|September 23, 2009|
Union to host annual meeting of New England Council of Latin American Studies
The turning point in the classic movie, “The Godfather Part II,” takes place in Havana, Cuba, when mob boss Michael Corleone confronts his brother, Fredo, during a celebration to usher in 1959.
“I know it was you, Fredo,” Michael tells his brother, who has betrayed him. “You broke my heart.”
Moments later, a revolution led by Fidel Castro’s guerrilla army forces Michael and his gangster entourage to flee Cuba, where he was considering an expansion of the family’s gambling operations.
Teresa Meade, the Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture and director of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
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).
Union is hosting this year’s conference on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at College Park Hall. The conference is open to the public.
As many as 200 scholars from dozens of schools, including Bowdoin, Harvard, Brown, SUNY-Albany and Williams are expected for discussions on Latin American issues. Awards also will be presented for best book, article and dissertation selected from among the 55 institutional members of NECLAS (for a schedule of events, click here).
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’s brother, Raul, is now 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 Venezuela’s 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.
“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.
Meade, who will assume the presidency of NECLAS during the conference, is the author of several books on Latin America, including “‘Civilizing’ Rio: Reform and Resistance in a Brazilian City” (1997), “A Brief History of Brazil” (2003) and the upcoming “A History of Modern Latin America.”
Meade 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 on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
Union faculty members Andrea Foroughi (History), Donald Rodbell (Geology and Environmental Studies) and Victoria Martinez (Modern Languages) 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.
Funding for the conference is provided by the Office of the President and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.