Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"Saludos desde San Jose!" written by Jack Mace

By Annie Gibson

I am handing over my blog on the CIAPA Experience to the students participating in the program. This way you all can have a better idea of what life is like for a student at CIAPA. This blog entry is written by Currin Wallis. She is a freshman student who has begun her first semester of Tulane at CIAPA in Costa Rica 2012. Pura Vida, Professor Gibson

Jack’s Blog:

Saludos desde San Jose! Greetings!

Hello. I am writing this blog entry from my dorm room, room 205, which sits on the top floor of a large, hotel-like building on the joint Tulane – CIAPA campus in San Jose, Costa Rica. This building is where us Tulane students spend a lot of our time: studying for our various classes, eating, and sleeping, in that order of importance. The time as of now is 2:30 pm, on a Tuesday, October 7. Around me sits piles of essays and sketches strewn across my desk, and in front of me, pinned to a drawing board, is the schedule of my classes for the Fall 2012 Semester, which I double-check constantly out of forgetfulness. If I were to turn around and look out my open door, I would see the miniature rainforest that covers the CIAPA campus, and farther on, a towering golden “M”, for McDonald’s, back-dropped by the rolling, tropical-green hills and mountains that surround the city of San Jose. As I write this, the city is alive with a heavy rain, and thunder rumbles fiercely overhead, as it does almost every afternoon in this place. My name is Jack, and I’m one of the students studying at CIAPA in San Jose, Costa Rica.

As a student here at CIAPA, there is much and more to do, and almost everything we do is tied together with our studies. During the week my five other peers and I go about our daily business: going to class, taking the bus into San Jose, making our way to the local gym of which we have been granted membership, personal trainers, and thumb-print recognition access. Fellow gym members, most of them young, will often greet us with a “pura vida”, or “pure life”, a saying that Ticos (Costa Ricans) are fond of as both greetings and farewells.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, we visit two respective high schools in San Jose and work with English classes there. The last time we visited, we played the Spanish version of Scrabble with the class, and the next two hours saw countless conversations in Spanglish about life in general. The group that connects us with these schools is called the Youth Action Foundation, and it works with high schools all over Costa Rica to improve the quality of education for kids in primary and secondary school.
The rest of the week is spent studying and reading for our busy class schedule, which includes topics like Comparative Politics, Central American Government, and Latin American Art History. All of the classes are humanities, and I miss science, but they blend into such a cohesive study of Latin America – specifically Central America – that I often find myself forgetting which class I’m studying for. Weekends are usually a time to break free from the week’s routine and travel around the area, but occasionally we head out on organized, group weekend trips. So far these trips have led us to the cloud forests of Monteverde, white-water rafting in the mountains of Rara Avis, and, in the future, to the Caribbean beaches of the city of Limon. Again, I can’t express enough the beauty of this place.

Over the course of my stay here, I’ve made attempts to define the identity of this place called “Rich Coast”, and I have found it to be very difficult to pinpoint. Instead, flashes of inspiration will come to me in certain moments, much like the silent flashes of lightning that, late in the night, briefly illuminate the dark masses of mountains that surround CIAPA. I once watched out of a bus window as a series of young people marched on the street, banging unceremoniously and without rhythm on drums; this was Costa Rica. On one of our many weekend trips as a group, we visited the cloud forest of Monteverde, and were able to walk amidst and listen to the forest come alive with rain in the night; this was also Costa Rica. Costa Rica’s identity is hard to define, but I’ve come to the conclusion that Costa Rica is a proud country: proud of its natural splendor, proud of its history as one of the leading countries in Central America in political and economic stability, and proud of its happy people. At the same time, globalization and foreign influence have done their deeds, and Costa Rica’s identity is now attempting to cope with things like a beautiful, unique tropical bird perched on a giant, humming McDonald’s arch. Unfortunately that is only one of many examples of identity crisis. But this brings me to the National Theater.

When the United States was undergoing Industrialization, there began a large movement of appreciating and in turn depicting the vast, previously untouched nature of North America that was now being taken for granted. The United States has its Hudson River Painters, and Costa Rica has the National Theater in San Jose.

While it may be a bit of an overstatement to compare these two countries in terms of rejuvenating the appreciation for the national environment, it is certainly undeniable that both played, and are playing a part in the conservation of national identity when it comes to natural splendor. The National Theater is a huge building at the center of the Plaza of Culture in San Jose, which in turn is in the center of the city. The Plaza was originally built around the Theater, which was one of the first buildings to arise in the area, tall and majestic, dwarfing the one-story colonial homes it stood amidst at the turn of the 20th century. Now it stands as a cultural center for both locals and tourists. On the two occasions I’ve been to the theater (both of which played notable substitutions for our actual Tulane Interdisciplinary class), the shows seemed to emanate an irresistible love affair between Costa Rica and its people.
The first show was a performance by the Jazz pianist Chucho Valdez and his band, the Afro-Cuban Messengers. The performance was impossible to describe with words, but I can say that it gave me a newfound appreciation for Latin American music. When I got back to CIAPA I immediately downloaded all of Valdez’ music from “iTunes”. The performance was also unique in that involved the crowd pretty vehemently. Towards the end the band had everyone in the theater dancing, singing, and clapping. I can’t say for sure that this is a Costa Rican quality, but I can say that I would rarely see that in Seattle, Washington (where I’m from).

