries.

Events organized during the Summer of 2012 in Spain (Girona, Barcelona) for the publication of Prof. Cate-Arries’ book.

One question Cate-Arries heard continually was why she undertook this project. Did she also have relatives affected?

“Unlike many of the audience members who came to hear me speak, I have no familial ties to this chapter of Spanish history. The story I tell was taken from my study of published memoirs, novels, poetry, artwork and photography,” she said. “As an American, it was nice to join the ranks of others who have come to the story of Spain’s civil war as outsiders. In my case, I was captivated by the absolute poignant beauty of the stories of hope, solidarity, and humanity that emerged from these testimonies of camp veterans. We identify with them.”

*N.B.: Prof. Cate-Arries’ original 2004 book in English, Spanish Culture Behind Barbed Wire (Bucknell UP) was distinguished with an Honorable Mention for the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, awarded by the Modern Language Association of America (MLA). The Prize is awarded to outstanding books in the fields of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures.
Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Welcome Party at the Hispanic House

Hispanic House residents having fun at the Welcome Party

This year, the Hispanic House, la Casa hispánica, (Giles Hall, 2nd floor) celebrated the beginning of the semester with a warm Welcome Party, “Fiesta de otoño,” on Saturday, September 22.

The Hispanic House residents, lead by our House Tutor, Auxi Baena, an art historian from Seville with ample experience in programming cultural activities, and our RA, Devon Shaw, who is back in W&M after having spent a full year abroad in Seville, organized a great party with plenty of food, drinks, and decorations.  The Hispanic Studies faculty joined the celebration and surprised the residents with some delicious homemade delicacies.  During the evening, residents and faculty were able to meet and learn more about each other, share their impressions about the House, enjoy some music, and above all, have a great time!

Hispanic House residents during a special activity at “la Casa”

Throughout the year, our tutor Auxi Baena organizes several activities at the Hispanic House, including movie nights, conversation hours, cultural celebrations, and cooking classes.  For more information about the activities in the Hispanic House, you can check its bulletin board located on the third floor of Washington Hall; or visit its blog regularly, where you will find the monthly calendar of activities.

Students who wish to become residents of the Hispanic House during 2013-2014 should plan early as the online application will be available between  November 5, 2012, and February 8, 2013 .  For more  information, you can visit the website of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: Katie Brown (’13) & Jane Rabinovitz (’13) receive J. Worth Banner Award in Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies majors Katherine (Katie) Brown and Jane Rabinovitz have been selected to receive the J. Worth Banner Award in Hispanic Studies.  This award is given to the rising senior Hispanic Studies concentrator with the highest overall grade point average.

Katie Brown (’13) visited Machu Picchu while doing research and learning Quechua in Cusco (Summer 2011)

Katie Brown, who over the last two summers has conducted research projects on the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua in Cusco, Peru, and on the chronicles by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega and Chimalpahin, is currently working on her honors thesis, which analyzes the role of science in the debates that 16th- and 17th-century Spanish, Creole, and mestizo intellectuals held regarding the nature of the population in the Andes and their political right to self-government.

“I never would have imagined upon arriving at W&M that I would have the opportunity to study abroad in both Peru and Spain, be able to work closely with faculty on developing and carrying our research projects, write an honors thesis, and generally expand and transform my understanding of and approach to Hispanic literatures, language and cultures,” says Katie. “I’m mostly just grateful to have been able to immerse myself so deeply in the subject over the past few years and to be a student in a department as dynamic and inspiring as that of Hispanic Studies at W&M.”  Katie plans to attend graduate school after graduating from W&M.

Jane Rabinovitz (’13) in Córdoba, during her semester abroad in Spain (Spring 2012)

Jane Rabinovitz, who is also minoring in Dance, is an accomplished performer who has participated in several productions with Orchesis, the modern dance company at W&M, with Sinfonicron, a student-run light opera company on campus.  During Spring of 2012, she participated in the W&M study abroad program in Seville, where she realized she could combine her two passions, Hispanic Studies and performance, through Spanish-English interpreting.  Now she plans to pursue a career in interpretation in a legal, medical, or governmental setting after graduation.

“I found in Sevilla that oral interpreting was a new and different aspect of my Spanish language study that I had never before tapped into.  I think I grew to love interpreting during my semester abroad because it helped bridge the gap between my two passions: Spanish and performing arts.  Interpreting is the performance of Spanish and I would love to pursue that aspect of my language study more in my final year of college and beyond into the work force,” explains Jane.

Congratulations, Katie & Jane!

The J. Worth Banner Award in Hispanic Studies honors Professor Banner, who was a well-liked Spanish professor at the College of William and Mary, and a respected Chair of the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures for many years. In the past, this generous award has helped support the recipient’s pre-honors research, international travel, or participation in study abroad programs.

Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Libby Hennemuth (’13) publishes article on U.S.-Argentina relations during the 1980 Grain Embargo

Elizabeth (Libby) Hennemuth (Hispanic Studies & Government ’13) recently published an article, “1980 U.S. Partial Grain Embargo: Pragmatism’s Centrality to Argentine Refusal to Cooperate,” in the Summer 2012 issue (17.2) of W&M’s The Monitor. Journal of International Studies.

Congratulations, Libby!

With this article, Libby joins other Hispanic Studies majors who in the recent past have published the results of their research in The Monitor: Casey Lesser  (’11), who published “A Confluence of Cultures: The Child Virgin Spinning Paintings of Colonial Peru” in Summer 2011 (16.2), and Nathan Hoback (’10), whose article “A Hollywood Haunting in Spain: Raza (1942), Rebecca (1940), and Commemoration of the Spanish Civil War” appeared in Winter 2010 (16.1).

Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: Lauren Ila Jones (Class of 2004) receives Fulbright Scholar Award for Research in UK

Lauren Ila Jones (Class of 2004)

Lauren Ila Jones (BA, W&M Hispanic Studies & Sociology, 2004; PhD, UCLA Social Science and Comparative Education, 2009) was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award for the United Kingdom during 2012-2013.  She will lecture and do research in the Education Department at Roehampton University in London.  At Roehampton, she will work in the London Paulo Freire Institute, based in the Center for Education Research in Equalities, Policy and Pedagogy (CEREPP).

While at William & Mary, Lauren worked under the advisement of Prof. Jonathan Arries (Hispanic Studies) and Prof. Jennifer Bickham Mendez (Sociology).  Since 2007, she has worked with Prof. Arries as co-instructor of the William & Mary Modern Languages and Literatures Summer Institute in Nicaragua.  They plan to take the next cohort to Nicaragua in August 2013.

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies Fall 2012 More News News: Hispanic Studies

Pravdic, Leksa (Class of 2012) receives Fulbright Scholarship

Leksa Pravdic (Class of 2012)

Hispanic Studies major Leksa Pravdic (’12) is one of only nine W&M 2012 graduates to receive a prestigious Fulbright US Student Grant.  During 2012-2013, Leksa will act as an English Teaching Assistant in Serbia.  You can read the full featured story here.

Congratulations, Leksa!

