March 2012 Newsletter (archive)

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March Spotlight: Visiting Fellow Javier Esguevillas Ruiz

Javier Esguevillas Ruiz

This month we turn the spotlight on visiting fellow Javier Esguevillas Ruiz, who is a tenured professor of international public law and international relations at the Universidad de Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. Since he came to campus in 2011 Esguevillas Ruiz has worked tirelessly to conduct research, teach Latino studies courses, and collaborate with partners in Chicago and abroad.

Esguevillas Ruiz’s scholarly activities include research into “social innovation” for URB-AL, a program of the European Commission aimed at increasing the degree of social and territorial cohesion within regional communities in Latin America. In conjunction with the Mexican Consulate in Chicago and the Federal Electoral Institute of Mexico (IFE), he has been instrumental in establishing an “electoral observatory” for the 2012 Mexican presidential elections that will take him to Mexico City in March to complete his research. Says Esguevillas Ruiz, “The electoral observatory could offer a paradigm for studying electoral processes throughout Latin America, opening new areas of research, and allowing real policy research in this important area—good governance in Latin America—which has a close relation to the situation of Latinos in the United States.”

Esguevillas Ruiz’s stints in the classroom have not only brought his European perspective to the Institute’s course offerings, but have also prompted him to realign his own research focus:

After 13 years of doing my research on international public law, with a focus on European common law in the last three years, I decided to change the main topic of my research to immigration issues, viewed comparatively between the European Union and the United States. That’s the reason I have been teaching the class, “Immigration and Political Rights in the United States” for the past two years. . . . . I attempt to establish the close relation between immigration reform and the existence of a strong political lobby group within the Latino community, with enough power to defend the necessary reforms.

In his academic work on behalf of the Institute Esguevillas Ruiz has engaged in a number of activities to build bridges between Notre Dame—with its sphere of influence in Chicago—and a number of international collaborators. Esguevillas Ruiz has been instrumental in organizing the “ILS in Conversation” series of public talks. In December the series featured Martin Romero from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, who spoke at Chicago State University and at Notre Dame about the importance of international cooperation in education. Esguevillas Ruiz facilitated conversations about a bilateral agreement to receive Latino students from Chicago in Guadalajara.

In February the series brought European Union official Ignacio Vázquez Moliní to Chicago and Notre Dame. Once again, Esguevillas Ruiz played an instrumental role in conversations between Molini and the City of Chicago’s Office for New Americans focusing on how to implement the Council of Europe’s “Open Cities” model in Chicago to facilitate the city’s emergence as a leading multicultural city. Also in February, on behalf of the Institute, Esguevillas Ruiz hosted a group of 15 Latino seniors from Chicago State University who came to Notre Dame to explore graduate programs. Esguevillas Ruiz organized a number of academic activities and workshops that included a tour of the Institute and a discussion of the Julian Samora Library’s collection of primary source materials as well as a session with Associate Dean for Recruitment and Admissions Nyrée McDonald.

Esguevillas Ruiz’s busy academic year will conclude with a trip back to Spain in June. He was honored to be selected from among several other faculty applicants to teach the course “The European Union in Eleven Lessons: A Gateway to Knowledge about Europe” in conjunction with Notre Dame’s Summer Spain Program in Toledo.


Attention Students: Apply Now for Summer Institute in Latino Public Policy
The Summer Institute for Latino Public Policy (SILPP) is an opportunity for undergraduate students to gain training and insight into public policy and the legislative process. The intense weeklong institute in Washington DC (June 11–16, 2012), takes students through a series of seminars, workshops, site visits to national organizations, and meetings with Congressional representatives. The application deadline is April 15, 2012. For more information visit or send direct inquiries to Olga Herrera, IUPLR national coordinator, 202-974-6282.

Institute Publishes New Report on Mexican Immigrants’ Retirement Savings
In February the Institute published Confianza, Savings, and Retirement, examining the social, cultural, and economic factors influencing Mexican immigrants’ savings and preparedness for retirement. The publication was the culmination of a project led by Institute Director of Academic Affairs Karen Richman and funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE). The product of a unique partnership between Richman, an anthropologist, and economist Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, Confianza, Saving, and Retirement combines ethnographic research conducted in the Chicago metropolitan area in 2009 and 2010 with statistical analyses of large national, local, and comparative data sets as well as questionnaires administered to focus group participants. The report can be found here:

Guzmán Receives Ganey Grant
Institute Director of Research Juan Carlos Guzmán was recently awarded a Ganey Grant, a collaborative community-based research grant awarded by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. Guzmán will collaborate with Jen Burke Lefever, associate director of the Center for Children and Families, and Kathy Guajardo, executive director of the Head Start Consortium to document the impact of Head Start services on children and families in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties and to assess how Head Start prepares children for school. Notre Dame undergraduate students will assist with data entry, management, analysis, and dissemination.

