CLACS Celebrates 60 Years at Indiana University Bloomington

On April 18th, 2024, we celebrated 60 years of CLACS at IU Bloomington! Originally founded as the Latin American Studies Program at Indiana University, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies has supported outreach initiatives and educational programming focused on highlighting Latin American and Caribbean topics and communities in a global setting.

Left to right: Michael Ndemanu (Ball State University), John Ciorciari (Dean of the Hamilton Lugar School), Serafín Coronel-Molina (CLACS Director), and Emma Bonham (CLACS Program Manager)

Since 1963, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University Bloomington has fostered a vibrant multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary community of scholars over the past six decades. These scholars have worked on numerous initiatives, particularly in the Caribbean, Andean, and Amazonian regions. CLACS values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and its mission is to study and educate about one of the world’s most linguistically, culturally, and ethnically diverse regions – Latin America and the Caribbean.

While CLACS has called multiple locations and schools home over the years, it is currently part of the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies (HLS). According to the HLS Dean, John Ciorciari, “Our school is a leading hub for the study of world languages and cultures, as well as international affairs. We empower students to engage with diverse perspectives and to learn world languages so they can become global citizens prepared to make a positive impact in the world.” In reference to the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Dr. Ciorciari stated “CLACS has a rich history of providing interdisciplinary academic programs here in Bloomington and being a resource for our state and nation… All the major issues playing out in the Latin American and Caribbean world are important to understand in their regard, and to understand how they connect with what is happening in the rest of the world.”

Former CLACS office, located at 1125 E. Atwater Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana.

CLACS affiliate faculty members come from the United States, Latin America, and beyond, representing a variety of cultures, nationalities, linguistic traditions, races, genders, and religious and social backgrounds. Their collective commitment reflects diverse perspectives on Latin America, the Caribbean, and their various nations and sub-regions. CLACS is dedicated to amplifying voices from across the ideological spectrum, fostering productive debates on world affairs. As a recipient of Title VI funding, CLACS is one of six programs in our school designated as a National Resource Center. This funding also enables CLACS to offer Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) awards.

From directors, staff, and outreach volunteers to graduate assistants and allies in other departments and institutions, CLACS is profoundly grateful to all who have contributed to its success.

To learn more about the history of CLACS, visit the History page on our website!

Left to right: J. César Félix-Brasdefer (former CLACS Interim Director, Director of IU Mexico Gateway, and Associate Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Support), Farida Pawan (IU ASEAN Gateway Academic Director, IU School of Education), and Miguel E. Ayllon (Associate Vice President for International Affairs, IU Global)

For 60 years, CLACS has supported the Bloomington community and beyond by sponsoring a wide range of events, lectures, conferences, courses, workshops, and more which feature Latin American and Caribbean narratives and aim to support and educate all those interested in the field. In celebration of these efforts, we host an Annual Spring Reception to honor all of the staff, students, faculty, and friends who make CLACS what it is. This year’s Spring Reception was particularly special, as it marked 60 years since the founding of CLACS.

In light of this milestone, we were joined by John Ciorciari, Dean of the Hamilton Lugar School, Miguel E. Ayllon, Associate Vice President for International Affairs for IU Global, and Gerardo Gonzalez, Dean Emeritus of the School of Education and special adviser to the IU-Cuba initiatives. We also invited previous CLACS Directors to join us and share their reflections on their time with the center. Namely, we were joined by Shane Greene (2011-2015), Anke Birkenmaier (2015-2018), and César Félix-Brasdefer (2019-2020), and Serafín Coronel-Molina (2023-Present).

IU Global Associate Vice President for International Affairs Miguel E. Ayllon speaking at the CLACS 60th Anniversary Celebration.

