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September 19, 2017

Erin Gallo (Ph.D. Candidate 2018) Publishes in Hispanic Review

Ph.D. candidate Erin Gallo has just published an article in the prestigious Hispanic Review.

Abstract: In September 1966, during the incipient stages of the US Women’s Liberation Movement, Rosario Castellanos (1925–1974) began a yearlong stay in the United States as a visiting professor of Spanish at three state institutions. This article studies the lasting impressions of US liberationist discourses on Castellanos, who was simultaneously negotiating separation from her then-husband Ricardo Guerra. Through a close reading of the letters she wrote to Guerra and through interviews with two of her former students, this article contends that it was during this decisive year abroad that Castellanos began to reconcile the dissonance between her public feminist persona and its private enactment in her family life.

For more info about the article, you can contact Erin Gallo directly at

August 28, 2017

Jesús Sepúlveda Celebrates the 27th International Festival of Poetry in Medellín, Colombia

Eleven days after the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) laid down their arms, the International Festival of Poetry in Medellín began its 27th version, celebrating world peace and reconciliation in Colombia.

If Medellín was associated with Pablo Escobar and the drug cartels in the early 1990’s, today it has become the capital of poetry.

From July 8th to 15th, 2017, an international community of poets met in Medellín to celebrate poetry and peace through the slogan “construyendo el país soñado” and explore possible articulations to link poetry to the peace-making process.

Chilean poet and RL instructor Jesús Sepúlveda was invited to participate with more than 100 other selected international and Colombian poets to read poetry in public.  Readings were also held in Bogotá and in other locations in the country, including the so-called “normalization zones” near temporary guerrilla camps where former fighters transition into civil life.

Each day poets shared their poetry in public spaces—local libraries in underprivileged neighborhoods, countercultural theaters, universities, public plazas, and many cultural buildings.

This year was symbolic because of the recent peace agreement, but also particularly difficult because of political conflicts, which led some important institutions to withdraw their support from the festival.  As the founder and director of the festival poet Fernando Rendón put it, the cultural functionaries feel they own the public budget, therefore:

“Aunque la guerra haya terminado, se mantiene la escala de tropas y armamentos, y el mal gusto por la áspera dominación y la cultura de la fuerza; se menoscaba aún más el presupuesto de la cultura; se interceptan los fondos de las agencias de cooperación que engrosan los presupuestos ministeriales; se imponen nuevos tributos y requisitos a las actividades culturales; se privatizan espacios tradicionales para el arte; se restringe al máximo el uso del espacio “público”; se hace inaccesible el costo de los libros y otros productos culturales; se incumplen compromisos con sectores  avanzados del teatro nacional; se imponen a los actores culturales las mismas normas contables que a las empresas trasnacionales; se retienen aportes vitales para desarrollar procesos en los tiempos puntuales; se maltrata a los creadores y gestores.”


In spite of these difficulties, the festival was able to assemble poets, musicians and the public in an exceptional and peaceful symbiosis that makes this festival one of the most important poetry events around the world.

Poets also led literary workshops on current issues.  Jesús Sepúlveda delivered a talk on poetry and utopia called “Jardines para la paz” at the Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila.  At the end of this workshop, participants wrote their own creative pieces.  The following day a reading was organized at the Palacio de Bellas Artes where poets Samuel Bossini and Graciela Maturo from Argentina and Jesús Sepúlveda read together with some participants from different workshops that took place during the week in the context of the “Escuela de Poesía del Festival” directed by poet Jairo Guzmán.

The closing ceremony of the festival was a collective reading where many poets, including Sepúlveda, read their work in front of a multitude that gathered at the Parque de los Deseos.  The crowd’s enthusiastic cheers and applause were an uplifting confirmation of the powers of poetry to embrace peace and unity in a country submerged in armed conflict for the last 53 years.

