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The History of the Largest Foreign-Born Population in the State

Dr. Fiona Vernal’s research on Connecticut’s West Indian immigration history has been featured on the Uconn Today page. Dr. Vernal’s research discusses–

“Guest workers arrived in America through bilateral labor agreements between British West Indian colonies and the United States, says Vernal, whose family origins are in Jamaica. They were men who replaced the thousands of Americans who left their jobs to fight in the war, some working in industry, but most in agriculture.

The shade tobacco workers from the West Indies islands lived in camps at Bradley Field and other locations, and soon began to develop a sense of community, Vernal says, when for the first time people from the island nations in the Caribbean got to know each other through a broader West Indian lens. Other than workers laboring in the banana and sugar industries, the only other large scale effort that previously brought men from the Caribbean island nations together was the building of the Panama Canal.”

Fiona Vernal is a native of Trelawny, Jamaica and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned her BA in history with a certificate in African American Studies from Princeton University in 1995 and her MA and PhD from Yale. After completing her doctoral work in December 2003, she served as director of African Studies at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Since 2005 she has taught at the University of Connecticut’s Department of History where her courses focus on precolonial, and colonial Africa, the history of South Africa, slavery, and the African diaspora. Since 2015, her teaching pedagogy has shifted to incorporate inquiry-based learning and human rights practice, yielding the exhibits: “Children of the Soil: Generations of South Africans under Apartheid” (April 2016) and the upcoming “Child Labor and Human Rights in Africa” in 2018.

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Dr. Maria Martinez, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success

Dr. Maria Martinez, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Success, will be receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Connecticut Association of Latinos in Higher Education (CALAHE) on Friday, November 16, at the Association’s annual meeting at Goodwin College. This is CALAHE’s highest honor, recognizing those individuals who have made significant contributions to the educational and social advancement of Latinxs at all levels of higher education within the state of Connecticut.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Martinez on this well-deserved honor.

Learning To Be Latino: How Colleges Shape Identity Policies

At a talk led by Assistant Professor of Sociology and El Instituto Daisy Reyes – author of a new book, Learning to Be Latino – students discussed how their experiences at UConn have shaped their identity politics.

In her new book, sociology and El Instituto professor Daisy Reyes investigates how the particular college that Latino students attend shapes their understanding of themselves and their world views. CLAS majors weigh in about their own experiences at UConn.

In Learning to Be Latino, sociologist Daisy Verduzco Reyes paints a vivid picture of Latino student life at a liberal arts college, a research university, and a regional public university, outlining students’ interactions with one another, with non-Latino peers, and with faculty, administrators, and the outside community. Reyes identifies the normative institutional arrangements that shape the social relationships relevant to Latino students’ lives, including school size, the demographic profile of the student body, residential arrangements, the relationship between students and administrators, and how well diversity programs integrate students through cultural centers and retention centers. Together these characteristics create an environment for Latino students that influences how they interact, identify, and come to understand their place on campus.

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Brazil’s new leader promised to exploit the Amazon—but can he?

On September 20th, a Tertulia presentation lead by Scott Wallace at the University of Connecticut discussed the struggle to defend the rights of isolated tribes of the Amazon.

President-elect Jair Bolsonaro wants to harvest the rain forest’s riches, raising fears among environmentalists and indigenous communities. Are they justified?

The victory of hard-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential election Sunday has set off alarm bells among indigenous communities and environmentalists over the fate of the Amazon rain forest. Activists and native leaders are particularly concerned by Bolsonaro’s campaign pledges to rollback protections of the rain forest and indigenous rights. Yet some experts say there are limits to how far Bolsonaro will be able to go on his promises, perhaps suggesting a more moderate future.

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UConn Survey: Local Hurricane (Maria) Evacuees Need Basic Necessities

 – Combined Reports – UConn Communications

About 13,000 residents of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands who arrived in Connecticut in the aftermath of the hurricanes Maria and Irma continue to struggle with obtaining basic needs including adequate housing, food, medical care, and jobs, according to a survey by UConn researchers for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The vast majority of those who have come to Connecticut, over 70 percent, have extremely low incomes — under $30,000 — and their needs are adding a heavy responsibility on an already over-extended and resource-limited Puerto Rican community in Connecticut, given the extreme levels of need that are present in the community, even before the storms.

About 1,300 people participated in the survey, which utilized online and in-person questionnaires in English and Spanish and field research, and was led by the University of Connecticut’s El Instituto: Institute for Latina/o Caribbean and Latin American Studies and with the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.

Researchers sought to understand the long-term impact of displacement on Puerto Rican households in the Greater Hartford region.

They found that while some households surveyed relied on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for funding for basic needs, the majority of those affected relied on the Greater Hartford’s nonprofit organizations, school districts, and family members for support.

