Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies
Her teaching and research focuses on identity and rights for Afro-descendants in Latin America and social theory of race and racism, social movements, place and displacement, and human rights. She takes an engaged ethnographic approach to teaching and is particularly interested in the intersections of knowledge production and activism.
This course introduces students to cultural anthropology, a discipline that, in broad terms, studies how we make and understand human difference. While this may seem like an academic subject, the course will show anthropology's relevance to understanding some of the most pressing issues of our current historical moment, such as inequality, race, religion, and science. Students will be introduced to classic texts in cultural anthropology but we will quickly move to contemporary anthropological inquiry, focusing on both theoretical and methodological questions that anthropologists explore today. As we move through the course, students will be introduced to elementary concepts of cultural analysis, such as the anthropological method (fieldwork) and genre (ethnography), and will become familiarized with particular ethnographic studies that are set in various times and places. In addition, we will cast a critical eye on the discipline, analyzing its limitations and political consequences both historically and today.
This course proposes an interdisciplinary approach that critically engages a range of frameworks (geopolitical, historical, cultural) for a study of the complex and contested reality of Cuba. Displacing images of Cuba circulating in US popular and official culture, we examine the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality that have defined the Cuban nation. We will explore how Cuba can be understood in relation to the U.S., and to its own diasporas in Miami and elsewhere. The course will engage with primary texts, historiography, literature, film, and music to examine Cuba within these multiple frameworks. Students will complete frequent short response essays and a research project. This course is required for students wishing to study in the Hampshire in Cuba semester program (open to all Five College students), and will provide support for framing independent projects and applications for the Cuba Semester. Though conducted in English, many readings will be available in Spanish and English and papers may be submitted in either language. Concurrent enrollment in a Spanish language class is strongly recommended.
Four 3-week modules will comprise the content: Cuban literature and culture, Racial dynamics, Social Inequality, and US-Cuba relations. Classes will be taught in simple academic Spanish and English; students will be free to ask questions, make comments or write their papers in either language. Guest lecturers will teach primarily in Spanish. Students will complete assigned readings and write four short integrative papers, one for each module. Possible guest lecturers will include Dra. Graziella Pogolotti on Alejo Carpentier and his influence on Cuban culture, Margarita Mateo on Cuban literature, Zuleica Romay on Color in Cuba and Lilia Nunez on the emergence of socioeconomic inequalities in post-Special Period Cuba.
As the ability to communicate depends largely on a good understanding of the culture, the Spanish course attempts to enhance students understanding, respect and appreciation for the rich traditions and customs of Cuba. The course tries to build the students' ability of language use, especially at a colloquial level, as well as on topics of daily conversation and current interest such as social life, family, culture, art, race, gender etc. The combination of Spanish classes and daily exchange at the students' home stays helps to provide the kind of language interaction in a real life situation that will permit them to expand the vocabulary and grammar studied in class and to develop some comfort speaking the Spanish language. Classes will focus on analyzing written articles, increasing vocabulary and having conversation and discussion in Spanish on various topics. Speakers will be invited to talk about their work. Documentary films and videos will be shown. Students will occasionally visit museums, cultural sites and performances and conduct small investigations on a cultural and social topic.
What does the term "race" mean? Is it an appropriate and/or legitimate way to talk about human diversity? What does it mean in different places? Rather than exploring these questions in the abstract, in this course we will look at a grounded history of this concept. That "place" is Latin America and the Caribbean and the historical periods we will explore include the colonial encounter, post-independence nation building, and the contemporary moment. The course is designed to first introduce students to broadly global understandings of racial ideology. It then tracks the manifestation of such ideas through a history of Latin American racial formations. We will pay particular attention to how racial ideas relate to space, class, and national identity throughout the region.
This is an experimental, co-taught, advanced seminar in which we will alternate our focus to think about the differences and commonalities of two regions: Latin America and the Middle East. Our primary analytical tool will be a fine collection of ethnographies that discuss a range of issues in contemporary life in the two regions: from gendered neighborhood politics to indigenous mobilization; from consent to protest; from urban renewal to urban crime; from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the aftermath of the proxy conflicts of the Cold War. We will begin with an introductory exploration of the ethnographic genre itself to explore its basic assumptions, methods, and politics asking: What is ethnography? How do we read ethnographic texts? How are they constructed? We will then turn to on-the-ground cases emerging from both regions to interrogate notions of statehood and modernity, race and gender inequalities, religion and secularism, social movements and violence. Ultimately, we hope that the grounded exploration of these cases, which will be done with great attention to their histories and interconnections with elsewhere, will aid us in the challenge of figuring out what kind of change is taking place in the two regions today. In other words, understanding the present to better craft futures.