Tepoztlán Institute Conference 2018

Isabella in Tepoztlan



Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Project Summary

During the summer of 2018 I worked as an undergraduate assistant affiliate with the Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History of the Americas—a collective dedicated to fostering dialogue between scholars from multiple regions of the Americas through its annual, week-long conference in the village of Tepoztlán, Mexico. The theme of the conference this year was “Black Lives/Black Deaths: Dispossession, Disappearance, and Enclosure,” which explored how the legacies of slavery and colonialism have historically created the conditions of political, economic, and social violence that systematically oppress black communities today. My responsibilities included meeting regularly with a study group—composed of my mentor Dr. David Kazanjian and several PhD students from the English Department—to discuss the assigned conference readings, providing logistical assistance when necessary, working as a Spanish-English translator during the conference, and attending the sessions along with other faculty and graduate participants. Attending the conference gave me a greater understanding of the ways in which the archive of slavery fragments black narratives, thus changing how I previously understood the practice of writing and interpreting history. It also trained me to start thinking about contemporary issues more broadly, considering not only how the events of the past determine those of the present and perhaps the future, but also how we might increase our awareness about certain topics if we consider them from a transnational perspective. As someone who will be pursuing an academic career, I believe this opportunity offered useful insight into academia as an institution and allowed me to learn more about the work other scholars and experts are currently doing in the field of Comparative Literature.