Faculty Travel: Mexico

In July, Micol Seigel (American Studies) attended the Tepoztlán Institute for the Transnational History of the Americas with a CLACS faculty travel grant.  This internationally-attended conference takes place annually in Morelos, Mexico, about an hour south of Mexico City.  About sixty participants hailing from Brazil to Canada spent a full week discussing pre-circulated papers and the year’s theme, “Fugitivity, Marronage, Abolition.”  The collective that organizes the Institute selects readings to guide discussion; this year featured work by Black feminists Angela Davis, Beatriz Nascimento, Sylvia Wynter and others.  The Institute functions in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and while most participants are bilingual and many are trilingual, translation is provided so that each participant may speak in the language most comfortable for them.  Childcare is provided, as is wonderful food at breakfasts and lunches cooked for everyone by two talented local families.  The Institute features a cabaret in which all attendees, including partners and children, participate, presenting skits, poems, songs, or other performance material, to the great amusement and often hilarity of the assembled throng.  Thanks to CLACS and the College of Arts and Sciences, IU Bloomington is an institutional member of the Tepoztlán Institute for 2023, 2024 and 2025, so IU faculty and advanced graduate students are encouraged to apply.  The theme for 2024 is “Indigeneities: Land, Labor, Desire”; the CFP will circulate in October and applications will be due in January.   

CLACS affiliate César Félix-Brasdefer (Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese) wins CAS 2023 James P. Holland Morley Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service

CLACS affiliate César Félix-Brasdefer (Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese) wins the College of Arts & Sciences’ 2023 James P. Holland Morley Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service, Tenure-Track Faculty
J. César Félix-Brasdefer joined the IU faculty in 2003, and during that time he has made his mark not only in our classrooms, but around the world. He is a worldwide leader in the teaching of pragmatics. His two websites on pragmatics and his publications on pragmatics and linguistics have become standard pedagogical resources around the world. The most oft-repeated adjective to describe his teaching used by his students, both graduate and undergraduate, is “passionate.” In all he does, he seems to not only care deeply about his subject, but about those he teaches. More than one student points to him as instrumental in shaping them not only as scholars and teachers, but as better human beings.

Challenging Perspectives: Balancing Environmental Concerns and Social Justice

Most of my life (and, I assume, others’) has consisted of long periods of regularity. Doing things like school or work at the same time every day for weeks with little tangible change. During these stretches, time moves fast, but life seems to move slow. People only change if the things around them are in flux, otherwise there is no need. That isn’t to say routine is bad, it just gets old sometimes.

It was only a few days ago, but I am sure that my first night in Costa Rica is something that will stick with me. I will remember sitting on a bus full of complete strangers, watching an unfamiliar land go by, and feeling completely at home. I will remember breathing in the hot, humid air as we walked through a dark jungle. I will remember walking into the bathroom and a gecko falling from the ceiling. Most of all I will remember the anticipation, lying in bed between restlessness and exhaustion failing to guess what the next few days and weeks would be like. I predicted fun, discovery, difficulties, learning, moments of joy, moments of sadness, and everything in between. So far, I have been right.

Luckily, between periods of stagnancy, there exist brief liminal spaces, which are always somehow more memorable. First days of school, moving out for the first time, a new job. They bring uncertainty, which is the foundation of personal growth.

Everyday has felt special and unique since I have arrived. Different meals every day, learning about my piers, studying Costa Rica’s conservational history, but mostly just experiencing the nature. Every step into the wilderness is full of discovery and joy. Seeing unfamiliar species of bird and insect and learning about them from extremely knowledgeable guides. It is amazing how quickly I feel like I made a connection to this place. Hearing the howler monkeys in the trees, seeing ants walk along side the paths. All the sounds and sights that started as unfamiliar are slowly becoming less so.

Personal growth, of course, being the ultimate human goal. Many define their goals externally, but really we all just want to be a certain type of person: maybe a smart person, a rich person, a good person.

