Guarani Linguistics in the 21st Century

guariniWe are pleased to share the work of ISA faculty member, Bruno Estigarribia. The associate chair, department of romance studies assistant professor of Hispanic linguistics has a book to be published by Brill in the Brill’s Studies in the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (BSILA) series. His book (co-edited with Justin Pinta), “Guarani Linguistics in the 21st Century,” bring together a series of state-of-the-art linguistic studies of the Guarani language.

Guarani is the only indigenous language of the Americas that is spoken by a non-indigenous majority. In 1992, it achieved official status in Paraguay, with Spanish. Current language planning efforts focus on its standardization for use in education, administration, science, and technology. In this context, it is of paramount importance to have a solid understanding of Guarani that is well-grounded in modern linguistic theory. This volume aims to fulfill that role and spur further research of this important South American language.

We hope you will enjoy!

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Dr. Hannah Gill one of nine individuals and groups honored for public service

Cropped_2017Public Svc AwardsHannahGill_0051Hannah Gill, director of the Latino Migration Project, was recognized for engaged teaching for her work with the APPLES Service-Learning Global Course Guanajuato. The spring semester course trains bilingual students to understand the contemporary and historical complexities of immigration through research, service-learning with immigrants in North Carolina and travel to communities of migrant origin in Guanajuato, Mexico. The program fosters bi-national relationships with migrant families, secondary schools and foundations in Mexico. The Latino Migration Project is a public educational program on Latin American immigration and integration in North Carolina that includes undergraduate teaching. It is a collaborative initiative of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Center for Global Initiatives.

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Carolina honors nine individuals and groups for public service

Chapel Hill, N.C. – Community-based services for the elderly, pro bono legal assistance and a refugee health program were some of the projects recognized at UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2017 Public Service Awards celebration on April 5. The annual event is held by the Carolina Center for Public Service.

“Service to others is at the heart of how a great public university engages with and serves its communities,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “The recipients of this year’s awards exemplify the best of blending public service and engaged scholarship to serve the public good. I am honored to recognize their meaningful and profoundly impactful work.”

Lucy Lewis, recently retired assistant director of the Campus Y and director of the Bonner Leaders Program, received the 2017 Ned Brooks Award for Public Service honoring her commitment as a mentor for students engaged in public service and advocate for both students and community partners. Lewis was the founding director of the Bonner Leaders Program, which accepts work-study students with demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to public service and provides them with opportunities to engage in intensive community work supplemented by weekly capacity-building workshops and critical issues seminars.

Three others received Office of the Provost Engaged Scholarship Awards, which honor individuals and campus units for public service through engaged teaching, research and partnership. The recipients are:

Gary Cuddeback, distinguished term associate professor in the School of Social Work, was recognized for engaged research through the partnership between the Mental Health and Criminal Justice Evidence-Based Intervention Collaborative and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Cuddeback leads a team that combines rigorous research methods and community engagement strategies to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system. The project developed a series of mental health training modules to educate probation officers across the state. The research program also developed treatment manuals focused on implementing an adaptation of an evidence-based practice for people with co-occurring illness and substance use disorders in mental health courts and probation settings.

Hannah Gill, director of the Latino Migration Project, was recognized for engaged teaching for her work with the APPLES Service-Learning Global Course Guanajuato. The spring semester course trains bilingual students to understand the contemporary and historical complexities of immigration through research, service-learning with immigrants in North Carolina and travel to communities of migrant origin in Guanajuato, Mexico. The program fosters bi-national relationships with migrant families, secondary schools and foundations in Mexico. The Latino Migration Project is a public educational program on Latin American immigration and integration in North Carolina that includes undergraduate teaching. It is a collaborative initiative of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Center for Global Initiatives.

Jenny Womack, clinical professor in allied health, received the partnership award for her work with the Orange County Department of Aging (OCDOA). Womack has worked with individuals, organizations and health-delivery systems to develop community-based services focused on three key issues affecting the quality of life for elders: driving, falls and dementia. She collaborated with the OCDOA on two successful grants – one funded a senior transportation coordinator, the other developed services and practices to build a dementia-capable community. Her efforts have impacted the aging community and empowered older adults and their families to utilize resources, programs and services in Orange County.