The celebration was led by CLACS Director Serafín Coronel-Molina, Associate Director Sonia Manriquez, and Program Manager Emma Bonham. Dr. Coronel-Molina opened the event with a warm welcome, before Dean Ciorciari gave an address about CLACS and the role it plays in HLS. Following Dean Ciorciari’s address, IU Global Associate Vice President for International Affairs Miguel E. Ayllon shared his sentiments on CLACS before welcoming the panel of Directors, past and present, to the forefront. Led by Serafín Coronel-Molina, the group of Directors discussed their personal reflections on their time spent at CLACS and the accomplishments they bared witness to. It was a special moment to hear so many different perspectives on CLACS, and it quickly became apparent just how much growth the center has undergone in the last decade. With so many monumental achievements under our belt as a department, the future is certainly looking bright!

We were also thrilled to be joined by our incoming Haitian Creole instructor, Websder Corneille. Websder will begin giving Haitian Creole classes this summer, in the all new Haitian Creole Language and Culture Summer Program, followed by Indiana University courses in the fall.

When asked about his hopes for the future of the Haitian Creole program at CLACS, Websder responded, “I am absolutely delighted to join CLACS as an Adjunct Lecturer in Haitian Creole, Culture and Society at this very specific moment which marks the 60th anniversary of this landmark institution. At the creation of this platform for research and dialogue between experts, civil society leaders and scholars in 1963, many of the nations of LAC were ruled by tyrants. Today, the region is certainly committed to a greater ideal of social justice and inclusion, but foreign pressure, elite capture, corruption or violence have undermined the economic and social growth of the countries. CLACS has a vital role to play in helping people understand the delay in the progress of these nations. As for me, my CLACS journey started with the February 29th roundtable on Haiti’s Growing Crisis, and continues with the Haitian Creole Language and Culture Summer Program (June 17 to July 29). In the end, I hope it will be marked by an outsized contribution to the scholarship produced by distinguished CLACS’ researchers over six decades, and the enrichment of the learning experience for the students.”

Nayo A. Ulloa, Nelson Rodríguez Garza, and Ivan Maceda performing at the CLACS 60th Anniversary Celebration.

Following the reflections on CLACS over the years came live music! We had two amazing performances from Latin American musicians. The first performance was led by Nayo A. Ulloa, a Peruvian Latin American Music & Culture Specialist from Goshen College. Joining him in the performance were Javier León, Director of the IU Latin American Music Center, and Ivan Maceda and Nelson Rodríguez Garza, students in the IU Jacobs School of Music and Latin American Music Center. This performance focused on traditional Andean music, bringing some Quechua flair to the evening. 

La Salsoteca Orquesta performing at the CLACS 60th Anniversary Celebration.

For the second performance, we were joined by La Salsoteca Orquesta, directed by Professor Sergio Ospina-Romero from the Jacobs School of Music. Comprised of IU Jacobs students from the Latin American Music Center and local community members, this 10-piece band brings lively salsa music to Bloomington and the greater Indianapolis region. To stay up to date and find out where La Salsoteca Orquesta will be playing next, follow them on Facebook.

We would like to extend a special thank you to our caterers for this event, Bonafide Bites and OneWorld Catering, as well as to the McCalla School for allowing us to host our event in their beautiful space!

Finally, thank you to our wide and ever-growing CLACS family for all of your support over the years. None of this would be possible (nor nearly as fun!) without each and every one of you. Cheers to the next 60 years!

PS: if you have any photos from the 60th Anniversary Celebration that you’d like to share, please send them to Emma Bonham at

More Photos from the Event:


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2024 World Conference on Transformative Education in Puerto Rico

CLACS was thrilled to support the third World Conference on Transformative Education (WCTE) last month in San Juan, Puerto Rico! This conference, organized by the Global Institute for Transformative Education (GITE) in conjunction with Nuestra Escuela in Puerto Rico, welcomed participants from all over the world to discuss various ways of transforming educational practices to better reflect the needs of students in unique classroom settings.

Performers opening the 3rd World Conference on Transformative Education on April 4th, 2024.

