University of Wisconsin–Madison

LACIS Lecture Series

During the academic year we offer a weekly “brownbag” lecture series on a variety of topics.  

We are pleased to serve light snacks, tea and fair-trade coffee from Just Coffee Co-op based here in Madison, WI!

These lectures are FREE and Open to the Public.

If you are interested in participating in the lecture series OR have a suggestion for a great speaker, please contact LACIS’ Associate Director, Alberto Vargas ( 


Tuesday, January 24th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Tinker-Nave Field Research Grant Information Session”
Presented by Alberto Vargas, LACIS Associate Director.


About the presentation: Nave Field Research Grants support graduate students who wish to pursue short-term research in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Iberian Peninsula. All graduate students in all departments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are eligible. There are no citizenship restrictions. Students must be continuing in a degree program at UW-Madison upon return from their field research. Applicants undertaking their first field research will be given preference; interdisciplinary and/or collaborative projects are welcome.

Tuesday, January 31th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“College of Menominee Nation”
Presented by Reynaldo Morales and Alberto Vargas

College of Menomonee Nation Members 

About the speaker: Alberto Vargas, LACIS Associated Director and Reynaldo Morales University of Wisconsin-Madison – Doctoral Student,School of Education – Curriculum & Instruction, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and PA Institute for Regional and International Studies – International Division

About the presentation: Beginning in 2014, several of the regional studies centers worked with the College of Menominee Nation to increase its connections with the Global Indigenous Movement. Prior successes of this collaboration include the participation of College of Menominee Nation faculty and administrators in the Workshop on Indigeneity in Southeast Asia at the UW, and sending a joint College of Menominee Nation delegation to the 15th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2016. The seminar in the fall was the next step in what all parties hope to be continued collaboration on sustainable development and indigeneity.


Tuesday, February 7th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

Tuesday, February 14th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“New Poetry from Uruguay”
Presented by Javier Etchevarren, Virginia Lucas and Jesse Lee Kercheval

Water and Sky Bookcover 

About the speaker: Javier Etchevarren (Montevideo, 1979) is the author of the poetry books Desidia (Yaugarú, 2009) and Fábula de un hombre desconsolado (Yaugarú, 2014). Fable of an Inconsolable Man, a bilingual edition of this book translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval, is forthcoming from Action Books. His poems have appeared in América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets (University of New Mexico Press, 2016);  Virginia Lucas (Monteviedo, Uruguay) is a poet, editor, and literature professor. Her books include the poetry collections Épicas marinas (Artefato, 2004) and No es de acanto la flor en piedra (Lapsus, 2005). She is Literature Director of the National Office of Culture (with the Uruguayan Ministry of Education and Culture) and Research Coordinator of Queer Studies Montevideo; Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of fourteen books including the poetry collection Cinema Muto, winner of a Crab Orchard Open Selection Award; The Alice Stories, winner of the Prairie Schooner Fiction Book Prize; and the memoir Space, winner of the Alex Award from the American Library Association. She is also a translator and a 2016 NEA in Translation Fellow. Her translations include The Invisible Bridge: Selected Poems of Circe Maia. She is the editor of the anthology América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets. She is currently the Zona Gale Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she is the Director of the Program in Creative Writing.

 About the presentation: Two visiting Uruguayan poets Javier Etchevarren and Virginia Lucas will read a few of their poems and talk about their work, about Uruguayan poetry and about their inclusion in the two anthologies América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets and Earth, Water and Sky: A Bilingual Anthology of Environmental Poetry edited by UW professor Jesse Lee Kercheval, who also translated Etchevarren’s book, Fábula de un hombre desconsolado/ Fable of an Inconsolable Man published by Action Books at Notre Dame University. Kercheval will talk about both anthology projects, translating and Uruguayan poetry.

