The Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies (CLACLS) will announce this year’s fellows on March 15.


The 2017 Summer Research Travel Fellowship allowed students from the Graduate Center to develop their researches. Meet the fellows!

Stefano Boselli – My current research centers on a constellation of theatre artists among the so-called “Argentines of Paris,” whose work has been presented mostly in Buenos Aires and Paris between the 1960s and now. I focus on Argentine playwright Copi, directors Jorge Lavelli, Jérôme Savary, actor/directors Alfredo Arias and Marcial Di Fonzo Bo, their companies, the theatres where they became artistic directors, and festivals that commissioned and hosted their performances. These artists are often associated in terms of repertoire staged or guest appearances in each others’ theatres and create a fascinating network that I explore within the theoretical framework of Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory.


Jennifer Thompson – I am a doctoral candidate in the Theatre and Performance Program. My dissertation examines the relationship between performance, cultural policy, and citizenship in Chile from 1979-present. Through an exploration of key case studies (including the works of the Colectivo de Acciones de Arte, Andrés Pérez, Manuela Infante, and Guillermo Calderón), intertwined with analysis of cultural policy and political discourse, I ask how these performances engage with and enact forms of democratic citizenship—first during Pinochet’s dictatorship as a hoped for future, and later, following the democratic transition, as a present, if incomplete reality. I suggest that considering these performances as dramaturgical practices of citizenship prompts an evaluation of how states might facilitate a critical democratic theatre, and how the performing arts might support critical, democratic states. With the support of CLACLS, I will travel to Santiago, Chile, where I will conduct archival research, interviews with artists and cultural workers, and observe theatre festivals, shows, and rehearsals. 

Carlos Cuestas – My research problematizes the historiography and official discourses of the Colombian music genre bambuco, an urban music championed in the nineteenth century as the representative Colombian national music. Its African origins have sparked an evolutionist debate that separates critics between those who deny these origins and those who accept them. While these debates are epistemologically grounded in the binomial discourses of racialized centers and peripheries, my research seeks to suggest a new path on which to analyze race relations present in this music. Taking Bogotá as a center whose history and development is tied to the Black presence since the sixteenth century, I intend to shed light on the production of expressive culture of the working classes in Bogotá, constituted by racial minorities, and from where the urban national bambuco has its origins.

Ana Cristina Perry – My project focuses on New York based artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz. Born in 1934, Ortiz was part of an international group of artists such as Argentine Kenneth Kemble and London based Gustav Metzger who conceptualized destruction in art as a means to address violence in life. My dissertation will examine how Ortiz intersects with other artists who worked in the United States to decry the ways in which art is often removed from its historical conditions and social struggles and sought to reinsert it into the lives of those within local communities. I consider his destruction performances alongside other performative and participatory projects that took place in alternative art spaces in New York in the 1960s such as Manipulations at Judson Church in 1967. Furthermore, my project investigates Ortiz’s role as an activist with the Art Worker’s Coalition and founder of El Museo to demonstrate the intersections of his political actions with his performed destructions. Thanks to the CLACLS travel fellowship, I will be able to visit Raphael Montañez Ortiz’s archives at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center in Los Angeles. 

Rafael Davis Portela – My research is on the role imperial capitalism played in the development of Latin American urban infrastructures, such as lightning and mass transportation. I am interested in understanding the “transnational elites,” meaning the networks that North American and European businessmen attempted to establish in Latin America through personal, family, cultural and trading connections to make their investments feasible – and what happened when they failed to do it.




Austin Miller – My research question is: How do Brazilian activists and organizers in São Paulo and Campinas take up, ignore or reject gender concepts from North America. I am specifically interested in the terms “homem trans” (transman), “tansmasculinidade” (transmasculinity) and “cuir” (queer). Many have discussed what happens to queer theory when it travels,. Missing from these discussions are transmen and understandings of the everyday. The absence of transmasculinities is systematic and relevant to transmen’s lives. The city of São Paulo’s Projeto Reinserção Social Transcidadania is designed to help transgendered people enter the legalized work force. Of more than 100 beneficiaries on their website, not ten have male names. IBRAT fought back in 2015 by organizing the “First National Meeting of Transmen” under the theme “From Invisibility to Resistance.” These recent developments and debates speak to my research questions’ relevance for many Brazilians at this moment.