The second performance celebrated an anniversary of the Theater, and involved three separate acts of dance. Throughout the show we saw naked women and men running around attempting not to conform to society; a man and a woman falling in and out of love with fiery Latin flare; and a slow, ritualistic dance with big jungle cats, lots of water, and artificial steam and bird noises. All of these acts shared the same quality of attempting to celebrate Costa Rican culture, and by the end, it had succeeded at least with me. Of course, I acknowledge that these performances are filtered from real experiences with these aspects of Costa Rican culture, but when it was over I at least had the feeling that I knew Costa Rica a little better.

In conclusion, come to Costa Rica, but don’t go to college here – there are too many distractions. While you are here, please visit the National Theater.

Pura vida,

Jack Mace

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Annie Gibson

    Administrative Assistant Professor - Department of Global Education

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Summer Bilingual Reading Series at the Pebbles Center

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SECOND SATURDAY OF THE MONTH

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La hora del Cuento: 'Twas Nochebuena

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Join the Pebbles Center at the Children’s Resource Center branch of the New Orleans Public Library for bilingual story time. We will be reading ‘Twas Nochebuena and celebrating Christmas in the summer! _’Twas Nochebuena’ is a 2015 Americas Book Award Commended Title.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas Exhibit

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MEXICO IN NEW ORLEANS: A Tale of Two Americas
May 5 through August 30, 2015
Opening reception on Cinco de Mayo (Tuesday, May 5)

From May 5 through August 30, 2015, the LSU Museum of Art in Baton Rouge, LA will present Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas. The exhibition explores the artistic exchange between Louisiana and Mexico from the 1920s through 1950s, a period of vibrant cultural and artistic connections between the two regions. The exhibition tells the story of a decades-long dialogue between Mexican and Louisianan artists that critically shaped the art of both countries, resulting in artistic affinities that continue to connect Louisiana and Mexico today.

During the 1920s and 1930s, a series of celebrated Mexican art exhibitions brought the art and culture of modern Mexico to Louisiana. By 1928, the New Orleans Times-Picayune had proclaimed Mexican artist Diego Rivera "the greatest painter on the North American continent," and encouraged Louisiana artists to take counsel from modern Mexican art. In 1930, a critic for the Times-Picayune urged Louisiana artists to turn their gaze from the art of Europe and towards the art of Mexico, writing that Mexican art was "more nearly related to us emotionally" than European art.

By the late 1920s, Louisianan artists like William Spratling, Caroline Durieux, Alberta Kinsey, and Conrad A. Albrizio began travelling to Mexico to learn from Mexican artists like Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, Ruffino Tamayo, and Carlos Orozco Romero. These artists became friends, colleagues, and frequent collaborators, organizing exhibitions in both Mexico City and New Orleans that celebrated their artistic alliance. Diego Rivera's portrait of Louisiana printmaker Caroline Durieux, for example, was shown at least three times in exhibitions at the Belles Arts in Mexico City, and also appeared at the New Orleans Arts and Crafts Club, paired with the work of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. By the early 1930s, the strength of this artistic interaction
between Mexico and Louisiana caused a writer for The New Orleanian to characterize Louisianan art as having a "distinct Mexican tinge." By 1933, the Times-Picayune cited an undeniably "strong Mexican trend" in Louisiana art.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas is the first major museum exhibition to explore this captivating international cultural exchange. features more than 80 works by both Mexican and Louisianan artists who were part of this captivating international cultural exchange and will be accompanied by a richly illustrated bilingual exhibition catalogue designed by the LSU School of Art. The exhibition features artwork drawn from the LSU Museum of Art's collection of works by Diego Rivera and Caroline Durieux, as well as artworks by other prominent artists like David Alfaro Siqueiros, Boyd Cruise, and Elizabeth Catlett borrowed from public and private collections including the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Latin American Library at Tulane University. In the exhibition, paintings, watercolors, drawings and prints by these artists will be supplemented with sculpture, furniture, decorative arts, and ephemera such as pamphlets and postcards which help tell the story of Mexico in New Orleans-and New Orleans in Mexico.

Mexico in New Orleans: A Tale of Two Americas is curated by Dr. Katie A. Pfohl, and organized by the LSU Museum of Art.

Call for Papers: Tropical Exposures Conference

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Tropical Exposures: Photography, Film, and Visual Culture in a Caribbean Frame
March 10-12, 2016
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA

The 2016 Tropical Exposures conference is now accepting abstracts through September 15, 2015. Click here to view or download the official Call for Papers.

