Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

History

Tulane University is a liberal arts institution founded in New Orleans in 1834. Located in a Franco-Hispanic city on the Gulf of Mexico, the city has served as a mediator between the circum-Caribbean world and the Anglo-American North from its foundation.

Tulane’s academic mission and programs have also evolved as partnerships with regional neighbors linked by history and shared inheritances. Early Tulane scholars studied the tropical diseases prevalent in New Orleans and the Gulf-Caribbean. They also gave attention to the tradition of civil code law which Louisiana shares with the French and Spanish world to the south. Even today Louisiana is the only place in the U.S. where civil law is taught. Consequently, Tulane has a long-standing special strength in the study of Central America and Mexico.

This early historical trajectory was given a firm organizational foundation in 1924, when Tulane benefactor Samuel Zemurray, the president of the Cuyamel Fruit Company, made a large gift of a library, archaeological artifacts, and an endowment to establish the Department of Middle American Research. The library was the William Gates Collection; it furnished the foundation of Tulane’s internationally distinguished holdings of resource materials on Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Mexico. This scholarly collection later constituted the base of Tulane’s Latin American Library established in 1962.

The Department of Middle American Research was founded to conduct “advanced research into the history (both Indian and colonial), archaeology, tropical botany (both economic and medical), and natural resources and products, of the countries facing New Orleans across the waters to the south; to gather, index and disseminate data thereupon; and to aid in the upbuilding of the best commercial and friendly relations between these Trans-Caribbean peoples and the United States.” The new division launched systematic expeditions and publications that described and analyzed the archaeology, customs, and languages of Central America and Mexico. It became Tulane’s first internationally prestigious program, responsible not only for innovative research, but for the highly popular Maya exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago in 1933-34.

William Gates was the first director of the Department in 1924, Franz Blom replaced him in 1926, and Hermann Bayer joined him in 1927. The Department attracted important participants in its research programs. Doris Zemurray Stone, who graduated from Radcliffe in 1930, joined the Department as an associate in ethnography during the 1931 academic year and subsequently was named as an associate in archaeology. She remained active in the program until 1939, when she moved with her husband Roger Thayer Stone to Costa Rica. She lived in Latin America until her father’s death in 1961, when she and her husband returned to New Orleans. Matilda Geddings Gray was associated with the Department from 1927, assembling an important collection of textiles during an expedition she led in 1935. Both of these researchers were to become major contributors and benefactors of the Department and Latin American Studies at Tulane.

In 1930, Blom presented an ambitious plan for the establishment of the Middle American Research Institute (MARI) to the Rockefeller Foundation, which dismissed them as overly ambitious. He labored throughout the 1930s to found this new institute, actively promoting plans for the construction of a new $2,000,000 building on campus modeled after the Castillo de Chichén Itzá. The fundraising campaign was authorized in 1938, but they were not to be completed. Franz Blom and Hermann Bayer were dismissed from their posts in 1940 and 1941, and only the name change took effect.

Maurice Ries and Arthur Gropp guided MARI until 1943, when Robert Wauchope became Director. Although called to service in the Navy in 1944-46, on his return he worked to integrate the research functions of the MARI with the teaching goals of the university. He served as the first chair in 1945-1946 of the Faculty Senate Committee on Middle American Studies, which oversaw the instructional programs on Latin America in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He was succeeded in 1946-47 by Professor of Spanish John Englekirk, Jr., who served through 1949-50.

Throughout the 1940s, and early 1950s, studies of Latin America expanded to include an increasing number of Tulane departments and faculty. Anthropology, history, literature, art history, political science, economics, sociology, biology, and earth sciences formed the core disciplines in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, while the Schools of Law, Business, Engineering, Medicine, and Public Health developed Pan-American programs as well.

