Graduate Student Luis Palomino Research Project Update

April 24, 2024

Contributed by Luis Palomino

Luis Palomino, M.A. '22“COVID-19 and internal migration in Peru”

My research seeks to analyze the effects of lockdown policies on internal migration. This study also aims to determine if the effects of lockdown and remote work policies on the new patterns of the spatial distribution of the population are short-term, medium-term, or long-term, especially in developing countries. Therefore, I propose two research goals. First, show how the lockdown and remote work policies impacted internal migration. Second, study the spatial distribution patterns of the population due to lockdown policies in Peru: Which regions have new migration patterns in the short, medium, or long term? I will achieve the research goals by exploiting three databases: (1) Internal migration, (2) Lockdown policies, and (3) Socioeconomic indicators from censuses and surveys.

Graduate Student Menglu Chen Research Project Update

April 23, 2024

Contributed by Menglu Chen

An image of two enslaved workers tapping into a rubber tree. A third person, wearing a suit, leans against a structure holding up the rubber tree and looks at the camera.
Kleingrothe, C.J. – Medan – Tapping of a 23-year-old rubber tree on a plantain in Malaysia – circa 1910

My research project aims to delve deeper into transnational narratives by exploring the interconnections between Latin America and Asia. Through an analysis of works such as José Eustasio Rivera’s La Vorágine, where the protagonist encounters the dreadful conditions of those coerced or misled into tapping rubber trees, my study tracks the colonial trajectory of the rubber tree from the Amazon to Southeast Asia. This migration of the rubber tree, witnessed by generations of Southeast Asian writers whose forebears tapped these trees, has become a significant theme in Southeast Asian literature. It serves as a lens through which writers reflect on their postcolonial history and reinterpret the narrative of the Amazonian rubber boom. This aspect of collective memory and historical reflection emphasizes how transnational exchanges can influence and shape cultural and literary dialogues, offering a richer understanding of global interconnectivity. The project aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the Latin American literary tradition within global literature, fostering complex dialogues about ethnicity, identity, and memory across the Global South.

Graduate Student Melissa Pérez Peña Research Project Update

April 22, 2024

Contributed by Melissa Pérez Peña


La criatura de isla trasciende siempre al mar que la rodea y al que no la rodea

– Dulce María Loynaz, Cuban Poet


Image of Melissa Pérez Peña
Melissa Pérez Peña

Although islands contribute minimally to the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, they are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels, water acidification, and scarcity of drinking water. Continued environmental degradation threatens human communities residing on land and endangers the survival of the diverse non-human life forms that depend on these ecosystems. This deterioration results from excessive and unsustainable production and a hierarchical relationship between humans and nature and deeply increased by over-construction in the coastal zone to meet the demands of tourism.

Faced with these imaginaries and as a response to the colonizing view that has predominated in the West towards the ocean and bodies of water, a demand emerges from the island regions to address these ecosystems from a more holistic perspective. This call for attention is linked with a field of studies called “Blue Humanities,” where the relationship between humanity and aquatic ecosystems is conceived as a fundamental collaboration instead of unilateral domination. This involves reconsidering the relationship between humanity and nature, overcoming the traditional hierarchy, and understanding ourselves as part of a tight symbiotic network where we are deeply connected to the environment.

This interdisciplinary approach presents literature as an opportunity to explore the symbolic and metaphorical representations of the climatic emergency created by different artists. The reflection is linked to the symbolic construction of the ocean and coastal environments as a pillar for Caribbean literature. This exploration delves not only into the complexities of the human condition with nature but also poses a sharp criticism towards the forms of consumption and self-destruction rooted in our contemporary societies.


Graduate Student Maria Isabel Palacio-Cano Research Project Update

Contributed by Maria Isabel Palacio-Cano

Image of Maria Isabel Palacio-Cano
Maria Isabel Palacio-Cano

My research project examines the training of the Colombian Armed Forces during the period between 2002-2008. The overall objective is to conduct a critical analysis of the professionalization of the Colombian armed forces. This analysis will assess the extent to which increased capacity and an offensive posture created the conditions that allowed for an increase in extrajudicial executions. The analysis employs a critical approach to examine the interactions between increased training, new forces, doctrine, and human rights education with dehumanizing narratives and U.S. interventionism. Critical analysis of the discourse employed in this study reveals the power dynamics that facilitate systematic rights violations within the military, despite claims of professionalization. The research questions the normalization of violence against perceived “enemies within” through imposed security frameworks.

Graduate Student Apoliana da Conceição Research Project Update

April 17, 2024

Contributed by Apoliana da Conceição


MA 23 Apoliana de Conceição dos Santos
Apoliana da Conceição

How does literature represent society? Our lives? An era? To what extent is the depiction accurate? There is no better way to answer these questions than analyzing what we already have available as great written literature. In this case, we talk about the novel Mulatto by Aluísio Azevedo, written in 1881; it shows the complex dynamics of race in Brazil during the pre-abolition era. It serves as a window into the perceptions of race both then and now, raising questions about how Brazilian society has historically battle with racial identity. Set seven years prior to the abolition of slavery and the establishment of the first republic, Mulatto follows Raimundo’s journey—a young Brazilian wrestling with his mixed heritage and liberal ideals in the face of a provincial and bigoted society. Examining XIX century Brazil through the lens of Mulatto allows for an understanding of contemporary race relations in XXI century Brazil. What are the differences and similarities? Despite temporal and social shifts, parallels can be drawn between the racial dynamics depicted in the novel and those present in modern Brazil. By exploring the historical context of race in Brazil and its representation in literature, we gain insights into the continuity and evolution of racial perceptions and inequalities over time. A comparative analysis of past and present reveals the enduring complexities of race in Brazilian society, highlighting the importance of addressing historical legacies and contemporary challenges in understanding racial views in Brazil and how and why the assimilation of the predominant U.S. view of race impacts today’s Brazilian society.


Interim Director selected for CLAS Award

April 10, 2024

Interim Director Charles Venator-Santiago was recently selected as the winner of the 2024 Broader Impacts, Service, and Visibility Award.

This award, as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) explains, recognizes UConn Faculty members for their work in “outstanding initiatives that visibly impact the welfare of Connecticut and beyond” through community engagement, and developing connections with governmental and non-profit organizations.

ELIN Affiliate Faculty César Abadía-Barrero Research Update

April 3, 2024

César Abadía-Barrero is a jointly appointed Associate Professor of Anthropology and Human Rights. He is also an affiliate faculty member for El Instituto. Check out his spotlight video from the UConn Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute YouTube Page.


César J. Ayala Workshop on the Comparative Study of Race in the Americas

March 29, 2024

Contributed by Apoliana da Conceição dos Santos

César J. Ayala - Professor of Sociology at UCLA - teaching graduate students about comparative research on racein the Americas
César J. Ayala – Professor of Sociology at UCLA – teaching graduate students about comparative research on race; Image by Apoliana da Conceição dos Santos

During the César J. Ayala Workshop on the Comparative Study of Race in the Americas, Professor Ayala illuminated the nuanced nature of racism, emphasizing its variation across different regions. He underscored the ineffectiveness of importing U.S. racism into other contexts, highlighting the unique manifestations of racism in each country. Through thought-provoking questions, he prompted attendees to reflect on the nature of racism and white supremacy in our respective homelands. Professor Ayala’s presentation went through popular concepts such as systemic racism, institutional racism, structural racism, and white supremacy, offering empirical insights and comparative analyses of scholarships. Drawing on studies of racial inequality in Puerto Rico, he provided us with a comprehensive understanding of the complex dynamics at play. Particularly interesting to me were his references to Brazilian perspectives on race, exemplified by the documentary Preto X Branco, which contrasts with American views. Additionally, his recommendation of Edward Telles’ book Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil further enriched the discourse, offering deeper insights into the complexities of race in the Americas.

In conclusion, it is evident that racism manifests differently across various regions. Importing U.S. racism does not alter the underlying realities of one’s own country. Questions such as ‘What is racism like in your country?’ and ‘What is white supremacy in your country?’ prompt us to consider the unique socio-cultural contexts shaping these phenomena. Furthermore, education correlates with increased awareness of one’s racial identity. Ultimately, acknowledging these complexities is essential for fostering meaningful dialogue and enacting positive change.


Joint Senior Faculty Hire Between the Department of Sociology & El Instituto

February 5, 2024

Contributed by Charles R. Venator Santiago

We are currently conducting a search for a senior scholar with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and El Instituto. Three finalists will visit our campus on February 7th (Professor Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, American University), February 9th (Marta Maldonado, Oregon State University), and February 12th (Elizabeth M. Aranda, University of South Florida). Feel free to contact El Instituto’s general email ( if you want to join the following job talks:

Friday, February 9: Marta Maldonado (3:30 PM) Job Title Talk: Uno Se Las Arregla’: Latinos Managing Precarity on the Oregon Coast
Monday, February 12: Elizabeth M. Aranda (3:30 PM) Job Title Talk: You Can’t Have It All, There Is Always a Give and Take: Post-Disaster Migrants’ Return to Puerto Rico

CALAHE Annual Conference

Contributed by Charles R. Venator-Santiago

Flyer for the Connecticut Association of Latinos in Higher Education (CALAHE). The conference theme is: Navigating the Political Landscape for Latino/as in Higher Education: Smoke and MirrorsThe Connecticut Association of Latinos in Higher Education (CALAHE) will celebrate its annual conference on April 26, 2024, on the UConn Storrs Campus. The conference theme is: Navigating the Political Landscape for Latino/as in Higher Education: Smoke and Mirrors. Please visit their website for more information: El Instituto and the Puerto Rican Studies Initiative are supporting this event.