Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Why the Latin American Region Matters to the U.S.

July 11, 2012

Latin America is a source of cultural, economic, and environmental opportunity for the U.S. Its proximity to the U.S. makes it a natural tourist destination, trade partner, and source of investment. Foreign direct investment to the region averaged $23.5 billion annually in 2010 and 2011. The U.S. accounts for approximately 18% of the FDI flows to the Latin American region. Total trade (imports and exports) between the U.S. and Latin America amounted to over $600 billion in 2010 and has grown consistently since at least 2005. Aside from being a destination for U.S. products Latin America is a source of prized raw materials for the U.S., especially oil. The total number of U.S. citizens that traveled to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010 and 2011 reached 30 million, which means that the region accounted for half of all citizens travelling abroad.

More importantly, the region shares the same foundational values that are important to the U.S.: political liberty, economic freedom and democratic government. These can be traced back to the independence period when a majority of the emerging nations modeled their constitutions on that of the U.S., and more recently to the return to democracy and free markets of all Latin American countries (save one) during the 1980s. The cultural linkages between the region and the U.S. have deepened in the aftermath of the Cold War as the stream of Hispanic migrants seeking opportunities in the U.S. has skyrocketed. As a consequence, Spanish has become a dominant secondary language in the U.S. and Hispanics are now the largest ethnic minority in the country. Also as a consequence, money remittances from migrants to their relatives in the region have grown to exceed the flows of foreign aid and in many countries have become the primary source of foreign currency. These migrants, which tend to be younger on average than the U.S. population, have become an important source of labor that has helped maintain the dynamism of the U.S. economy. Their economic consolidation has also turned them into a substantial consumption force, and a source of entrepreneurship and employment through ownership of medium and small businesses. Their high birth rates and their concentration in urban centers are also transforming these communities into a significant political force.

But the relevance of the region is not only highlighted by positive factors. Latin America and the U.S. face common threats. In the globalized world in which we are living challenges to national security are eminently transnational and consequently cannot be addressed by single countries acting in isolation. Here are a few examples:

  • Drug trafficking: the Andean region in Latin America is a main source of drug production and multiple countries throughout the hemisphere have become important trafficking and distribution centers. But the main source of demand driving this industry is in the U.S.. The drug trade, estimated to be over $300 billion globally, is a source of domestic corruption and is linked to violence and other forms of criminality at its source and final destination.
  • Gangs: these highly complex and violent groups encompass multiple facets of criminal activity and through their highly effective networking span regionally and even globally. Their origins are traced to the deportation of illegal migrants who were schooled in the rituals and practices of violent U.S. street gangs through their mutual incarceration, particularly in the city of Los Angeles.
  • International crime: clearly related to the drug trade and gang activity but not limited to them, international crime involves human trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering and other insidious threats that put human lives at risk and are terribly costly to control. It is estimated that the fight against crime can absorb up to 15% of a poor country’s GDP, resources that could otherwise be devoted to more productive purposes.
  • Migration: people migrate primarily in search of opportunities they cannot find in their home countries. For this reason, the underlying poverty and inequality that still characterize most of Latin America are a permanent incentive for migration. But so is the lure of employment opportunities in the prosperous communities to the north of the Rio Grande. If there is a growing population of undocumented migrants in the U.S. it is at least partly due to the chasm between the actual demand for Latin American laborers and the ability of the existent regulatory framework to accommodate them. Among other implications, this situation raises delicate issues in the areas of human rights and the criminal justice systems.
  • Environment: the effects of environmental degradation do not respect international boundaries. Largely because of this, polluters can impose part of their costs on others. Those in a position to provide solutions have little incentive to do so as long as they bear all of the costs without capturing the benefits. Latin America is in a position to improve carbon sequestration and storage through reforestation and the preservation of tropical forests, but it needs the support of the U.S. and other developed countries to do so.

Historically, Latin America has been within the U.S. sphere of interest, not always in the most felicitous of ways, but always at a high level of relevance. Most recently, however, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 and the global financial crisis, the U.S. has shifted its attention to other world regions. In the meantime, Latin America has undergone a transformation of its own. No longer seen merely as a testing ground for American policies, it has gained recognition for innovation in the areas of social policy, political participation, biofuels, and others. While poverty and inequality remain high they have fallen significantly. Together with sound economic management and growing investment this is swelling the ranks of the middle class across the region. To enhance its regional and even global standing, the U.S. must rediscover the relevance of Latin America and embrace it as a full partner.

Why the Latin American Region Matters to the U.S.

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La Hora del Cuento: Fall Bilingual Story Hour at the Pebbles Center

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This fall, join us for La hora del cuento bilingual readings series at the Pebbles Centers of the New Orleans Public Libraries!

