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 As a graduate student in Hispanic Studies at Brown University, she discovered an unpublished autobiography written by a nun in colonial Mexico, which would become the basis of her first books.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
Juan Morilla Romero is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
A Shared Courage of Truth: From Journalists under Threat to Citizens Journalists in Current Mexico
2017 is often considered the bloodiest year in Mexico since the start of the drug wars in 2006, with a total of 29,168 homicides, about 80 murders per day. Journalists are not immune to this war-like scenario making Mexico one of the most dangerous countries for reporters in the world. In addition to assassinations, many Mexican journalists have reported being victims of other violent acts, such as threats, physical aggressions, or surveillance. Unsurprisingly, Reporters Without Borders ranks Mexico 147 (out of 180 countries) in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index.
Since the traditional media outlets are unable to meet the citizens’ need for news about narcotrafficking, citizen journalists have become producers of news; relying on the Internet and social media (e.g., blogs, Facebook, Twitter) to diffuse information. Citizen journalism, in turn, has become a kind of political activism, and activist journalism has become a prominent topic in media studies since the advent of the Internet dramatically changed mass media. The depiction of narcotrafficking by citizen journalists sharply contrasts with the sensational depictions in films and television by informing the population of the cartels’ actual activity without glorifying the violence.
During my three-week stay in Mexico City, I conducted a dozen interviews of professionals with different profiles. I interviewed photo-reporters, journalists, professors from a variety of venues, was invited to watch the release of the documentary No se mata la verdad, which portrays the daily lives of journalists under threat, and visited the antimonumentos, a series of sculptures that ordinary citizens have placed in significant spots along Reforma Avenue to claim for justice.
There is no doubt that my stay in Mexico’s capital was fruitful because it allowed me to gain a broader and deeper view of my dissertation project’s topic. The enriching interviews, highlighted the activism put into practice by the so-called citizen journalists as part of a larger social movement that is also formed by novelists, intellectuals, filmmakers, victims’ relatives... They all have the same goal: to disclose the hidden truth and claim for justice in a country where corruption and impunity are the norm.
Christine Salinas is an IU alum and was a CLACS student from 1997-1999. After graduating, she knew she wanted to educate kids about Latin American history. She went on to design and teach elementary and middle school curriculum in Spanish and Latin American culture. After teaching in the classroom for ten years, she shifted careers to pursue education reform through nonprofit work. Now, Christine works in development where she raises money to close achievement gaps among low-income children, most of whom are Latino. She also volunteers as a Board Member of Young Dreamer Network, a nonprofit that funds high school and college education for promising teenagers in developing countries.
Among many things, her CLACS degree taught her how to write persuasively and sort through vast amounts of data. At work, she uses these tools on a daily basis. For example, when she works on a funding objective, she combs through compelling data and uses it to craft an approach that inspires prospective donors to give.
What does she miss about IU Bloomington? Mother Bear's Pizza!!