Exploring Latin American studies

Wheaton College will host the annual meeting of the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS) on November 9, bringing more than 110 scholars on Latin America to campus to connect with their peers, exchange ideas and share their research.

NECLAS, a regional organization that sponsors an annual conference, seeks to foster and develop interest in Latin American studies by scholars, researchers, and the general public. Wheaton is hosting the event as the college celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program.

Hosting NECLAS reflects the deep collaboration between the colleagues involved in Wheaton’s program, and between a number of offices on campus, including the president’s office, the provost’s office, Worldfest, the Student Government Association, and the Marshall Center, said Associate Professor of Anthropology M. Gabriela Torres, Wheaton’s Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program coordinator.

During the meeting, there will be more than 100 presentations by professors from many different academic disciplines, including literature, history and economics. All 25 panels feature scholars discussing their current research.

“What is unique about NECLAS is that it is a regional conference where scholars talk about their work in an intimate setting, which allows them to present both completed works as well as works in progress,” said Torres. “Because the event is a highly multidisciplinary affair it gives scholars insight into how their topic is understood from different disciplinary perspectives. It is also reflective of the way Latin American and Latino/a Studies is understood at Wheaton College.”

Wheaton’s program takes a multidisciplinary approach that focuses on connections between disciplines, giving students an integrated understanding of the cultures and histories of Latin America, as they complete a program based on various disciplines, including, anthropology, history, Hispanic studies and literature, political science, sociology and music. More than 70 Wheaton students are registered to attend sessions during the event.

Professor Torres will chair a panel during the meeting and present a paper titled ”Violated Women, Reason and ‘lo politico’ in Guatemala,” which explores how counterinsurgency policies of the Guatemalan state have shaped the political environment for women politicians. In 2011, her publication, co-authored with David Carey Jr., “Precursors to Femicide: Guatemalan Women in a Vortex of Violence” won the NECLAS’ annual Joseph T. Criscenti Best Article Prize.

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Domingo Ledezma also will present a paper titled “León Pinelo’s ‘Laguna mexicana y sus calidades peregrinas’: The Intersection Between Literary Sources and Francisco Lagarto’s Rare Map of Mexico and its Surroundings.” Professors Francisco Fernández de Alba, John Bezis-Selfa, Montserrat Perez-Toribio, Hector Medina and Julie Searles will chair panel discussions on various topics, including contemporary authors, the politics of education and transnational identity and translation.–Brian Jencunas ’14



NECLAS program cover art by Gilman Scholar Gilda Rodriguez ’14
NECLAS program cover art by Gilman Scholar Gilda Rodriguez ’14