On the first and last Saturday of every month, we will read a bilingual book at the Algiers Regional Library and the Children’s Resource Center Library beginning on Saturday, August 25 until Saturday, December 29. Children and parents are welcome!

Story Hours Dates and Locations

Algiers Regional Branch
Saturday, September 1
10:30 AM

Saturday, October 6
10:30 AM

Saturday, November 3
10:30 AM

Saturday, December 1
10:30 AM

Children’s Resource Center Library
Saturday, August 25
10:30 AM

Saturday, September 22
10:30 AM

Saturday, October 27
10:30 AM

Saturday, November 24
10:30 AM

Saturday, December 29
10:30 AM

Stone Center for Latin American Studies to host 11th annual Workshop on Field Research Methods

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Join us at the Stone Center for Latin American Studies for the 11th Annual Weekend Workshop on Field Research Methods on Saturday, January 26, 2019. The deadline to apply for the workshop is January 15, 2019.

How will you get the data you need for your thesis or dissertation? Do you envision immersing yourself for months in the local culture, or tromping the hills and farms seeking respondents? Sorting through dusty archives? Observing musicians at work in the plaza? Downloading and crunching numbers on a computer? For any of these approaches: How might you get there, from here?

This workshop aims to help you approach your data collection and analysis for your thesis or dissertation topic, and to adapt and refine your topic to be more feasible. You will take your research project ideas to the next stop—whatever that may be, include raising travel grants. Learn to:

  • Plan more efficiently, feasible, and rewarding fieldwork
  • Prepare more compelling and persuasive grant proposals
  • Navigate choices of research methods and course offerings on campus
  • Become a better research and fieldwork team-member

Format
This is an engaged, hands-on, informal workshop. Everyone shares ideas and participates. We will explore and compare research approaches, share experiences and brainstorm alternatives. You will be encouraged to think differently about your topic, questions, and study sites as well as language preparation, budgets, and logistics. The participatory format is intended to spark constructive new thinking, strategies, and student networks to continue learning about (and conducting) field research.

Who is leading this?
Laura Murphy, PhD, faculty in Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, and affiliate faculty to the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

Who is this for?
This workshop is targeted to Stone Center graduate students as well as graduate students from other programs (GOHB, CCC, humanities, sciences, and others) if space is available. The workshop will be particularly helpful for those who envision research with human subjects.

Sign up
Sign up as soon as you can! Apply by January 15, 2019, at the latest to confirm your stop. Send an email with the following details:

  • Your name
  • Department and Degree program
  • Year at Tulane
  • Prior experience in research, especially field research
  • Academic training in research design and methods
  • Include a 1-paragraph statement of your current research interests and immediate plans/needs (i.e. organize summer field research)

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Not for credit.

For more information and/or to apply: Contact Laura Murphy or Jimmy Huck.

Call for submissions: City, Community, and Culture Symposium VOICES

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The City, Culture, and Community (CCC) program at Tulane University is now accepting submissions for the 2019 spring symposium to be held on February 9, 2019. The deadline to submit a proposal is December 21, 2018. The 2019 symposium, VOICES: Visibility, Orientation, Identity, Creativity, Environment, Spaces, seeks to understand creative approaches to how inequalities are negotiated: socially, culturally, and institutionally.

The symposium is looking for research that explores creative approaches to agency, institutional organization, and cultural production and consumption within complex social systems. What are the current issues facing our communities, institutions, and cities? How can we be creative and inclusive in our approach? We are interested in how scholars frame these questions in regards to race, gender, sexuality, and class. This symposium invites scholars to present work from a variety of disciplines, perspectives, theoretical frameworks, and methodologies. As the academy continues to evolve, interdisciplinarity proves more and more a necessity. This symposium intends to create an interdisciplinary space that can bring together scholars, practitioners, students, and community members to engage across lines and extend current conversations around agency, resilience, and social justice across the globe.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Ernesto Martinez, is an Associate Professor in Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon. In his keynote address Queer Arousals in Contexts of Racialized Harm, Dr. Martinez conducts an intersectional analysis of the ways that queer men of color negotiate epistemic injustice through the creation and consumption of film, literature, and art. His research interests include queer ethnic studies, women of color feminisms, US Latinx literature and culture, and literary theory. He is the author of On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility (Stanford UP, 2012) and The Truly Diverse Faculty: New Dialogues in American Higher Education. (Palgrave, 2014). Along with his academic achievements, Dr. Martinez also writes bilingual Latinx children’s books, produces films (La Sarentata, 2017), and serves as a board member for the Association for Jotería Arts, Activism, and Scholarship (AJAAS), a queer Latinx grassroots organization dedicated to producing art and analyzing culture and politics in the context of activism.