Set on the beautiful campus of the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras and following the theme “Educación Transformadora en las Americas,” the 2024 World Conference on Transformative Education featured 3 days of presentations, plenaries, workshops, keynotes, and performances. Topics presented focused on themes surrounding educational practices and experiences, allowing educators to learn about up-and-coming transformative methodologies and to share their own experiences from their classrooms with one another. This led to exciting discussions and collaborations between educators from around the globe, each sharing their own distinct perspectives and hopes for the future.

Dr. Serafín Coronel-Molina delivering his Keynote address at the 2024 World Conference on Transformative Education.

In attendance at this year’s conference were CLACS Director Dr. Serafín Coronel-Molina and Program Manager Emma Bonham, supporting the event and promoting the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at IU Bloomington. In fact, Dr. Coronel-Molina, one of the conference organizers and founding members of GITE, delivered the event’s closing Keynote speech, highlighting modern Indigeneity and transformational practices to bring Indigenous education back into the limelight.

While this year’s WCTE meeting was held in Puerto Rico under the theme of Transformative Education in the Americas, the previous year’s conferences were held in other parts of the world. The first World Conference on Transformative Education was held in Kakamega, Kenya in 2018; the second conference was held in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2023; and the fourth conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa on July 3-5, 2025. While the theme for next year’s conference has yet to be announced, you may follow the conference webpage here for future updates.

CLACS Program Manager, Emma Bonham, and Director, Serafin Coronel-Molina, at the 2024 WCTE in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Following this year’s conference, the Global Institute for Transformative Education will release a highly anticipated special edition of their Global Journal for Transformative Education (GJTE), highlighting papers and research which were presented in Puerto Rico during the meeting. That said, the journal already has 3 volumes and counting, sharing publications focused entirely on transformative educational practices and their implementations. According to the Global Institute for Transformative Education, “GJTE is an open-source, peer reviewed journal created to share research and practical applications related to transformative education in the entire spectrum of educational settings around the world. Authors are invited to submit manuscripts describing scholarly research, teaching strategies, curriculum frameworks. and reviews of educational resources that support transformative teaching and learning in PK-20 schools and adult education programs,” (GJTE). To learn more about the institute, or to submit a proposal for publication in GITE’s journal, please visit

2024 WCTE Organizers’ Plenary


CLACS Director Serafín Coronel-Molina Receives Award for Outstanding International Engagement!

Professor Serafín Coronel-Molina stands with his students following the IU School of Education’s Celebration of Excellence award ceremony. (Left to Right: Zhaoyi Zhang, Mengjie Lei, Serafín Coronel-Molina, Jaeho Jeon, and Suok Kwon)

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies’ very own Director, Professor Serafín Coronel-Molina, recently received the Award for Outstanding International Engagement from the Indiana University School of Education!

Dr. Coronel-Molina is an Andean Indigenous scholar whose passion and research interests have brought him to work with people from all around the globe. According to him, his research and scholarship “take an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach, focusing on the intricate intersections of languages, cultures, ideologies, power, politics, policies, and identities in the Andes of South America, as well as the broader contexts of the Americas and Asia,” (IU School of Education – Serafin Coronel-Molina). Naturally, Professor Coronel-Molina’s broad interests and respectful approach to cultures similar and dissimilar to his own have opened doors near and far for his involvement and engagement within international communities. The Award for Outstanding International Engagement was created to honor individuals exhibiting exactly the type of ambition, motivation, and attitude with which Professor Coronel-Molina conducts himself.

Dr. Coronel-Molina took part in the Celebration of Excellence award ceremony at the IU School of Education on April 23, 2024, where he and other esteemed faculty members were honored for their exemplary work within their fields. The purpose of the Award for Outstanding International Engagement is to recognize Indiana University School of Education faculty who have demonstrated outstanding internationally related achievements. The International Programs Committee evaluates the overall merit of nominees’ international achievements and makes the final selection based on the following criteria:

  1. The significance of the nominee’s practice, engagement, research, external partnership(s), and/or other collaboration(s).
  2. The impact of those activities for advancing the School of Education’s research, teaching, and service missions.
  3. The reach of those activities across the local, state, national, and international contexts that benefit from them.