Tuesday, February 21th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Interspecies Resistance and Re-Existence in Hispanic AgriCultures Facing Genetically Engineered Crops”
Presented by Kata Beilin and Sainath Suryanarayanan


About the speaker: Kata Beilin is a Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and a Faculty Affiliate at Lacis, Global Studies, European Studies and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is currently working on two book projects: The Rise of the Resistant; Interspecies Resistance to Genetically Engineered Crops in the Hispanic World (with Sainath Suryanarayanan) and Cultures of Environmental Change in Contemporary Spain. She has recently published In Search of Alternative Biopolitics: Antibulfighting, Animality and the Environment in Contemporary Spain (Ohio State University Press, 2015), and coedited Ethics of Life; Contemporary Iberian Debates (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016) as well as Polemical Companion to Ethics of Life. (

Sainath Suryanarayanan is Assistant Scientist for the transdisciplinary study of biomedical research at the Population Health Institute, a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Culture History & Environment (CHE) at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and a member of the Holtz Center for Science & Technology Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His book with Daniel Lee Kleinman, “Vanishing Bees: Science, Politics, and Honeybee Health” was recently published by Rutgers University Press.

 About the presentation: Based on multidisciplinary archives as well as field research and interviews, this project focuses on the intertwined nature of the movements of resistance by people and plants struggling against genetically engineered (GE) monocultures in the Hispanic World (Argentina, Paraguay, Mexico), that we provocatively conceptualize as interspecies resistance. Roundup Ready (RR)-soy is genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide Roundup that is intended to eliminate all unwanted plants except for the main crop.

Tuesday, February 28th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Borders, Bocas, and Bailes: Gang Governance in Rio de Janeiro”
Presented by Nicholas Barnes, PhD candidate in comparative politics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


About the Speaker: Nicholas Barnes is a PhD candidate in comparative politics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests, broadly, include organized crime, contentious politics, political violence, social movements, and public security policy in Latin America. His dissertation project, based on three years of field research, focuses on the governance practices of drug-trafficking gangs in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. His research has been funded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council’s Drugs, Security and Democracy in Latin America and the International Dissertation Research Fellowships as well as the Department of Education through the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad.

About the presentation: Hundreds of favelas (shantytowns) dot the sprawling urban landscape of Rio de Janeiro. In these communities, drug trafficking gangs have replaced the state as the primary political authority. This presentation will focus on the various ways that gangs have legitimized their rule within these territories and is based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Complexo da Maré, a group of 15 favelas in Rio’s northern zone, where several gangs vie for territorial control.


Tuesday, March 7th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

Connecting Landscapes: a collaborative project and project to promote collaboration between the University of Guadalajara and UW”

Presented by Group of Scholars: Connie Flanagan, School of Human Ecology;  Paul Zedler, Nelson Institute; Lori DiPrete Brown, Global Health Institute;Mary Beth Collins, School of Human Ecology; Maria Moreno, Earth Partnerships(with contributions from Alberto Vargas, Carolina Sarmiento, and Noah Weeth Feinstein).

Guadalajara Scholar

About the presetation: Hear from UW-Madison colleagues from the Global Health Institute, the Nelson Institute, and SoHE about their IRIS-funded incubator project to fortify relationships among University of Wisconsin and University of Guadalajara collaborators, and to connect UW-Madison scholars to the new Museo de Ciencias Ambientales in Guadalajara, Mexico.  We will share information on our current work, as well as stories and images from our delegation visit to Guadalajara in December, which included university and community site visits and conversations. The “Connecting Landscapes” project is meant to encourage collaboration among UW researchers and colleagues in Jalisco for the long term -so come hear about it and participate in our vision for the future! #wiscojalisco.

 Tuesday, March 14th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“A Socio Legal Approach to the neoliberal revolution in Chile”
Presented by Javier Velasco, Visiting Scholar in UW-Madison.

No + AFP

About the Speaker: Javier is a Chilean Lawyer, illustrator, political activist and associated researcher of NIBI (Nucleus in Biopolitics and Ideology, University of Chile). He is currently conducting a research about the socio legal implications and consequences of the forced introduction of the neoliberal system in Chile in the Visiting Scholar program of the UW-Madison Law School.

