Mapping LACIS Research

LACIS is proud to highlight selected publications of our Affiliated Faculty. Please click on the names in blue to see the most recent faculty publications that have been shared with us.

Please welcome our newest affiliates: Almita Miranda’s research intersects in race, gender, political economy, immigration, in the U.S. and Mexico. Edna Ledesma works on Latinos in urban settings and the U.S./Mexico border. Katherine Jensen’s research interests include race, political sociology, and forced migration in the Americas, with a focus on Brazil. Kathryn Kirchgasler investigates power relations within science education, health education, and teacher education, also with a focus on race in Puerto Rico. Diego Román researches intercultural bilingual (Quechua-Spanish) education programs in Ecuador, particularly in the Galapagos Islands. Mariaelena Huambachano’s work uses a Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) lens to examine the respective “good-living philosophies” of indigenous communities in the Andes.


Various other affiliates also work on themes connected to environment and indigeneity: Armando Muyulema researches bilingual intercultural education in Ecuadorian Quechua areas, and he is also an instructor of Quechua. Lisa Naughton writes about conservation topics in Ecuador and Peru. Under Lisa’s guidance, a team of UW Madison Geography faculty, graduate students and alumni launched a new version of an interactive, online role playing exercise called Tambopata, Peru. Protecting Forests and Empowering Local Communities. This fall, more than 20 instructors from higher ed. institutions in the U.S., Canada and UK used this open-access teaching resource in their teaching.  Adrian Treves studies human and wild animals’ interactions in the agricultural contexts of Latin America. Elizabeth Hennessy, recently tenured and granted a Vilas Associate Award (Congratulations!), has just published On the Backs of Tortoises Darwin, the Galapagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden (Yale University Press). This book has already received various enthusiastic reviews and has been selected as a Finalist for the 2020 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Christa Olson writes about aesthetics and rhetoric of national identity, democracy, and indigeneity in Ecuador. Kata Beilin, LACIS Faculty Director, published a book on the significance of interspecies relations in the struggles about agriculture and development in Argentina, Mexico and Ecuador. Erica Marín-Spiotta, recently awarded Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and Romnes Faculty Fellowship, researches forest soils in the context of climate change.

Political crises, with various environmental undertones, focusing on Argentina, Mexico, and Colombia constitute the context of research of Ksenija Bilbija, Glen Close, Beatriz Botero, Alexandra Huneeus, and Kate Vieira. Ksenija Bilbija is a world expert on the Cartonera publishers, an alternative editorial phenomenon that responds to economic, political, and ecological exhaustion. For many years, Glen Close’s work focused on violence in crime and narco-fiction and film and has now taken a turn to consider violence committed against animals. Beatriz Botero’s recent book analyzes gender violence in Latin American literature from a psychoanalytic perspective. Paola Hernandez reflects on theater and performance as political interventions in the context of human rights. Laura Schecter researches development economics, in rural Paraguay, including women’s and social media role.

Violence and human rights are two important themes in the work of Alexandra Huneeus, the co-founder of the Human Rights Program on our campus. Kate Vieira writes about educational strategies to overcome the trauma of violence and migration in children in Colombia, and Diana Rodríguez-Gómez is similarly concerned with education for peace in Colombia and Ecuador.

Various LACIS affiliates’ work focuses on Brazil. The work of Holly Gibbs, on how the soy moratorium contributes to the preservation of the rain forest. Jenna Nobles studies behavior changes in response to health risk, including the Zika threat in Brazil. Falina Enríquez writes about music and musicians in Recife. Our IRIS Faculty Director, Lesley Bartlett, and Kathryn Moeller work on a comparative analysis of educational practices in Latin America, with a special focus on Brazil. Kathryn Sanchez, who published a book on performance and stardom (Creating Carmen Miranda: Race, Camp, and Transnational Stardom, Vanderbilt University Press, 2016), today writes about films depicting the Amazon. Karen Strier, awarded Recognition Award, Operação Primatas, works on Brazilian mammals, and other endangered species. Katherine Jensen examines disparate approaches to knowledge and the body in the asylum-screening process in Brazil. Sarah Wells, last fall a fellow at UW’s Institute for Research in the Humanities, specializes in Brazilian cinema. Her book, Media Laboratories, Late Modernist Authorship in South America won the Best Book (Humanities category) from the Southern Cone Section of the Latin American Studies Association. Luis Madureira publishes on Brazilian and Lushophone African literature and film.