Dr. Serafín Coronel-Molina stands on stage at the 2024 IU School of Education’s Celebration of Excellence to receive the Award for Outstanding International Engagement on April 23, 2024. (Left to right: Laura L. Stachowski, Serafín Coronel-Molina, and Victor Borden)

Additionally, Dr. Coronel-Molina was also nominated for the 2024 Award for Excellence in Mentoring, an award he has been nominated for 6 times now. This award, which professors are nominated for by their students, aims to recognize educators who have made significant impacts in all aspects of their students’ lives.

Dr. Coronel-Molina is a shining example of what it means to be an outstanding educator, mentor, and role model. We are SO proud of him and his achievements, alongside the vast and lasting impact he’s made on every life he’s touched. Congratulations, Professor Serafín!

CLACS & Quechua: What we’ve been up to lately…

Liberato Kani (Ricardo Flores Carrasco) and Yana Paqcha (Jorge Luis Astovilca) with audience members following their performance at the IU School of Education.

Over the last few months, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies has been working hard to bring Quechua back into the core programming of the department. This movement follows Dr. Serafín Coronel-Molina’s induction as the Director of CLACS late last year. Dr. Coronel-Molina, an Indigenous Peruvian Quechua scholar, has taken large strides for CLACS’ involvement with Quechua programming, and many budding relationships are in the works as a result!

CLACS Graduate Student Representative Eddy Rafael Santiago  Huamani (right) interviews Liberato Kani (Ricardo Flores Carrasco, left).

Liberato Kani & Yana Paqcha
Last month, CLACS was delighted to welcome Quechua rapper Liberato Kani (Ricardo Flores Carrasco) and Quechua scissor dancer Yana Paqcha (Jorge Luis Astovilca) to IU Bloomington. The duo traveled from Peru for their United States tour, which brought them to multiple universities around the country and raised awareness for Liberato Kani’s soon-to-be-released album.

During their visit to IU Bloomington, Liberato Kani was interviewed by CLACS’ Graduate Student Representative Eddy Rafael Santiago Huamani, who also calls Peru home. Throughout the interview, Liberato Kani shed light on his creative process, his background and journey to becoming a rapper, and his motivations for the lyrics he writes in an interesting blend of Spanish and Quechua.

Yana Paqcha (Jorge Luis Astovilca) mid-air during his performance of the traditional Quechua scissor dance, La Danza de Tijeras.

Following the interview, Liberato Kani and Yana Paqcha gave a performance at the IU School of Education’s atrium. Students, faculty, family, and friends gathered to watch the duo: Liberato Kani performing his most popular rap Andino songs while Yana Paqcha energetically performed traditional Peruvian Quechua scissor dancing (la Danza de Tijeras), which was a wild blend of color and acrobatics, all while playing a pair of polished iron rods, which look like scissors, in one hand.

Be sure to check out Liberato Kani’s music wherever you like to listen:
Liberato Kani on Spotify
Liberato Kani on YouTube
Liberato Kani on YouTube Music
Liberato Kani on Apple Music


The Quechua Alliance

Later that weekend, CLACS Director Serafín Coronel-Molina and Program Manager Emma Bonham traveled to Chicago, Illinois with Liberato Kani and Yana Paqcha for the 8th Annual Quechua Alliance, held at Northwestern University’s downtown campus on April 18th, 2024.

Conference organizers Carlos Molina (center) and Américo Mendoza Mori (right) join Julia Garcia (left) for the opening ceremony of the 8th Annual Quechua Alliance meeting.

The annual event, which “has been a vibrant and multigenerational space for the exchange of ideas between Quechua speakers, community leaders, college students, and educators who share an interest and passion for Quechua language and Andean culture,” ( welcomed over 100 attendees from around the United States and the world to join and share their research, art, music, and stories with one another.

