October 12, 2009

Latin American Studies celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

The Program in Latin American Studies in the Krieger School will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with three events this week: a lecture on how Latinos and immigration have been portrayed in the media, a bilingual roundtable discussion about the Latino population in Baltimore and across the state and a reggae concert. Other events are planned throughout the month, all on the Homewood campus.

John Nieto-Phillips of Indiana University, Bloomington, will present “The Rising Tide: Latinos, Immigration and the American Imaginary,” at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. At noon on Friday, Oct. 16, Nieto-Phillips and Melanie Shell-Weiss, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of History, will lead a discussion and Q&A in both English and Spanish on “New Direction in Latino Studies: Promises, Challenges and Possibilities.” Both events will take place in the conference room at Cafe Azafran in the Steven Muller Building.

Nieto-Phillips and Shell-Weiss are leading scholars in Latino-American studies. Nieto-Phillips, an associate professor in the Department of History and the Latino Studies Program at Indiana University, Bloomington, wrote the prize-winning The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s–1930s and co-edited Interpreting Spanish Colonialism: Empires, Nations and Legends. Shell-Weiss’ expertise is on migration and Latino immigration. She has published two books this year: Coming to Miami: A Social History and Florida’s Working Class Past. Her current project is titled “Translators Wanted in Dixie.”

“Both scholars are contributing greatly to making academics and the American public more conscious of Latino history and the Latino contribution to the United States,” said John Russell-Wood, the Herbert Baxter Adams Professor of History and director of the Program in Latin American Studies.

As the incoming director, Russell-Wood said he hopes that the Hispanic Heritage Month events, which are free and open to the public, will be a further contribution to the university’s efforts to reach out to the area’s Latino population.

“There is a significant community in Baltimore and Maryland of Hispanics/Latinos, and my hope is that PLAS can be instrumental in building bridges between Johns Hopkins and this community,” said Russell-Wood, who specializes in Colonial Latin-American history and the Portuguese seaborne empire.

The Program in Latin American Studies has several events scheduled this fall that further its mission to build interdisciplinary understanding among faculty and students of the histories, cultures, societies and politics of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It recently began offering an open discussion on breaking news, titled “Latin America Today,” which is held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on alternate Wednesdays (the next will be Oct. 21) in the Greenhouse. The conversation is led by Franklin Knight, the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Professor of History.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, the program is presenting a reggae concert by Nicaraguan artist Philip Montalban, co-sponsored by Casa Baltimore–Limay; the Nicaraguan Network; and the Center for Africana Studies and the International Studies Program, both based in the Krieger School. It will take place in room 101 of the Mattin Center’s F. Ross Jones Building,

A daylong conference on Friday, Oct. 23, titled Unsettling Decadence: Crisis and Creativity in Latin America, will feature as keynote speaker William Egginton, of the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, discussing “On Creative Exhaustion: Repetition, Time and Novelty in Borges.” It will take place in Levering’s Sherwood Room. And at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12, the PLAS Colloquium will present Michael Birenbaum, Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology, who will discuss “Musical Tactics of Diaspora and Modernity on the Margins of the Black Atlantic” in room 113 of the Greenhouse.