In 1947, the Carnegie Corporation awarded Tulane University, Vanderbilt, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of North Carolina five-year grants to develop area studies programs for Latin America. The President’s Report of September 1948 described the fruits of that funding, announcing the creation of three new B.A. programs in Public Administration, Foreign Service, and Latin American Studies. All were targeted at newly perceived professional opportunities for students after WWII.

Latin American Studies was constituted as a minor and certification program and required 24 hours of Latin American content; the 1948 Report described it as the “equivalent of a second major.” Seventeen courses were listed that year. The same Report announced the Graduate Council’s approved a new M.A. degree in Latin American Studies; and in 1948 the Faculty Senate Committee on Middle American Studies was renamed the Committee on Latin American Studies,

In 1951, William J. Griffith (History) assumed the chairmanship of the Committee on Latin American Studies that included Dean Roger P. McCutcheon, Hugh B. Carnes (Business), Gustavo Correa (Spanish), John E. Englekirk, Jr. (Spanish), Frank L. Keller (Business), Arden R. King (Anthropology), Kalman H. Silvert (Politics), Robert Wauchope (Anthropology), and Daniel S. Wogan (Spanish). Munro Edmonson (Anthropology) joined them a year later.

Carnegie Institute funding in 1953 enabled full-scale coordinated group research at MARI in coordination with the Committee on Latin American Studies. But the group research projects were not completely successful, as researchers and faculty preferred individual projects. In spite of committed efforts from both parties to forge a coherent and unified program, the research mission of MARI and the instructional program of the Committee on Latin American Studies would move forward on separate tracks.

In 1956, the Latin American Studies Instructional Program, the Institute of Comparative Law, and MARI submitted a grant to the Rockefeller Foundation to establish an Institute of Latin American Studies. They were unsuccessful, but in 1956-57 Latin American Studies became a department of instruction. By 1960, it had expanded to include Bernard Gicovate (Spanish), Donald Robertson (Art), Philip B. Taylor, Jr. (Politics), Jan P. Charmatz (Law), Rodolfo Batiza (Law), and Gilbert Chase (Music).

In the interim, MARI continued its research and publication mission. In late 1957, the National Science Foundation approached Wauchope about undertaking the general direction of the publication of the Handbook of Middle American Indians, which was to become a major focus of MARI for many years. E. Wyllys Andrews IV, who had become an associate of MARI in 1949, had established important excavations at Dzibilchaltun, north of Mérida. E. Wyllys Andrews V followed his father as the director of MARI’s projects in Yucatán in 1972-74 and took over as MARI’s director when Wauchope retired in 1975.

In 1962, the U.S. Department of Education awarded funding to Tulane University to establish a National Resource Center in Latin American Studies under provisions of the newly established National Defense Education Act. In 1965, the Ford Foundation awarded the university a major five-year grant to expand both the faculty and the curriculum. Consequently, in 1966, Tulane University established the Center for Latin American Studies. William Griffith (History) was its first director; Richard Greenleaf (History) became its second director in 1970. By then, the Center’s new faculty included Roland H. Ebel (Politics), James D. Cochrane (Politics), Paul Lewis (Politics), Victoria Bricker (Anthropology), and Ralph Lee Woodward (History). A

Richard Greenleaf directed the Center for twenty-eight years, retiring in 1998. The achievements of the Greenleaf era were fundamental in establishing the Center as one of the preeminent academic programs at Tulane University and in the nation. He increased the size and breadth of the faculty, which reached its current size under his directorship. He garnered major support for its programmatic development from the Mellon, Rockefeller, Ford, Tinker, and Zemurray Foundations to name only a few. In 1975, in partnership with Samuel Z. Stone, he helped launch the Centro de Investigación Adiestamiento Público Administrativo in San José, Costa Rica, as a sister institution of the Center. In 1974, he established a new Ph.D. degree in Latin American Studies. His many other accomplishments are the subject of a special issue of the Center’s Newsletter on the occasion of a symposium in his honor (see Archive).

