Kathleen Myers studies cultural and religious geographies that impact people’s ideas about history and identity. Her work spans both the colonial and contemporary periods and both sides of the Atlantic. She first became interested in history and culture as an undergraduate at Ripon College, when she studied in Madrid for a year. As a graduate student in Hispanic Studies at Brown University, she discovered an unpublished autobiography written by a nun in colonial Mexico, which would become the basis of her first books. Dr. Myers arrived at Indiana University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese in 1986, never suspecting at the time that she would fall in love with IU, its students, and Bloomington. In her most recent book, In the Shadow of Cortés: Conversations along the Route of Conquest, Dr. Myers interviews Mexicans from all walks of life about their interpretations of the Spanish conquest and finds that their views are closely linked to ideas about contemporary U.S. geographical and cultural conquests. Her current project is an exploration of a different kind of historical route; she is studying ancient and contemporary shepherding routes in Spain, and their influence on issues of cultural identity and ecological sustainability. As a teacher, Dr. Myers enjoys developing new courses: for example, a recent graduate course, “Conquest, Colonization, and Contemporary Mexico,” paired foundational texts from the colonial period with contemporary discourses about colonialism. A new undergraduate Latin American Culture course was taught as a practicum, focusing on how race and indigenous culture are portrayed to the general public via museum exhibits and popular culture. When she isn’t writing or teaching, Dr. Myers enjoys time with family and friends exploring Southern Indiana’s hiking routes and waterways.
Undergraduate Student SpotlightDan Kreider is a senior graduating in May 2019 majoring in International Studies and Hispanic Linguistics with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. In 2017, Dan spent four months in Quito, Ecuador where he studied Ecuadorian arts, society, and politics. In the summers of 2017 and 2018, he worked as an intern for the National Immigrant Justice Center in Goshen, Indiana. Through this work, Dan developed a passion for serving the Central and South American immigrant population. At Indiana University, he volunteered for three semesters with La Escuelita para Todos where he had the opportunity to tutor Latino youth in the community, developing their Spanish and English language skills. This year, Dan is conducting senior thesis research on anti-immigrant discourse in Ecuador with regards to the Venezuelan refugee crisis. After graduation, he plans on pursuing a career in non-profit work with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Graduate Student Spotlight
Nofiya Denbaum is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Saludos desde Medellín, Colombia! I have only been doing fieldwork for 6 days now, and I have already made several contacts and have collected data from 8 participants. 6 of the participants are foreign students learning Spanish as a second language here in Medellín and the other two participants are native speakers from Medellín. I am, especially, happy because I didn’t even think I would be able to collect data from foreigners learning Spanish as a second language during this trip, but thanks to the generous funding by the Tinker Field Research Grant, I was able to make contacts at the Language Center at the EAFIT University in Medellín. The director of the Spanish program was very friendly and nice enough to let me visit some Spanish classes in order to recruit participants.
Another exciting part for me was the first step in recruiting participants who are native speakers of Medellín Spanish. Yesterday, I had one of my first experiences approaching strangers in a foreign country and asking them if they would like to participate in my study. At first, I was shy, but I built up the courage to do it and fortunately, both people I asked agreed to participate. Not only did they participate in my study, they also spread the word to their friends and obtained even more participants for tomorrow.
Today, I had another exciting experience getting to know some natives and doing an initial recruitment. I ordered breakfast, an arepa and fried fish, from a local store on the corner of a street. There appeared to be a mother and her two children who were about my age. They were really friendly with me and asked me where I was from. We enjoyed some small talk and laughs. At the end, I mentioned to them that I am doing a study and looking for participants and they told me they would like to participate. So, they gave me their contact information and invited me to their house to carry out the study with them there. I look forward to talking to them later and getting to dive even deeper into the culture of the people of Medellin.
The study I am carrying out looks at forms of address or ways of saying “you” in Spanish. In all types of Spanish, there are two ways to address someone, which include a formal (usted) and informal (tú) way. The Spanish of Medellín is especially interesting because there is an additional form of address: vos. My study is looking at the use of these forms of address and in what situations paisas (people from Medellín) use each form of address. It was really exciting to hear my first participant use vos while he was completing the study! I look forward to continuing to make even more contacts and meet more paisas. I am excited to see what the results show when I analyze all the data I have collected!
Catherine Fonseca is an IU alum who spent a total of seven years in Bloomington earning her baccalaureate in History and joint Master’s in Library Science and Latin American Studies. During her time as a CLACS graduate student from 2016-18, Catherine’s academic interests included area studies librarianship, issues related to primary source ephemera, and Latin American gender relations. After graduating, Catherine went on to become the Outreach & Inclusion Librarian at Sonoma State University, at California State University (CSU) located in Northern California that serves 9,300 students. In this role, she develops and implements library programs, events, and practices designed to meet campus and community needs. She also coordinates targeted efforts to reach underserved and vulnerable student populations for the purpose of improving student success through an increased use of library resources and services.
As a tenure-track faculty member, Catherine’s other responsibilities include information literacy instruction, collection development, service, and research output. It is within the realms of instruction and research that her CLACS degree has served her particularly well. In the classroom, Catherine teaches students how structures of power and inequity are inextricably woven into the information landscape; drawing upon examples from Latin America to illustrate these issues. Of late, Catherine has discussed with students the implications involved in the use of “illegal alien” as a standardized subject heading or Instagram’s bias when verifying the profile of U.S.-backed opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, but rescinding verification to Venezuela’s sitting president, Nicolás Maduro. Catherine is also passionate about research projects that combine her two fields of Library Science and Latin American Studies, particularly work that relates to the decolonization of modern libraries and the information needs of Hispanic and Latin@/o/a/x populations. This merging is perhaps most evident in her recent webinar: “Examining Privilege in Classifications: Connecting Critical Information Literacy to Conversations on ‘Latinx’”, which aimed to explain issues of identity, language, gender, and privilege encapsulated within the term “Latinx” and to encourage a critical understanding of the utility, limits, and hierarchies enacted by classifications—both within and outside library contexts.
While Catherine loves her new home in sunny California, she does miss the changing of seasons at the IU campus as well as Bloomington’s relatively affordable housing!