Winners of the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award, which recognizes students, staff and faculty for exemplary public service efforts, are:

Brittany Brattain, a law student and member of the UNC School of Law Pro Bono Program, received the graduate and professional student award for her work with the UNC Cancer Pro Bono Project. Students in this program, supervised by volunteer lawyers, talk at the cancer center with patients and their families about financial and health care powers of attorney and living wills. In her role as special projects coordinator, Brattain recruited student and attorney volunteers to serve at clinics; developed training protocol for student volunteers; created client files for clinics; and developed an institutionalized and automated system that will ensure the longevity of the project.

Matthew Mauzy, manager of Emergency Response Technology, received the staff award for his work with the North Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (NCHART) response to Hurricane Matthew. As chief of the South Orange Rescue Squad, Mauzy ensures that his team is ready for hurricanes and for the resulting damage. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Mauzy contributed countless volunteer hours with the NCHART group to ensure North Carolina residents affected by the hurricane received the support they needed during the critical weeks following the storm.

Alexander Peeples, a history and political science major and Bonner Leader, received the undergraduate student award for his work with Heavenly Groceries, a local food bank that provides quality produce and grocery items to underserved communities. For the past three years, Peeples served as a link between St. Joseph C.M.E. Church, which houses the food bank, and the Jackson Center, which facilitates student involvement. One of Peeples’ contributions was securing grant money for a new van to make operations easier.

Marsha Penner, lecturer in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, received the faculty award for her commitment to the course PSYC 424 Neural Connections: Hands-on Neuroscience. The class is dedicated to teaching neuroscience through hands-on activities in the community. Students in the course develop neuroscience activities that include a detailed manual and tool kit and deliver them to educators for their use teaching in schools. Penner has been devoted to making science accessible to the public.

The Refugee Health Initiative (RHI) received the campus organization award for its outreach to refugee families who have settled in the local community. Founded in 2009, RHI has provided a sense of belonging in the community as well as access to needed services, including healthcare and social resources. This year, RHI matched 66 undergraduate and graduate students with 32 refugee families across Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham. As RHI pairs students with refugee families, students are able to regularly meet with and serve refugee families and ease the burden on local resettlement agencies.

About the Carolina Center for Public Service

The Center offers a variety of programs that support public service and engagement, providing students, faculty and staff many ways to explore service opportunities, learn new skills and link their academic endeavors to making a difference in the community.


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Pérez authors book on nineteenth-century Cuba everyday life


ISA Director Lou Pérez explores everyday life of an emerging urban middle class in his book, “Intimations of Modernity: Civil Culture in Nineteenth-Century Cuba”

Institute for the Study of the Americas Director Lou Pérez is an award-winning author who knows the importance of multiple perspectives when learning about history. That’s why he sought to examine 19th century Cuba through a different lens that contrasts from the existent literature’s usual political viewpoint—that of looking at everyday life.

His latest book, “Intimations of Modernity: Civil Culture in Nineteenth-Century Cuba,” seeks to change the paradigm of looking at Cuba in the 19th century by looking at the habits and routines of an emerging urban middle class within the colonial system. Pérez came about writing this work after looking through periodicals where he noticed an increasing presence about the culture and language of deploying the abanico, the fan.

“The fan presents a point in which one can examine changing and shifting gender relationships,” Pérez said. “It offers insight into methods of autonomy and agency.”

Pérez found Cuban audiences were fiercely captivated by the fan. Girls learned from a young age how to communicate with the fan, using gestures as slight as the drop of the wrist or as big as opening the fan in a certain way.

The fan, however, was only the beginning.

By examining everyday life, Pérez explored the ways in which corporations and the expanding global market changed Cuban customs, trends and social practices. The culture of capitalism wove into the fabric of the urban middle class’s understanding of knowledge and moral systems, which clashed with the colonial system values of power and privilege.

All in all, Pérez hopes that by learning about the everyday life, audiences will acquire a different view of what was going on in 19th century Cuba. By considering additional factors that contributed to the collapse of the Spanish colonialism system, readers will have a greater sense of the sources of the Cuban struggle for independence.

Click to learn more about “Intimations of Modernity: Civil Culture in the 19th Century Cuba”

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Natalie Hartman Wins Consortium Award at Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies (SECOLAS) Conference


Natalie Hartman (center), Associate Director for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke University wins a Consortium award at the SECOLAS conference in Chapel Hill, NC.


Read it now.

Congratulations, Natalie! Please navigate to the Consortium site for the article.

