Fulbright College Names Latin American and Latino Studies Director

Kirstin Erickson
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Kirstin Erickson

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Kirstin Erickson, associate professor of anthropology, has been named director of the Latin American and Latino studies program in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. As director, she will oversee the program's faculty development, which now includes 15 core faculty, 10 affiliated faculty and visitors, including three joint hires with other departments. Erickson will also administer a lecture series with a special emphasis on Latin American or Latino/a writers or filmmakers, help organize the annual "Plaza de Las Américas," a celebration of Latin American and Latino/a culture, write grant proposals for curricular enhancement, and work on study abroad programs related to Latin American and Latino studies, including the UA Summer course, "Spanish and Service Learning in Puebla, Mexico."

"Dr. Erickson has been one of our most active faculty members since she was hired in 2001," said Todd Shields, interim dean of Fulbright College. "Her understanding of the many intricacies in this expanding field make her great addition to the leadership in Fulbright College."

According to Luis Fernando Restrepo, assistant vice chancellor for diversity and community, the program provides the strongest curriculum in Latin American and Latino/a Studies in the region, with faculty in various disciplines, ample course offerings, study abroad and service learning opportunities.

"Dr. Erickson is an excellent scholar, a committed teacher and an enthusiastic colleague who can take the Latin American and Latino Studies Program to the next level," said Restrepo, who also serves as a member of the Latin American and Latino studies faculty. "Her leadership and vision can help the University open its doors to our growing Latino/a community." 

"I am deeply honored by this appointment, and I am excited for the opportunity to facilitate the continued growth of Latin American and Latino/Latina studies on the University of Arkansas campus," said Erickson. "LAST is a vibrant academic program with a highly dedicated faculty and a substantial number of student co-majors and minors."

Erickson's research and teaching interests focus on Religion in Latin America, Race and Gender in Latin America, the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, Performance and Narrative Theory, Social Theory, and Native American Studies. Her first book, Yaqui Homeland and Homeplace: the Everyday Production of Ethnic Identity (2008), examined the ways in which gendered and ethnic identities articulate with Yaqui (Yoeme) history, memory culture, landscape narratives, and senses of place. She is currently finishing a book on the cultural production of Hispano heritage in New Mexico. Erickson conducts fieldwork in the historically Hispano community of Chimayó, where she studies a range of self-representative practices (from arts activism to the organization of a community museum) and the complex interplay of vernacular religion and cultural tourism.

"Those of us who are involved in Latin American and Latino studies work to cultivate our many on-campus interdisciplinary and inter-program ties and will endeavor to support our students and remain relevant to the growing Latino community in Northwest Arkansas," said Erickson. "I hope that our program will serve as an intellectual and creative forum and an avenue of connection for individuals with interests in both Latin America and the Hispanic United States."

The Latin American and Latino studies program was founded in 1974 by James Horton, professor of Spanish and Portuguese. His leadership was followed in 2000 by Steven Bell, who now chair of the department of world languages, literatures and cultures. Erickson will be the first female director. Consult the program's website for additional information. 

Contacts

Kirstin Erickson, director
Latin American and Latino Studies Program
479-575-5600, kirstin@uark.edu

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