About the presentation: The Chilean neoliberal revolution was a violent process in the context of the Cold War, that included the introduction of a new productive model and the modification of the society to allow his radical reconversion into an active Cordon Sanitaire for western capitalism. This quarantine zone was capable both to contain the socialist expansion and expand the liberal influence trough the soviet lines, to eventually became the timing belt of a new speculative market. The ideologists behind this process understood the necessity to legitimize the entire project of modernization to avoid a recoil to previous structures or the eventual pressure for radical decolonizing changes; this sustainability can only be achieved in western societies with democratic traditions through liberal structures in combination with solid authoritarian institutions capable to guarantee the foundations of the model. To achieved this complex requirements the only possible way was a long lasting and obsessive revolutionary process, characterized by a fixation with both legality and legitimacy and a progressive renewal in the mechanism to administrate power and conflicts.

Tuesday, March 21th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

Spring Break

Tuesday, March 28th (12-1; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Conservation of botanical diversity in Nicaragua’s shade coffee agroecosystems”
Presented by Jeannine H. Richards, PhD Candidate in the Department of Horticulture at UW Madison.

Coffee Grower

 About the Speaker:
About the presentation: Coffee is one of the most economically important crops in the tropics, covering vast land areas.  It is frequently cultivated within ecologically rich cloud forest zones, many of which are considered global biodiversity hotspots. Coffee monocultures and expansion of coffee into previously intact cloud forests threatens biodiversity.  However, cultivation of coffee under complex shade systems can allow forest species across taxa to coexist with coffee agriculture, and even offers potential for reforestation of pasture and cropland.


Tuesday, April 4th (12-1:00 ; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Taboos and Human Rights in Argentina”
Presented by Nancy Gates Madsen, Associate Professor of Spanish at Luther College

 Memory Park

About the Speaker: Nancy Gates Madsen is Associate Professor of Spanish at Luther College. She has published articles about the legacies of authoritarianism in Argentina on topics ranging from monuments and memorials to the representation of torture. Her book, “Trauma, Taboo, and Truth-Telling: Listening to Silences in Postdictatorship Argentina” (UW Press, 2016) explores how silences and taboo shape the expressive culture of politics and human rights. She is also the co-translator of “Violet Island and Other Poems”, an anthology of the work of Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez. Her latest project explores the intersections between ecological issues and human rights in Latin American cultural production.

 About the presentation: The LACIS series talk will be entitled Taboos and Human Rights in Argentina and it will address the fact that Argentina has been hailed for the pioneering steps it has taken to break the silences left in the wake of the 1976-83 military dictatorship. Truth commissions and trials aimed to voice crimes of the past in a public manner, while the memory “boom” of the mid-1990s brought to light previously suppressed narratives of torture, disappearance, or the appropriation of babies. Yet even stories that seek to expose the horrors of the dictatorship may generate uncomfortable silences. Her talk explores this fallout of the memory “boom,” pockets of silence left in the wake of the explosion of memory discourse that signal uncomfortable or unpalatable legacies of the dictatorship, such as a torture victim’s capacity for “betrayal” or a recovered grandchild’s ambivalence toward identity restitution. Looking at tales of trauma with an eye (or ear) to silence exposes the limits that govern truth-telling about past violence, even among the very groups and individuals who demand accountability.

Copies of Gates-Madsen’s UW Press book Trauma, Taboo, and Truthtelling will be available for purchase at the event for a special discounted price of $30.

Tuesday, April 11th (12-1:00 ; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“La obra de arte y el espectador”
Presented by María Fernanda Zuluaga


About the Speaker: María Fernanda Zuluaga es artista plástica y Profesora Asociada de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Su trabajo se centra principalmente en reflexiones en torno a los posibles diálogos entre el dibujo y la pintura con el espacio.  Ha desarrollado numerosos proyectos de creación avalados por la universidad, que han sido expuestos en Colombia y otros países.

Vive y trabaja en Bogotá Colombia.

About the presentation: Esta charla hace un recorrido por las distintas maneras que puede tener el espectador de aproximarse a la obra de arte.

