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.

Daisy Reyes Book Talk

Contributed by Victoria Almodóvar

Students, friends, and faculty gathered in the UConn Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural
Center community room on October 22nd to get a preview of Dr. Daisy Verduzco Reyes’ book, Learning
to Be Latino, a book she just published with Rutgers University Press. Reyes, an Assistant Professor with
a joint appointment in the Sociology department and El Instituto, joined the UConn community in 2013.
Learning to Be Latino is an ethnographic exploration of how college campuses shape students’ political

Reyes began her presentation by talking about what sparked her interest in college environments’
influence on Latinx identity, or how Latinx students identify, understand themselves, and interact with
others. Reyes highlighted the significance of her own experiences as a Chicana and those of some of her
close family members.

Reyes then explained her use of ethnographic methods at three campuses, a small liberal arts
college, a large research university, and a regional public university. At each school, she observed and
interacted with similar Latino student groups. Reyes’ data shows that factors like the amount of time
students spend on campus, the quantity of resources made available to them, and the demographic
makeup of the student bodies influence the lived experiences of Latinx college students. For instance,
Latinx students at the small liberal arts college had more access to powerful figures on campus, whereas
students at the other campuses had less. Reyes argues that such differences affect how students see
themselves, and how they frame and tackle issues.

Reyes set the room abuzz when she asked audience members to pair and share their UConn
experiences as Latinxs, and what they had observed about other Latinx students’ experiences at UConn.
Reyes’ work clearly hit home for many in attendance. Learning to Be Latino is a contribution to the
academic literature that also has the potential to effect change in how universities like UConn support
their Latinx students



Click image to view Daisy Reyes’ video
Click image to learn

Tertulia con Scott Wallace

Contributed by Julia Marchese

Last Tribes of the Amazon: Protecting Earth’s Most Threatened People can be found on the following link:


Photographs by Charlie Hamilton James / National Geographic

On September 20th, 2018, Professor Scott Wallace (UConn, Journalism) gave a talk at El Instituto titled, Speaking for Those Who Cannot Speak for Themselves: The Struggle to Defend the Rights of Isolated Tribes in the Amazon. As a journalist, Wallace has travelled all over the world exploring and researching indigenous and human rights, vanishing cultures, and conflict over land and resources. He is a frequent contributor to National Geographic and during this Tertulia discussed his most recent cover story, Last Tribes of the Amazon: Protecting Earth’s Most Threatened People.

Wallace discussed how one of Brazil’s government protection agencies for Indian interests, land, and culture, FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio), has been fighting for decades for the protection of uncontacted, isolated tribes in the Amazon. Because of policies implemented by FUNAI and the Brazilian government, it is now illegal for non-tribal members to enter the lands of these tribes. Wallace argues that these tribes cannot be protected unless you protect their land. He recently completed a three-month expedition through the remote territories of the Flecheiro people in the Javari region and the Awá people of Maranhão, to investigate recent conflicts regarding illegal logging, drug trafficking, illegal intrusion and gold dredging, and even the suspected killings of some of the people of these tribes.

A week into the trip that Wallace “felt like he was trespassing on land that belonged to someone else.” Using just a compass and topographical map, Wallace and about 35 other expeditioners walked through paths filled with 150 foot trees in primal forest and permanent twilight caused by the tree’s shadows.

These are Earth’s most threatened and vulnerable people. With FUNAI’s funding being slashed and the upcoming tense elections in Brazil, the future of these people is more than ever before in doubt. Indigenous groups have in response been taking a more militant role by forming tribal militias. Stories like those by Wallace publicize their struggles for a global audience.

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
American Studies Program
Asian and Asian American Studies Institute
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies
Humanities Institute
Human Rights Institute
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program

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