2011 Symposium

Puerto Rican Studies Association

1st Biennial Symposium

Hunter College (CUNY)

October 29, 2011

10:00 – 2:00

Puerto Rican Studies for a New Century: Challenges, Prospects and Possibilities

Invitation & Details

As a condition of our recently acquired tax-exempt status, the Puerto Rican Studies Association’s new charter of by-laws requires us to hold a regular annual membership meeting, and not only in those years we have our usual biennial conferences, as has been our traditional practice.

We will be inaugurating the first of these new off-year meetings as part of and in conjunction with a one day symposium on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 10:00am to 2:00pm, in Assembly Room 615W, at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY), 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, New York City. The choice of venue was primarily and ultimately made for the immediate convenience of our uncommonly diverse and widely dispersed membership and other constituencies, for a significant majority of whom New York, beyond its iconic character, remains still a comparatively and generally accessible location, as well as to encourage the broadest possible participation from the membership.

Consistent with our particular identity, concerns and commitments as a professional association of scholarly research and advocacy and, once again, to encourage the fullest participation, we have selected “Puerto Rican Studies for a New Century: Challenges, Prospects and Possibilities” as our theme of conversation for this one-day symposium, a topic at once timely and an apt anticipation and prelude to our Twentieth Anniversary Biennial Conference set for October 24-28, 2012.

We are particularly fortunate in having as featured speakers three of the most uncommonly capable and distinguished scholars in our field, each of whom comes exceptionally well-equipped, thoughtfully and perceptively to address, assess and critically discuss the most compelling of the challenges, prospects, and possibilities lie before us in the 21st century.

A Puerto Rican studies pioneer, one of the PRSA’s former Presidents and a member of its original founding group, Edna Acosta-Belén is Distinguished Professor of Latin American, Caribbean, U.S. Latino and Woman’s Studies at the University at Albany, SUNY, where she has long served as Director of its Center for Latino, Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Co-founder and editor of theLatin(a) Research Review, co-editor of the Latinos: Exploring Diversity and Change series of books by Lynn Rienner Publishers, Edna is also the author, among other works, of Puerto Ricans in the United States: A Contemporary Portrait (with Carlos Santiago), and (with Christine Bose) Researching Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. Long a major and continuing contributor to the growth and on-going development of our field, she brings a wealth of accumulated knowledge and experience to our symposium’s central subject.

A keen and sagacious student of popular, diaspora, and Afro-Latino cultures and no less a critically influential and seminal scholarly figure in Puerto Rican and Latino Studies, Juan Flores is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis in the Latino Studies Division of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Winner of the prestigious international Casa de Las Americas Prize for Insularismo e ideología burguesa (1980), he was also the recipient, in 2009, of its Premio Extraordinario de Estudios sobre los Latinos en Estados Unidosfor his collection Bugalú y otros guisos: ensayos sobre culturas Latinas en Estados Unidos. A skilled translator as well as cultural historian, whose efforts have given us an excellent English version of Edgardo Rodríguez Juliá’s El entierro de Cortijo, the outstanding body of his own equally notable works of critical and theoretical contribution and scholarly achievement also includes the now canonic Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity (1980), From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latin Identity (2000), A Companion to Latino Studies (2007),The Diaspora Strikes Back (2009) and, with Miriam Jiménez Román, the recently published Afro-Latin@ Reader.

One among the more prominent and persuasive voices of a comparatively younger emerging generation of notable scholars committed to the opening up to critical examination new and hitherto too little explored dimensions of scholarly research in Puerto Rican Studies, Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes is Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Writer, poet, playwright, performer, and a recipient of the Pregones Asunción Playwrights Award, his scholarly interests extend across the wider Hispanic Caribbean and its multinational diaspora, with a particular emphasis and concentration on queer literary and cultural studies and related issues of race and gender . He has served on the Board of Directors of the CUNY Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the Modern Language Association’s Committee on the Literatures of People of Color of the United States and Canada, as well as on the Executive Committee of its Puerto Rican Literature and Culture Discussion Group. The author of several perceptively informative articles on the cultural representations of homosexuality, his recently published Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora, a finalist in PRSA’s first Book Award competition, brings new perception, a notably original and critically important contribution to the daily gathering centrality of a topic still all too-insufficiently explored and of continuing on-going discussion and significance.

With the range, breath of scope and experience they, individually and together, bring to this symposium’s central subject and concern, we can look forward to three richly stimulating presentations and a lively collective conversation.

Beyond the organizational, fiscal and other matters are the usual stuff of our agendas, the Business Meeting is also a part this first annual membership meeting and symposium, will include a report and update on the particulars of our progress toward our 2012 “Boricuas and Other Border Crossers: Of Diasporas and Latinidades” biennial conference in Albany.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance to PRSA—to the effective on-going conduct of its affairs, the effective achievement of its aims and assured continuing vitality and viability as a collective and scholarly enterprise—of having our members not only come to this first one-day annual symposium but also, and especially, of being present to take active part in its membership and business meeting.

I look forward to being able to greet and welcome you there.

Saludos fraternales,

Roberto Márquez

PRSA President, 2011-2012
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Latin American & Caribbean Studies
Mount Holyoke College