El punto de partida es la obra de Caspar David Friedrich, cuyo tema frecuente es la pintura de un individuo contemplando lo sublime del paisaje. Con esta imagen quiero crear una metáfora del espectador frente a la obra. Partiendo de tres preguntas fundamentales: 1. Qué tipo de espectadores somos; 2. Qué tipo de espectadores queremos se; y 3. En el diálogo entre la Obra de Arte y el espectador cómo ambos son afectados; haré un breve recorrido desde la mirada del espectador emancipado de Rancière, pasando por una reflexión sobre el papel del espectador en Delacroix, Kandinsky, Duchamp y Tarkovsky, así como su relación con lo sublime Burkeano y los lugares de tiempo de Lyotard.

Todo lo anterior estará articulado también con imágenes de obras mías y de otros artistas colombianos.

Tuesday, April 18th (12-1:00 ; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Seeing Amazonia Slowly: Nature and Culture in a Time of Environmental Change”
Presented by Marcos Colon, PhD Candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UW Madison.


About the Speaker: Marcos Colón is a dissertator in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on the representations of the Amazon in 20th-Century Brazilian literature from an environmental studies perspective. In particular, he is interested in examining a variety of viewpoints of the post-rubber era Amazon through written texts, oral reports, and films, observing changes in the region, its nature and people. Colon’s scholarship uses the post-rubber era as a springboard for re-envisioning the region. In 2016, he visited the Amazon forest in Peru and Brazil, with the support of LACIS, the Nelson Institute and the Center for Culture, History, and Environment—CHE.

About the presentation: The Brazilian rubber boom caused a profound change in the 19th century Amazonian economy and landscape. The rubber rush brought explorers from different parts of the world to the region, among them the American capitalist Henry Ford. In this talk, Marcos Colón will present a visual account of the environmental transformations that occurred in the region after Ford’s arrival and how his presence influenced in the cultivation of soybeans. During the summer of 2016, Colón spent three months traveling through the states of Pará, Amazônia, and Acre where the impact of soy agriculture on the rain forest is most visible, and represent a major ecological challenge.

This talk is co-sponsor by Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Tuesday, April 25th (12-1:00 ; 206 Ingraham Hall)

“Literature and opression:  Culture and Resistance in  Equatorial Guinea”
Presented by Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo, Writer and journalist

Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo

About the speaker: Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo was born in Niefang, continental Equatorial Guinea, in 1950. After having been educated by Catholic missionaries, he left his country for the first time in 1965, when he was only 14 years old, to pursue his studies on mainland Spain. From then on, he became a globetrotter. Today he is regarded as the leading contemporary writer of Equatorial Guinea, and a multifaceted artist: journalist, novelist, literary critic, essayist, researcher, anthologist, publisher, etc. His artistic development, like that of his contemporary Guinean writers, took a turn for the worse during the long years of Francisco Macías Nguema’s dictatorship (1968-1979), when all formal education and literary production was suppressed.

 About the presentation: His artistic development, like that of his contemporary Guinean writers, took a turn for the worse during the long years of Francisco Macías Nguema’s dictatorship (1968-1979), when all formal education and literary production was suppressed. The few writers who managed to work wrote from their countries of exile: their writing focused on exile, problems of existentialism and loss of identity, nostalgia for the homeland, dictatorship, and national unity. This group of writers became known as “la generación perdida,” the lost generation of Equatorial Guinean writers. Ndongo led this group and the era. Ndongo edited and compiled the Antología de la literatura guineana, published in 1984 in Madrid. This pioneering collection of texts included 17 poets and 12 narrators, totaling 23 different names. It was a landmark that demonstrated not only to the general public, but also to Guineans, that they had a literature of their own, and this awareness stimulated more production.


Tuesday, May 2nd (12-1:00 ; 206 Ingraham Hall)

Tuesday, May 9th (12-1:00 ; 206 Ingraham Hall)

Are you giving a LACIS Lunchtime Lecture? If so, please complete our online information form at your earliest convenience.