CLACX Year in Review
Latest Issue (2022-2023)
It is with immense pride that we present the 2022-23 Year-in-Review, a collaborative effort of the CLACX team, driven and produced by Dr. Avery Dickins de Girón. The Review contains summaries and photos of CLACX-sponsored events at Vanderbilt, in greater Nashville, nationally, and internationally. Our reach is wide, and illustrative of the programs we supported in the name of connecting Latinx, Caribbean, and Latin American studies. We are again grateful for the unfailing support from the Dean’s Office in Arts and Science, Provost Raver, and Chancellor Diermeier. The university leadership made it possible this year for CLACX to welcome a Mellon Assistant Professor in Latinx Studies, an ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow, and 5 NEH Collaborative Humanities Postdoctoral Fellows to expand our endeavors. In Spring ’23, the center also hired a new Program Coordinator in Luisa Mattos da Costa, who comes to Vanderbilt with a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Brasilia and a second in Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University.
CLACX took decisive steps this year to examine and elevate our intellectual project. It has been a priority from day one to think through the implications of connecting the fields as an intellectual project; to revisit what it means to study Latin America, the Caribbean, and their diasporas, in light of the broad, geopolitical shifts happening across the hemisphere and globally. We have learned, for one, that the scale and multi-directional nature of migrations across the continent are not only changing the face of the Americas, but also bringing to bear new political, economic, cultural, and environmental connections. Recognizing that fields of study are historical, that is, of feeding and reflecting contemporary questions and concerns, we are also asking new questions about the state of the fields from the perspective of the 2020s.
We organized seminars on campus and panels at conferences to engage colleagues embarking on similar initiatives. If one takeaway is that centers, programs, and departments are increasingly embracing a broader framework for studying Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latinx studies together, it is also clear that more attention needs to be paid to the research and curricular dimensions of this shift. We asked questions, such as, how are new “Introductory” courses being designed; how do language requirements fit in the new course of studies; how do these units foster dialogue between international and American studies, or between area and ethnic studies; and, crucially, how are Latin American studies programs also changing in Latin America as part of larger changes? To be sure, these questions only prompted more questions, and leave us with more to reckon with. Nonetheless, it was satisfying to have taken a leading role in fostering these conversations, and we are excited about the new institutional relationships we are building, especially in the US South.
CLACX also supported research focused on the question of fields, aiming to instigate a scholarly debate about the institutional shifts referred to above. With support from the Dean’s Office, we were fortunate to house ACLS Emerging Voices Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dr. Sara Kozameh, a historian of Latin America and the Caribbean, who completed her doctoral studies at New York University. I had the honor of teaming with Kozameh on a study about job ads in the history field, specifically, that are increasingly calling for joint specializations in Latin American and Latino history. This is a new pairing of fields that only became prominent in academic searches as of the last few years, and as such, this is an important reference for broader reflections on the kinds of research, teaching, and advising programs such as ours provide.
Alongside these efforts, it was exciting to deepen our institutional relationships with partners in the CLACX Consortium for Latin American Studies in the South (CCLASS). Our meetings with colleagues from Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, Jacksonville State University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Texas, at Arlington, set in motion opportunities for collaborative student training. As importantly, it helped us think about what it means to expand Latin American and Caribbean studies in a region where Latinos are the fastest growing demographic.
It was satisfying to take up these fields-level questions in these different capacities this year. It is certainly pertinent in social and political terms, and important to how we can support faculty endeavors at Vanderbilt.
Celso Thomas Castilho, Director