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Angela Stuesse

Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Studies

Angela Stuesse is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her award-winning book, Scratching Out a Living: Latinos, Race, and Work in the Deep South, based on six years of activist research engagement with poultry workers, explores how new Latin American migration into the rural U.S. South has impacted the region’s racial hierarchies and working communities’ abilities to organize for better wages and working conditions. Her more recent work sheds light on state and local immigrant policing and the experiences of undocumented young people in higher education in the United States. Stuesse earned her MA in Latin American Studies and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Texas-Austin, and she has held academic appointments at UCLA, The Ohio State University, and the University of South Florida. At UNC she serves on the advisory boards of the Latina/o Studies Program and the Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research.

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ISA Director Louis Pérez on WCHL 97.9 FM, Who’s Talking show


Click to listen.

Louis Pérez, J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History at UNC Chapel Hill and Director, Institute for the Study of the Americas, gives background about Cuban history and politics to help us understand today’s events. The host asks about the new travel rules as it relates to the People to People framework,  the pros and cons of the new rules, and more. Listen now!

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Associate Director Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz wins University Award for the Advancement of Women


Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz

Associate Director Beatriz Riefkohl Muñiz received the 2017 University Award for the Advancement of Women, March 7, 2017, at the Anne Queen Faculty Commons in the Campus Y. This award is given by the office of Chancellor Folt and is a way to recognize individuals for their contributions on behalf of women at the University.

Riefkohl Muñiz was recognized for her mentorship of young professionals, leadership, and advocacy with policies and cultures affecting women faculty, staff, and students in numerous ways. She has been a central leader in a collaborative effort among area study centers to expand global education in North Carolina and Latin American Studies nationally through her work at the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the national Consortium in Latin American Studies Programs.

One of her many accomplishments included mentoring women staff.

“Beatriz elevates the status of women by giving women credit for their labor, ideas, and innovation,”Emily Chávez, Outreach Director of the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University said.

In addition to her mentorship, Riefkohl Muñiz’s leadership was recognized across departments.

“Beatriz’ leadership provides a clear example of what UNC should aspire to: the integration of respect and support for women into all facets of institutional culture and policy,” Hannah Gill, Assistant Director, Institute for the Study of the Americas said.

And Riefkohl Muñiz isn’t stopping.

“This award gives us an opportunity to think about all the great contributions women make to Carolina on a daily basis,” Riefohl Muñiz said. “Recognizing women’s achievements helps us to develop new opportunities that take into consideration women’s voices, aspirations, and work.”

Congratulations, Beatriz! We look forward to the great things you will continue to do!

About the award

A committee of faculty, staff, and students was given the task of reviewing the many nominations received to select one faculty member, one staff member, on graduate/professional student, and one undergraduate student to receive the award. The committee was given the following criteria to us in selecting award recipients:

  • Mentored and supported women students, staff, faculty, and/or
  • Elevated the status of women on campus;
  • Helped to improve campus policies affecting women;
  • Promoted and advanced the recruitment, retention, and upward mobility of women;
  • Participated in and assisted in the establishment of professional development opportunities for women; or
  • Participated in and assisted in the establishment of career or academic mentoring for women.
  • Both women and men who have contributed in one or more of the above ways were eligible.
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Tanya Shields

Tanya Shields is an associate professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, a past fellow of the Carolina Women’s Center Faculty Fellowship, and a recipient of the Institute of Arts and Humanities’ Academic Leadership Fellowship. Dr. Shields’s first book, Bodies and Bones: Feminist Rehearsal and Imagining Caribbean Belonging (2014) examines the ways in which rehearsing historical events and archetypal characters shapes belonging to the region. Feminist rehearsal helps us explore the ways in which people continually negotiate terms of membership and how these interactions reveal structures of resistance, oppression, and inequality.

Dr. Shields is also editor of The Legacy of Eric Williams: Into the Postcolonial Moment (2015), which examines the contributions of Eric Williams, the first prime minister of independent Trinidad and Tobago, as an individual, a leader, and a scholar. Dr. Shields is currently at work on her second monograph, “Gendered Labor: Race, Place and Power on Female-Owned Plantations,” a comparative study of women who owned plantations in the Caribbean and U.S. South. Additionally, her work is published in Cultural Dynamics, Women, Gender, and Families of Color, Identities as well as in The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Constructing Vernacular Culture in the Trans-Caribbean. In 2016, along with Professor Kathy Perkins, Dr. Shields co-convened the National Endowment for the Arts funded conference, “Telling Our Stories of Home: Exploring and Celebrating Changing African and African Diaspora Communities.”

