The MacMillan Center

Conference Showcases Diverse Fields in Latin American Studies

NECLASThis year, the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS) returned to Yale for its annual fall meeting. Enthusiasm was high in William L. Harkness Hall on November 3, when more than 100 professors, researchers, and graduate students–eighteen of them current Yale faculty and students–presented papers in a total of 24 sessions. Each panel featured from three to five presenters on topics related to Latin American culture, literature, language, history, politics, development, and economics, from the colonial period to the present day.

The conference was supported by Yale’s Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Department of History, and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. Noël Valis, Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, serves on the NECLAS Executive Committee and was instrumental in organizing the day’s program. The Council’s Chair, Professor Stuart Schwartz of the Department of History, welcomed attendees over lunch in the President’s Room.

While the conference had no single theme, the variety of panel topics reflected the burgeoning diversity of fields associated with Latin American studies. Among them: classical myth in Latin American literature, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century colonial literature, the power dynamics of colonial cartography, gender expression in Hispanic communities, representation of national identity in literature and film, European reception of the discovery of the Americas, labor relations in Brazil, electoral politics, immigration history, reflections on teaching Latin American history, comparisons between transitional periods in Latin America and Africa, and development and globalization across Latin America.

NECLAS, founded in 1970, has some 500 individual members from 49 participating institutions in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Although the Council is based in New England, speakers flew in from as far away as California, Montréal, and São Paulo to participate. The last time the NECLAS annual meeting was held at Yale was in 1999.