Young Scholars Symposium

The Young Scholars Symposium is an annual ILS initiative that convenes young scholars who are working on a dissertation, a book, or another research project related to Latinas and Latinos in the United States. Participants are chosen through a national call for applicants. Selected young scholars present a chapter or essay in advance of the symposium. The Distinguished Visiting Professor – who ILS also brings to campus annually – serves as mentor and commentator for symposium participants and their work. ILS faculty members and graduate students also participate in the symposium sessions. The goal is to create an enriching environment that provides mentorship in the profession and helps make good scholarly work even better. 



The Institute for Latino Studies is pleased to announce the participants for our 2018 Young Scholars Symposium, to be convened April 26-27, 2018 on the University of Notre Dame campus.  These scholars will present a dissertation chapter or essay draft for discussion with ILS faculty and our 2018 Distinguished Visiting Professor, José E. Limón, Professor of American Literature Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas' Mody C. Boatright Regents Professor of American Literature Emeritus.  Congratulations to our 2018 honorees.  



Enrique Dávila is currently a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Chicago. He received his B.A. in history from the University of Texas and his M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. His research focuses on late 19th and early 20th century Mexican American intellectual history, South Texas/Northeastern Mexican cultural studies, and U.S.-Mexico transnational political history.

In his dissertation, Dávila analyzes the ideology of a family of activists—the Idar family from Laredo—who used journalism, labor activity, and political activism to promote the family’s unique vision for the future of México-Texanos in the border region. He contends that the Idar family’s activism was rooted in the political, religious, and economic movements emanating from both the U.S. and Mexico during the late 19th and early 20th century. The project provides a three-part historical connection between U.S.-based social and religious reform movements, Mexican liberalism, and the South Texas Mexican American Civil Rights movement. Through this history, the dissertation will also portray the dialectical relationships present between social movements interacting along the border region during the turn of the century.


Di Blasi

Marcela A. Di Blasi is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the English Department at Dartmouth College. Her current book project, Between La Viejita and The Virgin in Chicana/o Coming of Age, argues that older Chicanas employ the language, symbols, community, and rituals of religious faith as a source for political engagement, social imagination, and aesthetic inspiration throughout Chicana/o literature since 1940. Di Blasi finds that as older religious women move from the periphery to the center of Chicana/o coming of age stories, they challenge the form of the genre by incorporating experimental forms drawn from religious faith, ultimately occasioning new forms of representation in order to depict the lives of older Chicanas in the service industry. As a part of her commitment to advocate for students of color and first generation college students, Di Blasi serves as designated Post-doctoral mentor for the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Dartmouth. Her published work appears in Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies. Di Blasi completed her Ph.D. at New York University in 2016, her M.Phil. at Cambridge University in 2010, and her B.A. at Williams College in 2008.




Ruth M. Hernández is an interdisciplinary scholar deeply committed to enacting social change through research and scholarship. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised in Los Angeles, CA, Hernández developed a passion for research about Chicanos and Mexican migration. Currently, she is a PhD Candidate in the Sociology Department at the University of Connecticut where she is completing her dissertation titled, Rompiendo Fronteras: Family Reunification and Activism in a Transnational Mexican Community. In her dissertation, Hernández examines how activism, particularly social justice theater, is used as a vehicle for community empowerment and family reunification.  Her research is based on seven years of multisided ethnographic research in Tlaxcala, Mexico and Connecticut, including 69 qualitative interviews.  Before graduating with a Master’s in Latina/o and Latin American Studies from the University of Connecticut, Hernández attended the University of California - San Diego where she double majored in History and Spanish Literature with an emphasis in Chicana/o Studies. In addition to her scholarship, Hernández is an activist involved in various community projects that address issues affecting temporary and permanent Latina/o migrants in the Northeast.



Jorge E. Moraga is Assistant Professor of ethnic studies at California State University, Bakersfield. His research and teaching interests include popular culture and media, sociology of sport, comparative race and ethnicity, political economy, and diaspora in the history of Latinas/os across the Americas. His current research project examines how U.S. Latinas/os use sporting spaces as vehicles for cultural belonging, political empowerment, and mediated representation, while simultaneously highlighting the structural tensions that arise from racialized gendered capitalism, nativism, and globalization into the 21st century. His work has appeared in Social Inclusion, Football, Culture and Power (Routledge, 2017), The Encyclopedia of Social Theory (Wiley Blackwell, 2017), and Sport in American History.  Originally from the San Fernando Valley, Dr. Moraga earned B.A. degrees in History and Central American Studies from California State University, Northridge. He earned his Ph.D. in American studies at Washington State University. In 2015, he was selected to participate in the Latino Museum Studies Program sponsored by the Smithsonian Latino Center, and was also an AAHHE Graduate Fellow. His passion and interests in teaching and writing about Latinidades in the U.S emanates from his Salvadoran parents, whose own story of migration, labor, belonging and resiliency continues to inspire and educate.