Jesús Sepúlveda adds: “I can only express my gratitude for the warm welcome and dedication of Fernando and Luis Eduardo Rendón, Gloria y Natalia, and all organizers for the smooth organization led by a team of presenters, interpreters, and translators, and for the energizing spirit of Colombia.  Language transformed into poetry and poetry transformed into peace are the keys of this festival whose creative resonance is a crucial experience for poets in all languages.  ¡Viva el Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín!”

[For more information about the “Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín,” click here:]


June 8, 2017

RL student to join Peace Corps in Peru

Briauna Jones (B.A. Spanish and Comparative Literature, with Latin American Studies minor, 2017) will travel to Peru after graduation in June to work in the youth development sector of the Peace Corps. After three months of training in Lima, her job will focus on healthy lifestyles and vocational skills for youth aged 14 to 22.

“I look forward to using my Spanish in a meaningful way in order to communicate with youth about well-rounded diets, safe sex practices, and exercise plans, as well as interviewing skills and resume building,” says Jones, a native of Sunriver, Oregon. Her assignment runs from August 2017 to December 2019.

Congratulations, Briauna!

March 25, 2017

Speak Spanish? Portuguese? Consider a Major or Minor in Latin American Studies

Investigate why Frida Kahlo’s paintings are so enduringly popular. Dive into the world of Latin American soccer. Separate fact from fiction in the biography of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sample popular dishes in countries across Latin America. The Latin American Studies Program offers an in-depth look at the richness and diversity of a vast area and its people. Whether pre–Columbian art, the striking wonder of the Amazon rainforest, or the history of colonialism tugs at your heartstrings, you’ll be forever changed by your newfound knowledge.

Take advantage of study abroad programs where you’ll travel to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, or other exciting places to sharpen your language skills and become familiar with new cultures. In Eugene, you can volunteer for a variety of organizations such as Centro Latino Americano, a local bilingual multicultural agency dedicated to helping the Latino community, or become politically active with the Latin American Solidarity Committee. UO students have also worked with the local school districts to mentor youth. Others have volunteered at Siempre Amigos, which provides health services to survivors of torture and political violence.

You’ll delve into politics, literature, science, ecology, and other engaging topics in courses such as Caribbean Migrants in the Literary Imagination or The Cold War in Latin America. Learn from top-notch scholars who offer encouragement in a supportive atmosphere.

Due to its inherently interdisciplinary training, our undergraduate major in Latin American Studies provides a thorough grounding in the languages, history, geography, and some of the central cultural and socio-economic issues at stake in the region. Career opportunities for students completing a degree in Latin American studies are available through such avenues as research centers, private foundations working in the area, international businesses, international nongovernmental organizations (including human-rights and environmental organizations), the Peace Corps, the United States Foreign Service, international aid programs, the United Nations and other international organizations.

February 14, 2017

Cuba After Castro: A Conversation with Lanie Millar

Lanie Millar is an assistant professor in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Oregon. While at the Library of Congress on a Kluge Fellowship, she is doing research for her book manuscript on post-revolutionary literature from Cuba and Angola. Her project is titled, “Cuba and Angola: Cultural Conversations Before and After the Cold War.”

How did you get interested in Cuba?

Cuba was always on my radar because it is one of the most important Latin American literary and cultural centers. In my first year of my PhD, I went to a summer Portuguese program where I discovered poets like Agostinho Neto and Noémia de Sousa and novelists like Mia Couto, Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa and Luandino Vieira. When I came back, my dissertation adviser mentioned in class that Cuban poets and novelists had gone to write about the war in Angola, and very few people knew about or had studied their texts. I wrote my final paper for her class on that topic, and through that project discovered Caribbean studies. So I came to Cuba through Angolan literature in a way, an unusual path.

Have you been? In what circumstances?

I have been a number of times for conferences and research purposes. I was excited to see the places I had seen in movies and read about in books, but I got hopelessly lost many times trying to track down places I had read about! People in Havana spend a lot of time in the street chatting with neighbors and passing the time. On one visit the neighbors where I was staying were so amused to see me walking back and forth every day looking for some house or museum that they started calling me “la andona,” “the big walker.” It made me laugh every time. I really love that aspect of Havana—the sense of life lived in public spaces. People can be so generous, too. More than once someone spontaneously paid my bus fare because they assumed that as a foreigner I wouldn’t have the right change. Things in Cuba aren’t always easy, but it is a generous and fascinating place.

