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DISCOVERY MAGAZINE

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Nicolas Shumway

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Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies


University of Texas historian Charles Hackett and four of his colleagues persuaded the Board of Regents in 1940 to found an Institute of Latin American Studies, later to be known worldwide by its acronym, ILAS. The founders noted that the University of Texas already had a remarkable library collection of Latin American materials and that Texas, because of its Hispanic heritage and its proximity to Mexico, should be particularly concerned with Latin America. Thus UT’s Institute of Latin American Studies became the first academic center of its kind in the United States.

Sixty years later, in November of 2000, President Larry Faulkner announced that Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long had pledged an endowment gift of $10 million to support the institute—“one of the crown jewels of this University”—in building toward greater excellence. As one outcome of this gift, the institute is now known as the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and has a new acronym, LLILAS.

Teresa Lozano Long and Joe R. Long
Photo: Marsha Miller
Teresa Lozano Long and Joe R. Long
In making this gift, Joe and Teresa Long noted they were drawn to the institute because they wanted to make better something that was already very good. “This is our way of acknowledging the importance of Latin America in the future of this country and, therefore, the critical role that the institute continues to play in forging closer ties to Latin America,” said Mrs. Long.

Institute’s Resources. It is not difficult to see why the Longs were drawn to the institute because its resources, both human and material, make it a most impressive place. In the next few paragraphs, we outline several of the institute’s most distinguished achievements.

A great university needs a great library, and one of the stellar resources of Latin American studies at the University of Texas is the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the largest university library collection of Latin American materials in the United States. It attracts scholars from around the world and continues its impressive acquisition of new documents.

The institute is heavily committed to teaching. LLILAS supervises nearly 250 undergraduate majors in Latin American studies and each year helps nearly that number spend a semester studying abroad. Growth in the study abroad programs has been astronomical in the last decade. UT now sends more students than any other U.S. university to study in Latin America, and with the Lozano Long gift, opportunities for students to spend time abroad will increase markedly.

A new addition to our undergraduate program is language component courses. Traditionally, students choosing not to major in Spanish had no good alternative for continuing Spanish language study. To address this problem, LLILAS now offers language component teaching assistants to professors interested in conducting part of their course in Spanish.

These teaching assistants have two basic responsibilities: they help the professor organize a parallel syllabus and reading packet that include materials in Spanish, and once the course begins, they conduct discussion sections in Spanish. In recent years, courses in history, political science, sociology and anthropology have been taught as Spanish language component courses. Thus, this program has three cardinal virtues. It enriches undergraduate instruction by allowing students to continue advanced Spanish study, it gives much-needed employment to graduate students, and it gives professors needed assistance while encouraging them to offer Latin American content courses.

The institute is also heavily involved in graduate education, offering master’s and doctor’s degrees in Latin American studies. These degrees are interdisciplinary and thus attract students whose interests cross traditional departmental boundaries. Latin American studies graduate students can also obtain joint master’s degrees with UT professional schools, including Business, Communications, Law, Public Affairs, and Urban and Regional Planning. LLILAS allows its graduate students considerable freedom in constructing concentrations in subjects like environmental studies or economic development which need a confluence of history, politics, policy and science to be studied properly.

A recent survey of graduates from the LLILAS master’s program showed that close to 40 percent go on to graduate or professional schools. An impressive 60 percent spend time working in Latin America. LLILAS graduates also end up in influential positions in business, government and nonprofit organizations. An interesting illustration is that in a recent labor conflict involving a Mexican border assembly plant (maquiladora), the leaders of the two opposing negotiating teams were both LLILAS graduates.

Regional Centers. Because Latin America is such a vast region (Brazil alone is larger than the continental United States) with so many different countries and concerns, the institute houses several semi-autonomous centers dedicated to specific regions or programs in Latin America.

Mexican Center. The Mexican Center is the oldest, established in 1980. With more than sixty Mexicanist faculty on campus, the Mexican Center sponsors symposia, conferences, guest lectures and research projects in a staggering variety of areas, including folk culture and Nahuatl language, the Maya, colonial and modern history, the sectoral implications of free trade, water resources in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, gender and contemporary Mexican politics, environmental change, petroleum engineering, social policy, migration and urbanization, and housing and urban development, to mention just a few.

Of great visibility to the Mexican Center is the “Distinguished Mexicans in Texas” lecture series, which included among its recent speakers Mexico’s president Vicente Fox. In February 2001 the center sponsored a conference dedicated to reviewing the First 100 Days of the Fox presidency. Indeed, with its publications and conferences, the Mexican Center will continue to provide timely evaluations and assessment of the progress of the Fox administration and its relations withTexas and the U.S.

In recent years the center has organized a number of benchmark conferences on topics as varied as Mexico’s democratic transition, electoral campaigns and their aftermath, women in Mexican politics, Mexican and Tejano corridos, the literature of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, colonia housing in Texas and Mexico, Mexico’s cultural patrimony and inner city renovation and the cultural impact of free trade. It regularly runs a “political periscope” graduate seminar monitoring contemporary political events and provides informed opinion pieces for national and international media.

