Thursday, September 13, 2012

Latino culture has been helping shape the United States for hundreds of years, even before the U.S. was a country. Though the Latino population in the Midwest is small compared to other areas of the country, it continues to grow, infusing Latino art, literature, and music into the culture of the heartland.

The Latino Midwest, the 2012-13 University of Iowa Obermann-International Programs Humanities symposium, will examine the history, education, literature, art, and politics of Latinos in the Midwest in light of the demographic changes experienced by states in this region with growing Latino populations.

The main symposium takes place Oct. 11-13 and will include panels, lectures, performances, and literary readings. The Latino Midwest is organized by three faculty members in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Claire Fox, associate professor of English and Spanish and Portuguese, whose teaching and research interests include inter-American cultural studies, Mexican and U.S.-Mexican border arts and culture, visual culture studies, and cultural policy studies; Omar Valerio-Jiménez, associate professor of history, who is currently working on a study of Latinos in early 20th-century Iowa that explores acculturation, labor, and gender relations; and Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese, whose current research focuses on literature and art from the U.S./Mexico borderlands.

Related events extend beyond the main symposium. All of the events, with the exception of the Lila Downs concert, are free and open to the public. Highlights of the schedule follow.

  • “Pathways to Iowa: Migration Stories from the Iowa Women’s Archives” – Exhibit opening, noon, Wednesday, Sept. 12, North Exhibit Hall, Main Library
  • International Programs’ WorldCanvass on The Latino Midwest – 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 5, 2780 UCC
  • Vicki Ruiz, UC-Irvine, Keynote talk: “Of Poetics and Politics: The Border Journeys of Luisa Moreno” – 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, Shambaugh Auditorium, reception to follow in the North Lobby
  • Ana Celia Zentella, UC-San Diego, “Battling Linguistic Intolerance in an English Only Era” – 9:15 to 10:15 a.m., Friday, Oct. 12, 2nd floor, Iowa Memorial Union (in conjunction with the Iowa Latino conference, hosted by the School of Social Work).
  • “Migration Letters” – one-day installation on the Englert’s stage exploring misconceptions and political incorrectness around immigration via the alphabet, featuring visiting artist Alejandro García-Lemos – artist’s talk, 3:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 12, Englert Theatre
  • Junot Díaz – A reading and talk by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, sponsored by the UI Lecture Committee – 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, Englert Theatre
  • José E. Limón – Keynote talk, “Al Norte Toward Home: Texas, the Mid-West and Mexican-American Critical Regionalism” – 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, Old Capitol Senate Chambers, with a reception following at The Times Club, Prairie Lights
  • Lila Downs concert, sponsored by Hancher – 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, Englert Theatre
  • Conversations & Controversies, a public book discussion about A Journey Around Our America: A Memoir on Cycling, Immigration, and the Latinoization of the U.S. by Louis Mendoza – 4 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 19, The Times Club, Prairie Lights

The events are sponsored by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies Annual Humanities Symposium, an International Programs Major Projects Award, and the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Professorships Program. 

During the same dates as The Latino Midwest, the School of Social Work will host its annual Iowa Latino conference. Although the two conferences are separate, they are sharing some speakers and cross-promoting their events.