Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

"Ahk'ab: Darkness and the Night among the Classic Maya," a talk by Marc Zender

September 9th, 2011 - September 12th, 2011
4:00 pm

Room 102, Dinwiddie Hall, Uptown Campus


Ancient Mesoamericans regarded the night as an alien landscape antithetical and inimical to human interests. Both the dualistic opposite and ceaseless, antagonistic counterpart of “day” — of brightness, heat and life — “night” encoded the utter absence of everything associated with the world of the sun; it provided a daily period of danger and liminality to human lives, and a threatening landscape of darkness, cold and death. For the Classic Maya especially, the night was peopled with predatory, rapacious animals such as jaguars, bats, owls and mosquitos, all of which were marked in writing and art as “nocturnal,” and unvaryingly associated with disease, ill omen and death. Widely regarded as an “unnatural” time and place, with eclipses simply providing the most extreme examples of the unceasing attacks of darkness on the world of the sun, night was a period to be passed in fearful watch and a landscape only be traveled.

A Reception with snacks and soda will follow the talk.

Marc Zender is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Tulane and is teaching Classical Nahuatl, Intermediate Mayan Hieroglyphics, and History of Writing. Mr. Zender has a Ph.D. in Archaeology from the University of Calgary and comes to Tulane from Harvard University where he was a Research Associate and Lecturer.

Sponsored by the Tulane Anthropology Student Association Colloquium





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Upcoming Events

Vodú Chic: Cuba's Haitian Heritage, the Folkloric Imaginary, and the State

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The Department of Anthropology and Tulane Anthropology Student Association present a lecture by Dr. Grete Viddal, Zemurray-Stone Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, “Vodú Chic: Cuba’s Haitian Heritage, the Folkloric Imaginary, and the State” at 4:00 pm on Friday October 21st.

Talk Abstract
Hundreds of thousands of Haitian agricultural laborers arrived in Cuba to cut cane as the Cuban sugar industry was expanding between the 1910s and the 1930s. Historically, Haitian laborers occupied the lowest strata in Cuban society. Until recently, the maintenance of Haitian traditions in Cuba was associated with rural isolation and poverty. Today however, Cuba’s Haitian communities are increasingly linked with cultural institutes, heritage festivals, music promoters, and the tourism industry. Music, dance, and rituals of Vodú are reimagined for the public stage. Viddal’s book in progress, Vodú Chic, explores how haitiano-cubanos utilize emerging “economies of folklore” in the socialist state —particularly heritage conservation projects and the tourist industry—to assert their voices and transform once-denigrated traditions into the exotic and desired.

A brief reception will follow the talk.

MARI Brown Bag: Patricia Alexander Lagarde "Contagious Chavin: How Restricted Access and a Hidden Image Inspired the Rise of the Chavin Horizon"

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Patricia Alexander Lagarde, a Ph.D. student in the joint Latin American Studies and Art History program at Tulane University, will present a talk “Contagious Chavin: How Restricted Access and a Hidden Image Inspired the Rise of the Chavin Horizon” on her research about the Chavin art style in Peru.

For more information and a full list of Brown Bag talks, visit the Brown Bag Website.

Honduran Environmental Rights Activist Speaks on Behalf of Her Mother Berta Cáceres

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The Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Environmental Studies program, Tulane’s Office of Multicultural Affairs the Newcomb College Institute and the local organization, Amigos de Nuestra América are pleased to present a lecture by Olivia Marcela Zúñiga Cáceres, the daughter of Berta Cáceres the Honduran environmental activist assassinated in 2014. Zúñiga Cáceres will discuss her mother’s legacy and plans to continue work on environmental issues in Honduras particularly among indigenous people.

In a country with growing socioeconomic inequality and human rights violations, Cáceres rallied the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam. Cáceres grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. In 1993 she confounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods. Death threats to Cáceres continued until March 3, 2016 when she was killed by gunmen in her home. Her death sparked international outrage. Dutch development bank FMO and FinnFund have since suspended their involvement in the Agua Zarca project.

Free and open to the public. Presentation will be in Spanish with interpretation in English provided. For more information, please visit or call 504.865.5164.

Tulane Art History Works-in-Progress Colloquium

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Presenting an art history works-in-progress colloquium where two of the department’s Ph.D. students will be giving dry runs of upcoming conference talks.

