The Art of Transformation: A Workshop for Educators on the Migration of People, Things, and Dreams between Guatemala and the U.S.

We are pleased to announce an upcoming workshop:
The Art of Transformation:
A Workshop for Educators on the Migration of 
People, Things, and Dreams between Guatemala and the U.S.
Featuring Filmmaker Mark Kendall, 
Producer and Director of La Camioneta
Saturday, February 14, 2015
10:00 am – 4:30 pm
UNC-Chapel Hill
This workshop will provide educators with a day of learning, reflection and curriculum development about various aspects of life in Mexico and Guatemala. Participants will receive a curriculum and resource guide that includes the classroom units and activities presented during the workshop. See details on all workshop sessions below.
This workshop is free and open to educators of all grades and levels. Spaces are available for 35 people on a first come, first served basis. Lunch will be provided.
Questions? Contact Outreach Program Coordinator Emily Chávez at
This workshop is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

SESSION 1 – Connecting the Americas Curriculum: New Perspectives on Mexico for the Classroom
This session will feature presentations of curriculum units developed by NC teachers who participated in the 2014 Connecting the Americas Study Tour to Yucatán, Mexico. These units focus on various topics related to Maya history, culture, and language.  These educators will teach their newly developed curriculum in their language arts, social studies, and science classes this school year and by the spring, these lessons will be available online for educators everywhere.
SESSION 2 – La Camioneta Film Screening and Discussion with Filmmaker Mark Kendall
La Camioneta tells the story of a decommissioned school bus from the U.S. that is taken to Guatemala to find a new owner and the often dangerous, and, at times, deeply satisfying, experiences of the people who carry it on its way. In the U.S. the school bus is an icon of childhood; in Guatemala it is transformed into a source of regional transportation, likely to be painted in bright colors and distinct designs. This film and the discussion with the filmmaker following it invite viewers to see their own home and culture as part of a larger geographical, historical and cultural context. La Camioneta is a story about both continuity and transformation, a story about how people’s lives are interwoven. It prompts its viewers to look at familiar objects in a new light and consider the different meanings one can have depending on context. The film invites people to make linkages with history, raise questions about art’s purpose, and develop language to explore different values and viewpoints. Furthermore, not only the content but also the form of the storytelling provides opportunities to explore the way we communicate and produce art and knowledge.
Mark Kendall‘s directing credits include the Student Academy Award-nominated short The Time Machine and La Camioneta, his award-winning debut feature documentary that follows the transformative journey of a decomissioned school bus and marked him as “a name to watch” in Variety. His work has screened at the National Gallery of Art, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and film festivals such as SXSW, SANFIC, Los Angeles, Guadalajara, and Havana. Kendall is a 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, a Sundance Institute Fellow, an IFP & Film Society of Lincoln Center “Emerging Visions” Fellow, and a Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellow. His work was recognized with an award from the International Documentary Association (IDA) and has received additional support from the Sundance Documentary Fund, the Jerome Foundation, and the SVA Alumni Society. Kendall earned a B.A in Anthropology and an M.A in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt University, as well as an M.F.A in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts. He currently lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
SESSION 3 – Using La Camioneta in the Classroom: Curriculum Development with Mark Kendall
In the final session of the workshop Mark Kendall will speak with teachers about using the film as a teaching tool. Participants will will explore ways to use the Film Discussion Guide created by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies, as well as classroom activities created by UNC-Duke Consortium’s Educational Outreach Program.  This will be an opportunity for educators to gain new pedagogical resources and ideas, collaborate, and develop curriculum appropriate to their individual classroom.
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Estrada Publishes New Books on Mexican Coloniality and Women Writers

ser-mujer-y-estar-presentecolonialOswaldo Estrada, Associate Professor of Spanish, recently published two new books, Ser Mujer y Estar Presente/Being a Woman and Being Present (Dirección de Literatura, UNAM, Serie El Estudio, México, 2014) and Colonial Itineraries of Contemporary Mexico: Literary and Cultural Inquiries (The University of Arizona Press, 2014).

In Ser Mujer y Estar Presente, Estrada examines nine Mexican-born women writers throughout the 20th century who challenged marginalization and colonialism.  Colonial Itineraries of Contemporary Mexico explores the novels, films, poetry, and chronicles produced in and outside of Mexico since 2000. Both readings open broader conversations about rethinking history, gender formation, and the construction of identities in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Oswaldo Estrada is an associate professor of Latin American literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and editor of the journal Romance Notes. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on colonial and contemporary Mexican literature. He is the author of La imaginación novelesca: Bernal Díaz entre géneros y épocas and the editor and coauthor ofCristina Rivera Garza:Ningún crítico cuenta esto.

