Posted on Sep 24, 2009

A scholarly examination of the 50 years since the Cuban Revolution and its impact on Latin America is one of the featured topics for the annual meeting of the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS), to be held Saturday, Oct. 3, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., at College Park Hall.

As many as 200 scholars from dozens of schools, including Bowdoin, Harvard, Brown, SUNY-Albany and Williams, are expected. Awards will be presented for best book, article and dissertation selected from among the 55 institutional members of NECLAS. 

Teresa Meade, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture and director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

“In a world where major changes in Latin American politics, economics and social life are of critical importance to the U.S., the value of producing graduates who are fluent in the history, politics, languages and cultures of Latin American countries is immeasurable,” said Teresa Meade, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture and director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.

The conference comes during a critical time for relations between the United States and Latin America. President Barack Obama has adopted a more open stance toward Cuba, where Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, is in charge. At the Summit of the Americas last spring, Obama met with traditional U.S. allies such as Mexico’s Felipe Calderon, as well as with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of U.S. foreign policy.

Other important figures with whom the administration has conferred are Lula da Silva, of Brazil, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchener, the latter two among the small number of elected female heads of state.

Meade, who will assume the presidency of NECLAS during the conference, will be joined by Guillermina Seri, assistant professor of political science, Robert Sharlet, the Chauncey Winters Research Professor of Political Science, and Larry Gutman ’00, who is working on his Ph.D. in Latin American history at the University of Texas, Austin, for a roundtable discussion marking the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

Associate Professor of History Andrea Foroughi, Professor of Geology and Director of Environmental Studies Donald Rodbell, and Associate Professor of Spanish Victoria Martinez also are scheduled to participate in the conference, along with Ari Gandsmann, a former anthropology professor at Union who teaches at the University of Ottawa.

A number of Union students will serve as hosts for students from other schools who plan to attend.

The conference is open to the public, with funding provided by the Office of the President and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. For a schedule of events, click here.