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.
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.
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
In February 2013, in honor of Black History Month, CLAS offered a series of events around the documentary Maestra. Catherine Murphy, director and producer, visited Vanderbilt February 18–21. The documentary, which premiered in the U.S. in 2011, tells the story of the Cuban Literacy Campaign of 1961, when 250,000 volunteers taught 700,000 people to read and write in one year. The campaign is thought by many to have been one of the most successful literacy campaigns to date and a pinnacle moment in the history of the Americas.
Activities that week included an International Lens film screening on February 19, followed by a discussion with Murphy, a K–12 teacher workshop, and two lunch discussion panels. Following the visit to Vanderbilt, Murphy traveled to Tuskegee with CLAS faculty and staff where CLAS and Tuskegee offered a film screening and teacher workshop. The events were sponsored by CLAS, Vanderbilt’s Film Studies Program, Women’s and Gender Studies, the Robert Penn Warren Center, and Peabody International Education Affairs.
Jessica Turner is from Payson, Utah, and is a captain in the United States Army. She is fulfilling her dream of becoming a Latin American Foreign Area Officer (FAO) and came to Vanderbilt in January 2013 as part of the military’s FAO training program. Jessica spent the past year living in Panama, working at the U.S. Embassy and traveling throughout Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. She previously lived in Argentina, where her love for Latin America began. She is particularly interested in La Guerra Sucia and the military’s involvement.
The Summer in Brazil intensive academic program is organized by Vanderbilt, Tulane, and Emory universities with the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP). The program offers immersion in the Portuguese language as well as coursework on Brazilian culture and a number of excursions.
In summer 2013, the program will be held from June 15–July 26. Both graduate and undergraduate students are eligible to attend. The program qualifies as a FLAS-approved program with 140 contact hours of language instruction.
Three graduate students in the Department of Anthropology participated in a conference in Guatemala using the Polycom system available at Vanderbilt. The conference was part of IV Colloquia on Anthropology and Sociology, organized by the Universidad del Valle in Guatemala. The students presented preliminary data collected last summer in Guatemala, research supported by the CLAS summer grants. Ixchel Carmelina Espantzay Serech spoke on “Percepciones y decepciones: Las candidatas mayas en las elecciones del 2011 en Guatemala,” Tatiana Paz Lemus presented her research on “Educación y desarrollo: explorando sus intersecciones desde Tactic, Alta Verapaz,” and Felipe A. Girón gave a talk titled “Entre el presente democrático y el pasado autoritario: trayectorias de vida y contexto social en el Oriente de Guatemala, el caso de Zacapa.”
The Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, a book award co-coordinated by Vanderbilt and Tulane and sponsored by CLASP (Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs), was presented at the Library of Congress on October 5, 2012. The award honors authors and illustrators who produce quality children’s and young adult books which best portray Latin America. Fiction and nonfiction books are selected for their distinctive literary quality, cultural contextualization, illustration and design, and potential for classroom use. 2012 winners were Monica Brown and Julie Paschkis for Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People and Margarita Engle for Hurricane Dancers. The award aims to link the Americas beyond geographic borders, focusing instead on cultural heritages within the hemisphere, and encourages the exploration of complex themes in the classroom and at home.
A unique element of the Américas Award is the emphasis placed on potential for classroom use. This year’s program featured a professional development workshop for educators at Busboys & Poets, coordinated by Tulane and Vanderbilt with Teaching for Change, Henry Holt and Company, and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Teachers heard presentations by 2012 award winners Monica Brown, Julie Paschkis, and Margarita Engle, as well as strategies for incorporating Latino children’s literature in the classroom from experienced facilitators. Vanderbilt sponsored one media specialist, Connie Sharp, from Metro Nashville Public Schools to attend both the awards ceremony and teacher workshop; she is currently creating curriculum with CLAS staff around the books featured in the award.
CLAS co-sponsored two lectures organized by the Department of Anthropology as part of their Fall Speaker Series featuring visiting speakers Charles E. Orser and Axel Nielsen. Orser (New York State Museum) discussed quilombos in Brazil and peasant Irish settlements in Ireland in his lecture, “Strategies Toward an Archaeology of Self-Liberation.” Nielsen (Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Pensamiento Latinoamericano, Argentina), spoke about his research on the interaction at llama caravan hubs in relation to the archaeological study of ancient trade networks in his talk titled, “Llama Caravan Hubs in the South Central Andes: Ethnography and Archaeology.”
The Vanderbilt University Chapter of Project Nicaragua, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality and accessibility of health care in Nicaragua, is in its first year as a student service organization at Vanderbilt. The founding executive board members will make their first trip to Nicaragua for two weeks in May to determine the needs of the partner community and how best they can create a lasting and sustainable impact. The group will work with La Mascota Children’s Hospital, the National Ophthalmology Center, and Chacraseca Clinic. While there, the students plan to distribute hundreds of donated eyeglasses, dental supplies, and personal care items, offer assistance to nurses and physicians, and help with educational programs on health, hygiene, nutrition, and first aid. All of the officers look forward to learning, growing, and serving together as an organization, and bringing back their experiences to share with the Vanderbilt community. For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.