Matovina Scholarly Activities
Institute Fellow Timothy Matovina published “Horizons of Faith: San Antonio Tejanos in the Texas Republic” in By the Vision of Another World: Worship in American History, edited by James D. Bratt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). In January Matovina also presented “Latinos and the Transformation of US Catholicism” at the annual meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association in Chicago and in February he spoke at a symposium on his new book Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church at the University of Chicago.

Siglo XXI Conference
A number of ILS faculty and staff worked to make the Siglo XXI conference a success. The fourth biennial conference of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), this year titled “Forging the Future of Latinos in a Time of Crisis,” was held in New York City February 23–25. Under the direction of IUPLR Executive Director Gilberto Cárdenas, IUPLR National Coordinator Olga Herrera and IUPLR Assistant Program Manager Maria Elena Bessignano planned and organized the conference in coordination with the host institutions, with assistance from the Institute’s Maribel Rodriguez. Faculty representing over 55 universities across the United States and the Spanish Caribbean participated.

Institute Research Director Juan Carlos Guzmán moderated a panel on social mobility and presented findings from the Institute’s State of Latino Chicago 2010 report on the economic impact of Latinos in Chicago. On the same panel Associate Director of Research Cynthia V. Duarte presented “Are Latinos Moving Up or Just Moving? A Preliminary Analysis of Latinos in Suburban Chicago.” Institute visiting fellow Javier Esguevillas Ruiz presented a paper on “The Chicano Community’s Acceptance of their Role as a National Minority inside a Multinational State.” Director of Academic Affairs Karen Richman, along with collaborators Teresa Ghilarducci and Joelle Saad-Lessler, presented findings from their study of retirement savings among Mexican immigrants in Chicago. Institute Visiting Fellow Oscar Celador Angón presented on “The Regularization of Undocumented Migrants in the US: The Spanish Solution.” And Research Associate Director Waldo Mikels-Carrasco presented on the Institute’s research into “Factors Associated with Depression in the Latino Community in South Bend, Indiana.”

Article on Latinos and Catholic Education
An article by Institute Research Director Juan Carlos Guzmán, researcher Josefa Palacios, and Senior Editor Andrew Deliyannides appeared in the March issue of the journal International Studies in Catholic Education. The article presented findings from focus groups conducted by the Institute among Latinos in seven US cities to examine Latino Catholic perceptions of Catholic schools.

Jara Elected Secretary of CIC Steering Committee
Institute Research Associate Raúl Jara attended a Census Information Center (CIC) Steering Committee meeting in Washington DC as the Inter University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR) representative. At the meeting Jara was elected secretary of the Steering Committee. The committee discussed ways to strengthen the CIC network, the creation of CIC affiliates, and the removal of outdated items from the CIC memorandum of agreement.

Latino-Focused Libraries in Dialogue
In February archivist Tracy Grimm met with librarians and archivists from the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and CUNY’s Dominican Studies Institute. The meetings explored common interests and ways to enhance our individual libraries’ impact on increasing the access and preservation of Latino documentary heritage. Plans are underway to form of a national IUPLR working group.

Herrera Presents at College Art Association Conference
Olga Herrera presented her paper “The Writer as Artist/The Artist as Writer: The Poetic and Visual Production of Carlos Alfred Cortéz” at the 100th annual conference of the College Art Association in Los Angeles. The panel, “Convergent Practices: The Artist as Writer in Latino-America,” explored the artist through writings and archival materials recently made accessible through the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s digital project, “Documents of Twentieth-Century Latin American and Latino Art.”

Brown-Gort on International Human Rights
On February 23 Associate Director Allert Brown-Gort served on an interactive panel reflecting on the Snite Museum exhibition Dignity and its implications for international human rights. He was one of four panelists, representing a cross-section of Notre Dame’s international institutes and centers, selected to share their perspectives on Notre Dame’s current and potential role in support of international human rights. For more information on the exhibition, please see

Institute Participates in Notre Dame Mobile Summit
On February 24 the Julian Samora Library’s iPad app, “Day of the Dead: Experience the Tradition,” was included in Notre Dame Mobile Summit 2012, a meeting of faculty, students, and staff to discuss how Notre Dame can use mobile and tablet applications to help teaching, learning, research, and university services. The presentation highlighted the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the app’s development and the key role played by undergraduate students. Articles about the app also appeared in Notre Dame’s faculty & staff newspaper, ND Works, and the student newspaper, The Observer:


Student Variety Show “Latin Expressions”
On March 30 the student group La Alianza will stage Latin Expressions, its annual showcase of Latin dance, music, and recited works highlighting different aspects of Latino culture. Latin Expressions features a wide variety of acts, including performances by MariachiND, Coro Primavera, Ballet Folklorico, and MEChA, as well as performances from ProjectFresh and the First Class Steppers. The event takes place in O’Laughlin Auditorium of Saint Mary’s College at 7:00 pm, March 30. Tickets will be sold Monday through Friday the week of the show for $10 at the LaFortune Box Office ($12 at the door).