Research

“Decolonial Environmentalisms: Race, Genre, and Latinx Culture,” Latinx Studies Seed Grant

February 20, 2020
3:30 pm

EMU 119

Speaker: David J. Vázquez, UO Associate Professor and Head of Department of English

David J. Vázquez

The environmental humanities explore relationships between literature, culture, and the environment with the goal of creating an earth-centered scholarly vision. Although this body of scholarship centers environmental concerns, some forms of U.S. environmentalism put ideologies of American exceptionalism to work for the movement’s political goals of, as Rob Nixon puts it, “wilderness preservation, on wielding the Endangered Species Act against developers, and on saving old-growth forests.” Although the social justice turn of the environmental humanities has integrated Environmental Justice (or EJ, the study of the uneven distribution of environmental harms and benefits to people of color and the poor) approaches, some pockets of environmental thought continue to emphasize first-world, privileged perspectives over those of people of color, indigenous people, the economically disempowered, the colonized, and the formerly colonized.

“Decolonial Environmentalisms: Race, Genre and Latinx Culture,” intervenes in these trends by identifying parallel and countervailing environmental representations in contemporary Latinx literature and culture that intertwine decolonial and anti-racist forms of thought with environmental imaginaries. Building on the work of environmental humanities scholars who point to privileged perspectives in environmental thought, this project identifies Latinx literary and cultural texts that express neglected environmental perspectives, often through innovative aesthetic forms. These literary texts and cultural productions question stylized pastoral visions of agriculture and speak powerfully to EJ frameworks. The presentation will conclude with a close reading of Alex Rivera’s 2009 film Sleep Dealer as a case study for how decolonial environmentalisms operate in Latinx culture.

David J. Vázquez is Associate Professor and Head of English and a contributing faculty member in the Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies Department and the Program in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Triangulations: Narrative Strategies for Navigating Latino Identity (Minnesota 2011) and co-editor of Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial (forthcoming Temple). His articles appear in such journals as Arizona QuarterlySymbolismContemporary Literature, CENTRO and Latino Studies. He has also contributed to the Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature and Erasing Public Memory: Race, Aesthetics, and Cultural Amnesia in the Americas.

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Sunday, October 20th, 2019 Funding, Research No Comments

CLLAS Research Grant Writing Workshop for Graduate Students

January 16, 2020
12:00 pmto1:30 pm

Jane Grant Room
330 Hendricks Hall

CLLAS Professional Development Series

Grant-Writing Workshop for Graduate Students

The Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies will hold its annual Grant Writing Workshop targeted toward graduate students on January 16, 2020.

CLLAS staff members Eli Meyer, director of operations, and Feather Crawford, event planner & project manager, will share tips and strategies for writing successful research grant proposals. This will be an opportunity to learn more about CLLAS’s summer 2020 grants for graduate students. For more information, please contact cllas@uoregon.edu.

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Friday, September 6th, 2019 Funding, Graduate students, Research No Comments

COE research helps bilingual children find classroom success

This article appeared in Around the O July 29, 2019. Researchers involved in this study include several CLLAS-affiliated faculty.

Interviewing a mother in the dual language lab

School by itself can be challenging enough for kids, but when you add in the extra hurdle of also learning English, it adds another layer of complexity to things.

Children who are bright might be misclassified into remedial classes because of poor assessment practices that don’t take into account their dual-language experiences. Other kids who have learning disabilities might not get identified as such and miss out on the instruction they need.

Several College of Education faculty members are trying to address these issues as the Spanish-speaking population continues to grow in Oregon and beyond. They’re working to help schools better help these students, more quickly identify those who need additional attention, and find the best methods to teach them English while simultaneously teaching skills they’ll need to succeed in and outside of the classroom.

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Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership

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Ultimately, the goal is to more seamlessly phase bilingual students into mainstream classrooms rather than marginalize them on the fringes, while also supporting the primary language spoken at their homes.

“The roots of bilingual education are that linguistic diversity is a benefit not just to an individual but also to communities, our country and society as a whole,” said Ilana Umansky, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership.

“We’re helping dispel myths that somehow these kids are naturally at risk,” added Lillian Duran, an associate professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences. “They’re not. They just speak a different language, and that in itself does not make you at risk. Our educational system creates risk.”

Ilana Umansky

When children enter a school district, parents often fill out questionnaires that ask what language is spoken at home. Any answer other than English triggers an English proficiency test. How children perform on that test could very well determine the trajectory of their lives.

But what about the kids who fall just short in that test and are classified as English-language learners compared with those who just barely pass? Umansky explores the effect of labeling kids as “English-language learners.”

“A lot of opportunities we offer kids are stratified based on race and English-language proficiency,” Umansky said.

Her research explores ways to support greater equity for students, particularly for those who come from immigrant backgrounds and that have a primary language other than English.