In Connecticut, relief has also been provided through a $4.4 million education and housing assistance for displaced residents, which was approved by the state’s General Assembly during the 2018 Legislative Session.

“The Hartford region has one of the highest concentrations of people of Puerto Rican origin outside Puerto Rico and last year’s hurricanes brought thousands more to the region, many of whom will likely stay,” said Scott Gaul, the Hartford Foundation’s director of Research and Evaluation. “The hurricanes were an unprecedented event, but we can anticipate similar crises will happen again. The survey is one tool to help the Hartford region understand the needs of evacuees and the potential long-term impacts of displacement.”

Among this population:

  • More than half of those surveyed (56%) mentioned that it was very likely (36%) or somewhat likely (22%) that kin would relocate from the Caribbean to Connecticut, with most of those relatives and friends staying with respondents.
  • Respondents expected displaced kin to remain in Connecticut into the medium and long terms. Nearly a third of respondents (32%) reported that kin would stay in Connecticut for a few months, and a quarter (26%) would remain for a few years.
  • The most pressing need for respondents hosting displaced Puerto Ricans is lodging, with fully one-third of them indicating that housing was one the biggest needs they face.
  • Nearly three-fifths of respondents indicated housing was displaced person’s first order need, followed by 16 percent who mentioned it in second order.
  • Food was a first order need for one-fifth of survey respondents’ displaced friends and relatives and second order need for 35 percent.
  • Respondents expect nearly 1,500 additional people to arrive from Puerto Rico in the wake of the hurricane.
  • Respondents living in Hartford’s outer ring suburbs were relatively less likely (72%) to have kin in the Caribbean than those living in Hartford or its immediate suburbs.

“Survey respondents identify housing issues and insufficient food as the most critical needs they are facing in Connecticut, along with healthcare, in the after aftermath of the crisis,” said Charles R. Venator-Santiago, associate professor of political science at UConn. “These are needs not only of those who are in the state already, but of those who are very likely to arrive in the short term.”

Results from the survey will help inform long-term planning and action by funders, nonprofits, municipalities and schools. The Foundation will work with community organizations and leaders in the region to disseminate and act on survey results.

The Hartford Foundation recently awarded $230,000 in grants from its Respond-Rebuild-Renew Fund to provide support services to residents impacted by relocation from the Caribbean and other disaster areas.

The full report: PR_Survey_Booklet_print_Final

Joint Statement of UConn Centers, Institutes, and Programs

As leaders of centers, institutes, and programs at the University of Connecticut dedicated to advancing critical understanding of social justice and human rights, we are fully committed to the aim, outlined in the university’s mission, of helping students grow intellectually and become contributing members of society. We pursue this work with full consciousness that many of our programs were created in the wake of social justice movements that sought recognition not only of the rights of marginalized peoples, but also of the obligation on the part of higher education to embrace diversity, cultivate civic responsibility, and promote equity and justice. Our centers, institutes, and programs support research and teaching in fields of knowledge that would not exist but for hard won protections of First Amendment values and academic freedom, and we strive to create robust, rigorous, and responsible intellectual communities among faculty and students of different backgrounds, opinions, and orientations. Critical and productive scholarly inquiry requires environments that foster diverse viewpoints and free and responsible exchange, even – and especially – when those contributions challenge orthodox thinking, wherever on the political spectrum it may be situated.

The invitation to author and media personality Ben Shapiro has provided us an opportunity to reflect on these histories and current objectives of our centers, institutes, and programs, and to reaffirm our essential roles in promoting the university’s core mission of enhancing the social, economic, and cultural well-being of our students and the wider community. We reject the claims of Mr. Shapiro, and those of like-minded individuals and organizations, that our programs are illegitimate or unnecessary university endeavors, and that challenging systemic oppression and seeking more just societies constitutes “brainwashing.” Freedom of expression and academic freedom are essential to promoting diversity of thought and opinion of all members of the community and enable us to engage productively in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Broad participation in these pursuits, however, requires not only speaking but also listening – not only “free speech” but also responsible efforts to understand the speech of others. We urge all members of the community to demonstrate our commitment to these values both in this week and beyond.

