Why LALACS? The Faculty’s Perspective

Posted on October 25th, 2017 by

Scott Ickes || Faculty in History

I love teaching the historical diversity of Latin America and deflating the common stereotypes of the region, and I love disrupting the self-serving narrative here in the U.S. of North American “success” versus Latin American “failure.” Latin American History for me is a fascinating theater of contrasts and similarities, of parallels and differences across the Americas. Students educated or raised in the United States can get such a one-sided view. They are amazed at the similarities across the region and our tightly-woven hemispheric transnational relationships, and shocked at the role of the U.S. in perpetuating violence in the region. Students appreciate learning of the courage, achievement and ingenuity in the region in the face of adversity. Students bristle at the arrogance and ethno-centricity as North Americans marginalize Latin America as “non-Western History,” something that is patently not true. I teach Latin America as a workshop on the world, to expose students to so much more of the human condition and the variety of political, cultural and economic landscapes in which they will soon be making their way. I feel very lucky to apply the history of the region to sharper understandings of how things work “here at home” and of each student’s place in our globalized world — and all this quite apart from the reality that “Latin” America has long been and is increasingly part of who we are here in the U.S.


Beatriz Torres || Faculty in Communication Studies

As a Latin Americanist I want to be able to help change conditions that create health inequalities throughout the Americas. I want to help others understand the wealth and diversity of Latin America. I enjoy meeting new people and holding interdisciplinary conversations. I teach interpersonal communication, public health and the LALACS Capstone.


Patric Giesler || Faculty in Sociology / Anthropology

Once Brazil entered my bloodstream during my Peace Corps days I was addicted. I am much more me in Brazil and in Latin America than anywhere else in the world. It is a love, a warmth, a connection and an intrigue that only increases with age. These are a people that touch others deeply and you don’t ever forget. In many ways, I am nothing. Period. Brazil and Latin America are life for me.


Suzanne Wilson || Faculty in Sociology / Anthropology

LALACS is key to understanding the current world. As an undergraduate I studied abroad in Colombia and fell in love with the region. This led me to study U.S. Drug Policy in Colombia and Latin America, a subject I teach and research today.


Angelique Dwyer || Faculty in Spanish

I first experienced the richness of Latin America as an undergraduate student in Mexico. I lived in a big house with students from Colombia, Puerto Rico and Argentina. The caleñas taught me how to dance salsa and the bogotanas illustrated the value of the phrase: “vámonos de rumba;” the boricuas introduced me to arroz con gandules while the cordobesas reminded me that Argentines simply don’t sleep. Later, that exploration of diversity and warmth of culture continued throughout graduate school in the Midwest, where I befriended peers from Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It was during these years and in the U.S. that I learned to understand both academically, as well as personally, the wealth and complexity of Latin America. Today, I teach and research Cultural Studies — no surprise from an American who happened to grow up in Mexico, right? — and thanks to all that dancing and “rumba” I focused my expertise on Performance Studies. And yet, there’s so much more to learn.


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