Mark A. Ocegueda is Assistant Professor of U.S. and Mexican American history at California State University, Sacramento. Dr. Ocegueda’s research interests include Mexican American history, race, ethnicity, urban history, religion, leisure, and public history. Dr. Ocegueda’s manuscript in progress, Sol y Sombra: Mexicans in the Making of San Bernardino and the Inland Empire, 1880-1960, documents the city of San Bernardino's Mexican American people and their quest for civil rights. This study explores the social, cultural, and political dimensions of this community that was rooted in systems of labor and sites of community-building and posits inland Southern California and the city of San Bernardino as important spaces for furthering our understanding of Mexican Americans, civil rights, race, and urban history. As a participant of the Young Scholars Symposium at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Ocegueda will present a paper entitled The Political Padre: José Núñez and the Catholic Contribution in Desegregating Public Space, 1939-1947.



Cristina Pérez Jiménez is an Assistant Professor of English at Manhattan College. She earned her Ph.D. is Latin American and Iberian Cultures and Comparative Literatures at Columbia University. She specializes in Caribbean and U.S. Latina/o literatures and cultures, with a strong subspecialty in theories of race and ethnicity, as well as transnational and diaspora studies. She is the recipient of the 2016 Bancroft Dissertation Prize. Her current book project explores the emergence of a distinctive New York Latino cultural identity during the sociopolitical conjuncture of the 1930s and 1940s through appropriations of the era’s transnational frameworks, including proletarian fraternalism, Pan-Americanism and anti-fascism. Her work has appeared in NACLAAmerican QuarterlyDiálogo, and Centro Journal.




Sarah Quesada is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Latino Studies.  Dr. Quesada’s research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st century Latina/o, Chicana/o, Transnational literatures and spatial theory. Her main focus is on the constructions of race, ethnicity, migration, and spiritual formation of the Latina/o African Diaspora in literature and film, read through a decolonial lens. Her book project explores the uneven distribution of slave trade memory across the Atlantic by drawing comparisons between West African heritage sites and Latin American and Latina/o storytelling. Examining mostly contemporary representations of transatlantic memory, Dr. Quesada's study reassesses the ontological nature of the transCaribbean narrative and conveys the many ways in which Atlantic history and cosmology are presented within the margins of texts, in the foundations of nation-building myths, but also at the intersection of conservation projects and fiction. Ultimately this project expands the limits of Latinidad into the Atlantic World, through works by Rudolfo Anaya, Gabriel García Márquez, Alejo Carpentier, Achy Obejas, Junot Diaz, and Dahlma Llanos Figueroa. Dr. Quesada is a former Postdoctoral Associate in the department of Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and ACLS Andrew Mellon fellow. 



Francisco Robles is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame and a Faculty Affiliate at the Institute for Latino Studies.  Dr. Robles teaches and researches in American Literatures of the 20th  century, and he focuses in particular on Multiethnic American Literature. Dr. Robles’s current book project, Migrant Modes: Aesthetics on the Move in the Long Popular Front, examines literary and musical representations of migrants in the United States. He is interested in examining what he calls the Long Popular Front, a mode and tendency of political and aesthetic action that signals an extended engagement with the coalitional politics of the Popular Front, beyond its typical periodization. By insisting on the enduring resonance of the Popular Front as a frame for understanding the political context of radical art focused on migration, he encounters texts that move and flow in unexpected and imaginatively powerful ways, creating new ethical and aesthetic practices that enable alternative means of undertaking and understanding textual representation. Some of the texts he looks at in Migrant Modes are by Zora Neale Hurston, Muriel Rukeyser, José Antonio Villarreal, Sanora Babb, Woody Guthrie, Americo Paredes, Lydia Mendoza, Tomás Rivera, Alice Walker, Odetta, the authors included in This Bridge Called My Back, and Lorna Dee Cervantes. Dr. Robles engages heavily with American Literatures, especially African American Literature and Chicanx Literature, Contemporary Literature and Culture, literature and ethics, LGBTQ* Literature, Postcolonial Literature, and Southwestern Literature.