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2012 More

Eleonora Figliuoli ’12 – R. Merritt Cox Fellowship in Hispanic Studies

Eleonora plans to become a Hispanic Studies professor, having been accepted to Spanish programs at UVA and American and having been shortlisted at Johns Hopkins. Last spring she won the undergraduate research prize for her paper on Martín Fierro and the poetics of suffering which she subsequently presented at the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies. This same paper was later submitted to a refereed journal for which she received a “revise and resubmit”. Eleonora interned at the Library of Congress this past summer, where she continued to do work on her honor’s thesis on representations of environmental degradation and regeneration in the poetry of Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo during the Spanish Civil War. Eleonora’s senior honors thesis received high honors.

Featured News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2012

Professor Regina Root Wins Award

Professor Root being awarded the Whitaker Prize

Professor Regina Root’s book Couture and Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina was recently awarded the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies 2012 Arthur P. Whitaker Book Prize at American University.  Professor Root’s book, which explores the interaction of power, identity and fashion in post-colonial Argentina.  Editorial Edhasa will publish the Spanish translation later this year.

John Incledon of Albright College, a member of the selection committee that included faculty from various disciplines, said, “As a field, Cultural Studies interprets seemingly innocent elements of culture, showing the varied ways in which they can be ideologically molded and manipulated by societal stakeholders…  This year’s Whitaker Prize goes to Regina Root of The College of William and Mary for Couture and Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina, published in 2010 by the University of Minnesota Press.  From the immense “peinetones” worn by women in the 1820s and 1830s to distance themselves from the fashion and customs of Spain and to aid them in their quest for female emancipation, to the white shawls worn by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, stitched in blue with the names of their missing loved ones, fashion, she says, “is a carefully constructed language that [can be used] to prescribe limits and proclaim liberation, to establish social categories and delineate political loyalties.”  Couture and Consensus is a ground-breaking study on the intersection of fashion and politics.”
According to the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies, Arthur P. Whitaker (1895-1979) was a distinguished professor of Latin American history for almost thirty years at the University of Pennsylvania until his retirement in 1965. He published some twenty books and numerous articles over a fifty-year career, including a series of books on U.S. relations with Latin America. His alma mater, the University of Tennessee, describes Dr. Whitaker as having been “a pioneer in the development of the study of Latin American history in the U.S.”
Fall 2011 News News: Hispanic Studies

The Politics of Quechua: student research in Cusco, Peru

During the summer of 2011, Hispanic Studies major Katherine Brown (’13) travelled to Peru to study the political uses of Quechua in the construction of national, regional, and class-based identities in present-day Peru. Under the auspices of the Christian-Ewell Scholarship granted by the Charles Center, Katie spent seven weeks in Cusco and Lima studying Quechua and doing research, while she attended the festivals of Inti Raymi, Corpus Christi, and Qoyllur Rit’i, and visited the house where the famous mestizo chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616) was born.

Katie describes her project as follows:

Plaza de armas [Main Square], Cusco, Peru“This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Peru with a Charles Center grant to conduct a seven-week research project. This investigation focused on appropriations of Quechua, a South American indigenous language with 8-12 million speakers, in processes of identity construction in contemporary Peru. After an independent study last spring, six weeks of Quechua courses and interviews in Cuzco, and a week of bibliographical research in Lima, I decided to concentrate my analysis on the Quechua-Spanish dictionary prepared by the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua (High Academy of the Quechua Language), an institution charged with regulating the Quechua language and promoting its usage in Peru. As Quechua has remained in a subordinate position to Spanish since the conquest and is now stigmatized as “rural peasant speech,” this effort would presumably be a positive development; however, the AMLQ relies on an ideological discourse in its dictionary that incorporates “imperial Quechua”, an elite dialect of Quechua associated with the Incan empire, into national identity while excluding the contemporary indigenous speaker of Quechua from the definition of the nation.

“By claiming that Quechua is a symbol of the glorious Incan past and a vital link between the modern nation and that past, and that the city of Cuzco represents the authentic origin of the Incan empire and of a “pure” variety of Quechua, the AMLQ seeks to justify its political claims in the present. It uses the dictionary to present the middle-class mestizo elite of Cuzco as an alternate body of power in the contemporary nation-state, challenging the authority of Lima as the capital city and site of cultural and economic prestige. Furthermore, its claim that it inherits and protects this elite variety of Quechua, despite glaring linguistic errors and misapplication of linguistic principles, allows it to regulate and “correct” the speech of millions of Quechua speakers throughout Peru, whose language is viewed by the Academia as imperfect and subaltern. These claims point to a definition of the nation according to a deliberately constructed history that values Quechua’s associations with the glories of the pre-Hispanic past, while it disdains Quechua’s associations with the modern-day speakers of Peru’s rural Andean regions. Therefore, the AMLQ’s dictionary becomes a political tool, a forum in which the Cuzco elite seeks to promote its own interests and endow itself with authority and power within the context of the modern Peruvian nation-state.

“I would like to thank those who made this project possible: the Charles Center and Mr. Bruce Christian for their generous support and funding of this research; Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino (Professor of Linguistics, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima), Juan Julio García Rivas (director of the regional branch of the Ministry of Culture in Cuzco) and Fernando Hermoza Gutierrez (current president of the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua) for their participation in interviews and contribution of their expertise to this project; and Professor Jorge Terukina for serving as my advisor and for providing constant guidance and support at every step of this investigation.

While in Peru, Katie documented her research process in the following blog: She delivered a formal presentation of her findings at the Monroe Lunch Series in November 2011.

Katie is currently working on a research project on Nahuatl-language religious theatrical pieces crafted and performed in 16th-century Mexico as ideological tools for the domination of the indigenous population. This project emerged from a Freshman Seminar on “Imagining the Early Modern Hapsburg Empire,” and she presented a preliminary draft of her findings at The Third Undergraduate Symposium in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at W&M (March 2011). Katie is also training with Prof. LuAnn Homza (History) in early modern Spanish paleography in preparation for archival research to be carried out in Pamplona (Spain) in January, 2012

Fall 2011 News News: Hispanic Studies

Poetry: A Tool for Literacy & National Identity in Nicaragua

by Leslie McCullough |  November 7, 2011

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Jonathan Arries

Nicaragua is often thought of as “a nation of poets.” National poets such as Rubén Darío and Ernesto Cardenal have made significant contributions to world literature. Less known but also significant is the transformative role poetry has played in educating Nicaraguan youth in resource-scarce schools and in adult education.

With support from the Philpott-Perez Endowment, Hispanic Studies major John Pence ’12  was able to join Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Jonathan Arries on a research trip to Nicaragua for three weeks in summer 2011 to explore the educational role of poetry and to provide English-language instruction in an under-resourced elementary school in Managua. The “Poets and Pedagogy” project combined service-learning, community-based research, and interviews with leading poets and social activists.

“We wanted to investigate the use of poetry as a tool for critical literacy in Nicaragua,” says Arries. Critical literacy encourages learners to adopt a “critical” and questioning perspective toward the texts they read. “We anticipated our findings would deepen our understanding of the history and literature of Nicaragua, topics that are often a component in Introduction to Hispanic Studies, a required course for Hispanic Studies majors.”

Understanding the influence of poetry in Nicaragua requires a look back at the nation’s recent history.