Liberato Kani during the final performance of his United States tour at the 2024 Quechua Alliance.

During the single-day event, participants had the option to attend presentations focused on Quechua, participate in exciting interactive workshops, and attend film screenings and performances. Liberato Kani and Yana Paqcha also performed one last time, closing out their United States tour during the event’s closing ceremony.

On that note, an exciting announcement was made toward the end of the event…

The 9th Annual Quechua Alliance will be hosted by CLACS at Indiana University Bloomington in April 2025!

The cheerful news for CLACS’ involvement in next year’s Quechua Alliance was announced during the closing ceremony of the event. As per tradition, Carlos Molina, one of the key organizers for this year’s Quechua Alliance meeting, passed the symbolic Quechua Alliance lliklla to Serafín Coronel-Molina, who will serve as the primary organizer for next year’s event. To watch a full video of the announcement on the CLACS Facebook page, click here.

Carlos Molina (right) hands Serafín Coronel-Molina (left) the symbolic Quechua Alliance lliklla, which is presented to the future host of the next meeting each year.

2024 Fall Quechua Workshop
Next year’s Quechua Alliance meeting isn’t the only exciting project in the works at CLACS… We’re also bringing back our FREE Quechua Workshop this fall! You’re invited to join our 10-week online course with Quechua teachers Jermani Ojeda-Ludena and Katherin Patricia Tairo-Quispe, who will join us virtually from Cusco, Peru. Jermani and Katherin are co-founders of Quechua Tinkuy, an organization focused on educating students on Quechua culture and language. Classes are expected to take place once a week for 10 weeks, starting the first week of September. More information will be announced soon, so stay tuned to our social media and weekly newsletter Novedades for updates.

CLACS Director Serafín Coronel-Molina (center) with Quechua Instructors Jermani Ojeda-Ludena (left) and Katherin Patricia Tairo-Quispe (right) at the 2024 Quechua Alliance meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

If you’re interested in signing up for the Fall Quechua Workshop or becoming involved with next year’s Quechua Alliance, send us an email at To stay up to date on all things CLACS, consider signing up for our weekly Novedades newsletter here.

Until next time, tinkunanchikkama!

Indiana University and Indiana State University professors join CLACS for a panel on politics and economics in South America

Left to Right: Dr. Patricia Basile (IU), Marcelo Pastore (ISU), and Dr. Debra Israel (ISU)

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies proudly hosted a panel in partnership with Indiana State University and the IU Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) on Thursday, February 22 titled “The Intersection of Politics and Economics in South America: Focus on Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia.” The panel featured three speakers: Dr. Patricia Basile, an Assistant Professor of Geography and Solidarity Economies at Indiana University, Dr. Debra Israel, Indiana State University Chairperson and Professor of Economics, and Marcelo Pastore, Visiting Fulbright Scholar and Director of Institutional Relations at Indiana State University.

Each speaker brought their own expertise to the conversation with presentations centering around their research areas within South American countries. Dr. Israel shared her work titled “Bolivia: Household Economics and the Broader Context,” pulling from her research and personal experiences from her time spent living in Bolivia. Marcelo Pastore then shared his presentation titled “Political Economy in Paraguay: A Historical Revision,” which focused on the history and evolution of his home country’s political and economic structures. Finally, Dr. Basile presented her work titled “Urban Insurgencies in Brazil: the making of alternative worlds,” which highlighted grassroots political and social movements toward making housing more available and inclusive, thereby reinstating agency of marginalized groups.

If you are interested in learning more or tuning in to the full conversation, a recording of the panel will be available on the IU CLACS YouTube channel soon.


Speakers’ webpages:

Dr. Patricia Basile, IU Department of Geography

Dr. Debra Israel, ISU Department of Economics

Marcelo Pastore, ISU Department of Economics

Meet the new CLACS Steering Committee!

