Latin American studies students present at conference in Texas

A group of five Centre College Latin American studies students recently presented at the Institute of Latin American Studies Student Association (ILASSA) conference at the University of Texas at Austin.

This is the third year students have presented at ILASSA. The graduate school conference is the oldest in the U.S. and is also organized and held at the top Latin American studies graduate programs in the nation. The conference is led in three languages: English, Portuguese and Spanish.

The students who presented at the conference were Digna Rosales Cruz ’20 (Ridgewood, New York); Kimberly Fiodaliz Casso ’20 (Lawrence, Massachusetts); Lainy Castañeda ’20 (Richmond, Indiana); Colleen Coyle ’19 (Logan, Utah); and Rebecca Markham ’20 (Abington, Pennsylvania).

The students submitted their abstracts and then were selected by the conference committee to present at ILASSA. While mentored by Assistant Professor of Spanish William Costley and Assistant Professor of History Sara Egge, each of these students presented their own independent work,

“It is an honor for Centre to have our students selected to participate in such conferences,” said Associate Professor of Philosophy Eva Cadavid, who traveled with the students to Texas. “We are very fortunate to have the support at Centre to be able to take students to participate and learn from others.”

At the conference, Rosales Cruz, a Spanish major and social justice and Latin American studies minor, presented on the ways memory museums serve as resistance against epistemic violence. Founded on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s research on the subaltern and Diana Taylor’s literature on the cultural performance of memory, she focused on the dirty war in Argentina, also drawing from the political turbulence in Perú and Chile. She explored spaces that protect memory, while examining how these spaces continue to enforce marginalization.

Lainy Castaneda ’20, Kimberly Fiodaliz Casso ’20, Rebecca Markham ’20, Colleen Coyle ’19

Lainy Castaneda ’20, Kimberly Fiodaliz Casso ’20, Rebecca Markham ’20, and Colleen Coyle ’19 in Austin, Texas.

“The opportunity to present at a graduate studies conference and be surrounded by scholars who are dedicated to critically thinking about their positionalities in their research and ways to accompany marginalized communities in Latin America in social justice efforts was powerful to me as a student who is working on cultivating those skills,” Rosales Cruz said. “It was extremely empowering, both personally and professionally, to share a panel with doctoral students who not only share my social identities but also reflect my interests and concerns for Latin America.”

Markham, a Spanish major with a Latin American studies and chemistry minor, presented on liberation theology as a potential way forward for Mexican democracy.

She learned about Latin American politics through John Marshall Harlan Associate Professor of Politics Benjamin Knoll’s Mexican politics course, and she became interested in liberation theology through H. W. Stodghill, Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Religion Richard Axtell.

“I was excited to be able to combine these two interests in my paper,” Markham said. “I was a biochemistry and molecular biology major up until this fall, so I’d never participated in a conference like ILASSA. It was a perfect introduction to the Spanish and Latin American studies program and a great way to connect with other Latin American studies minors.”

Cadavid said that presenting at the conference gave the students an opportunity to practice their oral presentation skills, the ability to think on their feet about their work, and it allowed them to develop confidence.

“It also gave them the opportunity to learn from graduate students and other professors and create contacts that will help them with internships, future job opportunities and graduate school,” she added. “They got a glimpse into what academia is and it gave them the chance to either see themselves continuing their education after Centre or not.”

Coyle presented on archival research that she conducted at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress during an independent study during CentreTerm 2018, supervised by Assistant Professor of History Jonathon Earle. In her presentation, she analyzed the relationship between 1980s Cold War rhetoric and the legal process of citizenship, using the case of author and activist Margaret Randall as a case study.

As a senior, Coyle said this felt like a last celebration of her research and helped solidify her love of Latin American studies.

“I was honored to learn from my peers, and I felt very fortunate to see what was happening in the field in real time,” she said. “I want to be a forensic archivist, and this was an opportunity for me to make important connections and get important advice.”

by Kerry Steinhofer
April 3, 2019

Header photo: Rebecca Markham ’20, Lainy Castaneda ’20, Digna Rosales Cruz ’20, Colleen Coyle ’19, Kimberly Fiodaliz Casso ’20 present at the Latin American Studies Student Association (ILASSA) conference at the University of Texas at Austin.