Sarah Molinari – is a doctoral student in Cultural Anthropology at the Graduate Center. Sarah has six years of research experience in Vieques, Cabo Rojo, and San Juan, Puerto Rico and is currently developing her dissertation project on debt resistance in Puerto Rico amid its historic debt and economic crises. The research will examine how Puerto Ricans across a generational range are experiencing and contesting relations of debt and credit and how different social and symbolic meanings of “debt” take shape. Sarah is also a member of Columbia University’s working group on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis called, “Unpayable Debt: Capital, Violence, and the New Global Economy.”


Nadiah Fellah – A CLACLS Summer Travel Fellowship will allow me to spend two weeks in Mexico City conducting research for my dissertation, “Stills of Passage: Photography and Migration in the US-Mexico Borderlands, 1978-1992.” Focused on a period when migration to the U.S. from Mexico increased dramatically, the period following 1978 was also a time when documentary photography was radically re-thought with regards to its political and social effects. My project includes photographers who were members of the Consejo Mexicano Fotografia (CMF), a photography collective established in 1978, and my time in Mexico City will be spent interviewing these photographers, and conducting primary document research in the archives of the Centro de la Imagen and theUniversidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico’s (UNAM) Centro de Documentacion del Museo Universitario de Art Contemporaneo. 

Hector Agredano – is a doctoral candidate in the Geography program of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. His research is situated at the intersection of labor, transportation infrastructures and social change. Using archival research, oral histories and historical GIS his dissertation explores the role of railroads and railroad workers during the Mexican Revolution of 1910.  




Dadland Maye – I am a Ph.D. student in the English Program at the CUNY Graduate Center. My dissertation, “The Making of a Queer Caribbean Consciousness: The Influence of LGBTQ Activism on Anglophone Caribbean Literature” examines the history of LGBTQ activism in the English Caribbean from the 1970s to the present. It accomplishes this with a simultaneous analysis of literature and reggae-dancehall culture to determine how artistic forms engage the history of queer civil rights in the region. My study intends to contribute to the field of queer theory and LGBTQ activism in the Caribbean.




The 2014 Summer Research Travel Fellowship allowed students from The Graduate Center to develop their researches. Meet the fellows!

abgail_lapin_pic250Abigail Lapin – My project studies how space and art embody religious imagery to become signs of resistance against government repression and dominant inequalities, forming an Afro-Brazilian ethno-religious identity through the visual arts and architecture. Thanks in part to CLACLS’s travel fellowship, I traveled to Brazil for a month and explored the history and work of artists active in the civil rights movement from the 1950s through 1990s. In São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador da Bahia, I visited archival depositories, and interviewed artists, curators and scholars. During this trip, I discovered several organizations founded by artists to fight anti-racism, all of which remain overlooked. This research trip was vital to confirm the viability of my dissertation project and to help me prepare for my proposal.

dolph photo250Charles Dolph – Thanks in part to a CLACLS summer travel fellowship, I spent five weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina conducting preliminary research towards my dissertation, which focuses on the politics of money and debt in the wake of dictatorships in this Southern Cone nation. I went with the purpose of talking to state officials, diplomats, lawyers, and other experts in the world of financial regulation. While I was there, Argentina’s long-running sovereign debt restructuring again captured national and international attention—this time in relation to a group of holdout or “vulture” hedge funds threatening to derail the process. Talking with experts in the realm of financial regulation proved an interesting counterpoint to the popular mobilizations in Buenos Aires, as debates over sovereign debt are shaping electoral campaigns leading up to Argentina’s October 2015 general election and have rallied global support for the Cristina Kirchner administration’s initiatives for greater regulation of “vulture funds.” Summer research thus added a new dimension to my dissertation, drawing my attention to the convergences of these two lines of inquiry.

