WELCOME to another issue of Portal, the annual magazine of the partnership between the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. We are always immensely proud to publish the work of faculty, students, staff, and alumni.
We invite you to read our recent graduate Ana Kearney (2022), whose deeply personal contribution is based on her master’s research for the dual degree in Social Work and Latin American Studies. Ana looks at international and interracial adoption through an autobiographical lens. Gustavo Fuchs, a LLILAS PhD student, offers a timely article on the broad reach of evangelical Protestantism in Latin American political media.
Portal would not be complete without an article that connects to the annual Lozano Long Conference, which this year centered on the role that water has played and continues to play for human societies and natural ecosystems on our planet. Faculty contributor Khytie Brown, of the Department of Religious Studies, ties the conference theme of water to spiritual practices related to the mythological being River Mumma in Jamaica. On the cover and elsewhere in the magazine, we are honored to feature the stunning water-themed artwork of Scherezade García of the Department of Art and Art History.
One of our distinctive strengths as a resource center is the ability to bring the sciences, the arts, and the humanities into conversation to promote different ways of knowing and develop meaningful engagements with local and transnational communities. With this mission in mind, we began Pido la Palabra, a collaboration with the Texas Prison Education Initiative (TPEI). Pido la Palabra is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and will provide the first model in the country for the implementation of Spanish-language creative writing programs in prisons. In conjunction with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, we offered a seminar in spring 2023, with the aim to train UT Austin students in the implementation of a creative writing program in two Texas correctional facilities. One of the objectives of this course was to also enhance students’ creative writing skills while reflecting on the experience of imprisonment. Here, we share three pieces by our students in this class.
This issue is equal parts reflection on the past year and anticipation of a busy and fulfilling year ahead. We go to press on the eve of the 50th anniversary of one of the most significant political events of the twentieth century—the September 11, 1973, coup against the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende in Chile. The Benson Latin American Collection will be devoting its exhibition spaces to displays of Chilean-themed archival materials, some of which are highlighted in these pages.
We are fortunate to feature an interview with Joshua Frens-String of the Department of History, whose 2021 book delves into the politics of food in the Chilean revolution, and how complex issues related to those politics would contribute to weakening Allende. We also interview Megan Raby, historian of science and the environment, who discusses her fascinating book-in-progress on the boundary-crossing zoologist and environmental author Marston Bates. The Chilean thread is also present in our interview with Tinker Visiting Professor Daniel Party, a musicologist whose current research looks at the life, legacy, and complexity of Víctor Jara.
The coming academic year brings the opportunity to announce and showcase an exciting archival acquisition at the Benson—the papers of Nicaraguan literary luminary Gioconda Belli. In a Spanish-language interview, the poet, author, and activist—currently living in exile—answers questions on her work and her archive.
In another featured conversation, philanthropist and LLILAS benefactor Joe Long reflects on a childhood often touched by hardship and the values and influence of his beloved late wife, Dr. Teresa Lozano Long.
Thank you for reading.
Adela Pineda Franco, Director, Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Melissa Guy, Director, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection