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SHSU Profs To Share ‘Inspiring’ Research

Feb. 27, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Festival logo blackAs a sociologist who speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently, Texas State University Regents’ Professor at SHSU Alessandro Bonanno has found himself drawn to the Latin American culture when it comes to his research specialty.

In his efforts to examine the social arrangements that allow food production and consumption, and the social consequences that these arrangements generate, for example, he has turned to countries such as Mexico, which exports both food and farmers to the United States.

“My most recent project looks at the ways in which international investment and modernization of Mexican farming increase the presence of Mexican food products in the USA but also contribute to the emigration of Mexican rural residents to this country,” he said.

Bonanno will be one of many Sam Houston State University faculty members who will share their personal research, and highlight the value of the Latin American culture to the United States, as part of this year’s Festival Inspiración, March 4-16 on the SHSU campus.

In addition to performances and workshops that showcase the visual aspects of the culture, Festival Inspiración annually focuses on the diversity and influence of the countries that comprise Latin America and the research SHSU faculty such as Bonanno are doing on aspects related to those countries through a series of humanities presentations.

Academic presentations will be held daily, at various times and locations, Monday through Thursday (March 4-7) and will emphasize classes offered on the Latin American culture at SHSU, book readings, political discussions such as the Latino vote in Texas, exhibitions and poster presentations (by students and faculty), and Latino contributions in the arts, among many others.

“Any culture is really many cultures due to different countries—there are 20-plus countries that comprise Latin America, for example—and there are different demographics—indigenous, ‘old’ immigrants, ‘new’ immigrants—within each,” said Debra Andrist, chair of the foreign languages department and humanities coordinator for Festival Inspiración. “These interrelated and interactive presentations provide so many more insights and a more coordinated realistic view of the culture(s) come out of an interdisciplinary approach.

“In addition, faculty members at SHSU are doing wonderful, interesting scholarly projects as individual projects and investigations at SHSU, and Festival Inspiración provides a wonderful opportunity to highlight what is happening here,” she said.

For Bonanno, his work in Latin America is not only an effort to bring the voices of peoples and groups to U.S. audiences, which in itself offers “stable and harmonious social relations,” but also to help people understand the importance of cultures outside of our own.

“It would be impossible to understand the way in which our society works if we do not take into consideration Latin America. As my most recent project focuses on the migration of rural residents to the U.S., it is easy to see how socially, politically and economically important this movement of people is for the U.S., Texas and our region of Texas,” he said.

“Our everyday lives are very much linked to, and affected by, events and people of Latin America,” Bonanno continued. “While some of us may not be aware of it, this is increasingly the case. Awareness of this situation and knowledge about its primary aspects should be central features of advanced education in the contemporary global era.”

To view a full schedule of humanities presentations scheduled for this year’s Festival Inspiración, visit http://www.shsu.edu/academics/music/festival-inspiracion/workshops-lectures.html.



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