We all knew that Fidel Castro would eventually fade from the scene – did the reaction to his death surprise you?

I wasn’t surprised at all by the variety of reactions to his death. I expected to see people who celebrated what they saw as the death of a dictator, as well as those who mourned the passing of someone that they saw as a leftist hero (particularly from elsewhere in Latin America). There have been some very nuanced, thoughtful responses that did not fall into either of these two camps. I think the fact that he had been around for so long, and that the Cuban Revolution was so important to 20th-century history meant that people have had a long, long time to think about what his legacy means.

How do you view Castro’s legacy on race?

One of the issues that complicates how Castro is remembered is the question of racism in Cuba and abroad. Castro famously declared in a 1961 speech that racism in Cuba had ended, and he justified Cuba’s African interventions, especially in Angola, by appealing to solidarity with African-descended people. Many of us remember that Nelson Mandela went to Havana after he got out of prison to thank Fidel for what he had done to help end racial discrimination in Africa. Many, many Afro-Cuban intellectuals and artists have explicitly credited the Revolution’s efforts to end racial discrimination with opportunities that they may not have had in the pre-revolutionary era. However, at the same time, there are just as many criticisms of the way that the Revolution ignored institutional racism that continued in the Revolution, and of the largely white leadership under Castro. Cuban scholars have explored how Cuba’s longstanding 20th-century ideas of mestizaje, racial mixing, influenced the post-revolutionary idea that discrimination was a thing of the past. Historian Christine Hatzky has argued that racial stereotypes about Africans persisted among Cuban soldiers who went to Angola. So the landscape is mixed—I think the reactions to Castro’s death encompass all the complex realities and legacies that his long political life represented.

How does one do research in the history of a place where there is so much emotion? What are your strategies?

This is such a good question. When a U.S.-based researcher goes to somewhere like Cuba, you are stepping into what is both a fraught historical relationship, and, at the same time, one that is characterized by a profound intimacy. So many Cubans have family in the United States. The most helpful piece of advice I got was to participate in conferences and formal events, getting to know Cuban institutions and scholars, to be able to engage in scholarly conversations that are meaningful to everyone. My Cuban hosts have almost always been enormously generous. A lot of research access in Cuba depends on whom you know, and stepping delicately and respectfully goes a long way for everyone.

Are Cuban archives accessible? Reliable?

Yes and no. Many of the cultural archives, particularly those housed at major institutions—the National Library, particular authors’ personal papers and collections, film archives—are often accessible, particularly more recently. Unfortunately, Cuba, like many places in Latin America, has been the victim of large amounts of cultural theft, so librarians and archivists are understandably careful about access. It is definitely also the case that different materials in Cuban institutions have been more or less available at different times depending on the changing political landscape. I have been able to access some unique things, but have also been very reliant on people who have had access to archives that other researchers probably haven’t—for example, the political scientist Piero Gleijeses’ book “Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa 1959-1976.”

What does Cuba’s intervention in Angola tell us about the shifting dynamic of the Cold War in the late 70s and early 80s?

One of the most interesting aspects of researching connections between Cuba and Africa has been, for me, learning that we cannot understand the Cold War only through the lenses of the two superpowers. For a long time, you heard from the U.S. perspective that Cuba acted internationally as an agent or even a puppet of the Soviet Union. Gleijeses’ and others’ work have done away with that notion, by showing instances where Cuba acted independently or defied Moscow’s interests. There were extremely important ideological and cultural networks among Latin American and African intellectuals in the mid-late 20th century that don’t make sense if we only think about U.S. or Soviet interests. Anti-colonial, anti-racist and anti-imperial solidarity, for example, was an important motivator of these connections.

What was U.S. policy toward Africa, and specifically South Africa, at the time?

