CLAS Supports 2023 Ohio Latin Americanist Conference

March 10, 2023

CLAS Supports 2023 Ohio Latin Americanist Conference

19th Annual Ohio Latin Americanist Conference

The first Ohio Latin Americanist Conference (OLAC) was held at The Ohio State University in 2002, and every year since Ohio State's Center for Latin American Studies has played a pivotal supporting role in the organization of the event. OLAC is a unique conference in that it welcomes submissions from high school and undergraduate students and provides a friendly and supportive environment for scholars from a wide variety of disciplines to share their work. And although Ohio institutions are especially well-represented at OLAC, the conference also benefits from significant participation from international scholars, facilitated by its hybrid modality.

In 2020, 2022, and 2023, OLAC was hosted by the Modern Languages Department at Ohio University, organized by Betsy Partyka, Associate Professor of Spanish and Graduate Chair in the Modern Languages Department, and José Delgado, Professor in the Modern Languages Department. A team of undergraduate and graduate students are also key to the success of the conference.

Betsy Partyka and student aides-de-camp

This year's keynote addressed was given by Ohio State Quechua instructor and award-winning author Elvia Andia Grágeda and was entitled "What does the resistance look like today? The ironic need to demand inclusion and recognition of indigenous peoples in modern times and spaces." In her talk, Elvia presented several challenges faced by Andean Indigenous communities, including exploitative resource extraction and linguistic discrimination, and challenged her audience to advocate for true inclusion, recognition, and respect for Indigenous nations.

Elvia Andia Grágeda keynote address
Elvia Andia Grágeda giving her keynote address

This year included several other exciting elements facilitated by OSU CLAS, including a a screening of the 2019 film Return to the AndesDirector Mitch Teplitsky and the film's protagonist Nélida Silva contextualized the documentary and answered audience questions.

Return to the Andes
Mitch Teplitsky leading the Q&A, with Nélida Silva participating virtually
group photo
Ohio University faculty members with presenters and guests, including Teplitsky and Quechua educator Doris Loayza

Another key Ohio State contribution was the display of the pop-up exhibit The Hidden Life of Things: Andean & Amazonian Cultural Artifacts and the Stories They Tell. These 19 banners presented OLAC attendees with a collection of Andean and Amazonian carvings, textiles, instruments, and more, featured as “texts” in their own right. The exhibit prompted continued discussion of the keynote address and film screening, which both centered on Andean and Amazonian Indigenous peoples.

Banners on display in Gordy Hall


Attendees studying a banner about Andean music


steering committee
Members of the Steering Committee: Mark Hoff (OSU CLAS), Betsy Partyka (OU Modern Languages), Julio Beltrán (OSU CLAS)

This year's conference agenda included 18 panels, consisting of presentations by 79 high school students, K-12 teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty/staff, and Brazilian Fulbright visitors. Topics were as diverse as translation, migration, education, indigenous empowerment, cultural politics, violence, sound studies, theater and film, and more.

group photo
Group photos of presenters and organizers


José Méndez Valdez of Case Western Reserve University discussing the legal future of DACA

Ohio State Latin Americanists of diverse disciplines presented their work, including:

  • David Hedgecoth (Associate Director and Chair of Undergraduate Studies, School of Music), "Sunrise in Bahia: The People of Neojiba"
  • Gabriel Guzmán Camacho (PhD student, Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese), "Apuntes sobre conciencia y nación: Una introducción al retorno de la democracia en Sanjinés"
  •  Alanis de la Cruz (PhD student, College of Education & Human Ecology), "How Academia Portrays Afrolatinx/a/o in School Psychology: A Biobliometrics Analysis"

After two action-packed days, the conference came to a close with a pizza party and tertulia, sponsored by the Ohio University chapter of Sigma Delta Pi and featuring poetry readings and musical performances by attendees.

Julio Beltrán performing in the tertulia

We hope that you'll join us next year for the 20th anniversary of OLAC, which will take place September 26-27, 2024 at Bowling Green State University!

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