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

Film Screening: El Súper with filmmaker Iván Acosta

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The 1979 film version of Cuban filmmaker Ivan Acosta’s award-winning play El Súper, which gained critical and international success for its depiction of exiled Cubans in New York City, will be screened. Mr. Acosta will be in attendance and a discussion in English will follow. Iván Acosta is a playwright, filmmaker, and creative director originally from Santiago de Cuba, now in New York City. His creative endeavors include documentaries, plays, films, and books, and he’s served as writer, director, and producer, among other roles.

A small reception will follow the screening. Seating may be limited. Admission is free and open to the public. For questions email ccsi@tulane.edu.

For further reading visit: https://www.nytimes.com/1979/04/29/archives/the-screen-el-super-a-cubanamerican-tale-the-cast.html


Collaborators of these events with the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Tulane’s Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute include Beatriz Ball, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, the Newcomb Art Museum, Park View Historic Hotel, and St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

Equity speaker series to host panel on navigating immigrant relations in the current political climate

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The Center for Academic Equity at Tulane University is proud to present Border Li(n)es: Excluding, Extracting, and Expelling Immigrants in the Southern U.S. on September 25, 2018 at 7:00 PM as part of the Equity Speaker Series.

Following a summer of turbulent immigration relations in the United States, the Fall 2018 Equity Speaker Panel will focus on immigration on our Southern border and will feature specialists whose experiences vary from grassroots to professorial work. Panelists will include Josiah Heyman, Director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies, Ronald Martinez, New Orleans immigrant activist and spokesperson for the Congress of Day Laborers, Hiroko Kusuda, Clinical Professor and Director of Immigration Law at the Smith Law Clinic and Center for Social Justice at Loyola, and Laila Hlass, Clinical Professor of Law at Tulane Law School and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

These four distinguished speakers will share the stage of Freeman Auditorium to discuss the drastic variation in immigrant relations across the national, regional, and local spaces and ways that members of American society may become engaged in or change the now toxic and polarized political climate. This inaugural discussion will be followed by a question and answer session.

See also Tulane New Wave for more information and a description of the event.




Cover photo from CNN story What the US-Mexico border looks like before Trump’s wall.

Mexican Cultural Institute's new exhibition features Hispanic women artists' empowerment and identity

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The Mexican Cultural Institute in New Orleans in collaboration with the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation is proud to announce the opening of the groundbreaking exhibition Hispanic Women Making Art: Creative Empowerment and Identity. The exhibition will feature artists Verónica Bapé, Belinda Flores-Shinshillas, Ana Hernandez, Josephine Sacabo, Laura Velez and Luba Zygarewicz and is curated by Marcela Correa, MFA.

The opening reception will be held on September 26 from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. The exhibition will be open beginning September 26 and continue through November 24, 2018. For more information, please visit the Mexican Cultural Institute website.

Cover photo is a work by Verónica Bapé from the series ABUNDANTE COSA 1 MES 1 ARTISTA.

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.


Iván Acosta book presentation: With A Cuban Song in the Heart / Con Una Canción Cubana en el Corazón

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Iván Acosta will present his memoir, With a Cuban Song in the Heart/ Con Una Canción Cubana en el Corazón, published by Un-Gyve Press, 2017. At this event, Mr. Acosta will incorporate his favorite Cuban songs in a musical and historical journey. His book features artwork from 280 album covers in his private collection and weaves a rich narrative combining real life experiences from his childhood in Santiago, Cuba along with tidbits of local lore and historical references. His favorite songs will be performed by local performers during the presentation.
This fascinating presentation, starting at 6:00PM, will be held at Tulane University in the Freeman Auditorium of the Newcomb Art Building (in Newcomb Circle) New Orleans, LA, 70118. A book signing and reception will follow on Woodward Way, right outside the Freeman Auditorium and in the Newcomb Art Museum. The book will be available for purchase for $60.00.

This event is free and open to the public. For questions email ccsi@tulane.edu.

For further reading visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/16/nyregion/public-lives-cuba-on-his-mind-the-dual-life-of-an-artist-exile.html


Collaborators of these events with the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation and Tulane’s Cuban and Caribbean Studies Institute include Beatriz Ball, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, the Newcomb Art Museum, Park View Historic Hotel, and St. Mary’s Dominican High School.

K-12 Educator Workshop Celebrating 25 Years of the Américas Award with 2018 winners Ibi Zoboi and Duncan Tonatiuh

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This year marks the 25th year that the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs and CLASP will honor the work of the many authors, illustrators, publishers, educators, and readers of the award with 2018 award winners Ibi Zoboi and Duncan Tonatiuh.

Zoboi’s book, American Street is a complex and multi-layered story anchored around relationships and questions of loyalty. She will share her experiences writing this book and provide context for teaching this book in a high school classroom.

The second 2018 award winner by Duncan Tonatiuh, Danza is a magnificent celebration of Amalia Hernández, the dancer and choreographer who founded the famed Mexican dance company, el Ballet Folklórico de México. Tonatiuh will share with educators his unique illustrative style and engage participants in an exploration of Amalia Hernández and her impact in the world of dance. This picture book is the perfect book for every library.

The workshop will explore this year’s winners, providing guidance and resources that span the 25 years of the award. This special 25th anniversary workshop will focus on diversity and the role of community.

Co-sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP), Howard University, and Teaching for Change. Organized by the Center for Latin American Studies, Vanderbilt University and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University.

Celebración Latina at the Audubon Zoo

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In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, please join us at the Audubon Zoo for the 2018 Celebración Latina family festival to explore and celebrate the rich diversity of Latin America. Celebración Latina, presented by Pan-American Life Insurance Group, will be held at the Zoo’s Capital One Stage and Field. It will offer a true taste of the Latin American culture with live music, children’s activities, and authentic Latin cuisine prepared and sold by local restaurants. Local artisans will sell hand crafts, and local social service, health, and education organizations will offer wellness, education, and social service information.

Celebración Latina is included with Zoo admission or Audubon membership. No outside food, beverages, or tents allowed. Portable chairs and blankets are welcomed.

Don’t forget to check out photos from past celebrations!

For more information, please visit the Audubon Zoo website.

Celebración Latina is sponsored in part by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Ron Austin & Associates.