Dr. Shields teaches classes on Caribbean women, the arts of activism, growing up girl globally, and the continuing influence of plantation economics and politics. She is the immediate past president and current board member of the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals (AWFP) and a board member for the Maryland-based Carivision Community Theater, which seeks to use theater as space of exchange between Caribbean and U.S. theater audiences. Dr. Shields is also dramaturge for the Houston-based Process Theater’s “Plantation Remix” project. Her class, “Rahtid Rebel Women: An Introduction to the Caribbean,” was listed as number 7 on Elle Magazine’s “63 College Classes that Give Us Hope for the Next Generation.” Dr. Shields earned her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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Hannah Palmer

Hannah HeadshotHannah Palmer received her B.A. in English and Spanish from Samford University in 2009 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at UNC Chapel Hill. She has been actively engaged with ISA initiatives since her arrival in North Carolina in 2011, participating in working groups and conferences, as well as completing all three levels of the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute. She currently oversees the Latin American Film Library, a collection of over 600 films treating subjects of interest to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the U.S.Latino/a population.

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‘Castro Was a Living Reminder of the Limits of American Power’–FAIR Media Watch interviews Louis Pérez about the influence of Fidel Castro

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Janine Jackson: Fidel Castro, who died November 25 at age 90, will be remembered as someone whose work changed, not just Cuba, but the wider world. With US media ringing with denunciation—with some left over to denunciate those who aren’t denunciating enough—there’s little oxygen left for discussion of that work, and what it meant and still means.

We’re joined now for some context on Castro and Cuba by Louis Pérez. He’s professor of history at the University of North Carolina and editor of Cuban Journal, and author of, among other titles, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. He joins us now by phone from North Carolina. Welcome to CounterSpin, Louis Pérez.

Louis Perez: Good day.

JJ: To hear the TV talkers tell it, Fidel Castro was not just an evil monster, he was a sort of Svengali who somehow tricked millions of people into supporting his project. There’s a sense that the only reason not to despise him is delusion. And that seems to disavow any agency on the part of the Cuban people, among other things; they’re seen as engaging in some sort of idol worship. I have heard you say that Fidel resonates because the Cuban Revolution resonates. Can you give us some context for why that’s the case?

LP: The most extraordinary facet of the coverage of the last five, six days in this country has been the utter lack of self-reflection and ignorance of context, and I think you’ve used the word “context” already twice in your introductory comments. It is so easy and so facile to focus on one man—Americans love the Great Man thesis—one man to whom one can attribute everything that torments one. It is so easy to identify the outcomes in Cuba, the outcomes in Central America, the outcomes in Africa to one guy.

That liberates anybody from exploring context, from exploring process, from exploring history, from understanding how this phenomenon that Fidel Castro represents unfolds. And so what we have here is just a utterly one-dimensional assessment of the past and the present, and Fidel Castro was that evil person to whom one can attribute everything that one doesn’t like about the world.

JJ: When Cubans talk about it, of course, there’s a completely different approach to it, and a completely different kind of reckoning with it. But, as you say, US readers have gotten, first of all, very little information, period, but then also the information has been kind of cartoonish. So what can you tell—and also for younger folks who don’t know—what was the Cuban Revolution, what did it signify, what did it change?

LP: The Cuban Revolution comes out of a history, comes out of a struggle by a people that has its antecedents in the middle of the 19th century, and it represents successive generations of Cubans who aspire—however unlikely it would appear, coming from a little country, a small population—the Cuban historical purpose for 150 years has been given to the pursuit of self-determination and national sovereignty. If the Cuban Revolution is about anything, it’s about self-determination and national sovereignty. And so that’s an idea that goes back to the 1850s, and it’s articulated by Jose Martí in the 1880s and 1890s, and it continues to circulate, and it becomes a politics in Cuba with the inauguration of a republic in 1902.

So Fidel Castro comes out of that history. He is formed by that sensibility. And so what the Cuban Revolution represents in January 1959—and certainly this is a point that Fidel Castro makes—it is the culmination of a process. It is, finally, a people who have achieved self-determination and national sovereignty, and the obstacle in the 19th century was Spain, and the obstacle in the 20th century was the United States. So the Revolution comes with this purpose of affirming Cuba for Cubans, and finally the prospects of agency, of seizing hold of those forces that govern one’s life, and that means, inevitably, to reduce the presence and the influence of the United States in Cuba.