The following links showcase our centers, institutes, and programs, and indicate some of the ways in which we are working to promote – through efforts such as the Initiative on Campus Dialogues (https://humilityandconviction.uconn.edu/initiative-on-campus-dialogues/) and the metanoia Together: Confronting Racism (https://together.uconn.edu/) – open and mutually respectful exchange on the burning issues of today. Only through such sustained, painstaking, at times uncomfortable work can we hope to advance our collective understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

Africana Studies Institute
https://africana.uconn.edu/mission/
American Studies Program
https://americanstudies.uconn.edu/about/
Asian and Asian American Studies Institute
https://asianamerican.uconn.edu/profile/mission_statement/
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
https://judaicstudies.uconn.edu/about/
El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies
https://elin.uconn.edu/
Humanities Institute
https://humanities.uconn.edu/
Human Rights Institute
https://humanrights.uconn.edu/our-mission-history/
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
https://thedoddcenter.uconn.edu/about/history/
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program
https://wgss.uconn.edu/our-mission/

Sebastian Wogenstein, Interim Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
Samuel Martinez, Interim Director, El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies
Glenn Mitoma, Director, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Melina Pappademos, Interim Director, Africana Studies Institute
Michael P. Lynch, Director, Humanities Institute
Alexis L. Boylan, Associate Director, Humanities Institute
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Director, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute
Kathryn Libal, Director, Human Rights Institute
Molly Land, Associate Director, Human Rights Institute
Micki McElya, Director, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
Christopher R. Vials, Director, American Studies Program

Puerto Rican Crisis Research Group

El Instituto announces the establishment of a Puerto Rican Crisis Research Group. This initiative aims to channel information within and beyond the UConn community about the background to the PROMESA/Hurricane María crisis, its nature and magnitude, and the prospects and initiatives for recovery.

Our first priority at this stage is gathering and sharing information: Are you, your UConn colleagues or Connecticut neighbors providing or planning to provide support for civil society initiatives, scholarly partners, government planning or other reconstruction efforts? Please let us know if you would like us to share word of your UConn-related initiatives through the Instituto mailing list or social media.

The research group will also be organizing a series of public lectures and scholarly workshops all the way through spring 2018 and possibly beyond.

Our first speaker is human rights lawyer and community activist Ariadna Godreau, who will present a public lecture on Monday 27 November, 4:30PM, Class of ‘47 Room, “The Politics of Disaster Relief: Austerity and Human Rights in Puerto Rico Post-María.”

Godreau will also workshop a paper in progress, Tuesday, 28 November, 12:30-2:00PM, Dodd 162, “Whose Rights? Whose Debris?  Access to Justice and Shared Responsibility in Puerto Rico Post-María.”

The speaker series will be multidisciplinary and your suggestions for future speakers are welcome.

Another research group initiative is a faculty/grad reading group, “Theorizing Catastrophes,” co-sponsored with the UCONN Humanities Institute. Once more details are set, we will reach out again with word of this reading group’s agenda and schedule.

Please feel free to contact any of the research group’s co-organizers, Rob Venator (charles.venator@uconn.edu), Guillermo Irizarry (Guillermo.irizarry@uconn.edu) or Samuel Martínez (Samuel.martinez@uconn.edu).

Chrystal Smith receives NSF grant

University of Connecticut anthropology professor Dr. Chrystal Smith has been granted $174,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of academic climate and social networks on sexual and gender minority undergraduates who are in STEM fields. To read full article, go to https://innovation.uconn.edu/news/234/Understanding%20the%20STEM%20Climate%20and%20Social%20Networks%20effects%20on%20the%20Persistence%20of%20sexual%20and%20gender%20minorities%20in%20STEM%20fields

2017 UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic Fellowship

The UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic fellowship is a competitive award that allows students with an interest in migration studies and/or medicine to spend part of the summer working with a team of UConn medical professionals to provide services to migrant farmworkers. Students will be working with two teams: practitioners providing services and researchers examining data from last summer’s clinics. Honors students whose career trajectory would be enhanced by such an opportunity will be given preference. Spanish-speaking ability a plus. Must have reliable transportation.

This fellowship will provide the student with the opportunity to participate in a research study at the medical school that is investigating the prevalence of depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse among migrant farm workers in Connecticut. The co-investigators will be reviewing patient charts and data collected during the 2016 clinics. The team will be coding, logging, and analyzing data using organizational and statistical tools such as Excel and SPSS or SAS, to better understand mental illness in migrant populations.

The fellowship is complemented by an internship that allows the fellow to train for the clinic in the spring. Students will help coordinate other student volunteers, visit area farms, and assist AHEC with clinic tasks. In the fall, fellows will contribute to the honors core course LLAS/HIST 1570 by training and coordinating student volunteers as well as by working with the professor to present on summer research and write a reflection for El Instituto’s newsletter. The internship will carry 2 credits, assigned in the fall; fellows sign up for LLAS 4212 with Dr. Gebelein of El Instituto.

The fellowship during the summer comes with a stipend of $1,000 to cover traveling expenses. Responsibilities begin in April with training for the clinics and end in early October when the clinics end.  For more detailed information, please see here.

 

Deadline for letter of interest: Friday, March 31st, 2017 to anne.gebelein@uconn.edu

 

Sponsored by the UConn Honor’s Program, El Instituto: Latina/o, Caribbean & Latin American Studies Institute, CT Area Health Education Center & the UConn Migrant Farm Worker Clinic