Welcome 2017 Latino Museum Studies Fellows
Christina Azahar is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research examines gender, mobility, and spatial politics in Chilean popular music scenes, focused specifically on the music and political work of Ana Tijoux, Pascuala Ilabaca, Francisca Valenzuela, and Carolina Ozaus. She has also published work on cultural memory and protest song in El Salvador since the end of the country’s Civil War, and regularly serves as a teaching assistant for classes on African American, Asian American, and Chicano music. Born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia, she received her B.A. at the University of Georgia in Music (saxophone) and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. After graduating in 2013, she spent the summer interning with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, where she became interested in pursuing museum curatorial work and programming. Through the Latino Museum Studies Program (LMSP), she hopes to cultivate a deeper knowledge of museum education and outreach programs, digital and material archive management, and Latinx cultural representation. Christina’s fellowship is with María del Carmen Cossu, Program Director for Latino Initiatives at the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service on the practicum – Traveling Exhibition Development for Dolores Huerta: Revolution in the Fields / Revolución en los Campos.
Mayela Caro is completing the second year of her Ph.D. program in Public History at the University of California, Riverside. Her research field is in 20th century United States cultural history and digital humanities. Mayela focuses on the representation of gender and Latinidad in various forms of popular culture of the 1930s and 1940s. Her Master’s thesis entitled, “Hollywoodisms: Latin American Images in Hollywood Films, 1933-1945,” analyzes the manner in which Hollywood represented Latinx actors and how the images that conveyed Latinidad shifted with the implementation of the Censorship Code and the onset of WWII. Her passion for Latino Studies derived from a young age. As a child who immigrated from Mexico City, she realized there was little opportunity to see her cultural heritage represented in the curriculum or in public spaces. In this way, Mayela’s sense of identity, place, and purpose coalesced in her decision to become a scholar in the field and an educator dedicated to promoting racial justice literacy and critical multicultural education in university and public sites. Through her participation in the LMSP, she intends to increase her fluency in the Smithsonian’s resources on Latinx history and culture to inform in her research and public history practice. Mayela wants to work in museum settings towards building Latinx historical and cultural resources available to public, educational, and academic communities. She realizes how drastically underrepresented Latinx professionals are in the museum field, and is excited to be part of, and learn from, a group of scholars that is making an intervention in this lack of representation. Mayela’s fellowship is with Taína Caragol and Leslie Ureña, Museum Curators at the National Portrait Gallery, on the practicum -“Piecing Together” Latinx Art and History in the 19th Century.
Shakti Castro is a Puerto Rican Diaspora historian born and raised in The Bronx. She received a B.A. in media studies and English literature from Hunter College at CUNY, where she spent four years at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies as a research assistant and oral historian. During her time at the Center, she was a research assistant who helped launch the Center’s latest oral history initiative, Centro Memorias. As part of Memorias, Shakti conducted over 30 oral history interviews with artists, educators, and leaders within the community. This May, she received an M.A. in History with a graduate certificate in Public History, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass). During her time at UMass she worked with the university’s new Oral History Lab assisting with workshops and hosting listening parties. Shakti has also been involved with the Puerto Rican community of Holyoke, MA, through a creative economy grant on the project Holyoke Visible, to help highlight Holyoke’s Latino community and their contributions to the city. She also completed an internship at Wistariahurst museum, where she helped create an oral history project to document the city’s Puerto Rican and Latino history. Shakti has also created her own oral history project, Curando y Resistiendo: Puerto Rican Women and Addiction, documenting the experiences of Puerto Rican women in NYC and Holyoke in battling substance abuse and healing themselves and their families through art, writing, alternative medicine, and spirituality practice. She is thrilled to participate in the LMSP and deepen her knowledge around health issues and conceptions of the body in various Latino communities. Shakti is also excited to get to know more about the daily workings of a museum, specifically the National Museum of American History. Her research interests include public and oral history, Caribbean Diasporas, Urban History, and issues around drug policies and treatment. Her goal is to learn more about issues of mental health and illness, disability, and community healing practices in Latino populations. As a historian, it is her aim to contextualize Puerto Rican history as American history, and to reclaim the public history practices of communities of color. Shakti’s fellowship is with Katherine Ott, Museum Curator at the National Museum of American History on the practicum – Health Modalities and History in Latinx Communities.
