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Initiative to explore perspectives on history, culture of Western Hemisphere

9/8/2011 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568; rhodes8@illinois.edu

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN,Ill. — The Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois will explore the impact of indigenous poetry on the expressive cultures of the Western Hemisphere with a poetry reading featuring Inés Hernández-Avila and Heid Erdrich on Tuesday (Sept. 13).

Hernández-Avila, a member of the Nez Perce tribe, is a professor of Native American studies at the University of California at Davis, where she also directs the Chicana/Latina Research Center. Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibway, is the author of four poetry collections and was the winner of the Minnesota Book Award in 2009.

The theme will continue on Wednesday (Sept. 14) with a poetry roundtable featuring Erdrich, Hernández-Avila and Emilio del Valle Escalante, a professor of Spanish at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of “Maya Nationalisms and Postcolonial Challenges in Guatemala: Coloniality, Modernity and Identity Politics,” published in 2009.

Both events are free and open to the public. The poetry reading begins at 4 p.m. in Knight Auditorium in the Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana. The poetry roundtable begins at noon in the Lucy Ellis Lounge in the Foreign Languages Building, 707 S. Mathews Ave., in Urbana.

These events continue the center’s initiative on sovereignty and autonomy in the Western Hemisphere, exploring the shared history of the region. Frederick Hoxie, the Swanlund Professor of history and a member of the CAS permanent faculty, said the initiative provides an opportunity for anthropology, history and literature specialists to share perspectives on the histories and cultures of the Western Hemisphere.

“It brings together people who work alongside each other but don’t necessarily talk to each other – Latin American studies, North American history, U.S. history and American Indian studies,” Hoxie said. “The idea is to step back and look at the hemisphere as a place where there was a series of common historical processes that took place: European arrival, conquest, creation of new nation-states, conflict with the indigenous communities, and then the re-emergence of modern indigenous communities.”

In mid-October, Bolivian filmmaker Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui will spend a week on the U. of I. campus screening her films as part of the initiative. She is a sociologist and activist of Aymara descent, the author of several books (most notably “Oppressed but not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia, 1900-1980”), and the recipient of a 1990 Guggenheim fellowship. She is a professor emeritus at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz, Bolivia, and advises President Evo Morales’ administration on coca issues. Details of her visit will be announced at cas.illinois.edu/home.

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