The annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) brought scholars to Tucson, Arizona for four days of insightful conversation, networking, and professional development. This year’s conference, held April 8-11 at the Marriot on the campus of the University of Arizona, was especially beneficial for students of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
In addition to many high quality panels on the study of Mexico (for which RMCLAS has become recognized) and a wide variety of presentations on other Latin American topics, the conference featured a special repertoire of activities related to la frontera, the human rights crisis, and broader discussions of frontiers in the study of Latin America. On Thursday night, RMCLASistas heard from local and regional human rights organizations working on issues related to indigenous and migrant rights, especially in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. The following evening, conference attendees enjoyed music and spoken word to benefit No más muertes, an organization working to prevent migrant deaths in the desert. During Saturday’s closing reception, RMCLAS recognized Robert Nuestadt, Director of Latin American Studies at Northern Arizona University, for his teaching, research, and activism, including his instrumental (both meanings intended) role in “Border Songs,” a collection music and poetry whose proceeds fund the distribution of water jugs in the desert.
Earlier in the day, Nuestadt also joined Celeste Gonzáles de Bustamante, Linda Green, and Shelli Rottschafer for a unique conversation, “Teaching the Border: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Pedagogy of the U.S.-Mexican Border.” Chaired by Tracy Goode, the panelists discussed the challenges and benefits to taking students to the border and, when the former is not possible, the use of music and images to bring the border to them. Conference attendees interested in the border also had the opportunity to visit it themselves on an organized tour to Nogales, Sonora, unfortunately scheduled at the same time as the above-mentioned roundtable.
RMCLAS 2016 will be held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For more information, visit rmclas.org