People living in rural areas of Nicaragua had long been kept illiterate as de facto policy by the Somoza family dynasty prior to a revolution in 1979. In 1980, four months after the overthrow of the dictatorship, the new government organized the Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign which was directed by Rev. Fernando Cardenal, brother of the famous poet. Nearly 60,000 youths (high school and college age) and 30,000 adults were trained and sent to rural areas to teach literacy as part of a five-month national campaign.  At that time poetry workshops played a role in the national reconstruction and offered citizens an unprecedented means of expression denied to them during more than 40 years of the dictatorship. The national emphasis on poetry continues today.

The project team with students at the Partner School in Barrio Camilo Ortega: Prof Arries; Nathan Arries; Prof Lauren Jones; John Pence

“In a country where even the most basic school supplies can be extremely scarce, Nicaraguan children are being taught to memorize and recite certain nationally important poems as a way of learning about their country’s history,” says Arries.

As part of the three-week trip, senior John Pence assisted with Arries’ research project and worked with children and teachers at Escuela La Hispanidad, an under-resourced school in Barrio Camilo Ortega, Managua. John also introduced several wooden mathematical games into the classroom as part of his service-learning project. The games – donated by Catherine Sayle ’09 who taught in Nicaragua with Arries in 2008 –  turned out to be a hit with the children and a fine motivational strategy for their math teachers. John has since raised money to hire a local Nicaraguan carpenter to build more instructional games for the school.

“The experience was very humbling,” says Pence who stayed with a local Nicaraguan family. “There are often 30-50 students per class, with many sitting on the floor. Yet students were able to stand and recite deep, powerful poetry about their country and their history, and I realized how rich this culture is.”

Nathan Arries, Prof Arries, former Minister of Education Father Fernando Cardenal, and John Pence, taken at Universidad Centroamericana, Managua

During the trip, Arries, Pence, and Lauren Jones ’04 conducted interviews to learn more about the role of poetry in Nicaraguan education. Among those interviewed were Claribel Alegria and Rev. Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaraguan poets with international reputations, and Fernando Cardenal, former Minister of Education and director of the 1980 National Literacy Campaign.

“Poverty isn’t just there, like rain or seasons that we have no control over, we can influence it,” said Fernando Cardenal during his interview with Arries.  Cardenal believes education is key to reducing poverty, and poetry plays a major role in creating engaged and educated citizens.

“Having a student along on this project was extremely valuable,” says Arries.

“Not only was John a great resource for bouncing around ideas, he was a real contributor to the research,” continues Arries, referring to John’s interview of a fellow teacher who had been part of the Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign. “John located the source and followed research protocol. We wouldn’t have gotten this interview without him.”

As Arries continues his research, he hopes to uncover potential applications of poetry as a technique for the effective teaching of critical literacy in schools in the United States, such as in classrooms teaching English as a Second Language.

News: Hispanic Studies Uncategorized

Hispanic Studies helps organize “Encuentro Latino”

Saturday October 8th the Admission’s Office, in coordination with Professor Jonathan Arries and several other faculty members from Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies, organized the first ever, Encuentro Latino. A faculty initiated event, Encuentro Latino was a highly successful effort to reach out to Latino families in the NOVA/ D.C. area and introduce them to the College of William and Mary. The event, which took place at the Ernst Community Cultural Center: Annandale Campus of NOVA Community College, featured Hispanic Studies faculty presentations alongside student presentations on LASU (the Latin American Student Union), SOMOS and MANOS, Study Abroad opportunities through the Hispanic Studies Program, and the Spring Break trip to the U.S./Mexico Border. The event provided Latino families interested in William and Mary an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with students, faculty and alumnae from the Hispanic Studies Program.

Fall 2011 News News: Hispanic Studies

Teaching palette refreshed with cultural insights

by Leslie McCullough | October 17, 2011

Kranbuehl Travel Award

Hispanic Studies Instructor Patricia Toney

In late 2009, Chemistry Professor David Kranbuehl established a charitable remainder trust to support travel for Modern Language’s continuing faculty who teach introductory language courses.

“I believe in the importance of international studies, and I wanted to reward the people who teach language courses,” says Kranbuehl who has attended French and Spanish classes at the College to prepare for overseas teaching opportunities. “I think the language courses taught here are fantastic. Modern Languages is a first-class department, and I’m a great admirer of how they’ve grown over my time here.”

Inaugural Travel Awards:
Patricia Toney, Hispanic Studies; Peru
Qian Su and Liping Liu, Chinese Studies; Chinese Teachers Association Conference in Denver

A new kind of social revolution is sweeping through Peru, changing the hearts, minds, and palettes of people across the country. This cultural shift is driven by a passion for a return to the nation’s culinary roots, and Hispanic Studies long-time instructor Patricia Toney calls the change “explosive.”

Doña Mary, serving ceviche in a popular market, is one of the many who went from food stand owner to successful entrepreneur.

“It’s something I never thought I’d live to see,” says Toney. “In a very classist culture, many native foods that used to be deemed as ‘only what an indigenous would eat’ are now skyrocketing in pop culture popularity. There is an explosion of passion for homegrown food and ingredients as well as traditional recipes that can date back to the Inca times.”

Toney was intrigued by this phenomenon and wanted to learn more. Thanks to the newly established Kranbuehl Travel Award (see box), Toney spent two weeks this summer traveling through Peru’s coastal region investigating and documenting how this new fusion cuisine is bringing about social and economic changes.

In speaking with farmers, fishermen, restaurant owners, and others, Toney found that the benefits of this food movement reach beyond the farm field and kitchen. A national pride has formed around celebrating Peruvian culture and traditions.

“One of the most emotional moments I had was seeing how lives have changed,” says Toney. “It’s not just about the food; it’s a whole social change that has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of Peruvian people. As regional foods around the country become more popular, the people who grow and create the foods benefit. We’re not talking about grand bistros; these are humble kitchens and farmers who have foods that no one cared about before and are now in huge demand.”

Anticucho, one of the hundreds of newly popular authentic Peruvian dishes.

One of the popular renewed dishes is ceviche made with fish, special Peruvian lemons, hot peppers, onions, and cilantro and served with sweet potatoes and yuca. Another favorite is anticucho, which is traditionally made with cow’s heart marinated in vinegar and spices, then cooked on a

skewer over an open fire. This dish is also now made with chicken, fish, and beef.

“Roadside vendors used to be unpopular with certain segments of society,” says Toney. “Now many venders have long lines of people anxious to enjoy a regional specialty. Many people have gone from poor to small entrepreneurs, and their quality of life has changed forever.”

Interest in Peruvian cuisine is also spreading internationally. Acclaimed, upscale Peruvian restaurants are opening in major cities across the United States and around the world. This kind of attention and focus on Peruvian foods, in turn, is further driving the sense of national pride.

“Peruvian people are coming together in unprecedented ways,” says Toney. “Indigenous farmers are now guests of honor at VIP parties. Culinary school is now available to poor families. Native people with little education have become culinary celebrities. This could never have happened years ago. A new culture is forming, and it is very exciting.”

Bringing Her Insight into the Classroom

Toney with Victoriano López, an indigenous farmer who now runs La Mar, a Peruvian restaurant in Manhattan.

