National conference to be held at UTPA
The University’s Mexican-American Studies program is set to host the 2013 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Conference Feb. 21-23, an event designed to discuss ethnic issues and the theory of where knowledge comes from.
NACCS is an annual conference hosted by various universities since 1974. It usually brings together groups dedicated to Chicano and Latino studies, but this year will also include topics and issues such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender concerns, along with instructional methods taught in schools.
“This year’s theme, Chican@ Studies Ahora!, is to highlight the role of the community in teaching, researching and general scholarship,” said conference co-chair Sonia Hernandez, a history professor at UTPA. “It is a dialogue between faculty to discuss how to get the community involved in education.”
The conference will kick off Feb. 21 in different areas around campus starting 9 a.m. Part of it will discuss recent controversies involving ethnic studies at colleges around the country, prominently Arizona.
“The conference is a political act of what happened in other states,” said Marci McMahon, MAS director and conference co-chair, who teaches English. “As a field, ethnic studies has a 50-year history. Our conference honors the rich scholarship and research of Chicano studies.”
There will be workshops available to help with writing, career-making and usage of knowledge tools. Speakers will discuss their research findings, past experiences and artistic, literary and musical movements in the Latino community.
Eva Ybarra, a female accordionist, well known as La Reina de la Acordeón (the Queen of the Accordion) will perform Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the UTPA Ballroom for Noche de Cultura (Night of Culture) with her conjunto, a group of musicians from South Texas consisting of bajo sexto (12-string guitar), acoustic guitar and accordion. She will hold a conjunto workshop Feb. 23 at 10:30 a.m. in the ITT Ballroom.
The series will also feature four leading scholars of Chicano studies programs, including Aida Hurtado, from the University of California – Santa Barbara, speaking five times during the conference as a discussant, workshop facilitator and presenter of Chicana Scientists’s Testimonios on the Life Course that Led Them to Becoming Scientists. This will be in the ITT Ballroom Feb. 22 at 2:15 p.m. She will also moderate the Testimonios and Community-based Pedagogies Plenary Luncheon Feb. 23 at noon in the UTPA Ballroom along with Marcos Pizarro, San José State University.
University of Utah professor Dolores Delgado Bernal will also be a workshop facilitator and keynote speaker during Conference Opening Plenary and Dinner Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Ballroom.
Last year at the NACCS Tejas business meeting, held at STC, UTPA was chosen to host the 2013 conference after submitting a strong proposal, said McMahon, who added that the University had the funding to host it.
According to McMahon, the last NACCS conference at UTPA was in 2004. There will be a total of about 250 panel presenters and about 20 invited speakers from around the country this time around.
“It’s great because it’s international. We look forward to hot lobbying, shaking hands and meeting people,“ said Dagoberto Ramirez, a 56-year-old graduate research assistant at the Center of Bilingual Studies. “I want to meet people I can cooperate with. It’s a good opportunity to network. It’s a great thing Pan Am is hosting this.”
Ramirez will present his findings on how the personal background of school staff shape the policy of the school. His presentation is titled Towards Implementing Culturally Relevant Curriculum: How 17 Words Inspired Research, and will be Feb. 22 at 3:45 p.m. in ARHU 181.
Ramirez is part of a panel studying culturally relevant curriculum and study of the theory of knowledge, which includes Mark Noe, English professor and graduate adviser. He explained the importance of cultural relevancy in pedagogy, when students learn from the background of locals, importing knowledge and skills in the classroom from their surroundings.
He mentioned the canal building structure of the Valley as an example of industrialization that students could read in books and relate to.
“Use industrialization of the U.S. and relate it to the Valley. We invented the 1015 onion, a big sweet onion,” Ramirez said. “Ironically enough, the Weslaco road 1015 is where the Texas A&M Research Center is. Don’t tell the kids to leave their story outside”
Last year, the Tejas regional branch was hosted at South Texas College and University of Texas at Austin.
“Also, perhaps most importantly, we wanted to hold NACCS Tejas this year at UTPA because we are in the midst of gaining support for our Mexican-American Studies program on our campus,” McMahon said.
Among the speakers is Los Angeles native, Helena Maria Viramontes, a creative writing professor at Cornell University. She has written some of the most important books in Chicana history, according to McMahon, including The Moths and Other Stories (1985) and Their Dogs Came with Them (2008). She will read and have a book signing Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. in the ITT Ballroom and a writing workshop earlier at 11:15 a.m. in EDUC 3.204.
The conference is free to all students and faculty, as long as they register online or in the Borderlands Room EDUC 3.204 on the third floor. There will be a full program booklet on the NACCS website Feb. 10.
There will be a dinner Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the UTPA Ballroom and the Morning Plenary: The State of Mexican American Studies in Texas, follows at 9:30 a.m. in the UTPA Ballroom.
The NACCS awards ceremony with Dean Dahlia Guerra will take place Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the UTPA Ballroom. The last event to take place will be Eric Wiley’s award-winning documentary Crawling with Monsters Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. in studio theater ARHU 107 after the NACCS Tejas business meeting at 3:15 p.m in EDUC 2.216B.