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

New Orleans con Sabor- Latino Exhibit: A Showcase of Latin Foodways in New Orleans

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The opening for the “New Orleans con Sabor Latino” exhibit will take place Tuesday, May 2 at 6PM at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum on Oretha Castle Haley. The permanent exhibit, produced by Sarah Fouts’ Food, Migration, and Culture course, showcases oral histories conducted by students with chefs and cooks that represent the Latinx foodways in the city. The exhibit also features an interactive station that displays menus from different Latin restaurants in the New Orleans area, a local map of the restaurants, a hemispheric map of the Americas, along with photographs and audio clips produced by the students. The project is supported by the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, the Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, and the Center for Public Service.

Light refreshments will be served
6-730PM
1504 Oretha Castle Haley
For more information email sfouts@tulane.edu

The Tulane Culture Workshop: Movements and Ethnoracial Rights in Latin America

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Join the Tulane Culture Workshop for a discussion of Movements and Ethnoracial Rights in Latin America with Tianna Paschel, University of California- Berkeley, African American Studies and Sociology.

Workshops function on a different model from lectures. In a workshop the paper is distributed so that people can read the paper beforehand. The author gives only a brief introduction to the article, to contextualize the piece. The workshop itself amounts to an extended Q&A on the piece. In this workshop, we will discuss Dr. Paschel’s ongoing ethnicity-based social movements research in Latin America. The discussion will provide her with feedback and give participants an inside view of the craft of scholarship with one today’s leading thinkers.

For more information click here or email idiaz5@tulane.edu.

"Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil"- A talk by Dr. Tianna Paschel

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Dr. Tianna Paschel, professor in the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley, will present on her book “Becoming Black Political Subjects: Movements and Ethno-Racial Rights in Colombia and Brazil” on Wednesday, May 3 from 1-3:30 in the Greenleaf Conference Room. This book examines the shift from colorblind state discourses to the adoption of ethno-racial policies in Colombia and Brazil in the 1990s, as well as the impact this shift has had on political institutions and broader socio-cultural change in these countries. This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research and the Department of Sociology. After the event, at 3:30, Dr. Paschel will workshop her new document “Movements and Ethnoracial Rights in Latin America”.

Marisol Blanco Barrios: Cuban Folkloric Dance Workshop

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The Tekrema Center for Art and Culture presents: Marisol Blanco Barrios: Cuban Folkloric Dance Workshop.

The week-long conference will featuring intensive dance workshops, panel discussions, performances, and exhibits in June. The conference showcases local, national and internationally acclaimed dancers from Louisiana, The Caribbean, and Africa. This year, the conference will launch the book and choreographic work by Greer E. Mendy, Black Dance in Louisiana – Guardian of A Culture.

Tekrema is a cultural arts organization located in New Orleans, Louisiana in the area geographically described and affectionately known as “The Lower 9th Ward”. The mission of Tekrema’s mission is the maintenance, development and perseverance of African and African Diaspora art and culture.

Conference Schedule

  • Tuesday May 2 at 6 PM: Afro-Cuban: The Orichas
  • Wednesday May 3 at 7 PM: Cuban Traditional Ballroom Dance: Cuban Rumba and Son
  • Thursday May 4 at 7 PM: Afro-Cuban: The Orichas
  • Saturday May 6 at 10 AM: Panoramic International Dance: Children’s class

Workshop fee schedule class fee- $10 per class. Tekrema Youth- Free.

La Hora del Cuento: Pebbles Center Bilingual Spring Reading Series

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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

Call For Papers- Haiti: Paradoxes, Contraditions, Intersections in the Making of a People

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CALL FOR PAPERS: Haitian Studies Association’s 29th Annual Conference

The Haitian Studies Association will hold its 29th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, a site that offers scholars a look at how the “making of the people” occurs outside of the geopolitical spaces associated with a nation-state. Indeed, the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804 forced not only the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, but also the migration of slaves, slave owners, and free blacks and mulattos between the two former French territories. These movements of people led to the creation of new spaces where migrants linked to an emergent Haiti would become part of a new North American dynamic also characterized by inequalities and exclusion.

The Haitian Studies Association seeks a diverse set of scholarly interrogations of these themes from disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. We are especially interested in fully constituted panels, and will prioritize panels that speak directly to our themes and attempt an interdisciplinary dialogue.

Panel and roundtable proposals are to be no longer than 500 words, clearly listing the individual paper titles and authors. Individual paper abstracts should be around 250 words. Presenters are expected to register for the conference in advance to ensure their names are in the program.

Proposals with be accepted until June 1st, 2017. Fore information regarding the conference and guidelines for proposals, click here.