The new CLACS Steering Committee for 2024-2026 has officially been selected! Following a survey sent out to all CLACS faculty and affiliate faculty members, 4 nominees were chosen to represent the department. Additionally, 4 members were nominated by the Director of CLACS, Professor Serafin Coronel-Molina.

The 8 new faculty members joining our Steering Committee hail from various departments around IU Bloomington: Eduardo S. Brondizio and  Shane Greene from the Anthropology Department, Rebecca Dirksen and Solimar Otero from the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Lucia Guerra-Reyes from the School of Public Health, Javier León from the Jacobs School of Music, Carmen Medina from the School of Education, and Olga Rodriguez-Ulloa from the Department of American Studies.

Our Ex-Officio Steering Committee members will remain the same for this term: Serafin Coronel-Molina (Director of CLACS),  Sonia Manriquez, (Associate Director of CLACS), Quetzil Castañeda (Senior Lecturer), César Félix-Brasdefer (Director of Mexico Gateway), and Luis González (CLACS Librarian).

We also have two new Student Representatives serving on the Steering Committee! Eddy Rafael Santiago Huamani will serve as the Graduate Student Representative, while Zoe Ellis will serve as the Undergraduate Student Representative.

To learn more about the 2024-2026 CLACS Steering Committee and their research interests, visit the brand new Steering Committee page on our website.


Lecturing Artist Alexandra McNichols-Torroledo shares work in documenting Indigenous fights to save the Earth

CLACS is thrilled to host Alexandra McNichols-Torroledo in sharing her selected collection with Indiana University and the surrounding community from January 25-March 1 at the Gayle Karch Cook Center in Maxwell Hall.

Alexandra McNichols-Torroledo gives a lecture on the Mura Indigenous community of Brazil. February 16, 2024. Photo by Emma Bonham

McNichols-Torroledo, a Colombian photographer and multimedia artist, has spent the last 13 years of her life documenting Indigenous communities in North and South America as they face monumental challenges imposed upon them by mega-projects and governmental decisions. In addition to photographing each community, Alexandra dedicates her time to standing alongside them in their fights for social justice and educating them in documentation methods that can be used to further aid their efforts.

Namely, Alexandra spent an extensive amount of time working with the Mura Indigenous community of the Brazilian Amazon, and remains in contact with them to date. While there, she documented the community’s cultural practices as well as the devastating scenes of deforestation which are quickly circling in on their ancestral lands. In an effort to help the Mura collect evidence of their struggle with illegal loggers and deforestation projects, she taught the community to use drones with cameras. Using these drones, the Mura have been able to capture images and videos of the areas they want to bring governmental and social attention to the most.

Handech Wakanã joins McNichols-Torroledo’s lecture on the Mura, alongside Marcela Lemos, who provided live translations between Portuguese and English. February 16, 2024. Photo by Emma Bonham

In her most recent lecture on February 16th, Alexandra was joined by Handech Wakanã, Indigenous Leader of the Mura, via Whatsapp video to share his message and plea for help with people outside his community. Wakanã traveled nearly 6 hours from the Itaparaná village to gain a strong enough WiFi signal for a video call to join the lecture. Following his talk, IU students and Bloomington community members were encouraged to ask Wakanã questions about his experience with Amazonian deforestation projects and what they could do to help.

McNichols-Torroledo thoughtfully uses her gallery exhibit to highlight other Indigenous groups (such as the Nasa of Colombia and the Lakota Sioux of Standing Rock) and asylum seekers who have immigrated to the United States as refugees from places around the world such as Ukraine, Iran, Palestine, Persia, and South Africa.