Donato_CLACLS pic250Liz Donato – During my CLACLS Summer Travel Fellowship in 2014, I traveled to Valparaíso, Chile to conduct dissertation research on the radical, interdisciplinary pedagogy of the Escuela de Arquitectura de Valparaíso (f. 1952—), which is based on the encuentro between architecture and poetry. My dissertation, “An Intimate Modernism: The Valparaíso School in the Urban Sphere, 1952-1972” focuses on how certain surrealist-inspired concepts manifest in the School’s theories and activities (poetic acts, urban drifting, the notion of interiority) subverted the technocratic rationalism and developmentalist ethos typical of official state architecture in postwar South America. I spent the majority of my trip revising materials in the Archivo Histórico José Vial Armstrong and in-house publications and theses in the School’s library related to the origins of the School. I also had the opportunity to visit the School’s experimental research site, Ciudad Abierta (f. 1970—) where students and faculty regularly convene every Wednesday. During this summer’s archival research, I also became interested in how the School attempted to establish a vanguard culture in postwar Chile by staging public exhibitions of international contemporary art, as well as retrospective exhibitions of their own activities and production. I am currently using these findings to write a collaborative article related to interdisciplinary pedagogies and modernism in postwar Latin America.

Gordon Barnes pic250Gordon Barnes – This past summer, I traveled to London, England and Coromandel, Mauritius to conduct preliminary dissertation research on a project that examines planter politics and ideology alongside the violence of slaves and freed blacks in the British Empire, with a particular focus on the Caribbean and Indian Ocean (Jamaica and Mauritius). The CLACLS Travel Fellowship helped to support my research in England, specifically at The National Archives (formerly the PRO) and at the Commonwealth House, University College London. I was able to examine the records of the Colonial Office (correspondence between colonial bureaucrats, statesman, merchants and planters as well as official government statistics, proclamations, and dispatches) and the West India Body (an association of West Indian planters and merchants) at the two respective locations, in part because of the support offered.

Krystle Farman_pic 250Krystle Farman – With the CLACLS Summer Travel Fellowship, I spent two weeks in Mexico City conducting preliminary research for my dissertation. This summer’s research provided me with the opportunity to explore the Inquisition collection held at Mexico’s Archivo General de la Nación. In the expansive archives, I discovered cases that detailed the charges brought against Afro-Mexicans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Ranging from accusations of false mysticism to the act of denunciation, these cases now serve as the foundation of my dissertation, which examines how Africans and their descendants re-appropriated Catholic rituals and practices to make claims to colonial society. I will further incorporate one voluminous case into a paper, entitled “‘Su fingida santidad’: Narratives of Saintliness and Blackness in Late Colonial Mexico,” that I will present at the 2015 Latin American Studies Association conference in Puerto Rico.

Noah Burg250Noah Burg – I am a biology PhD student in the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior (EEB) sub program and my research focuses on the intersection of biodiversity in human altered landscapes. My work is centered on tracing the introduction of birds suite of closely related African finches – to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The CLACLS travel fellowship allowed me to travel to the southwest corner of Puerto Rico to collect specimens in the vicinity of Lajas and Cabo Rojo. I primarily conducted my fieldwork on the site of and adjacent to the Cabo Rojo and Laguna Cartagena National Wildlife Refuge. I brought these specimens back to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where they will be available for other researches to study in the future as well as form the basis for my lab work.

oscar Pedraza pic 250Oscar Pedraza – Thanks to the CLACS Summer Travel Fellowship in 2014 I to traveled to Colombia and conducted preliminary fieldwork on my dissertation, which focuses in the conflicts and interactions between human rights advocates, grassroots organizations, aid agencies, NGOs and multilateral institutions for the creation of emblematic cases of human rights related to mining industries. During this time my main objective was to map the different networks, sites and actors that are involved in discussing the relevance of cases and the circumstances that define their importance. I interviewed lawyers, activists, scholars and different bureaucrats about their relation to human rights cases and their role in defining their transnational relevance. Likewise, I attended different meetings, assemblies and public debates in which the relation between human rights and mining extraction was discussed. Finally, I was able to gather important documents on the topics of my dissertation from social movements and NGOs, which helped me to understand with more clarity the different political, economic and moral articulations that are at stake in making emblematic cases in contexts of violence like Colombia.

