Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Day of the Dead 2020 - Papel Picado Tutorial

Learn how to create your own papel picado, a traditional paper art found during the Day of the Dead. In this video tutorial, New Orleans artist Cynthia Ramirez, professor at Southern University of New Orleans walks us through how to create your own papel picado. Recorded October, 2020.

Explore el Día de los Muertos with our online curriculum Day of the Dead Across the Americas. The introduction to the unit is below.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration of ancestors found throughout Latin America. Día de los Muertos is celebrated differently throughout Latin America, with the Mexican traditions being most familiar to US residents. Día de los Muertos, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, is celebrated on All Saints and All Souls Days, an important part of Catholic traditions. Other aspects of the tradition come from pre-Hispanic roots, in Mexico, or influence of west African cultures, in much of the Caribbean.

Día de los Muertos is a time of remembrance and celebration of departed ancestors. It is a family holiday where people gather to remember loved ones and celebrate them. One of the most important traditions is the construction of altars to the dead. The altars are constructed in homes, in public places, and in cemeteries. Families also go to cemeteries to clean and decorate the graves of loved ones. In some places, people spend the night at the cemeteries in all-night celebrations.

Altars traditionally include items such as the favorite food and drink of the people the altar is dedicated to, representations of skulls (these can be made of sugar, paper, or any other sort of material), bread, pan de muertos, in the shape of bones and skulls, papel picado, cut paper, and Calaveras, or representations of skeletons. In Mexico, marigolds are traditionally used for decoration due to their smell. They were associated with death in pre-hispanic times and that association continues. The items placed on the altar are called ofrendas, or offerings.

Calavaras, or skeleton representations, come in many forms and styles. The term calavaras is also used to refer to the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913). Posada, a famous Mexican artist and political cartoonist, is most well-known for his representations of skeletons dressed in fancy cloths which were meant to satirize upper class individuals. These representations have been adapted for use in Day of the Dead traditions, particularly his famous Calavera Catrina, a female skeleton wearing a large floppy hat.

The Mexican Día de los Muertos tradition is based in large part on Aztec traditions. The Aztec, a people who lived in Central Mexico (Figure 1) at the time of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, celebrated a feast to honor their ancestors that occurred around the same time as All Saints and All Souls Day. These two traditions were mixed together and became the tradition we now associate with Día de los Muertos, a syncretic tradition. The Aztec celebration which occurred around this time was dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl who ruled over the land of the dead with her husband.

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Upcoming Events

Global Read Webinar Series Spring 2021

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies coordinates the annual CLASP Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature and is excited to collaborate with other world area book awards on this exciting online program. Join us this spring 2021 as we invite award winning authors to join us in an online conversation about social justice, the writing process and an exploration of culture and identity across world regions. This annual Global Read Webinar series invites readers of all ages to join us as we explore books for the K-12 classroom recognized by world area book awards such as the Africana Book Award, the Américas Award, the Freeman Book Award, the Middle East Outreach Council Book Award, and the South Asia Book Award.

Each webinar features a presentation by an award-winning author with discussion on how to incorporate multicultural literature into the classroom. Be sure to join the conversation with our webinar hashtag #2021ReadingAcrossCultures.


SPRING 2021 SCHEDULE – Read more about the program here.
All webinars are at 7:00 PM EST.

  • January 12 – The Américas Award highlights the 2020 Honor Book, The Moon Within by Aida Salazar
  • February 3 – The Children’s Africana Book Award highlights the 2020 book award winning, Hector by Adrienne Wright
  • March 11 – The Middle East Outreach Award presents 2020 Picture Book award winner, Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron
  • April – Freeman Book Award, a project of the National Consortium for Teaching Asia will present a book TBD.
  • May 13 – South Asia Book Award presents The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani


All sessions are free and open to the public. All times listed refer to Eastern Standard Time (EST). Sponsored by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, the South Asia National Outreach Consortium, the Middle East Outreach Council, and African Studies Outreach Council, The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia.

Reading Latina Voices Online Book Group for High School Educators

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This spring 2021 we invite all K-12 educators to join us once a month in an online book group. This past year has been a challenging one for everyone but especially K-12 educators. Sign up and join us as we explore the stories of women confronting identity as Latinas in the United States. Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies, AfterCLASS and the New Orleans Public Library partner to host this online book group. The books selected are recognized by the Américas Award and focus on the Latina experience. The group begins with the work of award-winning author and poet, Elizabeth Acevedo who will speak in a unique online format on March 23rd presented by Tulane University’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Newcomb Institute.

  • B) Free – you find your own copies of the books at your local library.


Reading Schedule – Thursdays at 6:00 PM CST

  • February 11 – Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • March 18 – The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • April 15 – American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  • May 13 – The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

Sponsored by AfterCLASS and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University and the New Orleans Public Library.

Central America, People and the Environment Educator Institute 2021

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This summer educator institute is the third institute in a series being offered by Tulane University, The University of Georgia and Vanderbilt University. This series of institutes is designed to enhance the presence of Central America in the K-12 classroom. Each year, participants engage with presenters, resources and other K-12 colleagues to explore diverse topics in Central America with a focus on people and the environment. It is not required to have participated in past institutes to join us.

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University is excited to host and coordinate this year’s institute. Tulane University and New Orleans are both unique and important places to explore the deep connections to Central America with a focus on people and environment. With presentations by leading historians and sociologists on Central America, environment and race we are excited to share the work and resources from presenters as well as the unique resources at Tulane.

This year, we provide participants the opportunity to participate in the institute as a blended synchronous learning cohort from June 14 – 25. The institute will focus on team-building, cross-disciplinary connections and curriculum development.

Synchronous Learning Cohort June 14 – 25, 2021
Registration fee: $15. All synchronous activities occur between 4 – 7 pm CST Monday through Friday.

  • pre-workshop materials and resources sent to your home
  • copy of book of poetry by Jorge Argueta
  • pre-workshop reading assignments (approximately 4-6 hours of coursework)
  • asynchronous lectures by faculty (lectures posted up to two weeks before institute discussion)
  • synchronous class discussion (2 – 3 hours Monday – Friday from 4 pm – 7 pm CST)
  • final reflection paper/pedagogical assignment

NOW REGISTERING FOR THE SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING COHORT Early registration is now open and will end on May 3, 2021. Early registration is $15. Starting May 4 registration will increase to $30. For more information, please email or call 504.865.5164. Space is limited.