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New England Consortium of Latina/o Studies Comes to Northeastern

Developed as a response to the “shifting Latina/o demographic in New England, the rapidly growing demand for courses and services for the institutionalization of Latina/o studies programs and the absence of Latina/o studies faculty mentoring organizations in the broader Northeast region”, in 2010, a group of three faculty members, Mérida Rúa (Williams College), Mari Castañeda (University of Massachusetts Amherst), and Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez (Mount Holyoke College), began to map out the contours of a collective that would become known as the New England Consortium of Latina/o Studies (NECLS). Fourteen years later, on March 29, 2024, Isabel Martinez, Associate Professor and Director of Latinx, Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Northeastern University, hosted the second of two meetings that were held at Northeastern University during the 2023-2024 school year. Over fifteen Latinx studies scholars from Bard College, Bates College, Dartmouth College, Connecticut College, Mount Holyoke College, Simmons University, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Boston, and Northeastern University (in person and on Zoom) joined together for a full day of vigorous discussions, but also mentoring and sharing, about the intellectual field and their support of it and each other. 

The morning began with a delicious breakfast and introductions from the NECLS scholars and from Dean Kellee Tsai who shared the history of LLACS (Latinx, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies) at CSSH that extends back to 1997 and warmly welcomed the collective. After her departure, the NECLS scholars began their day of research and professional development, beginning with a paper presentation by Erik Bernadino, Assistant Professor at Bates College, and respondent Oscar Gíl, Assistant Professor at University of Buffalo. Professor Bernadino’s paper, “Creating the Immoral Worker: The Borderlands’ Contract Labor System,” explores how the policing of migrant bodies and the mass deportation of Mexican descent people in the 1930s dominated early immigration restrictions in the United States and the expanding agriculture industry in the California borderlands. His presentation was followed by positive and constructive feedback from his NECLS colleagues.

This presentation was followed by a discussion led by Marí Castañeda, Dean and Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This discussion, “The Journey from Assistant to Full Professor,” urged scholars to imagine and plan the full trajectory of one’s academic career and life, as well as the steps to arrive to each point. It featured strategies and practices that can be implemented such as nurturing one’s health and spirit while also engaging in and fostering important connections, relationships, and mutual mentorships in the academic realm and specifically for Latinx Studies scholars.

The last presentation of the day was led by Rosa Rodriguez Williams, Executive Director, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) at Northeastern University. The presentation, “Working with Campus DEI Offices,” discussed the ways in which Northeastern’s ODEI supports DEI initiatives across our campuses but also engaged the scholars in brainstorming how faculty and DEI offices can better work together.  Ending the day on this note, with meditations about how university members can collaborate to create spaces in which Latinx Studies, and its scholars, can thrive, provided NECLS members with a mandate for their next meeting at University of Massachusetts Boston in fall 2024.

Notably, NECLS members received materials at the beginning of the day that highlighted the achievements of the collective. Considering the wide range of the collective’s accomplishments including book and article publications, election and nominations to local as well as state-wide education committees, fellowship awards, tenure and promotion, etc., it is evident that NECLS members are engaging in research and leadership that is at the forefront of the field.

*Professor Martinez would like to give special thanks to Ethan Espiritu, Katlin McFee, Danita Mends, Maxim Olivier, Sara Rivera and the LSCC Staff, Sabine Tessono, and Northeastern Catering for helping to make this meeting a success; and Julisa Fernandez-Lanway for this event write-up.

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