As a native Peruvian, Toney moved to the United States as a young girl and has personal experience negotiating cultural shifts. As a Spanish-language professor, she feels that building cultural understanding is an important part of learning a new language.

“Of course learning verb conjugations and vocabulary words is an important part of the introductory language classes I teach,” says Toney. “But students must also learn about the culture. I try to provide a cultural note at every opportunity on the many regional foods, clothes, expressions, and so much more.”

She finds that many students aren’t aware that there are so many regional and cultural differences throughout Latin America. Assumptions are often made, such as that all Spanish speakers eat certain foods like tacos. By giving students insight into specific traditions, she helps them gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for what they are learning.

“I lived the [Peruvian] culture,” says Toney, “I didn’t just read about it in a book. I love being able to share my personal knowledge with my students, and I believe they benefit greatly from my first-hand experience.”

And now, thanks to her recent research trip, she can bring fresh, new insights to her classroom teaching.

Fall 2011 News News: Hispanic Studies

Prof. Ann Marie Stock comments on her latest book

Prof. Ann Marie Stock, Professor of Hispanic Studies and Film Studies, and Director of the Literary and Cultural Studies program at W&M recently published On Location in Cuba: Street Filmmaking during Times of Transition (UNC Press, 2009).  A specialist in visual culture whose research focuses on the role of film and media in identity formation, Prof. Stock draws from her vast research in Cuba in order to analyze the life and creative production of lesser-known Cuban artists as they struggle for social justice after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  In doing so, Prof. Stock hopes to challenge prevailing images of Cuba produced by US media.

Prof. Stock also shares her personal thoughts about having met Fidel Castro during a hurricane in Havana.

Prof. Stock is editor of Framing Latin American Cinema: Contemporary Critical Perspectives (U of Minnesota P, 1997, 2009).

Fall 2011 News News: Hispanic Studies

Prof. Regina Root presents her latest book at the Library of Congress

In March 2011, at an event sponsored by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, Prof. Regina Root discussed and signed copies of her latest book Couture and Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina (U of Minnesota P, 2010) at the Mary Pickford Theater.  Couture and Consensus, which was recently awarded the 2012 Arthur P. Whitaker Book Prize by the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies (MACLAS), analyzes the intersection of fashion and politics in nineteenth-century Argentina in order to understand how this nation forged its identity under the regime of Juan Manuel de Rosas (1829-1852).

Prof. Root is editor of Ecofashion, a special issue of Fashion Theory (2008), and editor of The Latin American Fashion Reader (Berg, 2005; 2006 Arthur P. Whitaker Book Prize, Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies).

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011 More

Eleonora Figliuoli Wins Juan Espadas Award

We were on our way to Pittsburgh. When we passed gallant windmills similar to those described in Cervantes’ Quijote, I feared we might be lost. But, it wasn’t until we read the sign that said “Welcome to Ohio,” that I became certain we were indeed lost. That’s always been a staple in my life: getting lost in new and (hopefully) exciting places. On a good day, I used to call this type of event an adventure. On a bad day, I might have regarded it more as a nightmare. Well, I believe that almost every day is a good day if you look at it in just the right light, so here’s to adventure.

It was late March and I felt excited—a brand new adventure had just begun. I was taking my learning outside of the classroom. Throughout my entire college career as a Hispanic Studies Major at The College of William & Mary, I’d jumped at the chance to learn about the cultures and literatures of Spanish-speaking countries as well as their histories. Now, I was traveling to the University of Pittsburgh to present a paper at a conference with some colleagues and Professor Regina Root, whose Fashioning the Nation class I had taken the previous semester.

I had attended Professor Root’s book discussion and signing for ‘Couture and Consensus’ the week prior to the Pittsburgh trip, during Spring Break, at the Library of Congress, since I felt inspired to learn more about post-colonial Argentina’s cultural history after reading her book for the class Fashioning the Nation. Also at the Library of Congress, I met several experts in the field of Hispanic Cultural Studies who have in due course become mentors to me. I spent six weeks of the summer helping the Hispanic Division organize and locate rare and reference books that were a part of the Jay I. Kislak Collection, a special gift given by Mr. Kislak of over 4,000 books, artifacts, and maps that dealt primarily with pre Columbian art, but which covered closely related topics as well.

We finally did make it to the conference, albeit somewhat late (We actually made it to Ohio first!) There, I presented my paper, written for Professor Root’s class—Martín Fierro: La encrucijada del dolor y la política, for which I won the Juan Espadas Prize for best undergraduate paper written and presented at the 2011 Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Scholars.  I have submitted it for publishing in the MACLAS journal. It was not the prize I won, though, that convinced me I was right for this field of study. Nor entirely that others might be interested in reading my work. It was my discovery that research was an adventure in more ways than one, and precisely that sense of adventure made me eager further to pursue my research interests.

In fact, I am confident that I will continue my work in Hispanic Studies, as I have already begun my honors project to be completed next semester, which I intend to present at MACLAS 2012.  In it, I am conducting an ecocritical and socio-political study of the 20th century poetry of Pablo Neruda and César Vallejo, and definitely can see myself studying 20th century Latin American literature from a similar perspective in graduate school, where I hope several professors might have an interest in working with me to further research of this type.

I won’t always have the right answer, I may not be able to always comprehend numbers, I may mistake left from right sometimes, and I may end up in Ohio while heading for Pittsburgh, but as long as I keep that sense of adventure, I’m not lost.

(left to right): Barbara Tennebaum (Library of Congress), Edith Couturier (National Endowment for the Humanities), Sofía Herrera, Eleonora Figliuoli, Professor Regina Root


News News: Hispanic Studies

W&M student wins Latino Scholar award

Milena Jaimes Ayala and Prof. Jonathan Arries
Milena Jaimes Ayala and Prof. Jonathan Arries

Milena Jaimes Ayala received the “VALHEN Latino Scholars Award” at the annual meeting of the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network on March 25th, 2011. A junior, Milena transferred to William and Mary this spring semester from Richard Bland College. Her major is Kinesiology and Health Sciences, a field she chose because of her desire to help those in need to overcome physical limitations and lead the fullest life possible. Her long-term goal is to obtain a Doctorate in Physical Therapy

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News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011 More Uncategorized

Bellini Colloquium with Jorge Terukina

Cortés Map of Mexico, Ayer 655.51.C8, Newberry Library
Cortés Map of Mexico, Ayer 655.51.C8, Newberry Library

“Creoles, Peninsular Newcomers, and Aristotelian ‘Economic Thought’ in Balbuena’s Mexican Grandeur (1604): a Transatlantic and Pre-Disciplinary Inquiry”

Jorge Terukina, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies
Wednesday, March 23, 4:00pm.
Washington Hall 315

Bernardo de Balbuena (Valdepeñas, Spain, c.1563 – San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1627)’s long poem praising Mexico City, published in 1604, has usually been read as a descriptive and referential poem written by an ambitious Creole cleric and intellectual. Unsurprisingly, this reading has lead to retrospective appropriations that place it in the national pantheon of cultural goods that give historical density and legitimacy to the present-day Mexican nation. In regards to economics, Mexican Grandeur has been made to mimetically attest to the transatlantic and transpacific trade implemented by the Spanish empire and, hence, to the ‘central’ and privileged geographical location of Mexico City in such capitalist and mercantile network. Against this commonly-held, referential interpretation, this presentation provides a different, discursive contextualization by highlighting the transatlantic circulation of fields of knowledge, and Balbuena’s appropriation of, and departures from the canonical Aristotelian ‘economic thought’ taught at early modern Spanish universities. This transatlantic and pre-disciplinary approach provides an ‘economic’ discursive formation within which Mexican Grandeur’s references to trade, professional labor and money bespeak Balbuena’s positioning as a Peninsular newcomer rather than a Creole or pro-Creole intellectual, of his exaltation of Mexico City as a colony subordinated to the glorious Spanish empire rather than a privileged ‘center’ of ‘global’ trade, and of his professional anxieties as a writer who seeks social and economic compensations in exchange for his representational labor.