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Tinker Foundation Provides Graduate Student Funding for Latin America, Caribbean Studies

World-Map-South-America-cropped-325x200The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University received an award through the Tinker Foundation’s Field Research Grants Program that will provide an additional $90,000 in graduate student support over three years.

The grants, which are matched by each university with the support of the UNC Graduate School, the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and the Duke Office of Global Strategy and Programs, will provide critical support for graduate student research in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking areas in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“UNC and Duke have long been leaders in Latin American studies,” says Louis A. Perez Jr., J. Carlye Sitterson Professor and director of the UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas. “We continue to recruit top-notch students, and funding such as this opens many important opportunities for our students and contributes to the vibrant scholarly collaboration between UNC and Duke.”

The grants will be administered by the UNC Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Duke Center for Latin America and Caribbean Studies.

The Tinker Foundation’s Field Research Grants program is designed to provide graduate students with first-hand field experience in the region of study at the early stages of their graduate career. The grants provide funds to travel to and within Latin America to conduct pre-doctoral research and enable students to establish contacts, develop preliminary investigations and familiarize themselves with sources relevant to their study. UNC students can find application instructions on the Institute for the Study of the Americas’ website.

See original post from UNC Global

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Pérez speaks on opening of diplomatic relations between U.S. and Cuba


Louis Pérez

Article featured in UNC College of Arts & Sciences and UNC Global

Louis Pérez Jr., J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, is a leading scholar on Cuba and U.S.-Cuban relations. Pérez is contributing extensively to the global discussion on the re-opening of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

“To speak to Cuba is to speak to Latin America,” Pérez wrote in a December 18, 2014, op-ed for CNN. The decision to re-open relations with Cuba, Pérez elaborated, signals the U.S. willingness to respect national sovereignty in a region that continues to grapple with the effects of centuries of colonialism.

He also is director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas.

Pérez’s principal teaching fields include twentieth-century Latin America, the Caribbean and Cuba. Among his books are Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos (University of North Carolina Press, 2008) and Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2006). Pérez has served on a number of journal editorial boards, including Inter-American Economic Affairs, Latin American Research Review, The Americas and the American Historical Review.

Among his appearances in the media on the opening of diplomatic relations:

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Featured on CNN: What Cuba Deal Says to Latin America


Cuban flags outside the U.S. Interest Section in Havana.

ISA Director Louis A. Pérez, Jr. is featured on CNN for his editorial, “What Cuba Deal Says to Latin America.” The article comes following President Obama’s announcement that the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century. President Raúl Castro also made an announcement dedicating the Cuban government to resolve “profound differences” on issues.

In the editorial, Pérez writes that Obama normalizing relations with Cuba is an overdue moment of U.S. lucidity. He says it removes Cuban leadership pretext for “moral authority” in the face of U.S. hostility, and gives Cubans the space to decide their own best interests.

Read the editorial here.

 Louis A. Perez Jr. is the J. Carlyle Sitterson professor of history and the director of the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among his books are “Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos” and “Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution.”

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UNC Scientist Dale L. Hutchinson Elected AAAS Fellow


Credit: Dale L. Hutchinson

UNC Anthropology Professor and Graduate Student Advisor Dale L. Hutchinson is one of six scientists to be named an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow. The researcher is one of 401 new fellows chosen to be part of the world’s largest general scientific society.

Recipients of the award are selected based on their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. According to the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, Hutchinson is recognized for “distinguished contributions to the study of ancient disease and health, especially in understanding pathogen-host interactions from human remains and archaeological contexts.”

Hutchinson researches Andean South America and the origins of the state in the Lake Titicaca region. He has worked on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca with formative period remains, which are remains from Mesoamerican societies that existed as early as 1000 BCE.

A complete list of fellows appears in the Nov. 28 issue of Science


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UNC Department of Classics Presents Francisco Barrenechea

Join the UNC Department of Classics to hear Francisco Barrenechea, University of Maryland, present

“Tragic impostures: Greek tragedy and pre-Hispanic myth in the theater of Rodolfo Usigli and Salvador Novo.”

Dec. 4, 2014

5 p.m.

Murphey 104

Reception to follow.

Read more.