The U.S. was extremely concerned about the proliferation of socialism and communism in Africa, and saw the pro-Apartheid South African government as a bulwark against the spread of leftist ideologies in Africa. They had supported ousters and assassination attempts against leftist Latin American leaders, including Castro, and the U.S. was involved or perceived to be meddling in Africa, too. For example, suspicion circulated that the U.S. was involved in the 1961 death of Patrice Lumumba, the first elected leader of Congo-Léopoldville (now the DRC). While Carter approved of economic sanctions against South Africa, Reagan preferred encouraging moderates within the Afrikaner government, and blocked both domestic and UN sanctions until South African president Botha’s infamous 1985 speech in which he declared that South Africa would never have a one-man-one-vote policy. I think we can’t underestimate the symbolic importance of these actions by the U.S. Many leftist and nonaligned  governments in Africa came to see the U.S. as opposed to their interests, as was the case with the Angolan majority MPLA party. After South Africa invaded Angola’s borders in 1975, and together with the U.S. began to offer covert support to Angola’s main opposition party, Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, leftist parties and governments saw that as a betrayal of anti-colonial ideals.

What about Russia and China?

The USSR had been more willing than China to offer support to African movements—think of Nelson Mandela’s ANC, for example. I did some extremely interesting research in the Portuguese archives over the summer, about how the Soviet-Sino split was debated among Angolan independence parties. One of the Angolan MPLA party’s founding leaders, the poet Viriato da Cruz, left the party and lived in exile in China when others chose to follow the Soviet model. And Cuba got very close to the USSR around the time that their interest in Africa was getting underway.

Which Library of Congress collections are you working with?

There are so many wonderful collections at the LOC! I’m working with a variety of materials. The LOC has a lot of journals and newspapers from both Angola and Cuba that I am looking through to document different perspectives on the Angolan war and the Cuba-Angola alliance. There are also a number of Cuban films about the war, visual materials and testimonies of Cubans who went to Angola that are held here. And, since my book is about how this era influenced post-Cold War literature from Cuba and Angola, I am using many more recent publications, including literature, from these two countries as well. There are some amazing things at the LOC.

What other kinds of sources do you use? Oral history, songs, works of fiction?

My book is focused on works of fiction, but fiction that’s saturated with references to other types of media and history. I am referencing films, speeches, poetry, journalism, testimony.

Internet access is beginning to spread in Cuba; will that change everything?

It definitely has the potential to change a lot of things. Internet has been available for a while, but unevenly. There have been state internet centers with “managed” internet connections for email and things for a while. Now there is wifi in some public places, including at the University of Havana. That is a recent thing. People can pay the high prices to get computer access at tourist hotels, but it’s not too common to have internet at home. Plus, there is a thing called the “paquete,” which is a big package of tv shows, sports broadcasts, you name it, that people can pay to download on their own drive and use at home without an internet connection. So there are a lot of ways that people get around the current restrictions, but more internet access will definitely change things.

Will U.S.-Cuba relations improve with Castro’s passing? What do you see in the years ahead?

I honestly don’t know. Fidel was an enormously important symbolic figure, and his brother Raúl is still in charge. I think a lot will depend on who Raúl’s successor is. It seems clear that many American companies are extremely anxious to begin business dealings with Cuba. There has also been increasing support with younger generations of Cuban-Americans for lifting the embargo. On one of my visits to Cuba, an economist at the University of Havana talked about how though Cuba would benefit enormously from ending the embargo, many Cubans are wary of the tidal wave of American interests that could result. They’re aware of the necessity to approach post-embargo development carefully. I think ending the embargo is a real possibility for the future, but I don’t know when it might happen. In many ways, I would expect that the embargo is associated with the Castros and with the old Cold War politics, and those old enmities could potentially be mitigated or disappear in the post-Castro era. But over the decades lots of people have predicted futures for Cuba that never materialized. Cuba manages to keep surprising us.


Originally published here:

February 12, 2017

Peacejam Conference Centers on Costa Rica

On February 16, 6-8:00 pm in the Mills International Center, (M102 Erb Memorial Union at the UO), Sociology Professor Michael Dreiling will screen his award winning documentary, A Bold Peace, on the impact of Costa Rica’s radical choice of national disarmament. President Oscar Arias is featured in the film and will visit the campus on March 10. Comments and a Q&A will follow the film.