Conference submissions are open to graduate students, outstanding undergraduates, educators, and practitioners. The symposium is a forum to showcase original research, theory expansion, innovative analysis, practical applications, and case studies. We welcome unpublished journal articles, area exam sections, dissertation chapters, working papers, and other forms of research analysis. As the space is intended to be for workshopping and dialoguing, literature reviews will not be considered. Presentations will be organized either in panels or individually.

The submission deadline is December 21, 2018. Any questions should be directed to tulaneccc@gmail.com.

Mexican Cultural Institute's new exhibition features photographs showcasing Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

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The Mexican Cultural Institute in conjunction with PhotoNOLA 2018 will be showcasing a photographic exhibition titled Diego and Frida: A Halfway Smile from December 7, 2018 through February 15, 2019.

The opening reception will be held on December 7, 2018 from 6:00 PM through 9:00 PM.

The exhibition Diego and Frida, A Halfway Smile consists of personal photographs through which the wonderful world shared by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo is revealed. One of the most controversial couples in the history of art in Mexico, united for almost 25 years, their relationship is marked by an infinity of encounters and disagreements. This axis of love witnessed innumerable contacts, closeness, complicity and deep friendships with great personalities of the time. It is through the images captured by friends like Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Nicolas Murray and Edward Weston that different stages of the relationship, life, pain and death of Frida and Diego are presented.

In 2018 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico established the Mexican Cultural Institute in New Orleans. The primary objective of the Mexican Cultural Institute is to promote the image of Mexico by supporting cultural expressions in its broadest and fullest sense, including multidisciplinary forms like visual arts, music, performing arts, film, literature and gastronomy. The mission of the Cultural Institutes is to be protagonists of the cultural scene in their different host cities.

16th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium: The Ancient Maya and Collapse

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The Middle American Research Institute, in collaboration with Tulane’s Stone Center for Latin American Studies, New Orleans Museum of Art, and Mexican Consulate in New Orleans, is proud to announce the 16th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium beginning on Thursday, February 14, and concluding on Sunday, February 17, 2019. This year’s conference The Center Could Not Hold: The Ancient Maya and Collapse will explore recent developments in Maya studies as they relate to the broader topic of collapse. Speakers and workshops will address the issue of political decline over the span of ancient Maya prehistory. These researchers will help us address the collapse in a multi-disciplinary fashion and bring attention to recent research in the region.

Registration is now open! Register by Monday, January 14 for the early registration rate.

On Friday, February 15, at 6:00 PM, the keynote address will be given by Jeremy A. Sabloff, External Professor of the Santa Fe Institute and Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, of the University of Pennsylvania. In his talk Is “Collapse” a Useful Term in Understanding Pre-Columbian Maya History?, Dr. Sabloff considers how the term “collapse” has, in recent years, become quite controversial, and argues that there is good reason to question the utility of this loaded word going forward. This keynote talk will focus on understandings of the late 8th and early 9th centuries CE cultural processes and environmental events in the Maya Lowlands that culminated in what has often been seen as a political collapse. Moreover, the talk will examine whether such understanding can help illuminate comparable trends at other times in Maya history and in other complex societies in general.

Since 2002, the Middle American Research Institute of Tulane University has hosted a weekend of talks and workshops dedicated to the study of the Maya civilization of Mexico and Central America. This yearly meeting has called upon scholars from a wide spectrum of specialties including archaeology, art history, cultural anthropology, epigraphy, history, and linguistics to elucidate the many facets of this fascinating Mesoamerican culture. In developing a broad approach to the subject matter, the conference aims to draw the interest of a wide ranging group of participants from the expert to the beginner.

To view the schedule, registration, and additional information, please visit the Tulane Maya Symposium website.

2019 Global Read Webinar Series: Diversity in children's literature for the classroom

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This spring, the World Area Book Awards (Américas Award, Africana Book Award, Middle East Book Award, South Asia Book Award, and the Freeman Book Award) will sponsor a free 60 minute webinar on a book recognized by one of the awards and facilitate a discussion with the author on how to incorporate the book into the classroom.

The 2019 Global Read Webinar Series will focus on the theme diversity in children’s literature. The webinar will be recorded and archived online and have accompanying curricula to correspond with the book.

To register and learn more information about the Spring 2019 series, please visit:
internationalizingsocialstudies.blog

Webinar Schedule

January
Middle East Book Award

February
Africana Book Award

March
Américas Book Award

April
Freeman Book Award

May
South Asia Book Award and picture books from all book awards