Jonathan Cortez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of American Studies at Brown University. Jonathan received their B.A. in Mexican American and Latina/o Studies and Sociology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2015. They received their M.A. in Public Humanities from the John Nicolas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage in route to their Ph.D. Their work focuses on Latinx history, 20th-century agricultural labor, comparative/relational ethnic studies, and public humanities. Specifically, Jonathan focuses on the construction of locally- and federally-funded labor camps and the lived experiences of laborers in these camps through issues of race, gender, health, and immigration. Jonathan views the LMSP as an opportunity to be in conversation with other Latino/a/x scholars and public humanities practitioners. Especially at this critical moment during a hostile U.S. social, cultural, and political climate can and should Latinx public humanities practitioners come together and think through ways to frame national narratives around Latinx experiences. The Latino Museum Studies Program can allow a space for these critical conversations. Further, Jonathan is looking forward to building lasting relationships with both other LMSP fellows, Latinx Studies Scholars, and Smithsonian curators and staff. Jonathan’s fellowship is with María Martínez, Program Specialist; and Antonio Curet, Curator at the National Museum of the American Indian on the practicum – Contextualizing Museum Archaeological Collections: The Case of Pre-Columbian Mirrors.
Maeve Coudrelle is a Ph.D. candidate and University Fellow in the Art History Department at Temple University. Her dissertation focuses on biennials, print culture, and theories of cultural contact, looking specifically to global print exhibitions from 1950 to the present in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. Focusing on regions with colonial pasts and a connection to the print as protest, her dissertation will highlight the role of exhibitions in positioning the identity of a city or nation on the global stage. She hopes to make clear not only the potential of visual objects to re-orient our understanding of human interaction and encounter, but also to underscore that exhibitions exist as theoretical arguments, rather than unbiased histories. Maeve has held internships and provided research assistance at numerous arts institutions, including the University of California, Santa Barbara Art, Design & Architecture Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, and Barnes Foundation. Her ultimate career goal is to become a curator at a mid- to large-size museum, where she can further explore with the public the integral role of Latinx art and culture in American history. Through her participation in the LMSP, she aims to think more broadly about how museums define their missions and visions for the future, and to learn best practices for organizing inclusive exhibitions that aspire to correct exclusionary historical narratives. Furthermore, she seeks to learn from an enriching network of individuals who are also passionate about Latinx history and museum studies, and to identify mentors in the field of Latinx and Latin American art history. Maeve’s fellowship is with Michelle Joan Wilkinson, Museum Curator at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the practicum – Research of Black and Latino designers.
Stephanie Huezo is a Salvadoran-American and New York native. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, Bloomington, studying Latin American and Latino History. Her dissertation focuses on the community-based education in El Salvador, critically examined everyday experiences of students to raise consciousness of the oppressed. She analyzes how teachers used popular education as a tool for resistance, as a strategy for survival during the civil war (1980-1992), and its impact on the U.S. Salvadoran diaspora. In addition to being a scholar, she is also a community leader, activist, and the guardian of her two younger brothers. She works with the Latino Cultural Center at Indiana University, volunteers at La Escuelita para Todos, an organization that teaches Spanish literacy. She also sings at choir for the Latino mass in Bloomington, and participates in a Salsa/Bachata dance group, and in the Baile Folklorico Mexicano. Stephanie has a passion for the promotion of a broad understanding of Latino history and culture, and being of service to the Latino community at large. As part of the LMSP, Stephanie plans to learn how she can adapt her research on Latino communities for museum exhibitions. Museums, such as the Smithsonian’s, provide spaces in which conversations foregrounding marginalized perspectives are heard. She believes making academic research more accessible to a broader audience is necessary and important. Stephanie’s fellowship is with Ranald Woodaman, Director of Exhibits and Public Programs (and LMSP Alumnus), at the Smithsonian Latino Center on the practicum – Latino DC History Project: Interpreting Central American Women’s Work.
