Questions of Memory and History in Cuba and Sierra Leone

Emma Christopher they are we workshopOn February 8, 2016, CLAS welcomed Emma Christopher from the University of Technology Sydney to Nashville to present alongside screenings of her critically acclaimed documentary film They Are We. The film highlights the proud members of a small Afro-Cuban ethnic group in Central Cuba, the Gangá-Longobá, and how they became reconnected with their distant relatives and ancestors in Sierra Leone.

CLAS hosted a Black History Month educator workshop for K-16 teachers about integrating film, Afro-Cuban history, culture and identity into the classroom. Teachers attended a screening of They Are We, followed by a dynamic presentation from the filmmaker Emma Christopher entitled “Questions of Memory and History in Cuba and Sierra Leone,” which is available through CLAS Podcasts.  Jane Landers, Vanderbilt historian and director of the Ecclesiastical and Secular Sources for Slave Societies Digital Archive (ESSS), shared “Preserving Cuba’s African History Digitally.” Language Technology Specialist from the University of Oregon and CLAS Advisory Board Teacher, Stephanie Knight, shared free, interactive resources for use in the classroom.

Later that same day, the film was screened at Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center Auditorium followed by a reception. This event was sponsored by the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Circum-Atlantic Studies Seminar, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of History and the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center.

Third Wave Coffee: The Changing Faces of Production and Consumption


Nashville has become a hub for a new generation of “third wave” coffee houses. A panel will look at the production of high-end coffees in Guatemala and Nicaragua as well as trends in retail coffee as exemplified by Barista Parlor.



Bradley Wilson, Dept of Geography, University of West Virginia
Daniel Reichman, Dept of Anthropology, University of Rochester
Bart Victor, Owen School of Management, Vanderbilt University
Ted Fischer, Center for Latin American Studies, Vanderbilt University
Tom Eisenbraun, Barista Parlor

Thursday, February 11, 2016 5:30-7:30

Barista Parlor Golden Sound
610 Magazine Street
Nashville, TN 37203

Event Flyer

See photos from the event here

VIDEO: Making a Difference In Latin America

NI_vucast_studentSee how undergraduates and grad students work side-by-side with faculty to help solve problems and make a difference in Latin America. From a new product to combat malnutrition in children in Guatemala to a low-cost capsule for stomach cancer screening to preserving the history of slave societies, Vanderbilt helps find solutions, makes discoveries and changes lives. Vanderbilt ranks in the top 5 in the nation for Latin America studies programs.

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Politics, Poetry, and the First Latin American Pope

NI_vunews_cardenalOne of Latin America’s greatest living poets, Father Ernesto Cardenal, delivered a public talk on “Politics, Poetry, and the First Latin American Pope” at the John Seigenthaler First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 5:30 p.m.

Cardenal, an acclaimed Nicaraguan poet, revolutionary and liberation theologian, discussed his latest published anthology of poems, 90 en los 90, social justice and liberation theology, and Pope Francis.

Cardenal is the author of more than 35 books. He was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1965 and went on to become an important leader in the Sandinista revolution. He served as minister of culture in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1988. He founded a communal society constructed on the principles of liberation theology for artists in the Solentiname Islands located in Lake Nicaragua.

Cardenal’s visit was sponsored by Vanderbilt University’s Center for Latin American Studies and the Divinity School.

“Ernesto Cardenal embodies the ideal of the Third World/Global South intellectual in a distinctly religious key: a highly creative artist in his areas of work, literature and the visual arts; a determined critic in society and culture, from the local to the global; and an unflinching voice in matters religious and theological, both within his church and at large,” said Fernando Segovia, Oberlin Graduate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Vanderbilt.

“For Spanish Americans, poetry is a part of their daily existence, and few writers bring together everyday struggles and poetic transcendence as well as Ernesto Cardenal,” said Cathy Jrade, Chancellor’s Professor of Spanish. “Father Cardenal’s work speaks to the many overlapping efforts made at a university like Vanderbilt to challenge assumptions, engage the mind and elevate the spirit.”

Potholes, Parks, and the PRI: One Reporter’s Understanding of the Mexican Drug Wars

NI_vunews_quinonesIn October 2013, CLAS hosted a visit by Sam Quinones, Los Angeles Times journalist and creative author of nonfiction (Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream and True Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino, and The Bronx). While in Nashville, Quinones was featured in on- and off-campus events. During a CLAS-sponsored brown-bag lunch, he spoke with graduate and undergraduate students about his personal and professional experiences working on the topic of the Mexican drug wars. Off campus, at Casa Azafrán Community Center, Quinones delivered a public lecture entitled “Potholes, Parks, and the PRI: One Reporter’s Understanding of the Mexican Drug Wars,” which attracted a crowd of more than 180. While at Casa Azafrán, Quinones also met with young Latino writers who recently won a Hispanic Heritage Month essay contest titled “My Hispanic Roots, My American Dream” and sponsored by Conexión Américas.