Umansky looked at thousands of kids who fell onto both sides of that tipping point. She found that kids who are classified as English-language learners do worse over time — by a small margin — than kids who just meet English requirements and move forward in regular classrooms.

“That’s pretty troubling,” Umansky said. “English-learner services are supposed to help kids, not hurt them.”

Stephanie De Anda

Stephanie De Anda has personal experience growing up in a Spanish-speaking household. As the oldest of three children, the degree of Spanish fluency decreased with each of her two younger siblings as each was exposed to more English at a younger age.

What languages kids hear from birth is a big part of De Anda’s research. She studies how kids connect words in one language to words in the other and how they form those links.

“This has a clinical application for us because we think if we can understand how these languages interact, then maybe we can leverage that in therapy,” said De Anda, an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Program and co-director of the Early Dual Language Development Lab. “So when these kids come to us with a delay, we can say, ‘Oh, I can support your Spanish in hopes it will also help your English and vice versa.’”

There’s a sense of urgency when it comes to supporting academic outcomes when working with kids learning English. Research shows 65 percent to 75 percent of children with early reading problems continue to read poorly.

Of children with reading problems, 10 percent to 15 percent drop out of high school, and 2 percent eventually complete a four-year college program. De Anda’s research focuses on identifying kids with early language delays and impairments and finding interventions that work best to make them successful in school.

“This has always been important, but we’re just starting to put resources toward it,” De Anda said.

Lauren Cycyk

By 2050, one in three children are projected to be Latino, and Oregon has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the nation. Schools need to be ready to address their needs. That’s where Lauren Cycyk’sresearch steps in.

Cycyk, an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Program and co-director of the Early Dual Language Development Lab with De Anda, looks at ways to incorporate and involve a student’s community in the process of helping them overcome language or learning disorders prior to entry.

“Language disorders are nondiscriminatory,” Cycyk said. “Learning disorders are nondiscriminatory.”

About 10 percent of children have language-learning difficulties. Her work ensures that early education and special education practitioners work with them in ways that respect children’s culture and language while also incorporating their family early in the process.

“For many families, their home educational systems are very different than ours in the U.S.,” Cycyk said. “It’s simply giving them the key to the black box: ‘Here’s how it works in our educational system, so let’s think about how we can encourage your participation so your child is successful.’”

College of Education

Lillian Duran

Schools regularly test students to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. But when you assess a students’ skills in a language they are still learning, does that really gauge what they know about math, reading or writing?

Lillian Duran is working on ways to more accurately test kids’ skills and then catch them early. She develops assessments for preschoolers that measure their language and early reading skills, such as familiarity with the alphabet.

“Most measures we have right now are only in English,” Duran said. “When you have children who enter a program at 3, 4, 5 years old who have primarily been exposed to Spanish, those measures are a poor reflection of actual ability levels. They can historically score very low on measures of English language and literacy and yet still have very high skills in Spanish.”

Duran’s assessments help identify kids who would benefit from extra support so they’re ready for kindergarten and ensure students aren’t underestimated simply because they don’t speak English.

Duran developed her assessments by working with more than 900 preschoolers across the U.S. She’s now working on another measure to monitor progress, which she expects to be available next year.

“The need is only going to increase,” Duran said. “Just think of the resources we’re pouring into remediation when we should be putting resources into prevention and enrichment activities.”

David Liebowitz

In the 1960s and 1970s nearly 500 school districts were ordered to implement some form of a desegregation policy so schools’ racial makeup would more closely resemble that of their overall district.

In the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, however, 215 school districts were released from their desegregation orders, and the outcomes weren’t all positive, David Liebowitz found in his research.

Liebowitz, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership, compared districts that had been released from their desegregation orders with other districts that had not been released or were released at a different time. Districts that were released saw an increase in dropout rates among black and Latino students of 3 percentage points.

“There’s good evidence that desegregation policies improved schools and long-term life outcomes for black and Latino students,” Liebowitz said. “My study looked at what happened at the end of that period when desegregation ended, and it appears to have produced negative outcomes.”

Liebowitz, who joined the College of Education faculty in 2018, is building on his findings by looking for ways Oregon school administrators can better support Latino students in schools, and his work exemplifies that of his fellow College of Education colleagues, especially as it applies to Oregon.

“There’s not lot of quality evidence out there on what actions and behaviors school leaders can take that are most predictive of improved student outcomes,” Liebowitz said. “That’s a really great question to answer in the Oregon context.”

By Jim Murez, University Communications

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Monday, August 12th, 2019 Affiliated faculty, Research, Schools No Comments

Ernesto Martínez’s short film “La Serenata” an award finalist

July 31, 2019—Ernesto Martínez’s short film, La Serenata, is a finalist in the Imagen Foundation Short Film and Web Series Awards.

