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FIU signs memorandum with Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar


The FIU African and African Diaspora Studies Program and the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar in Quito, Ecuador have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop collaborative programs in African diaspora studies and Latin American cultural studies.

The memorandum enables the universities to develop educational exchanges, including a student and faculty exchange; develop research projects; collaborate on educational programs, courses and seminars; develop and implement workshops and conferences; and exchange academic materials and other information.

Catherine Walsh, director of the Ph.D. program in Latin American Cultural Studies at Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar (left); Enrique Ayala Mora (center), provost of the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar; and Jean M. Rahier (left) sign the memorandum of understanding.

Catherine Walsh, director of the Ph.D. program in Latin American Cultural Studies at Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar (left); Enrique Ayala Mora, provost of the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar (center); and Jean M. Rahier of FIU (left) sign the memorandum of understanding.

“This collaboration should be of interest to any study area or academic unit of both institutions,” said Jean M. Rahier, director of the African and African Diaspora Studies Program at FIU and professor of anthropology in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies. “It’s especially a great opportunity for students from diverse academic backgrounds, like law and social sciences, to get involved in cultural studies research.”

The African and African Diaspora Studies Program will work with scholars at the Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar, as well as with scholars in Honduras, Brazil, Argentina and the Dominican Republic, to examine the effectiveness of laws put in place to protect citizens against racism and anti-black racism in those countries. The early 1990s saw a multicultural shift towards the acknowledgement of the existence of a variety of populations who were once ignored, including afro-Latin Americans and indigenous communities, according to Rahier, a sociocultural anthropologist whose research interests include black social movements in Latin America.

“There’s a debate among social and legal scholars who say the adoption of these laws has changed nothing in the practice of everyday life, while other scholars say things have changed,” Rahier said. “We want to examine to what effect these legal tools have actually been used to remedy a wrong. Every county has its own national and legal context, so we will need to work local teams of scholars.”

Housed in the School of International and Public Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences, the African and African Diaspora Studies Program is a leading program in the study of the peoples of continental Africa and their experiences, as well as the communities of the African diaspora throughout the world. It features a robust interdisciplinary curriculum, cutting-edge research agendas and active outreach programs.