First Annual Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference

Written by Kelsey Tuller

On April 24 2015, Eastern Connecticut State University hosted its first Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference. Many students and faculty were in attendance to learn from and engage with panels that spanned several disciplines. To kick off the conference, Kim Silcox and Luis Rodríguez of the Center for Community Engagement, David Stoloff from the Education Department, and Rose Marie Hernández, the Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future program coordinator, made up a panel discussing educational experience in and about Latin America and the Caribbean. “The Puentes al Futuro/Bridges to the Future program has fostered Latino cultural education in Windham schools, as well as broadened Eastern student’s understanding of the rich cultural history of our community,” Rodríguez said. The conference hoped to deepen that understanding at Eastern, by hosting in-depth discussions and posing meaningful questions to its audience about the Latin American and Caribbean world.

Luis Rodriguez, Rose Marie Hernandez and Kim Silcox listen to questions about the Puentes all Futuro/Bridges to the Future.

Other panels throughout the day discussed tourism, politics and economics in Latin America and the Caribbean. Professors that participated included Emiliano Villanueva of the Business Administration Department, Ricardo Pérez and Dennis Canterbury of the Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work Department, Martín Mendoza-Botelho of the Political Science, Philosophy and Geography Department, Joan Meznar of the History Department, and Malin Werness-Rude of the Art and Art History Department.

The keynote address was given by Kimberly Jones, Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Assistant Curator of the Arts of the Americas at the Dallas Museum of Art. Jones discussed her work on water management and its symbolic importance to life in the early northern Andes. “The emphasis placed on water, and its physical, social and ideological appropriations within a cultural landscape, has roots in and developments from over 3,000 of water management in the Andean highlands,” Jones said.

The conference, with his breadth of coverage on an important area in the 21st century, and particularly at Eastern, will surely become an important annual event in the years to come. The conference was made possible with the support of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Faculty Board, the Department of Art and Art History, the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, as well as the Organization of Latin American Students.