The focus of this trip is sustainability and climate change. We have been learning about the science and politics behind the current state of climate change and what the future may hold. We have had a few lectures and readings but much of the education has been less formal. I’ve learned a lot from members of the community here at La Selva and the other places we have visited. So far we have visited an organic pineapple grower, and small scale banana and plantain farm. These visits have been a lot of fun and extremely informative (as well as delicious). Going from listening to lectures to walking through a farm is a remarkable and unique experience. Meeting people on the front lines of protecting natural resources while simultaneously providing for their communities was encouraging to me about the future of the world. However, I know that the other side exists as well. The people working in the Dole farm just across the road are people too, with their own beliefs and goals. I would love to learn about them and what they would think about everything we have learned.

The issue with creating a perfect world, is that each person has their own definition of good. What one person sees as feeding their family, a different person sees as destroying the earth and a heroic act to one, is criminal to another. Is helping the earth at the expense of the impoverished worth it? Are there ways to help everyone and the earth? If so, what is holding us back? I don’t think anybody knows the answers to these questions and I have no idea how someone would go about finding them.

I can’t help but think of what my own role is in and how I can align my actions with my beliefs regarding climate change. It is a problem of complexity, there is no right and wrong when things are on a global scale. Of course, my personal stance has changed over many years but this trip is giving me a change to reflect on that stance and revise it given knew information. My thought process is that for any solution I endorse, I must be willing to take on the negative consequences. Whether that is sacrificing my ambition to work on a farm or be one of the casualties in creating a better world. Is this a cause I would die for? If not, I can’t responsibly support a solution that would cause others to face these consequences.

So far this trip has satisfied my every expectation and the trip has barely begun. In the next weeks I am excited to learn even more about Costa Rica, the world, and the people around me. I don’t know if the answers to my question even exist, but if they do this experience will definitely guide me towards them.

Pura Vida!

Re-Post from Edwin Blog: See the Original at: https://blogs.iu.edu/ecohealth/

Winners of Photo Contests 2023

Exciting News! The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies has announced the winners of its highly anticipated photo contest. After a long and arduous judging process, the winners have finally been selected. The competition, which has become a long-standing tradition, recognizes the best photographs of Latin America and the Caribbean, showcasing the region’s beauty and culture.

We are thrilled to announce that the first prize goes to Kaitlin Scott for her outstanding photograph, “Mujer Como Torre.” The photograph captures the essence of Latin American and Caribbean culture, showcasing the strength and beauty of the women in the region. The photograph’s use of color and contrast is breathtaking, and it truly stands out as a unique representation of the region.

The second prize goes to Sam Arvin for his stunning photograph, “Punta Cana, The Dominican Republic.” The photograph captures the essence of the region, offering a local perspective instead of the typical tourist view. The photograph’s composition and use of light are exceptional, and it is evident that the photographer put a great deal of thought and care into capturing the perfect shot.

The judging process was rigorous, with multiple metrics used to ensure that the values of authenticity, connection with the current photos collection, and a local view were rewarded. The judges (Diego Barbosa-Vásquez – Head of the Jury, Gabriela Kolman, and Dora Ahearn-Wood) were impressed with the quality of the submissions, but ultimately, Kaitlin Scott and Sam Arvin’s photographs stood out as the clear winners.

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies is proud to support and celebrate the region’s art and culture, and the photo contest is just one of the many ways in which they do so. We congratulate Kaitlin Scott and Sam Arvin on their well-deserved prizes, and we can’t wait to see what future artists and photographers will bring to the competition. Their work serves as a reminder of the richness and beauty of the Latin American and Caribbean region, and we are proud to be able to showcase it through this contest.

“Mujer Como Torre” by Kaitlin Scott

“Punta Cana, The Dominican Republic.” by Sam Arvin

CLACS 2023 Reception

Last Thursday, April 13th, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) department at Indiana University held its 2023 Reception. The event was filled with food, happiness, and friends as people from different areas of expertise and interests around IU gathered to share and celebrate Latin American and Caribbean topics.