Ismael Illescas is a Ph.D. candidate in the Latin American and Latino Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His interest in graffiti and street art stems from his involvement in the subculture growing up in South Central Los Angeles during the early 2000s. His research registers Latin@s contributions to the making of graffiti and street art in Los Angeles, and examines the contradictions concerning its celebration in museum and gallery spaces and its criminalization outside of those spatial confines. He has a B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara as well as an Associates of Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Santa Monica College. In participating in LMSP, he hopes to learn practical organizational and critical research skills that will help him connect Latino/a communities with formal art and academic institutions. Ismael also hopes to gain a broader understanding of how exhibitions are made, the process of developing particular themes, and how to best engage the populations being represented. Ismael’s fellowship is with Melissa Carrillo, Director of New Media & Technology (and LMSP alumna) at the Smithsonian Latino Center on the practicum – Latinos in the 21st Century: A Digital Experience for All.
Daniela Jiménez is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chicanx Studies and a first-year student in the MLIS program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Most recently, she is completing a graduate certificate program through the Urban Humanities Initiative –an interdisciplinary effort to explore urban space and cities as artifacts through the fields of architecture and design, urban planning, and the humanities. Her research interests include the reconfiguration and reinterpretation of Chicanx and U.S. Latinx in European and Asian countries, the role of social media in intercultural exchange, community-based archives, and archival theory and practice. Outside of her graduate work, Daniela is involved with the revitalization of Third Woman Press. Through her participation in the Latino Museum Studies Program, Daniela hopes to learn about archival collection development, processing, and standards, how to make archival collections accessible to wider audiences, and how institutions like the Smithsonian can intervene in the representation of communities of color. Daniela’s fellowship is with Alison Oswald, Archivist at the National Museum of American History, on the practicum – Documenting Spanish Language Television through Archives
Verónica Méndez was born in Mexico, and raised in San Antonio, TX. She completed her graduate training in the Midwest and is currently living in New Haven, CT. She is a first-generation immigrant, mama scholar and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Working at the intersection of Borderlands Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Latin American and U.S. History, her dissertation interrogates questions of sovereignty, race, gender and citizenship across shifting regimes in nineteenth century San Antonio, Texas. Her focus centers on how Tejanas experienced and negotiated their in/exclusion from imperial and national constructions of citizenship and subject making. As a historian, Verónica has the competency to place documents and objects in larger social, cultural, and political context, draw transnational comparisons and connections, and foster dialogue about the importance of historical inquiry to understand present times. She looks forward to the knowledge and hands-on experience the LMSP will provide on museum standards and best practices as she navigate career options as a public historian in the field of archival sciences and museum studies. Through her practicum, Documenting Spanish Language Television led by Dr. Mireya Loza, Verónica aims to develop competency in the appraisal, arrangement, and description of the collection’s archival material. In the process, she seeks to interrogate the effects of Spanish-language audiovisual media in the construction and negotiation of national identities. Questions around the varied means through which marginalized communities construct space, claim place, and the particular knowledge they produce in the process, frames her own research on nineteenth-century Tejanas. She is excited to collaborate with scholars and contribute to initiatives that seek to document, preserve and make accessible the diverse histories and experiences of our Latinx community. Verónica’s fellowship is with Mireya Loza, Curator (and LMSP alumna) at the National Museum of American History on the practicum – Documenting and Collecting Spanish-language Television.