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News News: Hispanic Studies

National Colloquium on Minority Studies

The College hosted the National Colloquium on Minority Studies in February 2011. John “Rio”Riofrio, Professor of Hispanic Studies at the College, was the host and organizer of this incredibly successful event. Watch the video below to learn more about the colloquium and Rio’s involvement in this exciting initiative:


Want to see more? You can watch Rio’s faculty video profile here

News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011

Spanish Pilgrimage brings together Hollywood stars, academics

An academic colloquium is not usually where one would expect to see Hollywood stars, but the Camino de Santiago is said to have caused greater miracles to happen.

George Greenia with Martin Sheen and Emilio EstevezThe thousand-year-old Spanish pilgrimage is the setting for “The Way,” a new film written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen. Thanks to the efforts of William & Mary Professor George Greenia, the two Hollywood stars screened their film on Feb. 18 at Georgetown University, kicking off the Workshop on Pilgrimage Studies, co-hosted by the College and Georgetown’s department of Spanish and Portuguese.


Scholars from a wide variety of disciplines and 30 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada attended the two-day workshop. The group is working to create an international, interdisciplinary consortium to teach pilgrimage studies in Santiago de Compostela starting in the summer of 2012.

“The historic trek to that World Heritage Site is a unique example of a universal urge to leave home to find yourself,” said Greenia, a professor ofHispanic studies. “From the Ganges to Ground Zero to Graceland, we are all pilgrims on the way.”

Greenia, who has travelled the 500-mile Camino every year since 2005, said that plans for the pilgrimage workshop were almost complete when organizers learned of the Estevez’s film, which had premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and in Spain.

The movie focuses on the character of Tom, an American doctor who travels to France after his son dies just one day into the pilgrimage. Tom, played by Sheen, decides to finish the journey that his son began. Along the way, he meets other pilgrims who are facing their own struggles and looking for some sort of redemption or resolution through the journey.

“This is a whole journey of discovery and loss,” said Sheen. “And very often the only way we can heal loss is by helping others.”

With the assistance of the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday, Greenia was connected to Estevez and asked whether the actors would be interested in screening the film at the workshop.

“He graciously said yes,” said Greenia, “and a studious academic affair immediately turned into a Washington event.”

More than 350 people attended the Friday evening screening, including Jorge Dezcallar de Mazarredo, Spanish Ambassador to the United States, and Infanta Cristina of Spain, Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, her consort, Iñaki Urdangarín, and their son, Juan Valentín. Additionally, a number of faculty members and students from William & Mary were in attendance.

Prior to the screening, Martin and Estevez gave several press interviews, including one on video to William & Mary News, moderated by Greenia. The Washington Post later included a photo of Greenia’s interview with Martin and Estevez and a description of the event in its Feb. 21 “Names and Faces” column.

Greenia opened the workshop weekend by welcoming the audience to the screening, thanking the William & Mary Washington Office, Georgetown and numerous others for making the event a reality.

William & Mary President Taylor Reveley also gave brief remarks before the film, saying that this is “the latest manifestation of an enduring collaboration between Spain and William & Mary.”

Reveley noted that William & Mary faculty have been teaching on the Camino for nearly two decades and that Greenia has led students on the journey for each of the past six summers.

“Their research projects conducted on the 500-mile trek have spanned a host of disciplines,” said Reveley. “As George has described in the brochure tonight, the rhythms of the walking offer a stark contrast to the immediacy of modern travel. Though an individual person takes each step along the Camino, there are many partners in the journey.”

Reveley said that William & Mary looks forward to working with all of the universities involved in the consortium “as our individual strengths yield a collective good for the benefit of our students.”

“Recent decades have brought a resurgence of interest in the 1,000-year-old Camino de Santiago and the pilgrimage offers the perfect means for Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez to share their Spanish heritage and their artistry with the American public,” he said.

Sheen, whose father was born in the Galicia region of Spain, said that the film is “a reflection of a miracle that happened in our family in 2003.” That year, Estevez’s son Taylor, who served as an associate producer on the film, was travelling the Camino with Sheen by car when he met his future wife.

Estevez said that the film “is truly a love letter to Spain, and it is also an homage to my grandfather.”

Along with writing and directing the movie, Estevez also appears in it as Tom’s son. Calling the film a father and son story, Estevez praised his both on-screen and real-life father for his work in the film.

“The only thing that my father has ever tried to sell to anybody is his heart, and you see it all over this picture tonight,” Estevez said. “It is a performance of quiet dignity. It is the performance, in my opinion, of a lifetime, and I’m extremely proud to have called myself his director and his costar in this.”

The film is expected to be released in the United States Sept. 30, 2011, and on DVD in February 2012.

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Featured News News: Arabic Studies News: Hispanic Studies

W&M student shares experiences in Egypt

by Erin Zagursky | February 10, 2011
William & Mary junior John Pence signed up to study abroad in Egypt this semester because he was “ready for the next challenge.”

“This was a challenge. I definitely learned a lot about myself, but it wasn’t the challenge I was expecting,” he said.

Pence was one of hundreds of Americans who were evacuated after widespread protests both for and against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak erupted across the country in January.

John Pence '12 (courtesy photo)John Pence ’12 (courtesy photo)

Pence began that month ready to spend a semester at American University in Cairo, studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics. He was in the country for about two weeks, staying in a dorm in the Nile island area of Zamalek, before the protests began. The third-party study abroad program at AUC is not sponsored by William & Mary, but Pence was in touch with staff at the College’s Reves Center for International Studies throughout his time in Egypt.

“I loved it,” he said. “I met a lot of great people from all over the world, Egyptian students as well, and up until the protests began on the 25th of January, it was very peaceful.”

The night before the protests, Pence received text messages from some of his Egyptian classmates, telling him that he may want to stay in the next day because of planned protests. Monday, Jan. 25, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets, demanding that Mubarak step down. Over the next few days, Egyptian police clashed with the protesters and Egyptian troops and tanks were brought in to act as peacekeepers.

Throughout this time, Pence stayed in the Zamalek area, abiding by the curfew and staying informed about the events unfolding around him through satellite television and through his Egyptian classmates who lived in or around Cairo.

“I tried to stay away from everything because of my safety and because I’m not Egyptian. It wasn’t my fight,” he said. “I did feel for the people, and I still do.”

