The Study of the Americas Initiative sponsors lectures, workshops, and symposia. Speakers include affiliated faculty as well as national and international guests whose work and research further hemispheric studies.

Our center holds an annual conference with a hemispheric interdisciplinary perspective.

  • Acts of Commemoration: Liberating Salomé Henríquez Ureña from the Paternalist Pantheon (April, 2022) Lectured by Camilla Stevens Ph.D., Professor of Latino and Caribbean Studies, Rutgers University.                                                                                                                                                     In this talk Stevens situates the performances of Chiqui Vicioso’s Salomé U: Cartas a una ausencia (2001) and Marco Antonio Rodríguez’s In the Name of Salomé, a theatrical adaptation of Julia Alvarez’s 2001 novel, in the context of a long-delayed institutionalization of memory politics in the Dominican Republic and argues that they operate as memory interventions, radical acts of commemoration that liberate Henríquez Ureña from a paternalist collective memory. The canonization of this highly regarded historical figure, as Dixa Ramírez has shown, has subjected her to hagiography and racial whitening. By incorporating letters, poems, and painted images the plays use documentary techniques to create a fiction that enables alternate ways of remembering Ureña. Rereading and performing the archive constitute.                       
  • Figures of Liminality: Women, Portraiture and Enslavement at the Threshold of Emancipation (November, 2021) Lectured by Agnes Lugo-Ortiz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Latin American Literature, University of Chicago.                                                                                                     Through a visual counterpoint, this talk will address the only two extant oil portraits of enslaved women produced during the periods of emancipation in the French- and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.            By underscoring the conflictive political and ideological forces, affective dynamics, and aesthetic principles at work in their composition, it will focus on the conditions that made possible the visual configuration of black people as subjects of freedom and on the problematic re-articulation of the boundaries between the human and the animal that structure the images.
  • Theories of Confinement and Freedom in the 19th Century Iberian Black Atlantic (October, 2021)           Lectured by Benita Sampedro Vizcaya, Ph.D., Hofstra University (New York).                                              This presentation will address an array of journeys, passages, and translations in the Iberian Black Atlantic and, more specifically, between the islands of Fernando Poo (today Bioko) and Cuba during the second half of the 19th century: between 1868 and 1898 Fernando Poo served as the destination for numerous black emancipated Cubans and political deportees, as well as an intermediate imperial space to stabilize social tensions and pro-independence agitation in the Caribbean. Ships crowded with political subjects that had defied Cuban colonial authority departed from Havana towards the presidio island of Fernando Poo. These deportees generated multiple written testimonies of their transatlantic and African experiences, as did the Spanish administrative apparatus that ordered the deportations. Interplay of these particular islands as a privileged space for textual production and articulation of critical perspectives on law, concepts of personhood, and experiences of confinement will be the central focus of this presentation.
  • In Sugar’s Time: Temporality, Violence, and Fugitivity in the Plantation World of 19th Century Cuba (September, 2021) Lectured by Aisha Finch, Ph.D., Acting Associate Professor, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Emory University.                                                                                                            In nineteenth-century Cuba, the industrial production of sugar represented an attempt to conquer time itself. As such, the ingenio functioned as a necrotemporal regime, one that established its power over life and death through the manipulation of time, yet one that also relied on the captive Black body as a site of plantation futurity.
    This presentation juxtaposes the function of time as an ever-evolving technology of plantation terror, and explores its possibility as a site of Black fugitivity and refusal.
  • A Case for Afro-Latinx: The Towering Example of Arturo A. Schomburg (Feburary, 2021)
    Lectured byVanessa Valdés, Ph.D., Director,Black Studies Program at the City College of New York.
    By sharing her research on the “Cultural Production of Peoples of African Descent throughout the Americas”, Valdés’ talk highlights aspects of Arturo Schomburg’s life as an Afro-Latino and underscores how these features shape Afro-Latina/o/x identity development. She will also touch upon womanhood and how Afro-Latina/xs make sense of their identity through non-Western cultural traditions.
  • John O'Sullivan Memorial Lecture, 2020                                                                                                      Race and Politics : The Crossroads of Modern American Political Culture (November, 2020)
    Lectured by Andra Gillespie, Professor, Emory University.  
    Andra Gillespie is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory University. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University. Gillespie teaches courses on American politics, race and politics and qualitative methodology. Her research focuses on the political leadership of the post-civil rights generation. In particular, she studies African American politicians who attempt to transcend race and how Black voters respond to them. She is the author of The New Black Politician: Co,y Booker, Newark and Post-Racial America (2012) and Race and Obama Administration: Symbols, Substance and Hope (2019). She is also the editor of Whose Black Politics? Cases in Post-Racial Black Leadership (2010). In addition, she is an active public scholar whose interviews and op-eds have appeared in numerous local, national and/or international media outlets.
  • Conversations on Literature, Languages & Social Justice
    Prominent Hispanic Studies Scholars Explore Pressing Issues of Our Time Whiteness and Other Racial Fictions in Colombia: How literature created racial imaginaries and senses of privileges (November16, 2020)
    Mercedes López Rodríguez, Ph.D., University of South Carolina.
    López Rodríguez’s presentation explores the literary narratives that created the singular notion of a racially white Colombian Andean Region, highlighting a contrast with the rest of the South American Andes, where indigenous populations remained at the core of literary representations. She revisits the notion of whiteness in Latin America, and the ways in which race acquires materiality in everyday practice, such as the consumption of food and European personal goods, and the politics of fashion and attire. López Rodríguez proposes to understand whiteness as a performance in which bodily traits are combined with nonracial contents such as manners, literacy, and codes of dress to create a desired white body.
  • Conversations on Literature, Languages & Social Justice
    Prominent Hispanic Studies Scholars Explore Pressing Issues of Our Time Disposable Bodies: Penal Colony, Race, and Biopolitics in the Carceral Archipelago of The Philippines (November 3, 2020)
    Aurélie Vialette, Ph.D., Stony Brook University.
    Vialette, Ph.D., will discuss her new book, which addresses the question of gender and race in the Spanish penal colonization process. She argues that sending male and female criminals to the Philippines and encouraging the convicts’ families to accompany them there as well revealed that both labor and procreation were central to the project of using prisoners to build the colonial structure. Vialette’s research focuses on 19th-century Iberian cultural studies (popular music, journalistic discourse, archival studies, and mass and working-class organizations), transatlantic studies, and slavery networks.
  • Conversations on Literature, Languages & Social Justice
    Prominent Hispanic Studies Scholars Explore Pressing Issues of Our Time Blackness, the Past, and the Future of a New World: The Nuevo Muntu (October 20, 2020)
    John T. Maddox, Ph.D. University of Alabama at Birmingham.
    Maddox explored the work of Afro-Colombian novelist Manuel Zapata Olivella, looking at how Zapata’s novel Changó, the Biggest Badass (1983) depicts an inter-American history. He also discussed a mythical origin of humanity in sub-Saharan Africa that has the potential for a radical combination of cultures, races, struggles and ideas that will result in a truly New World. Maddox’s research focuses on Colombian and Brazilian 20th-century literature.