You can support this film by voting below and inviting friends and family to vote as well (one vote per 24 hours). You could also watch the film at this site: https://www.imagen.org/vote/short-films/

Film synopsis: two parents struggle with their beloved Mexican musical tradition when their son requests a love song for another boy.  

Ernesto Martínez is an associate professor in the UO Department of Ethnic Studies. CLLAS supported Martínez’s work on this film and a related children’s book with its inaugural Latinx Studies Seed Grant.

Fair Trade Rebels: UO graduate Lindsay Naylor has a new book on coffee production in Chiapas

Fair Trade Rebels: Coffee Production and Struggles for Autonomy in Chiapas, by Lindsay Naylor. Diverse Economies and Livable Worlds Series. (University of Minnesota Press, 2019)

Lindsay Naylor is an assistant professor, Department of Geography & Spatial Sciences, College of Earth, Ocean, & Environment at the University of Delaware. As a graduate student at the University of Oregon, she was the recipient of a 2010 CLLAS Graduate Student Research Grant for “Harnessing Multiple Movements: The Intersection of Fair Trade and the Zapatista Movement in Chiapas, Mexico.”

Naylor’s new book is titled Fair Trade Rebels: Coffee Production and Struggles for Autonomy in Chiapas.

Synopsis: Is fair trade really fair? Who is it for, and who gets to decide? Fair Trade Rebels addresses such questions in a new way by shifting the focus from the abstract concept of fair trade–and whether it is “working”–to the perspectives of small farmers. It examines the everyday experiences of resistance and agricultural practice among the campesinos/as of Chiapas, Mexico, who struggle for dignified livelihoods in self-declared autonomous communities in the highlands, confronting inequalities locally in what is really a global corporate agricultural chain.

Based on extensive fieldwork, Fair Trade Rebels draws on stories from Chiapas that have emerged from the farmers’ interaction with both the fair-trade-certified marketplace and state violence. Here Lindsay Naylor discusses the racialized and historical backdrop of coffee production and rebel autonomy in the highlands, underscores the divergence of movements for fairer trade and the so-called alternative certified market, traces the network of such movements from the highlands and into the United States, and evaluates existing food sovereignty and diverse economic exchanges. Putting decolonial thinking in conversation with diverse economies theory, Fair Trade Rebels evaluates fair trade not by the measure of its success or failure but through a unique, place-based approach that expands our understanding of the relationship between fair trade, autonomy, and economic development.

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Spring 2019 CLLAS Notes

0519-CLLAS-newsletter_FINAL

The 2019 spring edition of CLLAS Notes, our twice-yearly newsletter, is now available online and in print.

History professor Carlos Aguirre reviews his tenure as CLLAS interim director and takes us on a look ahead at the new two-year plan for CLLAS, a series of initiatives and events under the theme “The Politics of Language in the Americas.”

Learn about Judge Yassmin Barrios’s visit to the UO campus in March and her lecture on “Justice and Reparation in Guatemala,” where she talked about her experience with the High Risk Crime Tribunal over which she presides. Check out the accounts of graduate student research in Peru and Guatemala and faculty research in Bolivia. Read about CLLAS founding director Lynn Stephen’s experience as the president of the Latin American Studies Association.

CLLAS event planner & project manager Feather Crawford fills us in on the January CLLAS Town Hall with Mae Ngai, the 2018-19 Wayne Morse Center Chair. And thanks to Crawford’s excellent reporting, you can find out more about why migrants are fleeing Honduras when you read her account of historian Dana Frank’s detailed talk held in April.

The 2019 Spring edition of CLLAS Notes, Volume 10, Issue 2 includes:

  • Letter from Interim Director Carlos Aguirre
  • “Justice and Reparation in Guatemala”—Judge Yassmin Barrios’s lecture about justice & human rights in Guatemala
  • “Lynn Stephen Completes Her Tenure as LASA President”
  • Faculty Research—“Strugging with Sustainability: Guarayo Cultural and Environmental Management Challenges”
  • Graduate Research—“Responses to Gendered Violence in Costa Rica and Guatemala”
  • Graduate Research—“Sounds of Power: Peruvian colonial pipe organs in the interplay of cultures”
  • Graduate Research—“Environmental Justice and the Local Effects of Glacier Melt in the Peruvian Cordillera Huayhuash”
  • News & Book Notes
  • Event Reports
  • 2019-20 Grant Recipients

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Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund

Access the above link for giving to the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies Gift Fund. Online gifts may be made using the form available at this link; all gifts are processed by the University of Oregon Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization responsible for receiving and administering private donations to the University of Oregon.

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CLLAS Common Reading Brunch with author Helena María Viramontes / Photos by Mike Bragg / Courtesy of the UO Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

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