On Thursday, Pence went out to eat and was surprised to see that protests had reached the streets of Zamalek. The next morning, he knew the situation was really deteriorating.

“When I woke up and the phones were out and the internet was out, that’s when I was like, okay this is really serious,” he said. “This is the government really trying to show their iron fist.”

On Saturday, Pence watched as F-15s and military helicopters flew low over the city, and he heard that more tanks were being brought in.

“That’s when I knew this semester is not going to happen. Now it’s really about getting out.”

On Sunday evening, American University told students that the State Department was offering charter planes for American citizens who want to leave the country. Pence got on a bus with other students the next day to be transported to a hangar near the international airport in Cairo.

That bus ride was the first time that Pence had left Zamalek since the protests began – and the first time he saw the tanks on the streets and the burned buildings. At the airport, Pence joined hundreds of others in a long line for one of the charter flights.

“It was the line to freedom, basically,” he said. “Everybody was anxious to get out.”

After waiting in line for seven hours and leaving a pile of his belongings behind due to a one-bag restriction, Pence boarded a plane that was bound for Turkey. As he left Egypt, his thoughts were with the Egyptian people.

“Leaving, I felt bad for all the people that are out of a job now that we don’t have school anymore there,” he said. “You could see it on the faces of the Egyptian people as you were going to the airport. They would all say, ‘Oh, you’re going to be back, right? We’ll see you soon,’ and it was just sad.”

After a brief stay in Istanbul, which Pence used to see sites like the Blue Mosque, the William & Mary student finally left for the United States on Feb. 2.

“It was a long flight – a couple of flights – but I was glad to get home,” Pence said.

Now back in his home state of Indiana, Pence, a Spanish major, is working with the Reves Center to continue his semester in Argentina via the La Plata program.

Although Pence didn’t get to study in Egypt the way he thought he would this semester, he still learned quite a bit from his experience there, including “how fortunate we are in this country to have a somewhat stable democracy and also how dangerous the world is.”

Pence said it was really interesting to see the events unfold from both an insider and an outsider perspective. For instance, although the violent protests made the news, Egyptians were also trying to come up with peaceful and proactive solutions to some of the country’s problems.

“I know a lot of students who went out when the protests started and were encouraging people to clean the streets up and being proactive,” said Pence. “If (people are complaining) about how dirty the streets are in Cairo, let’s do something about it. But that message gets swallowed up by people who decide to cause chaos and havoc and fear.”

Via Facebook and other means, Pence has kept in touch with many of the students he met in Egypt.

“We only had a week and a half or two weeks with each other, but you go through something like that, you get to know people pretty well,” he said.

And as he prepares to leave for yet another country, Pence continues to monitor the situation in Egypt.

“I hope that there’s a peaceful resolution in sight soon,” he said.

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News: Hispanic Studies

The Virginia Latino Higher Education Network presents a lecture by Professor Ellen Mayock

Starts: February 8, 2011 at 3:45 PM
Location: Cohen Career Center Presentation Room
Contact: Professor Jonathan Arries, Hispanic Studies, 757-221-1393,

Professor Ellen Mayock
Washington and Lee University
2010 Recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Award,
State Council of Higher Education of Virginia

Lecture presentation:   “Higher Education Networks, Connections Among English, Spanish and TESOL”.

Reception to follow.

Sponsored by Hispanic Studies, and the William and Mary School of Education.

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Featured News News: Alumni News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2011

Research “Side Trip” Fruitful for Sarah South Parks ’03 and the College

Story by Leslie McCullough

Luck, chance, or fate? Maybe some combination of the three. During a summer 2002 undergraduate research trip to South America, Sarah South Parks ’03 suggested an exploratory side trip to La Plata, Argentina. The rest is history.

Sarah Parks and Professor Tandeciarz at this year's homecomingSarah was finishing her junior year as a Hispanic Studies major and jumped at the chance to join her advisor, Professor Silvia Tandeciarz, and fellow student John Cipperly for a two-week research trip to Chile and Argentina, two nations emerging from brutal experiences with state terrorism. The students’ participation was made possible by a Borgenicht Foundation for Identity and Transformation Grant supporting faculty-directed student research projects.

In preparing for the trip, Professor Tandeciarz asked Sarah and John to read A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture by Marguerite Feitlowitz. Sarah recalls being particularly interested in a chapter about the alarming number of children, students, and faculty who “disappeared” from the university town of La Plata, Argentina, during its so-called “Dirty War” (1976-1983).

“It was a terrible and secretive time,” says Sarah. “Thousands of Argentineans were arrested, imprisoned, and declared missing. People involved with the university and education were seen as a threat by the dictatorship, and many disappeared.”

Together the group visited “memory sites” (e.g., museums, monuments, bookstores, schools, and memorials) to document and analyze the role of memory in the re-construction of Chilean and Argentinean national identities.

Sarah expressed interest in visiting the sites of memory in La Plata that she’d read about. Although only a half-hour drive from Buenos Aires, La Plata at that time represented uncharted territory.

There, while visiting a memory site at an elementary school, the group noticed a poster for the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria (Commission on Memory), a nongovernmental organization dedicated to the study and dissemination of human rights abuses committed during the Argentinean dictatorship. The commission was set up to do the very thing Tandeciarz’s team was researching. It was an incredible find.

Sarah’s research focused on the children of the disappeared in Argentina, some of whom were adopted by military families and are just coming to discover their biological identity. Working with the Commission offered access to many invaluable resources. Later, Sarah reported her research findings in an academic paper she presented at a Modern Languages and Literatures colloquium.

“When we engage in collaborative research with students, the rewards can be endless,” says Professor Tandeciarz. “It was Sarah’s leadership that got us to La Plata. If there had been no grant, there would have been no students on this trip, and we never would have made this wonderful connection.”

Since the initial connection, Tandeciarz has helped to develop a strong relationship between the Commission and the College. As a result, William and Mary students from many majors have participated in a semester study abroad program in La Plata, the only one of its kind available there to U.S. college students.

“This semester program is unique in that it offers students the opportunity to take university courses while collaborating on a variety of human rights initiatives through internships at the Comission, thus bringing William and Mary’s service learning tradition into global education,” says Professor Tandeciarz. The funding structure of the La Plata program also has made it possible for Argentinean students to come to the College for short research trips, usually conducted over spring break in collaboration with William and Mary undergraduate students.

“I never could have guessed what this trip would turn into,” says Sarah. “It is neat to think about how this program is benefiting the lives of so many other students. In my opinion, one of the College’s greatest assets is the ability to maintain an environment that allows for such strong collaborations between students and faculty.”

Since receiving her master’s degree in social work in 2006, Sarah South Parks has worked with international adoption programs and Hispanic immigrant children who had been separated and subsequently reunited with their families. She is currently working in Williamsburg with The Barker Foundation, a private adoption agency, to provide counseling to women or couples facing unplanned pregnancy.

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News News: Hispanic Studies

Regina Root on Colombian TV

Professor Regina Root’s scholarship and role in Latin American fashion was the recent subject of a program on “Mujeres exitosas” (Successful Women) for a culture and education channel in Colombia.   Program host Angélica Romero highlighted Root’s role as president of Ixel Moda (Latin America’s fashion congress that attracts designers and academics from around the globe) and work on sustainable design practices.  “Mujeres exitosas” presented an interview with Michelle Bachelet the week prior to airing the interview with Root.  To see the half hour program, see (Note:  There are brief pauses between program segments.)

