Hispanic Studies at MACLAS 2018

By Christina Baker and Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra

The Mid-Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies (MACLAS) is an interdisciplinary professional association that promotes and develops interest in Latin America studies. Held in 2009 at William & Mary, Hispanic Studies has often had a strong presence at this yearly event in the form of Faculty and Student presentations. For the 2017 conference, Professor Baker attended the conference with two Monroe scholars. The experience was not only enriching for her as a faculty member, but also for the students. Being able to showcase their original research and dialogue with other scholars and students, allowed them to embody William & Mary’s rhetoric of supporting undergraduate research. For this 2018 conference, at Mulhenberg College, Professor Baker and Professor Sanchis-Sinisterra devised a two-semester initiative to select and prepare students for the conference. These two panels were extensions of two new and original courses offered through Hispanic Studies: HISP 320: Mujeres detrás de la cámara and HISP 390: Queer Latinidad. The five students who participated in MACLAS this year are deeply invested in the discipline of Hispanic Studies, having conducted coursework, study abroad and research in the field. This was, though, the first conference for all the participants.

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In the months leading up to the event, both Prof. Baker and Prof. Sanchis-Sinisterra mentored the students by offering to read their papers, brainstorm ideas, assist with research, and practice presentations. This support allowed the students to feel confident in their ideas and the validity of their research interests. During the conference, both panels had robust audience attendance, ranging from 8-10 conference attendees. Post-panel discussions were riveting conversations about the students’ work and suggestions on how to pursue it in the form of publications or future conference attendance. Brenna Cowardin said, “This was my first conference, and I am so incredibly grateful for the experience. I presented my paper in Spanish which was significantly more stressful than if I would have in English. That being said, it was also significantly more rewarding. I was so pleased when afterwards professors from other universities congratulated me on my presentation, and I felt so validated in all of the research and preparation I had done to get to that moment. Thank you so much!”

William & Mary panels were divided between the two conference dates, March 9thand 10th, 2018. Both Prof. Sanchis-Sinisterra and Prof. Baker arrived the night prior with all of the students. The two groups had a wonderful dinner together, bonding over the long drive to Pennsylvania, nerves about presenting, and excitement about their topics. Fortunately, both panels were scheduled in the afternoon so that the students could attend other panels, network, and feel comfortable about what being at a conference entailed. Madison Tate said, “I would say that it was really nice to get to experience what it’s like to present at a real conference, since this trip was my first time doing so. Also it was great to have the chance to learn from other students from different states and schools who are interested in the same topics that we are.”

The Friday panel was entitled “Chronopolitical Mappings of Queerness: Cartographies of Belonging Across Latin/x America,” and included the following series of talks:

“Erotohistoriographies of Selenidad: Queer Memory and Performance Practices,” Christina Baker (Visiting Assistant Professor)

“Géneroquir or Genderqueer: Imperialist and Linguistic Considerations of Otherness in Latin/x America,” Diana Weyandt (Hispanic Studies Major)

“Super(queer)oes: Latinas that Save the World,” Madison Tate (Hispanic Studies Minor)

“Queer Bodies of Color as Sacred,” Rebecca Bermudez. (Latinx Studies Major)

Please reference the video mash-up of the four presentations and photo gallery to see and watch the amazing work of these students.

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The Saturday was titled “Female Directors Changing the Climate: Latin America and Latinas in the U.S,” and included the following talks:

“Challenging Traditional Femininity in La teta asustada y XXY” – Brenna Cowardin (Hispanic Studies Major)

“The Shadow of the Patriarchy is Long: The Masculine Gaze in La niña santa” Sarah Malks (Hispanic Studies Major)

“Against Romantic Love: An Analysis of Mosquita y Mari by Aurora Redondo,” Carmen Sanchis-Sinisterra (Visiting Assistant Professor)

Please reference the video mash-up of the four presentations and photo gallery to see and watch the amazing work of these students.

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Scholarship and community are words that could quite well summarize what this experience meant for both Professors and students. This is what being part of William & Mary means: a deep love for knowledge in an atmosphere of sharing and connection; the final word being gratitude towards those who made it posible.

*This conference was made possible by the generous support of Dean Donahue and the Annual Fund. Additional support came from the Charles Center and Latin American Studies.

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