The Caribbean is another area of research strongly represented by LACIS affiliates. Victor Goldgel-Carballo is the author of an award-winning book Cuando lo nuevo conquistó las America’s granted Premio Iberoamericano by Latin American Studies Association, and Premio Ezequiel Martínez Estrada by Casa de las Américas. Goldgel-Carballo’s current research dwells on race relationships in nineteenth and twentieth century Cuba and intellectual property in Latin America. Guillermina De Ferrari, currently a Senior Fellow with the Institute of Research in the Humanities, recently awarded also the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and Halls-Bascom Named Professorship, analyzes the tension between overdetermination by historical, political and ecological forces, and the demand for ethics in the contemporary Caribbean. Pablo Gómez works on the development of novel ideas about risk, labor, and disease that appeared in Atlantic slave markets during the seventeenth century. Brenda Plummer, this last year awarded Karen F. Johnson Teaching Award, recently authored articles about how financialization affected the Caribbean. Cherene Sherrard works on Caribbean novels. Jerome Camal researches music in the Caribbean.

From the Caribbean, we move to Mexico and Central America. Jessica Hurley specializes in Maya studies with a focus on women, and she is also an instructor of Yucatec Maya. Grant Armstrong focuses on the morphology, syntax, and semantics of Spanish, and also of Yucatec Maya. Claudia Calderón works on agroecology in the Mayan communities of Guatemala. Brad Barham specializes in Agricultural Economics, in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Sarah Clayton explores the ways in which the growth and decline of pre-colonial cities and states in Mexico transformed surrounding landscapes and communities, among them the famous Tehotihuacán. Alfonso Morales, who was recently awarded a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor Award, focuses on food security, and climate change in Mexico. Michel Wattiaux works on the sustainability of small holder farms in Mexico. Jorge Osorio conducts research on viral diseases and zoonotic pathogens in Mexico and Colombia. Sarah McKinnon is writing a book on the discursive representations of Mexico in the US rhetoric. LACIS Associate Director Alberto Vargas’ research interests are in sustainability and in the interplay of environment and development in Latin America, particularly in Mexico. Benjamin Márquez works on Latinos’ histories in the United States.

Historical, economic, political and discursive analysis, as well as the analysis of the media are among the strongest research areas among LACIS affiliates. Hernando Rojas offers a cutting-edge analysis of the relationship between media and political disposition and action. Patrick Iber focuses on the social sciences discourses on poverty. He also publishes articles on current events and history in The New York Times, The New Republic and Dissent. Rajiv Rao’s linguistic research focuses on the meaning of intonation in different Latin American dialects and on phonetics and phonology in contact. Ellen Sapega writes about Portuguese historical memories in Second World War Documentaries. Maria Muniagurria works on trade, economic growth and family dynamics in Argentina.

Spanish Golden Age is a historically strong area in UW-Madison’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Steven Hutchinson, currently a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, and known for his work on Cervantes, is now writing on slavery, religious conversion, martyrdom, and migration in frontier zones of the early modern Mediterranean world. Mercedes Alcalá-Galán, approaches the works of Cervantes through the perspective of race, gender and sexuality. David Hildner writes on the theater of Calderón. Juan Egea published two monographs on Spanish contemporary cinema.

Last, but not least, among LACIS affiliates, we have not only literary and art critics, but also poets, and translators, such as Henry Drewal, Jesse Kercheval, Sarli Mercado, Rubén Medina, Carolyn Kallenborn, Marcelo Pellegrini, and Cherene Sherrard. Living Poetry: Women in Translation (WIT) is an international collective women translation project co-sponsored by LACIS and 4W under which auspices various LACIS scholars translate Latin American poetry into English.

This is by no means a complete map, so if your work is not mentioned and you would like us to talk about it in our next newsletter, please send us your information. We are always looking forward to hearing about your new projects and publications. We will be updating this map periodically.