Rafael Lemos pic 250Rafael Lemos – Thanks to a CLACLS Summer Travel Fellowship I spent a month in Mexico City conducting research on the Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad, a grassroots movement that, led by the poet Javier Sicilia, fighted for the rights of the victims of the Mexican Drug War. At the Hemeroteca Nacional de México I was able to collect essays, chronicles, and interviews relevant to the matter that have not appeared in book and that I could not obtain otherwise. I also visited and documented official and unofficial memorials for the victims located in the city.



shibata 250Hiroyuki Shibata – During the summer 2014, I was able to conduct a seven weeks preliminary research in São Paulo, Brazil towards my dissertation project on the changing relationship that Brazilian Nikkeis – Japanese emigrants to Brazil and their descendants – have with Japan and Brazil over a longue durée. While my dissertation project will examine a longer period of time, I have specifically focused on the pre-WWII development of their cross-border connections with Japan in this summer research opportunity. I explored the archival materials that inform the way in which Brazilian Nikkeis have developed and maintained ties with their homeland in Brazil between 1908 and 1945. I identified that the two archives, Centro de Estudos Nipo-Brasileiros (CENB) and Museu Histórico da Imigração Japonesa no Brasil (MHIJB), both of which are in São Paulo city, hold a significant proportion of historical records such as ethnic newspapers, old statistical records, emigrants’ memory books, and settlement (colônia) records. Although I did not have time to deeply examine the materials, some records of Japanese settlements in different locations in São Paulo state informed that their relationships, both in degree and kind, to Japan differed not only between urban and rural but also across rural locations. This preliminary finding led me to consider a more nuanced theorization of the socio-economic and institutional processes underlying Brazilian Nikkeis’ cross-border connections to the homeland. In this sense, I have no doubt that the preliminary research, funded in part by a CLACLS Summer Travel Fellowship, gave me an opportunity to gain necessary insights to progress my dissertation project further.


The 2013 Summer Research Travel Fellowship allowed students The Graduate Center to develop their researches. Meet the fellows!


Laura Carter – “This summer, beginning June 4, 2013 I travelled to Paris, France and to Guadeloupe, French West Indies to conduct preliminary research for the long-term dissertation fieldwork that I will undertake next year. This summer’s research was crucial for the larger thesis project, Embodied & Inscribed—Gwoka : Guadeloupan Social Movement & Immaterial Heritage of France.  These two months were essential for establishing the necessary contacts, initiating ongoing and future collaborations, beginning archival research, as well as giving me a much fuller sense of the intellectual, cultural and political terrain within which I will be engaging in the coming year(s).”


mya_dosch_pic_finalMya Dosch – “During my CLACLS-sponsored on-site research in summer 2013, I studied the architectural and artistic interventions made within two former detention centers infamous for holding political prisoners: Lecumberri Prison in Mexico City and the Escuela Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA) in Buenos Aires.  My research emphasized the ways in which certain historical narratives have been privileged or marginalized in the renovations of each space.  I have already used the archival materials and photographs that I gathered during my research in co-organizing a panel for the 2014 Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference on “prison conversions.”  The trip also confirmed the feasibility of completing my dissertation on artistic and architectural projects in Mexico City that memorialize the 1968 massacre of student protesters, including a chapter on Lecumberri.”

guillermo_yrizar_barbosa_pic_finalGuillermo Yrizar Barbosa – “Thanks to the CLACS Summer Travel Fellowship, for 15 days during August 2013, I was able to observe social settings and talk to people familiar with the international migration phenomenon and public officials in communities of origin in Mexico City, and the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala (approximately 5 days in each location). During this time my main objective was to identify communities of origin and start a conversation with individuals knowledgeable or directly associated with New York-bound migratory flows during the past two decades. The places I saw and the persons I met offered me very valuable material and connections to continue developing my dissertation/research project on the social incorporation of Mexican irregular families in New York City and in other U.S. urban areas.”

joshua_katz_rosene_pic_finalJoshua Katz-Rosene – “I traveled to Bogotá, Colombia in July to continue my dissertation research on Colombian canción social (social song). During this fieldwork trip, I did archival and bibliographic research at libraries, interviewed musicians, and documented performances.”





alison_klein_pic_finalAlison Klein – “I am a doctoral candidate in the CUNY Graduate Center English Department. By exploring novels and autobiographies about the imperial system of indentured labor in the Caribbean, my dissertation, The Ties that Bind: Gender, Race and Empire in Caribbean Indenture Narratives traces the ways that oppressive gender roles and racial tensions in the Caribbean today developed out of this system. With the generous support of the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies, I traveled to Trinidad and Guyana this summer to conduct research on primary authors as well as the system of indentured labor as a whole. Among the many exciting finds was an unpublished transcript of an interview with a 109-year old woman named Doolaire, who had been an indentured laborer in Trinidad. Since the research trip, I have excitedly reshaped my ideas based on these findings and applied these ideas to my dissertation.”


Pilar Ortiz – “I hold an MFA in Integrated Media arts from Hunter College and am currently a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Informed by a background in architecture and media art, my work explores urban space as a terrain for cultural expression and social interaction, focusing on race, class, and gender in the exchanges that take place in public life.  More recent work has focused on the production of bodies and disability; an interest catalyzed by the experience of disability and recovery and an expanding interest in feminist theories and epistemologies. I am is currently doing preliminary research for my dissertation “Coffee with legs: the production of gendered bodies in Santiago’s ‘cafés con piernas,’ about women’s sexualized work in Santiago’s coffee shops.”

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetChelsea Schields – “The National Archives of Curaçao, housed in a colorful and exquisitely ornamented nineteenth-century villa in colonial Willemstad, protect the historical legacy of the Netherlands Antilles.  Thanks to a CLACLS summer travel fellowship, I spent ten days here exploring the major debates and conflicts that shaped the first decades after decolonization.  Following a different path to decolonization, the Netherlands Antilles assumed autonomy in internal governance after 1954 yet remained constitutionally linked to the Netherlands – a relationship that persists in varied forms across the Dutch Antilles today.  In the extensive archives of the Cabinet of the Governor, I discovered that one of the most urgent issues facing the Antilles was the nature of relationships amongst the islands themselves. I am truly spoiled to conduct research on Curaçao – the island’s overwhelming natural beauty and the cultural life of historic Willemstad made my time outside of the archives memorable and instructive.”

mary_brown_pic_finalMary Brown – “The most valuable element of my experience in Peru was stumbling upon a new methodology that has both streamlined and redirected my dissertation research. My dissertation concerns avian imagery in the art of an ancient Peruvian culture (Paracas, 900-200 BCE). My experience with the landscape and birdlife of Paracas, in person, raised questions about the intersection between geography, natural history, and the evolution of human culture. Upon resuming library research in New York, I discovered the methodological approach of evolutionary psychology, which addresses these questions in depth.  This approach provides more insight and dimension to my work; I am now exploring a biologically-based affinity for birds as an element of evolved human nature. I credit the visit to Peru, made possible in part with the CLACLS Summer Research Travel Grant, for providing the necessary insights to progress in my research.”

margarita_aguilar_pic_finalMargarita Aguilar – “I was a recipient of the CLACLS summer travel fellowship, 2013 to conduct research towards my dissertation on the Nuyorican artist, Adál Maldonado, (tentative working title–Traditions and Transformations in the Work of Adál: Surrealism, El Sainete, and Spanglish).  Adál (born Adál Alberto Maldonado in Utuado, Puerto Rico, 1948) is a contemporary multimedia artist whose work resists easy categorization.  Though his work is rooted in the medium of photography, it is also performative, informed by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Puerto Rican literary and theater traditions such as the sainete, a popular theatrical form imported from Spain to Puerto Rico, which employed the language of the common man and its typical subject matter of the comical distortion of reality.  His artistic practices include photography, performance, installation, video, music, sculpture, and film. My dissertation will argue that Adál was the first visual artist within the Nuyorican movement to incorporate text with image to express a Nuyorican identity using Spanglish, a hybrid language that employs both Spanish and English.  Adál alone among visual artists in his circle has expressed the Nuyorican identity throughout his body of work through the use of the written and spoken word.  In his multidisciplinary production, Adál has developed and consistently made use of language as a means to inform and complete his images so that they function as both visual and spoken works of art.  The artist considers his fotonovelas and self-portraits to have performative and film qualities.”