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Book Publication— Social Transformation from a Decolonial Feminist Perspective: Tejiendo de Otras Maneras

We are delighted to announce an exciting publication for the Latin American Political Imaginaries (LAPI) Consortium Working Group. The book is titled, “Social Transformation from a Decolonial Feminist Perspective: Tejiendo de Otras Maneras. Feminismos decoloniales en Abya Yala.” Published Cauca, 2014. Rita Segato, Department of Anthropology at the University of Brazil, Brazil. (February 2015).

This book is the result of the activities developed during the second year of LAPI’s (Latin American Political Imaginaries Working Group) funding and the articulation with two Latin American feminists: Yuderkys Espinosa and Karina Ochoa.

Participants in the LAPI Working Group research how the practices and imaginaries around difference and gender are circulating, and how activists and intellectuals in other parts of the world contribute to disseminate them, recreate them, challenge and/or enrich them. Focuses also include researching which aspects of global struggles seem to find their way in Latin American imaginaries and to what extent they can help mobilize further and articulate various progressive forces within and beyond the continent.

Consortium Working Groups collaborate with faculty and graduate students from different disciplines who share similar interests for a research topic related to Latin America and/or the Caribbean. Groups participate in seminars, conferences, and professional development workshops with colleagues from both Duke and UNC campuses. Each academic year the Consortium supports a limited number of Working Groups with funds from an Andrew W. Mellon endowment.

The 25th Anniversary Conference, “Reflecting on Latin American Studies: Perspectives from 25 Years of Scholarship and Practice,” will be held February 13-15, 2015 at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University and the FedEx Global Education Building at UNC-Chapel Hill.


Rita Segato is an Anthropologist and Professor at the University of Brazil. She has published, among others: The Elementary Structures of Violence (Prometheus, Buenos Aires, 2003), Writing in the Body of Murdered Women in Ciudad Juárez (University of the Cloister of Sor Juana Publishing House, Mexico-DF, 2006), La Nación and Its Others (Prometheus, Buenos Aires, 2007), BLACK WOMAN=SUBJECT OF RIGHTS and the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination (SCHEDULE–UNIFEM–DFID, Brasilia, 2006, in collaboration with Laura Ordonez) and Critique of Coloniality in Six Trials (Prometheus, Buenos Aires, 2013, next edition). She has co-authored the first proposal for an inclusive policy for black and indigenous students in Brazilian higher education.

The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University was created in 1990, formally recognizing fifty years of informal cooperation between the two universities. The geographic proximity of the campuses—just nine miles apart—greatly encourages and facilitates regular collaboration among faculty and students. The UNC and Duke Consortium has received major funding from the Andrew W. Mellon, Ford, and Tinker Foundations. Since 1991 it has been designated a Title VI National Resource Center (NRC) by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Celebrating the Day of the Dead

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Sharon Mujica,  former director of educational outreach for the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UNC and Duke, speaks with the Daily Tar Heel about the Day of the Dead

She was traveling to a village to witness the Mexican holiday, known in English as the Day of the Dead, and had to travel through a water canal in Xochimilco, an ancient part of Mexico that dates back to the time of the Aztecs.

Mujica, a 1962 UNC graduate and former director of educational outreach for the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UNC and Duke, hired a boat and rode through darkness to the town.

She said the image that rose out of the darkness of the canal upon her arrival was enchanting.

“The people were in the cemetery, and there was all this light,” she said. “There was some music from a band and people wandering around. It was just magical — it was absolutely magical to me.”

Mujica originally went to Mexico with her father on vacation but decided to stay after falling in love with the people and the culture.

“I really stayed because I wanted to learn Spanish, and I was in a town where they had a very good language school,” she said.

Mujica said in her years in Mexico, during which time she married and had children, her family engaged in some parts of the Day of the Dead celebration, like eating the traditional bread, but didn’t go to the cemeteries.

It was only after she returned to the United States in 1985 that she began making traditional Day of the Dead altars for display in museums and other art spaces.

“I found it to be something I thought would add to the community — an understanding of different cultures and traditions,” she said. “I was in Latin American studies and working with community outreach. It seemed like something that could kind of fill that need.”

There are many different origin stories for the Mexican holiday, which is traditionally celebrated between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.

Some writers believe it’s a manifestation of the Mexican practice of looking at death with laughter.

Mujica thinks it came from traditions so ancient they can be traced back to pre-Columbian times, when people set aside the months of September and October to celebrate the dead.