Mark your calendar for PeaceJam’s program featuring Nobel Peace Laureate and former Costa Rican president, Oscar Arias. Arias will deliver a public lecture at the UO on March 10th 6-8pm in Ford Alumni Ctr. Ballroom. PeaceJam workshops March 11-12. More at the UO Global Justice Program.

January 9, 2017

Poetry takes Jesús Sepúlveda to South Africa

Sylt Foundation Invites Jesús Sepúlveda to South Africa

Chilean poet and senior instructor Jesús Sepúlveda just returned from a three-week writer’s residency in Johannesburg where he met South African writers, poets, and artists.


Renowned poet Vonani Bila and Jesús Sepúlveda

Sponsored by the Sylt Foundation, Sepúlveda visited renowned poet Vonani Bila and his wife Gudani Ramikosi, an author of children’s books, at the Timbila Writers’ Village in the Northeastern province of Limpopo. Bila completed in 2016—in collaboration with poet Max Makisi Marhanele—the edition of the first comprehensive monolingual Xitsonga dictionary, Tihlungu ta Rixaka. Xitsonga is one of the ten vernacular languages in South Africa and the 920-page dictionary represents a great recognition of the importance of South African native languages. Sepúlveda will donate his personal copy to the UO library, so the dictionary can be available in the Pacific Northwest library system.

While in Johannesburg—also known as Joburg or Jozi, the two most common abbreviations for this city, the largest one in South Africa—Sepúlveda met with Aragorn Eloff, a member of the bolo’bolo collective and responsible for the publication of his book The Garden of Peculiarities reprinted in Cape Town in 2016. On the occasion of Sepúlveda’s visit to South Africa, Eloff published an interview, “A Mockingbird in the Garden,” in the online publication Medium on December 15, 2016.


Sepúlveda and kids from the Elim

Sepúlveda and kids from the Elim

Indra Wussow, art critic and collector, translator, writer and director of the Sylt Foundation, organized several literary tertulias to connect Sepúlveda with local writers and poets such as Xoli Norman, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Phillippa Yaa de Viliers as well as pianist Jill Richards and painter Jaco van Schalkwyk. Wussow also organized visits to sites of cultural, historical, and political interest. Tumi Mokgope, project manager of the Sylt Foundation, guided Sepúlveda through these sites: the Township of Soweto, home of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu where the uprising of 1976 triggered the social movement that ended apartheid in 1990; the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves in the outskirts of Johannesburg, where the finds of ancient hominin fossils are exhibited. Sepúlveda also visited the Apartheid Museum in Joburg and the Freedom Park Museum in Pretoria to learn about the systematic and hideous regime of racial segregation installed in the country from 1948 to 1990.

During his stay, Sepúlveda also met with writers Zaide Harneker and Frank Meintjies, active members of the South African literary and political milieu, and discussed the development of the Abantu Book Festival, activism in Johannesburg, and the social and educational crisis in the country, with a 26.6% unemployment rate in 2016. Sepúlveda also discussed the current situation with Angie Kapelianis, broadcast journalist of SABC National Radio, who has been covering political news since Mandela’s presidential election in 1994.

While writing about the Soweto uprising, Sepúlveda found intriguing similarities between Chile and South Africa. “I was surprised to realize how close the recent political history of both countries are. Chile and South Africa ended their cruel regimes through massive demonstrations and civil disobedience at the end of the 1980’s, while transitioning toward modern, stable and yet neoliberal democracies. Rampant neoliberalism produces abyssal social gap and class segregation, which is the cause of huge problems in both countries. Another similarity is the nature of the extractive economies based on mine exploitation—with its negative ecological impact on the natural environment and people’s health. Another parallel is how South Africa and Chile have become in the last decade magnetic poles that attract economic immigration. While Chile has the fastest growing immigrant population in South America, receiving people from neighbor countries as well as from Colombia, Haiti, and Spain; South Africa is the second African country after Ivory Coast to receive people, making the immigrant population 4% of the total inhabitants in the country. After this residency, I have learned a great deal about South Africa, helping me to reflect with a wider perspective on Chile as well as the US, and reaffirming my conviction to honor linguistic diversity and cultural differences as the only way to build up tolerant societies for a harmonious world. I’m extremely grateful to the Sylt Foundation and Indra Wussow for this great opportunity.”


Xoli Norman

Indra Wussow

Indra Wussow

December 7, 2016


The Department of Romance Languages now accepting applications for RL scholarships!!!

RL scholarships are open to current UO undergraduate and graduate students in the Romance Languages Department. Undergraduate students must be declared majors or minors in the Romance Languages Department at the time of application. In order to receive a scholarship award you must be enrolled at the UO as a full time student during the 2017/2018 academic year.

The completed application is due in the Romance Languages Office by Monday, February 6th, 2017.

For more information please visit:

November 11, 2016

Nicoletta Pazzaglia (Ph.D. in RL, 2014)

My name is Nicoletta Pazzaglia and I am a former student at the University of Oregon. I received my Ph.D in Romance Languages in December 2014 with a dissertation titled Madness Apparatus: Gender Politics, Art and the Asylum in Fin-de- Siècle Italy. I am currently a second year Visiting Assistant Professor of Italian at Miami University in Oxford OH.
My time at the University of Oregon has been crucial for my personal and professional growth. I am grateful I had the opportunity to study in such a vibrant department and to work closely to my advisors, Professors Nathalie Hester and Massimo Lollini as well Professor Regina Psaki. I am also particularly thankful for the professional training in second language acquisition that I received at UO and for the unique opportunity I had to teach a variety of Italian courses.
At Miami University, I am currently directing the Summer Study-Abroad Program “Intensive Italian in Urbino, Italy” for the Department of French and Italian. With a colleague we are developing the workshop into a program that brings together language learning and cultural competence building. As far as my research is concerned, I am co-editing a volume tentatively titled Photography as Power in Italy to be published through Cambridge Scholar Publishing in 2017. This book explores how photography–as material object and social agent– has been employed to support and/or resist hegemonic discourses from the Risorgimento to the Berlusconi era.pazzaglia

October 27, 2016

Students of Portuguese language talk about their experiences in Brazil and Portugal

Studying abroad  may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a student learning foreign languages, not only for the opportunity to study in a foreign nation and take in the allure and culture of a new land, but also to find new ways of thinking. Find below the stories of three students who went abroad this summer to improve their Portuguese skills.

Kevin O'Hare, Ph.D Candidate, Political Science

“I visited Lisbon Portugal during the month of August to take Portuguese language classes at the Instituto de Cultura e Lingua Portuguesa, which is at the University of Lisbon and to conduct interviews for my dissertation. During my trip, I visited many historical landmarks and enjoyed Portugal’s delicious food. Some of the places I visited wereBaixa Chiado, the Castelo de São Jorge, Belem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and the town of Cascais.” —  Kevin O’Hare, Ph.D Candidate, Political Science

Robert Catlett“Getting to go to Rio for the 2016 Olympics was an amazing opportunity. I got to see some of the best athletes from all over the world, come together and compete for the gold medal. This wasn’t my main reason for going on the trip. It was to help the people and Favelas of Rio. Thank you so much to the L.I.V.E. Olympic Project Community Collaborations International organization for bringing all of the volunteers and amazing people together to help the kids and the families in the favela of Manguinhos in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.”  Robert Catlett ’19, Romance Languages

Isabela Crocker“I spent this summer in Lisbon, Portugal, to learn Portuguese. It was a fantastic experience to have, and I think that Portugal is a very overlooked country with amazing people and a rich history and culture! Photo of me in a Knights Templar Cathedral.” –Isabela Crocker ’18, Romance Languages

To have more information about the Portuguese program at the University of Oregon, please contact Instructor Bené Santos at

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