In addition to Greenleaf’s many achievements, the Center flourished because of the indefatigable support of eminent scholar and benefactor Doris Stone. The Center was renamed the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies in 1983 in honor of her husband, in whose memory she made significant contributions to the Center’s endowment. Doris Stone died in 1994 , and her son Samuel Stone and his family continue as active collaborators in the Center’s life and programs.

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Upcoming Events

The Liberace of Lucha Libre: An Evening with American-born Mexican luchador Cassandro

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Join the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Newcomb Art Museum, Amigos de los Amigos, and krewedelusion in welcoming American-born Mexican luchador Saúl Armendáriz, or Cassandro, on Wednesday, February 20, 7:00 PM, in the Freeman Auditorium. Cassandro will speak about his personal story of growing up and training as a lucha libre in México. He became one of the first openly gay exóticos (a wrestler who dresses in a flamboyant style), and later he had the honor of being the first exótico to win a championship title.

Cassandro will speak about how he negotiated his gay identity and overcame adversity in the world of professional Mexican wrestling. He will also share his experiences outside of wrestling, as an LGBTQ activist, circuit speaker, and most recently as the subject of a feature documentary, Cassandro, The Exótico which received critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2018.

This event is free and open to the public. Parader and performer Antonio Garza will moderate.

For more information contact: New Orleans Center for the Gulf South via email dfrazier@tulane.edu, by phone (504-314-2889), or visit the event website.

Sponsored by: Newcomb Art Museum, Amigos de los Amigos, krewedelusion, and The New Orleans Center for the Gulf South.

Life without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay

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Join the Environmental Studies Program and the School of Liberal Arts at Tulane University in welcoming Daniel Renfrew, West Virginia University, who will giving a talk titled Life without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay on Thursday, February 21 at 5:00 PM in the Stone Auditorium as part of the EVST Focus on the Environment (FOTE) Speaker Series.

Life without Lead examines the social, political and environmental dimensions of a devastating lead poisoning epidemic. Drawing from a political ecology of health perspective, Daniel Renfrew situates the Uruguayan lead contamination crisis in relation to neoliberal reform, globalization, and the resurgence of the political Left in Latin America. He traces the rise of an environmental social justice movement and the local and transnational circulation of environmental ideologies and contested science. Through fine-grained ethnographic analysis, this book shows how combating contamination intersected with class politics, explores the relationship of lead poisoning to poverty, and debates the best way to identify and manage an unprecedented local environmental health problem.

Daniel Renfrew is an associate professor of Anthropology. He received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Binghamton University, State University of New York in 2007. Dr. Renfrew joined the WVU faculty in Fall 2008 after a year as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Towson University. Dr. Renfrew’s research interests span the environmental, urban, critical medical and political anthropology sub-fields, and his research draws from and contributes to interdisciplinary scholarship on political ecology, social movements, science and technology studies, and Latin American studies. His research has focused in particular on anthropological and political ecological analyses of environmental conflicts.

In Celebration of Black History Month and Carnaval: African and indigenous presence in Boricua culture

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In celebration of Black History Month, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is proud to kick off Mardi Gras Mambo with a lecture by curatorial assistant Ilyanette M. Bernabel entitled Carnaval: The African and Indigenous Presence in Boricua Culture on Friday, February 22, 2019, 2:00 – 3:00 PM. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Bernabel will be presenting the research of her exhibition Carnival in Puerto Rico: Connections to the Homeland. The exhibition explores carnival traditions in Puerto Rico and its connection to Africa. This lecture will focus on the Carnival masked characters called Vejigantes, their unique cultural history from Spain to the Caribbean island, and the infamous musical and dance styles of bomba y plena. The goal of the lecture is to bring awareness to the similarities of two cultures as they relate to the spiritual aspect of masking.

The lecture will be followed by a performance from The Bombazo Dance Company.

Photo: Vejigante mask (made out of coconut and branches) worn for Carnival in Loiza, Puerto Rico.