IU Students and Faculty view McNichols-Torroledo’s gallery exhibit following her opening lecture. January 25, 2024. Photo by Emma Bonham

McNichols-Torroledo features her time spent with the Nasa of Colombia through her ESX/COCA series, which focuses on the traditional usage and significance of the now-controversial coca plant. This series is “an ethno-educational photographic project that seeks to deconstruct colonial and postcolonial visual narrative of the coca plant through a series of portraits taken at the Wasak Kweswesx School in the Nasa indigenous reservation of Toribio, Cauca, Colombia,” says McNichols-Torroledo. “There, children are educated in the Yuwe language and in the rites of the coca plant. ESX, which means COCA in Yuwe, aims to educate the public on the sacred nature of the coca leaf and its uses through the experience of the school.” (Alexandra McNichols-Torroledo Biography)

Her Water Protectors series focuses on a similar Indigenous fight for recognition and a change of modern perspectives: the NoDAPL protests of Standing Rock Reservation. Throughout 2016-2017, Alexandra repeatedly traveled to Standing Rock in support of the protests and to lend her photography skills in documenting the historical event. These long-lasting protests, which fought against the Dakota Access Pipe Line which was proposed by lawmakers to cut through the Standing Rock Reservation of the Lakota Sioux, were a beacon for Indigenous water protectors from around the globe — many of whom traveled to the reservation to lend their voices to the uproar of grassroots protestors fighting for clean water and what it represents to Native communities. An underlying current throughout McNichols-Torroledo’s Water Protector series is the Lakota phrase Mni Wiconi, “water is life”, which was chanted by protestors of all backgrounds during the NoDAPL protests.

A view of the gallery exhibit in the Gayle Karch Cook Center. Pieces from the Water Protectors series (left) and ESX/COCA series (right) frame the gallery entrance. Photo by Emma Bonham

Alexandra’s Stone Faces series highlights another modern-day crisis faced by many: immigration & refuge. Using an interesting mix of photography and transfer processes, the artist brings stone steles to life with portraits of refugees and immigrants who have relocated to the United States with hope for a better future. According to McNichols-Torroledo, “they represent immigrants that have escaped political or religious repression, gender violence, racism, apartheid, antisemitism, fascism, and war. They symbolize current issues in Ukraine, Iran, Palestine, Korea, South Africa, Colombia, and in the past, the horrors of the Holocaust in World War II committed by the Nazis.” She goes on to explain, “as a Colombian woman who has personally experienced armed conflict in my own country, I created this body of artwork to express my solidarity with all women who have had to migrate to escape persecution and are living in exile, but that are still tied to their cultural roots. For this reason, many of these subjects are portrayed wearing clothing that is traditional to their country of origin. Together, these women are fighting to protect our rights and for world peace.” (Stone Faces)

On Friday, March 1st, McNichols-Torroledo will give her third and final lecture of her artist series at IU. She will be joined by refugees from Iran and Ukraine, both of whom are featured in her Stone Faces series. They will share their personal narratives of immigration and refuge and answer questions about their experiences before joining the group in a gallery walk to close the exhibit. More information available here.

McNichols-Torroledo’s work will be on display at the Gayle Karch Cook Center in Maxwell Hall until March 1st, 2024. Her collected works address issues of immigration, human rights, climate crisis, and the ongoing efforts of Indigenous communities in North and South America to protect the earth.

Alexandra and her vintage camera from the 1900s. Photo courtesy of Alexandra McNichols-Torroledo.

About the Artist
“I am a Colombian and American photographer. My work bridges the fields of artistic and documentary photography using a range of alternative photographic processes and digital photography.  Over time my focus has shifted from a personal exploration of my experiences as an immigrant in United States to global concerns of cultural diversity and human rights in my native country. Since 2011, I have been documenting indigenous people in South and North America, affected by mega-projects and violence that are imposed on their territories, changing their lives and cultural survival.” Alexandra McNichols-Torroledo

Alexandra’s work has been on display at various galleries around Bloomington, including the School of Education Library in October 2023. CLACS thanks IU Libraries and the School of Education for their generous sponsorship of the 2023 exhibit. CLACS would like to extend special thanks to the Arts and Humanities Council for making the current exhibit at the Gayle Karch Cook Center possible. We would also like to thank the Colombian Association at IU and La Casa/Latino Cultural Center for their continuous support of Alexandra’s events.

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!

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