Over the years, a bi-national executive council that includes several leading Texans dedicated to fostering linkages with Mexico, including Martha Hyder, Gary Jacobs, Chrys Dougherty, Roger Wallace, Tom Frost, Joe Thompson and the late Burton Grossman, has advised the Mexican Center. Currently it is chaired by Mexican UT graduate Dr. Roberto Newell.

Brazil Center. In 1994 LLILAS organized the Brazil Center in recognition of Brazil’s central importance to Latin America, both as its most populous country and its largest economy (eighth in the world). The Brazil Center sponsors a dizzying number of lectures, symposia and conferences of different sorts, including a highly successful Brazil Week each spring.

A major supporter of the Brazil Center is the Brazilian government, which, after looking at several U.S. universities, decided that UT’s major commitment to Latin America justified additional support in the study of Brazil. As a result, in each of the next five years the University of Texas will receive a visiting professor from the Brazilian government’s Rio Branco Institute who will not only teach at UT, but will also be commissioned as a kind of academic ambassador to seek ways to increase opportunities for Brazilians to study and do research here.

The Brazil Center has also negotiated an agreement with the Phillips Foundation to support a yearly professorial exchange between UT and the Instituto Getúlio Vargas in São Paulo. In addition, the Brazil Center has secured funds to bring both a writer and an artist from Brazil each year to lecture and direct workshops. What the Brazil Center has accomplished in five years is truly remarkable. Placing the Brazil Center on solid financial footing is one of llilas’s principal short-range goals.

Argentine Studies Center. A third regional center at LLILAS was created in 1999 with a grant from the Argentine government. In spring 2000 the Argentine Center sponsored a visit by former Argentine President Carlos Saúl Menem as the first in its distinguished speakers series. The center helps support five Argentine graduate students at UT, and it cosponsored a conference in April 2001 on MERCOSUR, the free trade agreement that seeks to increase trade among Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina.

New Centers and Programs. Given the complexity of Latin America, the institute will seek future growth through creating other regional centers. We are specifically interested in increasing activities regarding the Caribbean, Central America and the Andean countries. Not all centers and programs at LLILAS, however, will be based on geographical regions.

Latin American Research Review

The leading academic journal Latin American Research Review (LARR), is now located at the University of Texas. LARR is the largest and most prestigious journal for Latin American studies in the world, and it offers a multi-disciplinary forum for academic research on the region. After more than twenty years, it returns to UT Austin where it began in 1965. The new editorial team comprises Professor Peter Ward (Sociology and LBJ School of Public Affairs) as editor-in-chief, assisted by four UT faculty associate editors: Professors Jonathan Brown (History), Henry Dietz (Government), Naomi Lindstrom (Spanish and Portuguese), and Kurt Weyland (Government). LARR is located at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and will be produced by the University of Texas Press.

In fall 2001 LLILAS initiated two new centers: the Center for Latin American Social Policy (CLASPO), and the Center for Indigenous Languages of Latin America (CILLA). Created with funds from UT and the Ford Foundation, CLASPO will work to strengthen cooperation among all those who study or work for the improvement of social conditions in Latin America. CILLA will promote research and teaching programs about indigenous languages, which form an important part of the society and culture of Latin America. At a time when indigenous populations in Latin America are actually growing and acquiring increasing political strength, a center of this sort is particularly important.

The institute also seeks to serve a community much beyond UT’s borders. Perhaps our most spectacular success in this regard is LANIC, the world’s most important academic Web site on Latin America. An acronym for Latin American Network Information Center, LANIC provides directory pages with links to more than 12,000 Latin America–related Web sites, all of which have been evaluated and catalogued by LANIC staff. Its comprehensiveness and ease of use partially explain why it receives more than three million accesses per month.

No less important in LLILAS’s commitment to education beyond the UT campus is our Outreach Office, which in the past few years has greatly expanded activities geared to elementary and secondary schools. Working with the College of Education, LLILAS Outreach conducts pre-service workshops for teachers to inform them of Latin America–related resources available to them through the institute—including the free loan of books, videos and artifacts. Outreach works with the college to develop resources for and expand the reach of its Professional Development School.

In conjunction with the three other UT area studies centers (Asian; Middle Eastern; and Russian, Eastern European & Eurasian), Outreach conducts summer institutes providing in-service training for teachers and co-publishes a newsletter highlighting their joint activities. It organizes workshops for individual schools and recently worked with teachers to develop a curriculum unit entitled “Discovering Latin America through Sixth-Grade Eyes.”

The institute also has an extensive publications program, including an award-winning book series co-published with UT Press, which specializes in first-time translation into English of major works from Latin America in the social sciences. Although the focus is on textbook adoption for undergraduate and graduate courses, many of these titles appeal to general readers as well, such as Beautiful Flowers of the Maquiladora about women workers in the assembly plants along the Texas-Mexico border. In addition, the Institute publishes the weekly LLILAS Calendar of Latin America–related events on and off campus, and a spring and fall newsletter that highlights the activities and accomplishments of LLILAS’s students, faculty and alumni.