New volume on Race and Access to Higher Education In Brazil

Over the past ten years Vanderbilt has hosted a series of FIPSE/CAPES exchanges with Brazilian universities focused on comparative issues of race.  History graduate student Max Pendergraph has compiled a collection of essays from these student projects looking at how affirmative action programs play out in Brazil, a country with its own long and tumultuous history of racialized misunderstandings. This impressive volume is available free in e-book format.

CLAS Welcomes La Camioneta Filmmaker

In January, CLAS welcomed its alum Mark Kendall (M.A. 2009), filmmaker and producer of La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus. The documentary tells the story of buses which leave the United States on a south-bound migration to Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as the brightly colored camionetas, and carry many Guatemalans to work each day.

CLAS organized a number of activities around Kendall’s visit to Vanderbilt. He presented the film at the January 29 International Lens screening and led a discussion with the audience following the showing. Vanderbilt students in film studies and LAS also had the chance to meet and talk to Kendall at a brown bag lunch. Assistant Director for Outreach Claire González arranged for the Belcourt Theater to host a showing for area high school students. Another screening, at Conexión America’s new home, Casa Azafrán on Nolensville Road, gave another opportunity for members of the Nashville community to see the film. Conexión Américas promotes the social, economic, and civic integration of Latino families in Middle Tennessee.

CLAS supported production of the film and more recently has been working closely with Kendall to develop curriculum materials on the film that can be used in K–12 classrooms. These materials were presented to teachers at the professional development workshop on January 31. Educators attending the workshop had the opportunity to interact with Kendall and CLAS Director Ted Fischer as well as joining in a discussion about modern Guatemala.

Brent Savoie Appointed as CLAS Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Brent Savoie is a physician and legal scholar with more than a decade of experience working with rural health programs and conducting health and human rights research in Guatemala. Brent is the president of the Inter-American Health Alliance (IAHA); in this role he has helped develop a successful partnership with CLAS, collaborating on programs in Guatemala. He is the co-founder of Primeros Pasos, a rural health program in the Department of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, that provides medical care, dental care, and health education services.

Brent is a graduate from Vanderbilt University (A&S ’01) and Vanderbilt University Medical School (’09). He was awarded the Jefferson Scholars Graduate Fellowship in Law to study health and human rights law, and graduated from University of Virginia School of Law in 2007. His research focuses on the intersection of health and human rights law and intellectual property law. He has conducted research on the impact of international intellectual property provisions in the Central America Free Trade Agreement on access to medicines in Central America. He currently practices medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

Faculty Profile – Emanuelle Oliveira-Monte, Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Associate Professor of Luso-Brazilian Literature Emanuelle Oliveira-Monte studies Afro-Brazilian literature, race relations, the relationship between literature and politics, and popular culture. She teaches Portuguese language and literature courses, as well as seminars on Brazilian cinema and popular Brazilian culture. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Oliveira did her doctoral study at UCLA and has been at Vanderbilt since 2002. Since then she and other Portuguese faculty have worked closely with CLAS to build Vanderbilt’s Portuguese program into one of the top in the nation.

Oliveira’s first book, Writing Identity: The Politics of Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Literature (2007, Purdue), examines the intricate connections between literary production and political action by focusing on the Brazilian black movement and the literature of a São Paulo-based group of Afro-Brazilian writers, the Quilombhoje. Her current research project explores the representations of race vis á vis crime and violence in Brazilian literature and cinema, and will serve as the basis of her upcoming book, The Color of Crime: Representations of Race and Delinquency in Contemporary Brazilian Literature and Cinema.

Oliveira works closely with CLAS to put together events at Vanderbilt on Brazil, including a conference on human rights in Brazil in 2010, a film festival with director Beto Brant in 2012, and lectures by Eduardo de Assis Duarte and Conceição Evaristo this past fall.

Oliveira sits on the editorial boards for the Afro-Hispanic Review, Chasqui, and Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World. She is a member of the Luso-Brazilian section of the Modern Language Association and was the treasurer of the Brazilian section of the Latin American Studies Association. Professor Oliveira is a current member and former executive member of Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA).

Among her other publications are several articles: “An Ethic of Esthetic: Racial Representations in Brazilian Cinema Today” in Vanderbilt E-Journal of Luso-Hispanic Studies, “Revisitando o Cânone Brasileiro: Autores Negros Contemporâneos e Sua Re-interpretação Crítica da Poesia Negra no Modernismo” in Ethnos Brasil, and “O Gosto Amargo da Festa–Literatura e Momento Político no Brasil: 1960/1990” in Luso-Brazilian Review.

Contributed by Yvonne White