Rudy Mondragón is a Ph.D. candidate in Chicana and Chicano Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. His research intentionally responds to Jorge Iber and José Alamillo’s call upon scholars to examine the racialized, gendered, class-based and transnational dimensions of sport among Mexican American and Latina/o experiences. Rudy’s research utilizes the sport of boxing as a site to interrogate representations of race and ethnicity, masculinities, immigration, and citizenship. His focus is on the ways boxers of color use spatial strategies to negotiate their position within and beyond the neo-liberal structures of boxing to creatively claim space, perform resistance, and disrupt the status quo. Methodologically, Rudy is interested in textual analysis of media, archival work, participation observation, and in-depth interviews. As a member of the 2017 LMSP, Rudy’s aim is to gain hands-on curatorial skills, learn best practices in museum studies, and engage in meaningful dialogue with fellow cohort members. His long-term vision is to take this training and implement it in the development of an exhibit on Black and Latino boxing experiences in Post-World War II Los Angeles. In developing this exhibit, Rudy’s goal is to create public scholarship that bridges the gap between the university and community. Rudy’s fellowship is with Margaret Salazar-Porzio, Curator at the National Museum of American History on the practicum – Latinos and Baseball: In the Barrios and the Big Leagues.
Pau Nava is a self-identified Art Queerstorian. Pau’s research centers on visual representations of queer Latinidad. As a genderqueer person of color, Pau’s social location is a driving force for their consideration of gender within transgender studies that interrogates the limits of the gender binary. They received their B.A. in Art History and Latinx studies, and as a native of the Chicagoland area, spent their undergraduate career researching mural history in Chicago’s Mexican-American neighborhood of Pilsen through the McNair Scholars program. Before attending graduate school, Pau worked as a teaching artist in Pilsen’s National Museum of Mexican Art and served as a freelance mural tour guide for Latina/o studies classes at DePaul University. Pau’s art-based research seeks to highlight the diversity of what it means to be Mexican in the U.S. and the visual manifestations of Mexicandidad that emerge. Pau is currently a PhD student in the University of Michigan’s American Culture program. This winter, Pau served as design team liaison and assistant curator for the photography exhibition Chicana Fotos: Nancy De Los Santos. By participating in the Latino Museum Studies Program Pau hopes to expand their experience in museum work and continue learning more about Latinx art in the Midwest. Pau’s fellowship is with Josh Franco, Collection Specialist at the Archives of American Art on the practicum – Research & development of Collection Plan for a target area of the United States.
Carlos Francisco Parra is a doctoral student in the University of Southern California’s Department of History. Inspired by his experiences growing up in a bicultural border town, Parra is fascinated by the issue of cultural identity formation among Mexican Americans in the greater U.S.-Mexican border region. His research focuses on the cultural, political, and economic development of that international boundary as well as the formation of identities and communities along the border. Prior to his doctoral work, he attended the University of Arizona (B.A. in Secondary Education) and the University of New Mexico (M.A. in History) and also served as a public high school history teacher in his home community in Nogales, Arizona. As a USC Trojan, Parra helped lead undergraduate students in the History in a Box Program in developing a standards-based local history educational curriculum for schools in the eastside Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, and was a lead coordinator of the 2016 USC Japan Summer Immersion Program held in the LA basin region and in the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Yokohama. Parra is excited to be a participant in the LMSP. When Carlos first learned about the LMSP practicums, he was deep in the midst of preparing his dissertation proposal on the development of Spanish-language media in Los Angeles. Considering the dearth of archival material related to Spanish-language media (particularly television-related materials) in most archival repositories in the U.S., it was a pleasant surprise for him to learn about practicums offered by the National Museum of American History focusing precisely on documenting and archiving televisión hispanohablante in the United States. In participating in the LMSP, he hopes to learn more about the historical development of this critical area of Latino community-building in contemporary U.S. society in addition to forming a variety of multidisciplinary professional skills in the museum studies field. Parra looks forward to developing archival- and museum-related skills in the LMSP as a way of better engaging the broader Latino and U.S. community through education and public history. Carlos’s fellowship is with Kathy Franz, Curator at the National Museum of American History on the practicum – Documenting and Collecting Spanish-language Television.