Lozano Long Gift. Given the excellence of our programs, we feel that Joe and Teresa Long did indeed find something that was already very good. But we also seek to honor their confidence by using their gift to make LLILAS even better. The Lozano Long gift is structured so that 60 percent of its resources will benefit students in a variety of ways:

  • Undergraduate scholarships for Latin American studies majors
  • Scholarships for study and research in Latin America for both under- graduate and graduate students
  • Graduate fellowships to recruit the best graduate students both in the United States and Latin America
  • Teaching fellowships that will allow LLILAS to place Spanish- speaking discussion sections in courses across the University.

The Lozano Long gift also recognizes that research and teaching are major components of the University’s mission. It provides for visiting professorships to bring distinguished scholars from Latin America to teach at UT; professorships to support the hiring of Latin Americanist faculty and thereby maintain the integrity and preeminence of our professorate; and funds to form international research teams to produce and gather the best information on important issues like immigration, economic development and use of resources. In this endeavor, the Institute will become increasingly a think tank charged with educating policy makers and the public at large on such matters.

In 1940 Professor Hackett and his colleagues showed extraordinary vision in founding the institute of Latin American Studies. Since that time, countless faculty, students, librarians and administrators have built on their vision to bring the institute to its current status as the premier center on Latin American studies in the United States. And now with the Longs’ generous gift, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies will build on that legacy, moving from excellence to greater excellence for many generations to come.

Center for Mexican American Studies

One of the most persistent transnational social phenomena in the world has been the movement of people of Spanish and Mexican origin from the geographical and cultural area that we now call Mexico into what we now call the United States. This movement started before there was an official Republic of Mexico or an official United States when the Spanish coming from central New Spain began their explorations in the northern periphery of New Spain and started settlements such as San Antonio and Laredo in the eighteenth century in what is now Tex

The movement of such peoples has continued through the present day, and in the United States we can now count some twenty-three million people of Mexican origin ranging from those with several generations of residence and citizenship to the recently arrived which is to say, as of yesterday. This is a population with a distinctive social and cultural definition, one whose distinctiveness has historically drawn the attention of historians, social scientists, artists and policy makers.

Since 1971, the Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) at UT Austin has become one of the nation's leading sites for historical, artistic, social scientific analysis and reflection on this population. At the center we bring together the work of forty faculty members from a variety of disciplines—faculty who specialize in this population. These faculty and also several graduate students offer some fifteen courses every semester dealing with Mexican American content for the general student body as well as some 100 majors in Mexican American studies. Our students can choose concentrations within their major in public policy studies, cultural studies, and beginning next year in media studies, high tech entrepreneurship and legal studies. Students at the graduate level may also concentrate their doctoral work within a Mexican American Studies Doctoral Portfolio.

Curricular efforts at CMAS are sustained by the research and publication of our faculty and graduate students—a research and publication activity that is second to none in the country. Dr. Neil Foley, for example, is the recipient of the highly coveted Frederick Jackson Turner Award from the Organization of American Historians for his 1997 book, The White Scourge: Mexicans, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Texas Cotton Culture, and Dr. Angela Valenzuela received the annual best book award from the American Educational Research Association for Subtractive Schooling: U.S.-Mexican Youth and the Politics of Caring. Dr. Valenzuela also serves as CMAS's associate director.

Teaching and research are the central activities at CMAS. However, we maintain an active book and monograph publications unit that publishes leading research in the field as well as a popular series of publications intended for a general public such as Puro Conjunto, a book of jounalistic and photographic accounts of the annual conjunto music festival in San Antonio.

We also foster an active public outreach program. This program includes a series of public lectures for academic audiences and the general public, partnerships with public schools such as the Américo Paredes Middle School in Austin, sponsorship of artistic festivals and exhibits and organization of major conferences.

The center's climactic event every year is the Américo Paredes Annual Distinguished Lecture in which an esteemed authority in Mexican American studies presents a major lecture on campus. The lecture is offered in memory of Dr. Américo Paredes, UT professor of English and anthropology, who founded CMAS.

For us at the Center for Mexican American Studies, the Paredes Distinguished Lecture is another opportunity not only to honor once again this great scholar and artist, but also to demonstrate in his name the academic achievement that cmas has come to represent since its founding.

José E. Limón
Director

Nicolas Shumway
Dr. Nicolas Shumway is director of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and Tomás Rivera Regents Professor of Spanish Language and Literature. He earned a doctorate at UCLA and previously taught at Yale University for many years before coming to UT Austin in 1993. Dr. Shumway is an expert on Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and is the author of, among other publications, The Invention of Argentina and the widely used textbook Español en Español. He can be reached at 512-232-2409.

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May 14, 2002
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