End the Exclusion of Latinx Faculty from the Futures of American Studies Institute
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As American Studies/Latinx Studies scholars, we call on the Futures of American Studies Summer Institute at Dartmouth to address its critical neglect of Latinx studies scholars and scholarship. Since 2006, the Institute has listed 346 visiting faculty slots, with only 14 of those positions filled by scholars of Latinx studies. Since some of the same faculty made repeat visits, in the last 12 years, the Futures Institute has featured only 8 Latinx studies scholars. This situation has gotten even worse in recent history, such that between 2014 and 2018, the institute program appears to be completely devoid of Latinx perspectives.
Given the centrality of Latinx studies approaches and archives to American Quarterly, to the annual ASA convention, and to the field more broadly, the marginalization of Latinx studies at the Futures Institute is intellectually retrograde, representing a vision of American Studies on the wrong side of history. In our current moment of danger, state power has made common cause with anti-immigrant xenophobia and white-supremacist nationalism—largely aimed at Mexican and Central American populations. Because the Institute has a history of fostering intellectual work that is critical of the state, its neglect of Latinx scholarship is particularly problematic: crucial opportunities to think about questions of race, coloniality, and exclusion together with scholars in other fields are lost. Finally, such marginalization narrowly guards institutional privilege, since the Futures Institute has historically served a kind of accrediting function that connects graduate students with potential mentors and helps them get jobs. Whether or not the Institute has allowed individual Latinx students to enjoy these benefits, the near-complete exclusion of faculty and of scholarship in the field sends the message that the field itself is not worth their time.
We admire so many of the Institute’s board and faculty, as well as the larger project of thinking critically about the futures of American studies, but we are dismayed that we don’t seem to have a place in those futures—despite the fact that over 30% of the school-age population nationwide is Latinx. This is not intellectually, institutionally, pedagogically, or politically responsible. We can no longer in good faith encourage our graduate students and colleagues to attend the Futures of American Studies Institute, nor encourage our institutions to help fund their attendance, until it does a significantly better job of engaging Latinx studies.
Curtis Marez, ASA Past President
Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Futures Plenary Futures Faculty, 2008
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Mathew Fry Jacobson
Deb Vargas (ASA Executive Committee)
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