  • Julia O’Keefe, Ph.D candidate in Art History and Latin American Studies will be outlining her talk- Manifesting the Sacred: Aztec Stone Boxes as Landscapes of Exchange
  • Jennifer Saracino, Ph.D candidate in Art History and Latin American studies will be outlining her talk- The Glyphic Landscape: Place Glyphs as Indicators of Changing Environmental Perceptions in the Mapu Uppsala.

Trends in Latin American Literature: A Conversation with Jorge F. Hernandez & Yuri Herrera

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A Conversation with Jorge F. Hernandez & Yuri Herrera

Wednesday, November 9th from 6:00 pm-9:30 pm. Together, writers Jorge F. Hernandez and Yuri Herrera will explore past and present trends in Latin American literature. Their dialogue will take place at the Freeman Auditorium in the Woldenberg Art Center from 6:00 pm-7:15 pm. Please join us at the Latin American Library afterwards for a reception and an exhibit, from 7:30pm-9:30pm. This talk is part of a Big Read program for Sun, Stone, and Shadows, edited by Hernandez.

The Latin American Library of Tulane University is partnering this year with the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society in presenting a community-wide BIG READ, funded in part by the National Endowment of the Arts. The BIG READ program provides support for community groups to read and discuss one book together. This year’s focus book, Sun, Stone, and Shadows, is a collection of the best Mexican short fiction curated, edited, and translated by Mexican author Jorge F. Hernandez. One of Mexico’s leading journalists and author of both non-fiction and fiction, Hernandez currently lives in Madrid, where he writes for the leading newspaper in Spain, El Pais. Recent events have brought to the fore the importance of understanding our neighbors to the south and there is no better way to familiarize oneself with a nation’s people than through their literature. Sun, Stone, and Shadows serves as a window on the soul of the Mexican people, containing prized jewels of short fiction, work by such Mexican masters as the late Carlos Fuentes.

The evening will begin with a conversation between Hernandez and the young Mexican fiction writer Yuri Herrera, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Herrera and his translator recently were awarded the highly prestigious Best Translated Book Award for Fiction. Herrera’s work explores ongoing societal issues surrounding Border culture and employs incredibly inventive language for his characters. His latest novels, both translated into English, are Signs Preceding the End of the World and The Transmigration of Bodies. Their dialogue will explore past and present trends in Latin American literature. The discussion will be followed by a reception at the library unveiling a new exhibition of rare treasures from the the Latin American Library’s collections of Mexican literature, art, and cultural artifacts. The reception will feature Mexican culinary treats and music.

This event is sponsored by the Latin American Library, the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and the National Endowment of the Arts BIG READ program.

For more information visit the event webpage

Exploring the 2016 US Elections

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The US’s November elections are especially critical. The world’s power structures are undergoing dramatic changes, and so the internal political process of this world leader has even greater global consequences.

Looking beyond just the US’s foreign policy is key to understanding its actions. Over the next few months, the teaching programs at several Costa Rican institutions will focus on the following:

  • An analysis of succession of power within institutional structures.
  • The role of political parties (polarization).
  • The influence of changing demographics.
  • The geographic expression of social change.
  • The effect of the democratic process in the formulation and implementation of the US’s foreign policy towards Latin American in particular.

The University of Costa Rica, through its School of Political Science, and the Centro de Investigación y Estudios Políticos (CIEP), has joined forces with the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones y su Instituto de Formación y Estudios en Democracia (IFED), as well as with the University of Tulane, through its Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR), for a series of outreach activities during the second half of 2016. These activities will utilize the resources at these educational and research institutions to promote a better understanding of the electoral process in the US.

The results of this upcoming election will have repercussions for the world, particularly in Latin American and Costa Rica. A broader, deeper understanding of the current situation will be useful for both universities and public policy decision-makers.

Participating institutions are confident that a proper analysis of this political process will lead to improved understanding and cooperation between the two nations.

Schedule of Activities


  • Thursday, 8/18: Talk on the United States’ electoral system by Diego Brenes, IFED.

  • Thursday, 9/1: Discussion on demographics and electoral geography in the US with Constantino Urcuyo and Jesús Guzmán.
  • Thursday, 9/22: Talk on Politics and Elections: Celeste Lay, Phd. Tulane University.

  • Thursday, 10/13: Discussion on elections and external politics: Carlos Murillo, Phd. in government and public policy.
  • Thursday, 10/27: Talk by Jenny Lincoln Fullbright from the US Embassy.

  • Monday, 11/10: Round table. Analysis of election results with Constantino Urcuyo, Felipe Alpízar, Nuria Marín, and Fernando Zeledón as moderator.