Featured News News: Hispanic Studies

Dressed for Dissent

photo by Stephen Salpukas‘Couture & Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina’ by Regina A. Root
Story By Lillian Stevens

Couture & Consensus, a new book by Regina Root, offers a history of fashion and its influence on the political climate following Argentina’s revolution of independence in 1810. In her book, Root explains how dress served as a critical expression of political agency and citizenship during the struggle toward a new Argentine nation.

The result of an extensive archival study that took several years to complete, Couture & Consensus: Fashion and Politics in Postcolonial Argentina reveals how politics merged with dress to encourage creativity and (depending on the wearer’s ideology) to enforce or protest authoritarian practices.

“This book maps the search for a collective identity, or consensus, through material culture. At a time when the region was at war and the idea of an Argentine nation still seemed a dream, fashion became a creative language through which to engage the nation-building project,” says Root, Class of 1963 Term Distinguished Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures.

Conformity and rebellion

There are five chapters, beginning with “Uniform Consensus” in which Root describes the often theatrical manifestations of conformity and rebellion. Root explains the divide between the Argentine Federalists (those who pledged loyalty to Juan Manuel de Rosas, an authoritarian leader) and the Unitarians who opposed the Rosas regime. Rosas, she writes, actually mandated a uniform for civilians in the province of Buenos Aires, while an 1832 decree established crimson as the “color of faith” for the Argentine federation. Unitarians wore green or light blue—when they could get away with it, Root says. When such colors were outlawed, Unitarians risked death when inserting political messages into their top hats.

The second chapter, “Dressed to Kill,” is about female complicity during the push for independence from Spain. Here, Root gives voice and presence to the many nameless and overlooked women who participated actively in the war effort—women who constructed uniforms and who sometimes even donned them in order to fight during the various (ultimately unsuccessful) British invasions of Buenos Aires.

Big hair for the cause

Then comes “Fashion as Presence,” the third chapter, which explores the meaning of exaggerated dress—from oversized skirts to giant hair combs called peinetones—in the quest for female emancipation. Peinetones, usually made of tortoiseshell and reaching one yard square, were worn by women of the 1820s and 1830s to distance themselves visually from the fashions and customs of Spain. By wearing massive skirts and intimidating headpieces, women also commanded a space of their own, effectively asserting their presence in public, Root says. These emblems of Argentine identity sometimes incorporated political slogans or patriotic motifs. “They definitely called into question the political vanity of 19th-century male leaders who had fought Spanish oppression, but then denied women their emancipation,” she said.

In the fourth chapter, “Fashion Writing,” Root demonstrates how easy it was for authors to elude authorities by masquerading their politics under the guise of entertainment prose. As a result, it became possible in postcolonial Argentina to regain control of the body politic by planting urban, democratic ideals within the pages of fashion magazines. In this chapter, Root recounts the liberating qualities of fashion at this pivotal moment of national reorganization and modernization.

Empowering Argentine women

The final chapter is titled “Searching for Female Emancipation.” Root gives voice to the political foothold women were gradually gaining. While revolutionary men gained political footing under the guise of writing articles about fashion, it was the women who felt empowered by their ability to finally speak their minds. Root calls on everything from storylines of novels to the history of the magazines to prove this point.

In the book’s epilogue, Root discusses how the tradition of mixing fashion with politics continues in modern-day Argentina. Among the examples she cites are the shawls of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. These are the mothers of los desaparecidos—the thousands of people who “disappeared” during Argentina’s Dirty War promulgated 1976-83 by the Videla administration. “One usually recognizes a Mother of the Plaza de Mayo by the white shawl that she wears, the name of her beloved child cross-stitched in blue thread on the back corner,” Root writes.

Couture & Consensus was published by University of Minnesota Press this past June, the text is intended for a scholarly audience but Root says that it will appeal to a broad range of disciplines.

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News News: Hispanic Studies

W&M Students in La Plata Feature in Local News

W&M students and the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria in Tandil, Argentina
W&M students and the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria in Tandil, Argentina

Year after year, several W&M students decide to spend a semester abroad with our program in La Plata, Argentina. The program’s articulation around the interdisciplinary study of human rights is, perhaps, one of the reasons why it attracts  students in Hispanic Studies, Latin American Studies, and several other fields.  During their semester abroad, W&M Students have the rare opportunity to intern with the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria in opportunities related to its work on the legacies of dictatorship and recent political history of “the disappeared.” Moreover, W&M students participate in extra-curricular activities related to the Comisión‘s work.

Recently, the Tandil-based newspaper El Eco Digital highlighted the experience of our students as they explored areas used as clandestine detention centers during the last military regime, and sites of memory. The article includes commentaries from W&M’s Emily Stevens, Alex Guzmán, and Katlyn Toylle.

The full article, in Spanish, can be found here.

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Alumni Updates: Hispanic Studies News News: Hispanic Studies

Hibbs ’10: Pregnancy, migrants and justice on the Eastern Shore

[Story by Soyoung Hwang ’11 and David Williard;
March 17, 2010;]

Kate Hibbs ’10 knew the many lessons of service before going to the Eastern Shore to serve as a migrant-health outreach worker last summer. Her experience as a stand-out Sharpe community scholar at the College prepared her academically; her experience serving migrant needs in Chicago gave her on-the-ground experience. Still, she felt she stumbled.

“If you’re not aware of your privilege, your service is patronizing,” she said.

Hibbs worked with pregnant women within the migrant community through an internship with Rural Family Development, one of two Eastern Shore agencies that maintains a memorandum of understanding with the Hispanic Studies department at William & Mary. Her primary tasks were to counsel women about pre-natal health practices and to help ensure their access to the medical resources available to them

Hibbs found that the need to acknowledge her own privilege relative to those she was serving became a theme underlying her work. Unknown to her at first, most of the women with whom she would work were from rural, southern Mexico and identified as part of an indigenous culture rather than as “Mexican.” Tensions arose due to the language barrier.

“We’re speaking Spanish with each other as our second language, so naturally there’s communication breakdown. … It’s hard to establish that legitimacy and trust,” Hibbs said.

Hibbs is the first to admit she was “not an expert in pregnancy,” and so being in a situation where she had come in as an “expert” to educate this woman forced her to evaluate her position in relation to that of the pregnant woman.

“I didn’t realize that my command of Spanish was better than hers, and, for her, that’s intimidating because, as an American, I represent the oppressor. … I’m in this privileged position,” Hibbs explained.

Despite what she calls her “folly and rudeness” in going into the woman’s home unprepared for this challenge, Hibbs found an effective way to bridge the gap by asking the pregnant woman to teach her some “Misteko,” the indigenous dialect.

“My interest in her culture, in her background, was huge because not even people from her country take an interest in her culture, and so to have someone do that is not only novel, but for her incredibly empowering,” Hibbs said. “That I teach her and she can teach me is empowering for her and humbling for myself. It’s not just understanding their perspective; it’s truly identifying with their needs.”

