Read Dr. Carlos Rivera Santana’s interview with Alicia Díaz and Patricia Herrera, artists and activists and organizers of the performance/dance film “Entre Puerto Rico y Richmond”, which was presented at the College of William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum in November 2021. The article is co-authored by Dr. Rivera Santana, Whitney Ledesma and Malvika Shrimali (of Hispanic Studies). It is published in Intervenxions, an online publication of The Latinx Project (https://www.latinxproject.nyu.edu/intervenxions/entre-puerto-rico-y-richmond-a-conversation-on-embodied-decolonial-creation-with-alicia-daz-amp-patricia-herrera).
Global Voices recently caught up with Dr. Sowmya Ramanathan after her first full semester of teaching at William & Mary. Dr. Ramanathan is and Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies.
How have your first few weeks been at William & Mary?
Wonderful! William & Mary has such a gorgeous campus that I spent most of my first days taking in the beauty of its red-brick buildings, gigantic trees, and all the greenery. Beyond that, I received such a warm welcome from all my colleagues at the Modern Languages and Literatures Department and once classes started, immediately began the process of teaching-learning with some truly brilliant students. All of that made arriving at this new institution both a bit intimidating and also really exciting!
What are you teaching this year?
During the Fall and Spring of this year, I am teaching HISP103, which is an accelerated course that covers the beginning two semesters of Spanish in one semester. I also taught MLL’s HISP207 during the Fall of 2020, which is a course that studies marginality, the politics of inclusion and exclusion, and cultural production from Latin America and Spain.
What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?
I am interested in gender politics and cultural production in the Global South. More specifically, my work looks at the cultural and aesthetic production of womxn in Latin America, and I am particularly interested in how feminine and feminized others theorize and practice creativity, agency, and resistance within the difficult and often impossible conditions imposed by colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy. I am currently working on the manuscript for my book on the fascinating work of Chilean writer, Diamela Eltit, and am conducting research for another project on the politics and poetics of care—as a form of labor and resistance typically performed by feminine subjects—in Latin America.
What will you be teaching next semester?
I am so excited for Spring 2022 as I’ll be teaching two courses on topics that are near and dear to my heart. First, HISP250 will focus on literary and cultural artefacts of Latin American womxn, studying gender theory to explore and interrogate canonical (colonial and patriarchal) depictions of the cultural sphere in Latin America. I’ll also be teaching a COLL150 course that takes on a more sociological perspective and reviews different strains and manifestations of feminism from the United States to Latin America.
What would be your dream class to teach and why?
I’m so lucky to be teaching two classes during the Spring 2022 semester that truly are my dream classes, but for fun and with the adequate time for research and preparation, I would love to teach a class on reggaeton and popular movements in Latin America. While the genre has often been considered sexist and materialistic, I find it fascinating that reggaeton has played such a seminal role in recent social movements like the protests in Puerto Rico demanding that ex-governor Ricardo Roselló resign or the feminist mobilizations across Latin America with slogans such as “sin perreo no hay revolución”. Teaching a class on the genre, with ample tools for understanding both its musical and social complexities, could permit illuminating discussions on how certain musical cultures have travelled from the Caribbean to the rest of the world, on the power of the body in public protest, and on the contradictions and complexities embedded within movements for sociopolitical change.
The purpose of COLL 300 is to connect you with people, places, and ideas that take you out of familiar surroundings and deepen the way you see yourself in the world. To introduce you to people and ideas that are outside your sphere of direct experience. To challenge your ways of thinking. To make you a little uncomfortable.
This Fall 2017, two of our Hispanic Studies Courses formed part of the COLL 300 on campus experience theme of In/Exclusion: HISP 330: Poetry Writing Workshop, taught by Professor Silvia Tandeciarz, and HISP 390: Queer Latinidad, taught by Professor Christina Baker.
In both HISP 330 and 390, students took on performative articulations of self-reflection throughout the semester by means of performance and poetry. These acts and refined pieces were showcased in the end-of-semester COLL 300 Academic Festival, held December 1st, from 2:00pm-5:00pm in ISC III.
Students in HISP 330, the Poetry Writing Workshop taught in Spanish, chose to feature their creative work in a “poetry walk.” Designed on large poster boards and curated along brightly light hallways, the poems brought effervescence and freshness to the space of ISC III. The display series of large poster boards, designed by the students, accompanied the installation with translations of their poems, and framed the exhibit with the following mission statement:
Students in HISP 390 performed an living wax museum of stereotypes called, “You Don’t Know My Life,” inspired by the Radical Performance Pedagogy of Guillermo Gómez Peña. The students each enacted a stereotype, performed only at the inducement of the public and at the end of the perofrmance, came together to break down walls of isolation and misunderstood identities. Our docent carried around our collaboratively created Artists’ Statement:
Here is a small gallery of other photos from the event:
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.
Although some of you may think that we are referring to the Dispatch song of the same name, we are actually talking about what it is like to work in what can only be described as the most active and intriguing offices this side of the Atlantic: The Office of Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Spain in Washington, D.C. But before we begin to delve into our daily adventures at the Embassy we would like to introduce ourselves (ladies first of course):
My name is Madeleine (Maddy) De Simone. I’m a rising junior at W & M majoring in Govt. and Hispanic Studies. I enjoy long walks at the beach and moonlit dinners. Haha but my real academic interests are translating, politics, and culture studies, which is why I am interning at the Spanish Embassy this summer. Some quick fun facts are that I am obsessed with Trader Joes, a Phillies/Flyers fanatic, a member of a sorority, and in love with James Franco.
HOLA! My name is Jake Brody and I am a rising senior at the College majoring in Hispanic Studies with a minor in Sociology. I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain during the fall 2010 semester and really enjoyed getting to know the Spanish people and learning more about Spain. That is one of the main reasons why I am back on Spanish soil this summer (even if it is in Washington). Some interesting facts about me: brunch is my favorite meal of the day, I could watch any Olympic event (including team handball), and have hiked Mt. Vesuvius in Italy!
For the next month or so we will be filling you in on what happens at a foreign embassy and specifically how our office helps promote Spanish culture and arts here in the States. In the mean time, check out our Facebook page: Spain Arts & Culture!
Jake & Maddy
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 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.
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 http://vimeo.com/17666775 (Note: There are brief pauses between program segments.)