Monthly Archives: June 2013

For A New Latina/o Studies Association

June 24, 2013

by Frances R. Aparicio

For some years, the Latino/a Studies scholars who have participated in the Latin American Studies Association conferences have been disappointed at the continued marginality of the Latino Studies Section in the larger association, our vulnerability (our section was revoked one year), and the limitations of this space. Moreover, we all recognize a need to create a larger national and international space that allows all Latino/a Studies scholars to come together and share our scholarship, activism and struggles. Thus, a group of scholars have discussed the idea of forming a Latino/a Studies Association that will address our needs. They have gathered feedback and suggestions in discussions at various other conferences in the past year and are beginning to get organized. Our goal is to create the Association during the 2014 Latino Studies Conference that will be held in Chicago July 17-19. Please join us for this historic moment and participate in the groundbreaking conference that will initiate a new international space for Latino/a Studies.  The Call for Papers for this event follows:

Call for Papers

Imagining Latina/o Studies: Past, Present, and Future

An International Latina/o Studies Conference

July 17-19, 2014

Chicago, Illinois

Under multiple sponsorships from various universities and Latina/o Studies Programs, Chicago will host an international Latina/o studies conference on July 17-19, 2014. We invite individual papers or group proposals from the various disciplines that contribute to Latina/o studies as well as from individuals and groups engaged in artistic, political, and intellectual work outside the academy, including writers, artists, and community activists.


The Chicago conference will serve as an inaugural international Latina/o studies conference where we will launch the creation of a Latina/o studies association. During the May 2012 Latino Studies Section meeting at the Latin American Studies Association conference in San Francisco, scholars from a variety of disciplines decided to explore the feasibility of creating an international Latina/o studies association. Since then, many of these scholars have held informal meetings at other academic conferences in order to gauge interest in such an organization. To date, discussions have been held at the American Studies Association, the Puerto Rican Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Conference, among many others.


With this conference we hope to spotlight the dynamic work being carried out in a range of disciplines with a particular focus on the interdisciplinary impulse that shapes and motivates work produced under the banner of Latina/o studies. We recognize the decades-long history and crucial work of national-origin studies, such as Chicana/o studies and Puerto Rican studies, from which many of us have emerged; and we further ask how might we conceptualize the field so that it reflects the complex histories, social formations, and cultural production of Latinas/os even while seeking to imagine a larger sense of belonging that might transcend nationalisms?

By using this question as a benchmark for critical discussion, the conference will serve as a venue to set new research agendas and ask new questions of Latina/o studies. We seek proposals that revisit the genesis of Chicana/o and Puerto Rican studies in the 1970s as well as papers that highlight the emergence of Cuban studies, Dominican studies, Central American studies and South American studies. We invite proposals that compare the history, social formations, and cultural production of Latinas/os. Just as important, we seek imaginative proposals that critically interrogate the possibilities and limits of the category of “Latinas/os” itself.


Chicago serves as a symbolic setting for our conference. Located between the historically Mexican Southwest and the Caribbean East Coast, Chicago has long embraced its diverse Latina/o communities, and is home to several universities with Latina/o studies programs. To that end, we call for scholars, artists, and activists from both within the United States and abroad to join us as we launch our inaugural conference and the founding of a Latina/o studies association, the first organization dedicated to the comparative and interdisciplinary study of Latinas/os.


Our goal is to carve out an international space for dialogue and fruitful debate, and invite submissions from all disciplines. We welcome diverse and interactive presentation formats. We envision roundtables that explore recent publications, key developments, or major debates in Latina/o studies; workshops on mentoring, professionalization, pedagogy, or publishing; multi-media presentations such as Pecha Kucha or poster presentations; and performances along with traditional papers. Group proposals with diverse representation–including institutional affiliation, rank, and geographic region–will be given preference. All sessions are 90 minutes long, and must allot at least twenty minutes for discussion.

To submit a proposal, please email the following information to All proposals are due by 11:59pm PST on December 1, 2013.

●      Paper or Session Title.