As time went on, different traditions merged to create the modern culture of the holiday, some of which will be celebrated with the Carolina Hispanic Association Dia de los Muertos social today.

Freshman Kristen Gardner, first-year chairwoman for CHispA, is helping to organize the event. She said she wants it to be inclusive of but not limited to Latinos.

The celebration will begin with a trivia game to test what people know about the holiday and determine stereotypes they might have.

“Based on those responses, we’re going to lead into a discussion. We really want the discussion to be open and based on personal experience,” she said.

“Those who don’t celebrate the Day of the Dead, we want them to speak up about what they do, maybe if they celebrate Halloween or have another way to honor the dead.”

When the Spanish conquered Mexico, they incorporated the Christian All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day into their celebration. In the 1800s, skeletons became a staple in Day of the Dead decorations after a cartoonist began drawing caricatures of skeletons in his work.

But the purpose of the Day of the Dead remained the same, serving as a time to remember the lives of the departed.

Mujica said the holiday’s central belief is that the dead will visit their family members in spirit if the family prepares an altar and a feast of their favorite foods. She said the altars are typically adorned with candles and pictures of the deceased with personalized touches.

“If somebody smoked a cigarette, they’ll put a cigarette there, or if it was a child, they’ll put candy — special things that people liked,” she said. “For my mother, I always put out chocolate because she loved chocolate.”

Mujica said in the early afternoon on the Day of the Dead, families gather at the altar and eat the food they have prepared for the dead. Then they take the celebration to the cemetery.

“The belief is that first, the departed come to the house and share the meal and then you accompany them back to the cemetery because they’re going to go back to wherever they came from, whatever your belief is, and so you want to accompany them back to the cemetery,” she said.

But Mujica said it isn’t a solemn holiday.

“It’s sort of a happy thing because you’ve been remembering your ancestors and enjoying their presence, and then they’re going to go back to where they came from and you’re going to get ready for the next year,” she said.

Mujica said important aspects of the celebration include the flower of the Day of the Dead — known in English as the marigold — Day of the Dead bread and candy skulls.

Gardner said the thing she finds most interesting about the holiday is that it’s been adopted by cultures both in and outside of Mexico.

“The coolest thing is the variance in the way that people celebrate this holiday. It’s most commonly practiced in Mexico, but there are other countries that do celebrate either the Day of the Dead or holidays that are similar to the Day of the Dead,” she said. “That’s really interesting in that it reflects a common culture that many Latino countries do share but how each one has its own little flair.”

Jenice Ramirez, vice president of Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition in Chapel Hill, said the organization — which caters to young Spanish speakers in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham — will also be celebrating the Day of the Dead.

ISLA will host a Day of the Dead festival on Sunday that will have crafts for children, popular Latin American foods and folk dances.

“Family is a huge thing in the Hispanic culture, and this is their way of doing that — of sharing their culture and bringing their families together and celebrating,” she said.

Mujica said she will be celebrating the Day of the Dead this year and has invited a group of people to her home. She said she has made an altar to which guests will be able to add.

“I’ve found that people really like that,” she said. “People here react to it and understand it the more they see it and experience it.”

She specifically remembers something she saw in some Mexican towns: Residents would take all of the petals off of a marigold flower and make a trail from a home altar out to the gate of the house to guide the spirits in.

“That’s really very beautiful,” she said. “That’s a special thing.

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Alumna Provides Pro Bono Legal Services to Women and Children in Artesia, New Mexico

Alarming images of women and children have emerged on the news, illustrating the urgent humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border. Thousands from Central America seek asylum or other protections and are being housed at a detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico. According to Destination Due Process, “without proper representation, statistically only 1 or 10 of them will succeed in the claims for relief or asylum — to which they are entitled under current US laws.”
Natalie Teague, Latin American Studies ’04 alumna, seeks to change that.

Natalie Teague

Natalie Teague; Photo by Mike Belleme

Teague is the owner and founding attorney at Teague Immigration Law Office in Asheville, NC. She is spending Oct. 18-25 in Artesia, New Mexico with three other North Carolina-based bilingual immigration attorneys. The team is providing pro bono legal services to women and children and documenting their experiences on the blog, Destination Due Process.

Teague writes, “Quite frankly, it does not matter what you believe about our immigration system — detaining children is wrong.  I have visited clients in both state and federal facilities and this is some of the tightest security I’ve ever seen — more than what happens when defendants are on trial for the most heinous of crimes. But the kicker is that these are moms and kids.”

Read more from Natalie and the team here.
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