Hibbs’ ability to pro-actively navigate those tensions resonates with her faculty advisor, Jonathan Arries, associate professor of Hispanic Studies at William & Mary. “She is an amazing student and an incredible person,” Arries said. “The character of Kate that I keep coming back to is her generosity of spirit. It is the kind of thing we seek to cultivate in the humanities. She is the kind of person on whom you can rely to do what needs to be done, and more. She is a critical thinker who has amazing organizational skills.”

Back on campus, Hibbs continues to nurture the genuine bonds of identity forged with many of the women with whom she worked. She identifies with their struggles to secure health advice and care, as well as with their general struggles to nurture families in situations that seem, at times, unfriendly toward them.

“They call me all the time! I love it,” Hibbs said. “Pregnancy is such an important part of a woman’s life. The fact that I shared it with them, they want to share it with me.”

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News News: Hispanic Studies Uncategorized

W&M students contribute to classified document release

[Story by Erin Zagursky]

Research conducted by William & Mary undergraduate students has led to the recent release of formerly classified documents that shed new light on the impact of the detainment of one of Argentina’s most famous political prisoners, Jacobo Timerman.

Last spring [2009], 12 William & Mary students worked with Hispanic Studies Professor Silvia Tandeciarz and Southern Cone Specialist Carlos Osorio on an internship with the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C. They spent the semester researching hundreds of documents relating to the detention of Argentine journalist Jacobo Timerman more than 30 years ago.  The results of that research were published in a National Security Archive Briefing Book this month that confirm Timerman’s case caused the near-fracture of the Argentine military regime.

With support from a QEP-Mellon Undergraduate Research Grant, the students researched hundreds of documents in order to select those that best captured Timerman’s story. The students then compiled short summaries of each of the documents and created an introduction for the briefing book.  View the video of this project here.

“I have done a great deal of research during my time in college, but nothing compared to the research we undertook with this project — there is something so much more intriguing, so much more real about reading actual government documents,” said Erin Maskell ’10. “Nothing had been processed, no one else had read it first and decided what was important and then presented this to you in a watered down version. You got to read the story; you got to decide what was important.”

In the course of their research, the students reached out to fellow students on William and Mary’s study abroad program in Argentina to compare the American version of accounts with that found at the Comisión Provincial por la Memoria. The coordinator of the Argentine Archive, Laura Lenci, invited two William and Mary students to create a companion briefing book with the Argentine documents. The students also used their research to compile a timeline, detailing important events in the Timerman story and providing information on the documentation for those events.

“It is our hope that the chronology and the briefing books will be of interest to human rights scholars of all disciplines, as well as to the general public,” said Tandeciarz, Class of 2011 Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies. “It is with great pride that we present to the public the results of this collaboration, which brings together three institutions for the first time: the College of William and Mary, the National Security Archive, and the Archivo de la DIPBA, Comisión Provincial por la Memoria. And it is particularly gratifying to know that the College has played a small part in making this collaboration possible.”

David Culver ‘09 said that the opportunity provided him and the others a rare experience.

Wi&M students listen to Carlos Osorio describe what work the archive does in its research library on the students’ first visit there.
Photo courtesy of Prof. Silvia Tandeciarz

“As undergraduate students we’re often limited to studying the work and research done by professionals in the field, whether it be through textbooks or other published materials,” he said. “Rarely are the students themselves put at par with those professionals and given the resources to do their own firsthand research and, as a result, create their own narrative of history. This course allowed us to do just that.”

Culver hopes that the work that the students did during the internship and the resulting briefing book will allow others to “learn yet another aspect to the very complex story that is Jacobo Timerman.” He said he’d also like to see more opportunities like this one made available to students.

“This was a course where the professors — the experts in the field — turned to the students as peers and relied on their intelligence, their drive and their dedication,” he said. “Professor and student were discovering and learning together. It takes maturity on part of the student and humility on the professor’s part. The result of this unique and rewarding approach speaks for itself.”

Maskell said that the project taught her a lot about “what it means to do research.”

“When we first began this entire project we went into it rather blindly- we weren’t sure exactly what we were looking for or what our goals were,” said Maskell, an economics major and Hispanic studies minor. “There were thousands of documents, and it felt overwhelming at times. However, the more we learned the more we were able to refine our research goals, and the project changed enormously over the course of the semester. I am much more comfortable with the entire research process now, and have acquired skills in reading and interpreting primary source documents that are transferrable to so many other fields of study.”

The experience impacted Maskell so greatly that she decided to continue interning at the archive through the summer, finishing the briefing book and compiling documents to be used in an Argentine court case.

“I am still working on this project now, and I love every moment of it because I feel that I am doing something that truly matters,” she said. “I love to learn just for the sake of learning, but to be able to take all the history I have read about or learned in a classroom and apply it to a current day situation in a way that actually has an impact makes me feel like all my hard work in school is worth it.”

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News News: Hispanic Studies

Borderlands: Students Research Immigration Issues over Spring Break 2009

[By Steve Otto]

On the Mexican side of the Nogales border fence, an art installation titled Paseo of Humanity

Over spring break 2009, Professors Bickham Mendez (Sociology and Latin American Studies) and Tandeciarz (Hispanic Studies) led a research team of eight students to the Tucson/Nogales region  of the U.S.–Mexico border. The pilot project combined interdisciplinary field research, course work, and civic engagement to focus on “border issues”: the political, social, and cultural effects of immigration from Mexico/Central America to the United States.

Participating students co-enrolled in either Hispanic Studies 361 or Sociology 440 and received 1 credit for their work. Borderlinks, a bi-national organization “bringing people together to build bridges of solidarity across North and Latin American borders and to promote intercultural understanding and respect,” acted as institutional host and provided delegation leader Lilli Mann ’07. The project was funded through the Charles Center’s QEP/Mellon grant.


The project team hiked a migrant trail near Arizona’s Lake Arivaca. Along the trail they found evidence of migrants’ night-time passages, including discarded clothes and water bottles.

The Tucson/Nogales region has become one of the most heavily trafficked and perilous crossing points between Mexico and the United States. The W&M group met with humanitarian organizations, customs/border and courtroom officials, and immigration attorneys to gain an understanding of the complexities of immigration issues as they play out on the border and beyond.

On the Mexican side of the border, students and faculty shared meals with migrants who had recently been deported from the United States, and they interviewed migrants preparing to make the treacherous journey across the desert. They learned about the militarization of the border and its human cost, and were guided along one of the desert trails frequented by migrants on their way to the United States. Several of the students posted their field notes to blogs:

This poster, distributed on both sides of the Nogales border by Mexico’s Commission of Human Rights, asks, “Has an authority mistreated you?”

On returning to Williamsburg, the students presented their findings at a community event titled “Crossing Borders in Our Communities: Latino/a Migration and Border Issues.” Included in the audience of about 100 were representatives from area social services, the Network for the Latino People, and various other organizations that work with the local Latino/a community.


Isabelle Cohen ’11 and Amanda Potter ’10 created a photo essay [pdf] about the project. Sewon Chung ’09 and and Katherine Schaller ’11 produced a two-part video documentary and posted it to YouTube.

The professors explore their experiences with this project in another related video.

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