Tropical Exposures welcomes proposals for papers that address any facet of Caribbean visual representation in photography, film, art, popular culture, and other media, as well as the interaction of word and image more generally. Scholars are also encouraged to present proposals that consider social and cultural shifts toward the increasing intermediality of representation in the Caribbean frame.

Papers may focus on one terrain, image-maker, or form of media, or employ comparative strategies. Papers may be in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese, though English is preferred. We anticipate creating an edited volume of expanded essays around the notion of Tropical Exposures, co-edited by Ana López and Marilyn Miller. We encourage participants to prepare abstracts and presentations with an eye to inclusion in a print publication. Papers might address some of the following tropics or questions in their myriad Caribbean contexts:

-Conditions of image production in the torrid zones
-Documentary film and the aims of full exposure
-Still life and the notion of static representation
-Visual literacy and lens-based scholarship
-Image and intellectual property
-Snapshots, clips, collages and other image fragments
-Icons of visual culture from Korda’s Che to Cabrera Infante’s Códac
-Ruins as sites of deterioration and inspiration
-Visual representation, race and post-race
-Caribbean images as ephemera
-Realisms, surrealisms, hyperrealisms
-Museums, biennales, and other sites of collective visual consumption
-Code-switching between media
-Virtual and interactive visual systems
-Word and Image studies in and on the Caribbean
-Facades
-Censorship and the Image
-Moving pictures and sentiment
-Patronage, connoisseurship, and institutional support
-Captions
-Image saturation and contamination
-Interiority and exteriority
-Fair use of the Caribbean image
-Tourism and other circuitous systems
-New languages and theories of visual technique and critique

Please send a proposal and 250-word abstract by September 15, 2015 to <ccsi@tulane.edu>, including the abstract as an attachment to the email. Please include the title of your paper, your name (and the names of any co-presenters), institutional affiliation, mailing address, phone number, and email address. We welcome pre-constituted panels. If submitting a panel for consideration, please include a top sheet with panel title, participant names and a brief abstract of the panel topic in addition to the individual paper proposals.

Notification of acceptance to the conference will be made by October 1, 2015.

For updated information on the conference, location and arrangements, visit the Tropical Exposures page on the Cuban & Caribbean Studies website.

Area Studies & Outreach in the Social Studies Classroom

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Area Studies & Outreach in the Social Studies Classroom
November 10-11, 2015

A working meeting sponsored by Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs. This meeting will highlight important themes of outreach across area studies while producing valuable insight into best strategies for engaging with the K-12 Social Studies community. The meeting will explore best practices and strategies for assessment, resource access, and travel and collaboration.

Themes Addressed:

Evaluation and Assessment

  • Assessment of Learning
  • Project Evaluation

Innovative Resource Design and Access
  • Distance Learning
  • New Technology

Telling the Story
  • Promotional Strategies
  • Outreach to K-16 Communities

Travel & Outreach
  • Collaborative Partnerships Abroad
  • Effective Professional Development Abroad

Strategic Partnerships
  • MSIs/Community Colleges
  • Teacher Education Programs

The meeting will take place before the annual National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in New Orleans, LA November 13-15, 2015. Participants are encouraged to attend the working meeting and stay for the conference afterwards.

This meeting is funded through a Title VI U.S. Department of Education grant, the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, and Tulane University's Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Sponsors also include The University of Maine Canadian-American Center, The University of Texas at Austin Center for Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for South Asia, and the Boston University Africa Studies Center.

Travel Funding Opportunity
Funding for travel may be provided to those whose presentations are accepted. Applications for funding can be made by filling out this form and returning it to LARC by email (crcrts@tulane.edu), fax (504.865.6719) or mail (Stone Center for Latin American Studies 100 Jones Hall New Orleans, LA 70118).

For more information, please contact Denise Woltering at 504-862-3143 or dwolteri@tulane.edu

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Tropical Exposures: Photography, Film, and Visual Culture in a Caribbean Frame

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Tropical Exposures: Photography, Film, and Visual Culture in a Caribbean Frame
March 10-12, 2016
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA

We offer our conference as a forum in which to peruse and absorb the visual turn in contemporary inquiry from the unique vantage points of the Caribbean, circum-Caribbean and Caribbean diasporas. We conceive the tropical exposure as a frame for representing the region’s strengths and vulnerabilities and for questioning the interaction of Antillean sensibilities with a plethora of images and mediascapes. Our invited keynote speakers include photographer Virginia Beahan and artist Francisco Crespo, whose work appears on this page.

Tropical Exposures welcomes proposals for papers that address any facet of Caribbean visual representation in photography, film, art, popular culture, and other media, as well as the interaction of word and image more generally. Scholars are also encouraged to present proposals that consider social and cultural shifts toward the increasing intermediality of representation in the Caribbean frame.

Conference Updates:
Tropical Exposures is now accepting proposals. Please see the Call for Papers page for more information. Proposals are due by September 15, 2015.