2004 Biennial Conference, New York, NY

Conference 2004


6th Biennial Conference

Puerto Rican Studies Association
Graduate Center, City University of New York
October 21–24, 2004
Sponsored by:
Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY
Center for Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies (CLACS–CUNY Graduate Center)

Theme: Three Decades of Puerto Rican Studies

Dedicated to Pedro Pietri and Richie Perez

Editor’s Note: What follows was culled from the 2004 Conference Program. You can also view a scanned PDF copy of the entire program in an adjacent page within the 2004 Conference subsection.

Presidential Message

Almost fourteen years ago a few dozen Puerto Rican faculty, students and community activists met in White Plains, New York to discuss setting up a Puerto Rican Studies Professional Association. Félix Matos Rodríguez, the current Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, was at the time working at the Social Science Research Council. He used his influence and considerable diplomatic skills to persuade SSRC to make a substantial contribution to defray the costs of that initial organizational meeting. It was a wise investment, because the Puerto Rican Studies Association has emerged as an important and widely recognized professional association, which every two years convenes the largest gathering in the world of scholars engaged in the study of the Puerto Rican experience. [. . . ]

2004 CUNY-Graduate Center PRSA Conference Program Cover

Puerto Rican Studies as an academic field in U.S. higher education was established over three decades ago. During this formative stage a particularly urgent task was to establish the field’s legitimacy in the university and reconcile this with an activist scholarly agenda that challenged the prevalent modes of knowledge production. Thirty years after Puerto Rican Studies tenuously arrived on the academic scene, the significance of this issue has not abated. In fact, the propitious conditions that gave rise to and sustained Puerto Rican Studies have eroded and provoked debates about its continued validity and relevance in the university. These challenges also present opportunities for mapping out new directions in the field and its relationship to different communities.

Our 2004 Conference will commemorate three decades of Puerto Rican Studies and the pioneering research of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños. But more than a celebration, the conference seeks to provoke a critical stocktaking of the state of the field in the context of the growing salience in academe of interdisciplinary studies. This conference will also provide a forum for retrospective reflection on the institutional development, intellectual maturation, and distinctive challenges that Puerto Rican Studies faces during a period of remarkable change in U.S. society and globally.

Parade Banner – Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños – Center for Puerto Rican Studies – Hunter College – CUNY

One of the strengths of PRSA is its inclusive character. It is committed to providing the broadest possible venue for the diversity of scholarship, artistic expression and cultural production created by our remarkably productive community. The PRSA conferences promote cross-generational discourse, and are one of the forums for sustained dialogue between scholars in the metropolis and the colony. It is often the first opportunity that many of our young scholars have to test their ideas in a supportive environment. The volume and quantity of innovative scholarship produced by our members defies the still all too pervasive characterization that Puerto Rican Studies scholarship lacks originality, analytical rigor and theoretical sophistication. We should all take pride that PRSA has contributed to this affirmation of the academic significance of the work of its members.

Saludos a todos,

Pedro Cabán
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
PRSA President

Conference Program Highlights:Thursday, Oct 21, 6:00–7:30pm

Plenary: Research, Advocacy, and Empowerment: Puerto Ricans in Academia, Public Policy and Politics

  • Moderator: Félix V. Matos-Rodríguez, Centro
  • Marilyn Aguirre-Molina, Columbia University
  • Ricardo Fernández, Lehman College, CUNY
  • Sara Meléndez, George Mason University
  • Janice Petrovich, Ford Foundation
  • Hon. Peter Rivera, New York State Assembly

Friday, October 22

Reception & Special Performance
Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 East 3rd St.

Saturday, Oct 23, 1:00–2:15pm

Keynote Speaker
Ida Castro, Esq., Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights
CUNY School of Law
Poshansky Auditorium, CUNY Graduate Center

Saturday, Oct 23, 8:00–9:30pm

Special Performance of “Ay, Jesús” by Pregones Theater Group
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St.

PRSA Executive Council:

  • Pedro Cabán, President – University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Edna Acosta-Belén, Past-President – University at Albany, SUNY
  • Vilma Santiago-Irizarry, Vice-President – Cornell University
  • Manuel Frau Ramos, Secretary – University of Massachusetts–Amherst
  • Gladys Jiménez Muñoz, Treasurer – Binghamton University, SUNY
  • Carment T. Whalen – Williams College
  • Yvonne González-Rodríguez – Rowan University
  • Nelia Olivencia – University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
  • Lourdes Torres – DePaul University
  • Deborah Woeckner-Saavedra – University at Albany, SUNY
  • Cristina Pacione-Zayas – University of Illinois-Chicago

PRSA Secretariat [2003-2004]

Center for Democracy in a Multiracial Society
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
David Roediger, Director
Aprel Thomas, Office Manager
Nilufer Smith, Secretary

PRSA Conference Program Committee

  • Félix V. Matos-Rodríguez – Centro
  • Elizabeth García – Hunter College
  • Ivelisse Rosario-Natal – Centro
  • José de Jesús – Centro
  • Teresita Levy – Centro; Laird Bergad – CLACS
  • Frances Aparicio – University of Illinois–Chicago
  • Vilma Santiago-Irizarry – Cornell University
  • Carmen T. Whalen – Williams College
  • Cristina Pacione-Zayas – University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Pedro Cabán, President – University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Corporate Sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor: Banco Popular
El DiarioLa Prensa
Washington Mutual
Altria Services Corporation
Hunter College’s President’s Office
City University of New York