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The 2nd Annual Latino Awareness Conference: Testimonial Literature and Social Movements in Latin America will take place March 22-25, with events including lectures, research presentations, a Latin party, and closing banquet.

The conference is sponsored by the Hispanic Society of Lafayette (HSL) and is an opportunity for cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary dialogue on campus. The conference allows students from the areas of history, music, English, international affairs, economics and business, Spanish, and art to present their research on Latino and Latin American issues, such as the politics of nation building, identity politics and artistic expression, and relationship between repression and revolution.

This year’s conference focuses on testimonial literature in Latin America and social movements described by such literature. Events will clarify the presence of this type of literature and will explore social and cultural differences found among different social classes and nations. The conference also will delve into “naturalized” differences, or differences that pervade culture from figures of speech to formal education, religion, law, and literature.

Camila Galaz ’07 (Quakertown, Pa.), president of HSL, believes students attending the conference will be exposed to information not usually focused on in the classroom.

“It is a way for students to progress academically and intellectually beyond the classroom, and there are discussions and presentations that provide information not normally available during the school year,” she says. “One of the most important characteristics of the conference is the ability for students to hear other students and their opinions on a subject, with the variety of student panels and student research presentations available. Then, discussion occurs, and this is where I believe the most growth on a student’s part takes place.”

Galaz, an economics and business major, also believes that the conference will offer students a chance to become acquainted with an unfamiliar and often controversial topic.

“It is going to be a very exciting event,” says Galaz. “With the topic of testimonial literature, there is so much that can be discussed and learned. This is a time to learn about a subject that has become extremely popular in recent years, a subject that is very controversial with political, social, and even religious influences. We are all very excited to provide the college campus with a conference on what has become such a contentious topic in Latin America.”

Conference events include:

Thursday, March 22

  • “Examining Social Movements through Art” – noon Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall. A presentation of the turbulent history of Latin America as recorded through poems, paintings, and songs. Image and poetry discussion and guest performances by George Torres, associate professor of music, and Estefania Sanchez ’10 (Quito, Ecuador).

Friday, March 23

  • “EWB in Latin America: Documenting Experiences in Honduras” – noon Hugel Science Center, room 100.A discussion on the cultural and linguistic differences and difficulties encountered while interviewing groups of people with different backgrounds from poor communities in Honduras. Lafayette’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) will present a student-made documentary portraying such interviews and a guest student panel will discuss first-hand experiences of Honduras.
  • Testimonial Literature: Documentary and Student Research Presentations – 4 p.m. Skillman Library, Gendebien Room. Molly La Bonte, a Lehigh University undergraduate student, will present her essay “Testimonio as a Form of Therapy,” exploring testimonial literature and arguing that it is a form of therapy for both the narrator and for the trauma victims that the narrator represents. American studies graduate Valerie Vieira ‘06 will discuss her research on Brazil. A documentary and discussion will follow the presentations.

Saturday, March 24

  • Keynote Speaker – Sonia Mereles Olivera, assistant professor of romance languages at Washington and Lee University – 4 p.m. Skillman Library, Gendebien Room. A lecture on liberation theology and testimonial literature in Latin America. One of Olivera’s areas of specialization is the poetry of Ernesto Cardenal, with a focus on religion and science, or poetic science. Olivera has interviewed Cardenal twice in Nicaragua in order to finish her second book on his work.
  • Latin Party – 10 p.m. Campus Pizza. Latin Party dedicated to Latin music. Dance lessons will be provided.

Sunday, March 25

  • Closing Banquet – 5:30 p.m. Marquis Hall, faculty dining room. The culmination to the conference will feature a variety of Latin dishes and music. All attendees must RSVP to Galaz.
Categorized in: Academic News