●      Name, institutional affiliation, discipline, position or title, and contact information of presenter including email address and phone number (for sessions: list organizer first, then each presenter providing requested information for each participant).

●      Abstract of the rationale and content of the paper or session: up to 300 words for an individual submission; 600 words for a group proposal, giving specifics about what each member will contribute.

●      Brief (2-3 sentence) scholarly or professional biography of each presenter.

●      Describe the format of the session (for group proposals) and give indication of any audiovisual needs or special accommodations.

For more information on the Latina/o studies association initiative and the many people and institutions involved in creating it, please visit our Facebook page at

Frances R. Aparicio is Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Director of the Latina and Latino Studies Program at Northwestern University. She is the author of the award-winning Listening to Salsa: Gender, Latin Popular Music and Puerto Rican Cultures (Wesleyan 1998), and Co-Editor of several critical anthologies including Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature (Routledge 2013), Tropicalizations: Transcultural Representations of Latinidad (University of New England Press 1997), Musical Migrations (Palgrave 2003), and Hibridismos culturales (Revista Iberoamericana 2006). A founding editor of the Latinos in Chicago and the Midwest Book Series at the University of Illinois Press, she has facilitated and fostered book publications and new research on Latino/as in the Midwest. 

Temporary Labor, Temporary Lives

June 10, 2013

Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl. Flickr/Creative Commons License.

Photo by Laura Elizabeth Pohl. Flickr/Creative Commons License.

By Theresa Delgadillo

“In my mind, slavery has not yet disappeared. And in this case, we the Mexican agricultural workers are the slaves. I want to say to all of the employers that we are not machines. And I want them to consider, for just a moment, that the money they have is thanks to the work of all the Mexican agricultural workers who come to Canada to work.”

– Mexican agricultural contract worker in El Contrato (2003)

Advocates of U.S. immigration reform have long cited the importance of immigrant labor in making our daily meals possible. Immigrant labor drives all aspects of agricultural production in the U.S. — picking, packing and delivering to our local markets the vegetables and fruits we eat as well as slaughtering and processing the poultry and meats we consume. Yet, what we overlook when we focus on how much agricultural labor rests on immigrant shoulders is the wealth, income and economies the workers also produce. In Min Sook Lee’s 2003 film El Contrato, viewers hear how small family farms grew into major industries through the use of Mexican agricultural contract workers. But viewers also hear the male workers, who are at the center of this film, speak about the pain of their ordinary family and social life disrupted, their isolation and their powerlessness life as contract workers to improve the conditions of their labor. The film also shows us their efforts to support each other.

Since visas for temporary contract labor, skilled labor, and the temporary status of millions is on the table in the current immigration debate in the U.S., those interested in immigration reform might be interested in viewing Lee’s film to consider how guest worker programs affect all those involved, but also to learn about the historic and economic contributions of immigrant workers. For me, El Contrato drives a home a point that many would prefer to forget: immigrants are people, embedded in social as well as economic networks. El Contrato shows us men who are not able to both live and work among their families and social networks, but instead must forego life for work. Their labor, nonetheless, contributes to two economies: Canadian and Mexican. Though El Contrato addresses a Canadian/Mexican context, viewers might consider that the men’s voices in this film and their expressions of desire for a fuller family are sentiments shared by immigrants in the U.S. Today, we again revisit the debate between prioritizing family and social relationships in U.S. immigration law over that of worker supply and between inclusion of new immigrants via citizenship or forms of legal second-class status.

Filmmaker Min Sook Lee is at work on another film, Migrant Dreams, that focuses on women contract workers in Canada. The trailer promises even more intimate glimpses into the lives of contract workers, yet because these aspects of life are absent from El Contrato I wonder about the sources of this gendered difference — were these aspects of men’s lives not available to the woman filmmaker or a sign of the difference in men’s and women’s immigrant experience? Something to consider when Migrant Dreams is completed and published. In the meantime, view El Contrato in full online at the Canadian Film Board’s website.


Theresa Delgadillo is a Co-Editor/Moderator of Mujeres Talk and an Assistant Professor of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University.