And that’s the one condition that since the 19th century the United States was not willing to acquiesce to Cuba. From Jefferson until George W. Bush and perhaps even Obama, the idea of Cuban national sovereignty and self-determination has been and it continues to be an anathema.

JJ: As in other places as well, but I think it’s such an important understanding of the relationship. Reuters in their write-up said that Castro “built a Communist state on the doorstep of the United States,” which I find funny, as though the proximity of this tiny island were an affront or a provocation to the United States.
It reminds me of the comic and activist Professor Irwin Corey, who was a big supporter of the Revolution. He told my colleague Steve Rendall that he had complained to Castro, “For 40 years, you’ve refused to remove your country from around our military base.”

LP: [laughs] It is, of course, the relationship with the world superpower, it is that sovereignty that drew the admiration of people, of oppressed people, the world over, that defiance. And how strange to present it still today as a threat to the United States.

LP: I think the word you use is correct, the affront. Fidel Castro was a breathing, living reminder of the limits of American power. How is it possible that the United States could not do something about this guy? And successive generations of American political leaders, 11 presidential administrations, more or less all take power saying they’re going to do something about Fidel Castro. The presidential terms come and go and he’s still there. And he survives the collapse of the Soviet Union. And the Cuban Revolution continues, admittedly limping, but still continues to survive.

So I think it’s that defiance that just galled Americans, the inability to will the world according to their wishes in a place that they had always willed the world. There’s something profoundly psychological. Fidel Castro becomes a highly personal issue to Americans, and the multiple attempts to assassinate — can’t make it any more personal than that.

JJ: What you’re talking about, the importance of sovereignty, that, as I understand it, became an overweening focus on sovereignty, and then the security state that is understandably lamented. Now, you see that as a kind of cautionary tale.

LP: That’s exactly how I see it. I see the Cuban developments. Does the system resort to repressive techniques? Absolutely. Has it spawned an elaborate surveillance and intelligence system? Absolutely. It has done all these things.

I think it’s important to bear in mind that this has a context. This was a state, a government, administration, rulers, who were confronted with the most powerful country in the world, that had as a single overriding determination, regime change.

And when the Cubans invoke national security, then all bets are off, as we are learning in this country. When one invokes national security, then civil liberties, constitutional freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of thought—that space begins to contract, get smaller and smaller.
And, again, when I said earlier the lack of self-reflection, I think anybody has to go to the Alien and Sedition Laws at the end of the 18th century, after the American Revolution, when the Americans felt threatened by the French, and they passed the sedition laws. And anybody who published or said anything against the United States government would be subject to imprisonment. And how about the Japanese-Americans who the United States, feeling threatened by Japan, rounded up, tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans, and put them in camps.

So it’s that lack of context, it’s that lack of appreciation. It’s like people say, wow, the economy’s in shambles in Cuba. It is. But to what degree is the shambles of the Cuban economy the outcome of a punitive embargo that had as its direct purpose to make the Cuban economy one of shambles? So it is this loop of opinion that feeds on itself, and we just can’t seem to break or get out of it.

JJ: Well, let me just ask you, finally: We had started to see, it was being called a “thaw,” we saw some diplomatic relations being established earlier this year with Cuba. Now, you know, things are different. What do you imagine happening now, in terms of the relationship between the United States and Cuba, and what do you think would serve Cubans?

LP: If the new, incoming administration presumes to act on the utterances of this past weekend, then I think anybody, any persons of good will, any persons who derive comfort at the process of normalization of the last two years, cannot but despair and feel very anxious. The words of the president-elect, saying that he wants to withdraw the “concessions,” quote unquote, unless the Cubans, among other things, open up their economy for market reform, free political prisoners, hold elections, allow political parties—we are now going to be plunged back to the worst days of…I don’t even know what the comparison would be, the Reagan years, the George W. Bush years.

Because these are the demands that the Cubans have resisted for 55 years. Because this is, again, a throwback to the curtailment and the challenge to the Cuban insistence upon self-determination and national sovereignty. So if these folks who are coming in in January proceed to act on those politics, then we’re in for some very, very difficult times in US/Cuban relations.

JJ: We’ve been speaking with Louis Pérez, professor of history at the University of North Carolina and author of, among other books, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. Louis Pérez, thank you so much for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

LP: You’re very welcome.

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