The reception provided a great opportunity for individuals to come together and learn from each other’s experiences and knowledge. Whether it was discussing the history of a particular country or sharing stories about their travels to the region, the event created a space where everyone’s voices could be heard.

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies department at IU is dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and public engagement related to Latin America and the Caribbean. By hosting events like the CLACS Reception, they are able to bring together a diverse group of people to celebrate and learn about the region’s rich cultural heritage and history.

Overall, the 2023 Reception was a success and provided a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse community that CLACS has created at Indiana University. It is through events like this that we can learn from one another and continue to promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.


Faculty Travel: Costa Rica

Dr. Maurice Shirley, Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs in the IU School of Education, traveled to the cities of Tamarindo, San Jose, and San Ramon in Costa Rica during the Spring 2023 academic term to convene with scholars, administrators, and current students regarding the current state of higher education within Costa Rica. As part of a federally funded grant, Dr. Shirley is currently developing a study abroad opportunity for graduate students to explore the unique challenges and opportunities for Costa Rican higher education and collaborate with scholars and professionals to develop strategic solutions for the years to come. With support from CLACS, Dr. Shirley was able to broaden his capacity to explore multiple regions of the country to set a foundation for a robust international experience for IU students and scholars. In preparation for the study abroad trip planned for Spring 2024, Dr. Shirley stated, “I’m very excited and honored to be entrusted with planning and leading a study abroad trip for our students. This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about education within international contexts that will facilitate dynamic conversations between two countries that face similar challenges in their systems of higher education.”

 To learn more about the trip and the upcoming study abroad opportunity, you may contact Dr. Shirley at maushirl@indiana.edu.


CLACS at the HLS 2023 Day

On Saturday March 4th 2023, the Center of Latinamerican and Caribean Studies was pleased to share with prospective HLS students (both transfers and incoming freshmen).  We are sharing with the upcoming students and their parents our center programs, events, classes, languages, courses, and minors. Was an exciting experience to see many people interested in our region. Looking forward to see all of them soon at the center!

The event was organized by the Hamilton Lugar School of Global & International Studies

CLACS and Cafezinho: Carnaval edition!

On February 22nd 2023, CLACS and Cafezinho* had their first event partnership of the semester: Cafezinho Carnaval edition! In this event, the Portuguese-speaking community at IU and Bloomington had the opportunity to make their own Carnaval masks and learn how to dance samba with Laís Lara Vanin and Gabriella Bain. Both are members of the African American Dance Company at IU. Laís is a PhD candidate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and a performer. Gabriella is a ballerina and a Junior in Folklore and Anthropology. By the end of the event, there was also a roda de samba** where students could show off the samba moves they learned with Laís and Gabriella!

*Cafezinho is the Portuguese-speaking hour in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. During the 2022-2023 academic year, the PhD student Bruna Kalil was the organizer.

**Roda de samba is an improvised meeting of musicians and people that are singing, playing, and dancing samba.


CLACS Sponsoring La Comunidad del Sancocho for their lunch with Cristal Ange y Carlos Castaño

On Feb 22nd the Colombian Association at Indiana University “La Comunidad del Sancocho” hosted a lunch with Cristal Ange y Carlos Castaño sponsored by CLACS. Both shared with the IU Colombian Faculty and Graduate students their work with the Fundación Herencia in Colombia. More information at: https://herenciaambiental.org/

CLACS at the Literacy Night at Lakeview Elementary School.

On February 9th, 2023, CLACS had an exhibit during the Literacy Night at Lakeview Elementary School. This event had several fairy tale literacy activities, the school book fair, and a station with exhibits from many of the academic centers of Indiana University. The exhibit that CLACS prepared focused on two legends from Brazilian Folklore: Boitatá and Boi-Bumbá or Bumba Meu Boi. While learning more about them, students had the opportunity to create their own versions of each one of these two legends!

Following, you can see some pictures of the event: