Farewell from Dr. Kata Beilin, LACIS Faculty Director

Dear LACIS Community,

I am writing to let you know that after three years, I am stepping down from the position of LACIS Faculty Director to work on my research in Yucatan as a Fulbright Scholar. I will be writing a book on revitalization of Mayan culture with a focus on Mayan relations with plants, bees, and forests. I am leaving LACIS in hands of Alberto Vargas, LACIS Associate Director, and Gay Seidman, who will take the position of Interim Faculty Director while the Steering Committee searches for a faculty member willing to take on this role for a longer time. Gay is a professor of Sociology, and her Latin American research is focused on problems of race in Brazil.

During these last three years LACIS has transformed and strengthened. We have mapped research led on Latin America on our campus. We have tripled the number of applications to our graduate program and created new funding opportunities to support our students. We established various new faculty and graduate student collaborations on campus, and with other University campuses in the US and internationally. We have created a new interdisciplinary undergraduate major. We led four thematic cycles of talks and seminars including: Race and Indigeneity (2019), Migration (with CLACS, Milwaukee in 2020), (3) Science and Technology (2021), and (4) Visual Approaches to Hispanic World (2022). Some of the online lectures in these series had over 200 participants.

But by far, our largest success has been receiving Title VI and NRC Funding (in collaboration with UW-Milwaukee) for the next three years! This will allow us to continue teaching indigenous languages of Latin America, and support faculty and graduate student projects and research.

I am leaving LACIS strong, and I will continue working for this amazing program as long as I remain a part of UW, Madison.

Last initiative that was conceived under my directorship has been maturing slow. I will soon invite you to LACIS Review, a new faculty and graduate student online publication that we hope to have ready in the beginning of the semester. The first issue will focus on transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in Latin American Studies.

I would like to thank all graduate students and faculty who helped and contributed to LACIS Review, as well as those who contributed to LACIS Lunchtime Lecture Series, and LACIS Interdepartmental Seminar over the last three years. Thanks to those who shared their work on Mapping Faculty Research website, and who supported us in all other ways.

Thank you, Alberto, and Sarah for great collaboration during these last three years!

I wish all LACIS community a wonderful academic year!

Kata Beilin