Latin America conference brings guest speakers, showcases work


Maria Arrellaga

Argentinian director and screenwriter Miguel Pereira introduces the 32nd annual Student Conference on Latin America Thursday afternoon in the SAC. The ILASSA Conference, which will last until Saturday, showcases the work of students from around the world on topics such as migration, human rights and art.

Hannah Jane DeCiutiis

The UT campus is welcoming an Argentinian screenwriter, students from around the world and the first female head of government in Mexico City for a three-day discussion of research on Latin American issues.

The 32nd annual Student Conference on Latin America, coordinated by the Institute of Latin American Studies Student Association, began Thursday in the Student Activities Center and will continue through Saturday. The conference is a global event showcasing work by participants both locally and internationally. The event presents research conducted by students at UT and other institutions, involving all aspects of Latin American Studies, including art, human rights, migration and violence. It is the longest running and largest Latin American Studies conference in the United States, said program manager Carolyn Palaima.

“It’s well-known and recognized,” Palaima said. “It’s a very large event, with about 200 people [attending] per day. There are several panels running in a day and there’s also going to be a screening of a movie, so there’s a lot that goes along with the conference.”

Palaima said graduate students, undergradutes and people from the general public have attended the conference in the past, as it is not limited to UT students only.

“The staff provides administrative support, but it really [began with] wanting to give the students that feeling of what it’s like to put on a conference,” Palaima said. “[It’s also about] the professional experience of turning in and presenting research.”

Henry Dietz, graduate faculty adviser for the Department of Latin American Studies, said the conference is completely organized by members of the Institute of Latin American Studies Student Association.

ILASSA conference coordinator and Latin American graduate student Mayra Marquez said the event is a great way for graduate students from any college to get their work recognized.

“This year we have close to 90 participants,” Marquez said. “A lot of those are from UT, but a lot are also from places like Brazil and Spain.”

The event also includes two keynote speakers. Miguel Pereira, director and screenwriter from Argentina, began the conference with screenings of his films “Sangre en el Plomo” and “Encuentra en la Sal.” Marquez said Pereira’s documentaries focus on themes of social justice and its relation to the environment. The conference will end Saturday with the final keynote speaker, Rosario Robles Berlanga, the first female head of government in Mexico City who went on to serve as national president for the Mexican Party of the Democratic Revolution.

Printed on Friday, February 3, 2012 as: Conference features research by UT students