Latino culture, history and politics in focus for National Hispanic Heritage Month

26th September 2017

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—IU Southeast is proud to present a series of conversations illuminating the Latino experience in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM).

Designated in 1968, the observation runs from Sept. 15—the independence day for a number of Latin American countries—to Oct. 15 to honor the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans of Hispanic descent. It brings together the energies of the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and others to pay tribute to generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society, according to the NHHM website.

At IU Southeast, the conversations cover a wide range of topics and offer fresh perspectives on current events and controversies, from Chicano/a art and DACA to Hispanic poetry and the role of oil in Venezuela-U.S. relations.

“This is not just about celebrating culture,” said Quinn Dauer, assistant professor of history and international studies, and organizer of this year’s event. “It’s about dealing with real-world issues.”

With 52 million native and multilingual Spanish-speakers, the United States is the second-largest hispanophone country in the world after Mexico, according to the Instituto Cervantes, the nonprofit founded by the Spanish government to promote the Spanish language and to contribute to the advancement of the cultures of all Spanish speaking countries and communities. That population is expected to grow to 138 million by 2050, by which time the U.S. will boast the world’s largest number of Spanish-speakers.

For Dauer, this presence is not a new trend, but has been a fact of life in North America since before the founding of the U.S.

“Hispanics and are deeply embedded in the story of the U.S.,” Dauer said. “St. Augustine, Florida, predated Jamestown and most of the West was colonized by the Spanish.”

The north-south perspective infuses the campus events with historical context and topical relevance. This focus on past and current realities is especially important in the Louisville Metro Area of today, Dauer notes, with its growing population of immigrants from Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Brazil and elsewhere.

“Oftentimes we don’t necessarily pay attention to these communities, so the observance and conversations help to make us aware of Hispanic Americans and their language, culture, history and contributions to this country,” Dauer said.

By showcasing cutting-edge research by IU Southeast art historians, sociologists, criminologists, historians and political scientists, the program also underscores IU Southeast’s wealth of faculty expertise in areas of interest not only to students of Hispanic culture but to the Hispanic community at large, according to Dauer.

“IU Southeast is a welcoming place,” Dauer said.

Program of Events

All events take place from 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. in Crestview Hall, Room 101 (unless otherwise noted).

Performing Chicano/a: Art, Identity and Resistance

Dr. Barbara Kutis, assistant professor of fine arts

Wed., Sept. 27


Out of the Shadows: What DACA means for DREAMERs

Dr. Veronica Medina, assistant professor of sociology

Tues., Oct. 3


Puerto Rico: History, Culture and the Future

Dr. Jennifer Ortiz, assistant professor of criminology and critical Justice

Thursday, Oct. 5


Oil, Venezuelan Political Economy and the U.S.

Dr. Cliff Staten, professor of political science

Tues., Oct. 10


Hispanic Poetry Reading

IU Southeast Library, Third Floor

Wed., Oct. 11


Chita Rivera: Living Legend of the Entertainment World

Dr. Elizabeth Gritter, assistant professor of history

Thursday, Oct. 12


For more information on these events, please contact Quinn Dauer at

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