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.

LATEST SITE UPDATES

EVENTS

NEWS

RESOURCES

All Events

Upcoming Events

Hermes Mallea presenting Great Houses of Havana

View Full Event Description

Hermes Mallea presenting Great Houses of Havana: A Century of Cuban Style
An insider’s tour of Havana’s exceptional houses built between 1860 and 1960 and their fascinating personal histories, alongside Havana’s architectural patrimony.

Lecture at 6:00 PM and book signing at 7:30 PM.
For more information visit www.nohhf.org

This presentation is sponsored by the NOHHF in collaboration with the New Orleans Museum of Art, Beatriz Ball, JW Marriott, Jahncke & Burns Architects, the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Ileana and José Suquet, Tulane School of Architecture-Master of Preservation Studies and Tulane University-Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute

Teaching Haiti: K-12 Educator Workshop

View Full Event Description

This educator workshop will explore the culture of Haiti, focusing on music and dance. This unique workshop focuses on an important, but often understudied area of the Caribbean, and will provide K-12 educators with exciting opportunities to diversify the classroom.

Participants will receive lunch, teaching materials and CEUs.

Check out LARC’s curriculum on Haitian Folktales or the Haiti part of the Day of the Dead Across the Americas to get ready for the workshop.

Special offer on registration!:
Bring a friend! Register with a colleague from the same institution and you can receive a 2 for 1 registration. Please register only one time and follow instructions on the registration form to provide your colleague’s information.

Schedule Coming Soon!

La Hora del Cuento: Bilingual Story Hour at the Children's Resource Center

View Full Event Description

Join the Pebbles Center at the Children’s Resource Center branch of the New Orleans Public Library for bilingual story time.

On April 10th at 4:30 PM we will be featuring the book Ada’s Violin, about an orchestra made of recycled instruments, and doing a craft.

Alumni & Friends of the Band Dinner

View Full Event Description

Please join Barry Spanier, Director of Bands, Tulane University for the Alumni & Friends of the Band Dinner. The Tulane Concert Band 7th Annual Spring Concert will immediately follow at 7:30 pm in the Dixon Hall Theater. Explore the musical cultures of the Latin world. Feel the passionate rhythms and be transported by the sweeping melodies that have made this music beloved by audiences around the globe. Enjoy the repertoire of Latin composers and others: Malegueña, Amparito Roca, La Virgen de la Macarena, Libertango, Mambo, Danzon No. 2, Puebla de Los Angeles, El Camino Real and Bolero.

For more information, please contact Patricia McWhorter-Broussard 504.314.BAND or patmcwbr@tulane.edu
www.tulaneband.org

Exhibition Opening- Beyond the Canvas: Contemporary Art from Puerto Rico

View Full Event Description

Join us on the evening of April 26 to celebrate the opening of Beyond the Canvas: Contemporary Art from Puerto Rico.

The exhibition features the work of five Puerto Rico-based artists spanning several generations who have each developed a process-driven approach to painting. They challenge the notion of the canvas as a flat surface, focusing firstly on its materiality as a site for intervention and manipulation, and secondly as a substrate for painted images. Beyond the Canvas coincides with the 100th anniversary of Puerto Ricans receiving U.S. citizenship and the impending referendum on statehood. MORE >

  • 5:30 PM — VIP/members reception. To join or renew email museum@tulane.edu.
  • 6:30 PM — Lecture with curator Warren James in conversation with Dr. Monica Ramirez-Montagut, Director, Newcomb Art Museum, and Dr. Edie Wolfe, SCLAS Assistant Director for Undergraduate Programs, Tulane University
  • 7:30 – 9 PM — Public reception

Beyond the Canvas will be accompanied by an installation envisioned, curated, and designed by Tulane students from LAST 6961 “Women, Community and Art in Latin America: Puerto Rico.” Co-taught by Edith Wolfe, Assistant Director of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and museum director and exhibition co-curator Monica Ramirez-Montagut, the class asks how Puerto Rican socially-engaged art and artists address problems of gender, sexuality, and other issues affecting women on the island. The student-curated exhibition will document citizen-led projects, including a community-run educational center in a low-income, industrial area of San Juan that organizes a local “theater of the oppressed”; the collective decoration of houses in the hillside El Cerro neighborhood, aimed at increasing visibility of marginalized populations; the recuperation of lost artisanal traditions through intergenerational workshops known as Escuelas Oficios (Trade Schools); participatory urban design projects that are restoring blighted properties in Santurce, and the reclaiming of public space through feminist street art and performance.

La Hora del Cuento: Pebbles Center Bilingual Spring Reading Series

View Full Event Description

Celebrate and learn about Latin America with your kids through the Stone Center’s Pebble Center at the Algiers Regional branch of the New Orleans Public Library for bilingual story time.

Second Tuesday of every month at 10:30 AM. All books are read in English and Spanish and readings are followed by an activity based on the book. Past books include Counting Ovejas, Drum Dream Girl, and Mango, Abuela, and Me. Readings are free and open to the public. Recommended ages 0 – 5 and parents!

Story Hour Dates/Themes

March 21 – TRANSPORTATION
The Wheels on the Bus Illustrated by Melanie Williamson and Written by The Amador Family

April 11 – ANIMALS
Los Pollitos by Susie Jaramillo

May 9 – LATIN AMERICAN CHILDREN’S SONGS
Elefantitos by Susie Jaramillo