David Smilde to join TULASO and debate team to discuss U.S. involvment in Venezuela

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Tulane Undergraduate Latin American Studies Organization (TULASO) and the Tulane Debate Team are proud to present a debate on the recent political crisis in Venezuela on Tuesday, February 26th at 8:00 PM in Jones 102. Professor David Smilde, the Charles A. And Leo M. Favrot Professor of Human Relations and a Senior Fellow for the Washington Office on Latin America, will be participating in the event. Professor Smilde will be providing his expertise to give a background on Venezuelan internal politics while the debate will focus on U.S. involvement in Venezuela.

All are welcome to come view and learn from the debate as well as enjoy some delicious Latin American food.

Email Sofia Zemser at szemser@tulane.edu for additional information.

Follow TULASO on Facebook and Instagram (@tulanetulaso) to stay up to date on upcoming events.

Critical Issues in Democratic Governance: Spring 2019 CIPR Series

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Latin America faces major threats to democratic governance, but there are also new opportunities for grassroots mobilization and social policy expansion. In Critical Issues in Democratic Governance the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research will host speakers to discuss emerging issues that have surfaced in democratic governance in the region. In Brazil, the AIDS movement constructed a powerful new advocacy coalition, with coordination between bureaucrats and activities. In Argentina and Brazil, there are sharp contrasts in the social welfare policies that governors and mayors have implemented, with profound consequences for livelihood of the poor and marginalized. Finally, the outbreak of violence across Latin America, under democratic regimes raises questions about how criminal organizations compete for influence over transnational illicit networks and infiltrate the state.

Spring 2019 Schedule

February 8, 2019
State-Sponsored Activism: Bureaucrats and Social Movements in Democratic Brazil
Jessica Rich, Marquette University

February 22, 2019
4:00 – 6:00 PM
Greenleaf Conference Room in Jones 100A
Uneven Social Policies: The Politics of Subnational Variation in Latin America
Sara Niedzwiecki, University of California, Santa Cruz

April 5, 2019
Homicidal Ecologies: Illicit Economies and Complicit States in Latin America
Deborah Yashar, Princeton University

Please RSVP to cipr@tulane.edu.

Master class and panel discussion of Azul at the Southern Rep Theatre

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The Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute at Tulane University, in collaboration with the Southern Rep Theatre, are proud to announce two events in celebration of the reopening of the Southern Rep Theatre and the spring premiere of the play Azul written by Christina Quintana, a New York-based writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots, and Estefanía Fadul, a Colombian-born, New Hampshire-raised, New York City-based director and producer. In this evocative new play, lifelong New Yorker Zelia struggles to center herself after the loss of her Cuban-born mother. As Zelia digs into her mother’s legacy, she learns of her tía-abuela, the great-aunt who remained in Cuba for the love of another woman. Echoes of the past inform Zelia’s own relationship with her wife and her struggle to place herself between worlds. A Master Class with Christina Quintana will take place on Friday, March 15, 2019 at 3:30 PM. There will also be a Panel Discussion before the play at the Southern Rep Theatre on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

The 13,000-square-foot former St. Rose de Lima Church on Bayou Road has given Southern Rep Theatre a permanent home, something it had lost since leaving Canal Place. The history of the project and more information about the theatre space may be found in the New Orleans Advocate article Southern Rep finds new home in former church.

Southern Rep Theatre will be showing Azul beginning March 27 continuing through April 14, 2019. Group tickets will be available for classes or student organizations. Tickets will be available at a reduced price for students, educators and young professionals at the following prices:
  • All student rush tickets are $10 at the door with ID, plus box office fees = $13 (subject to availability)
  • All teacher tickets are available in advance or at the door (subject to availability) for $25 plus fees
  • All under-35 tickets (“young professionals”) are available in advance or at the door (subject to availability) for $25 plus fees

For more information about tickets, please contact Kaylene Torregrossa, Patron Services Coordinator at boxoffice@southernrep.com.

Presented in partnership with the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival, a project of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival