Below is recent research conducted by Latin American Studies students during funded summer research projects.


The Law of Social Quotas: The Experience of Being an Affirmative Action Student in Minas Gerais, Brazil

Jamila Espinosa; Mentor: April Mayes

In 2012 Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff set forth a comprehensive affirmative action law known as the Law of Social Quotas which states that all public universities are required to reserve half of their admitted class to students coming from public high schools. Within that half the law also requires that fifty percent of those spots be reserved for Brazilians of African, mixed African, and Indigenous ancestry, in accordance with numbers reflecting the population of those identity groups within the state. I completed ethnographic research during classes, office hours, and social interactions. Through fifteen in-depth interviews I found that affirmative action student beneficiaries experienced: feeling academically under-prepared in the classroom, facing social stigma, having higher dropout rates and being more impacted by budget cuts to the school. Students also depend heavily on their residential communities for support during stressful times. These final research findings point towards a public education system in Brazil that favors students who are able to pay for private schooling, and thus go to college with preparation that exceeds the basic teaching provided in free public schooling. Most respondents acknowledged the possibilities for change in the Brazilian education system, and provided critical reflections of an educational system lacking priority on the national system.
Funding Provided By: Cion Estate


Hey You, You are Black Too: Afro-Mexican Marital and Identity Politics in the 16th and 17th Century

Gerardo Vargas (2015); Mentor(s): April Mayes

Abstract: Afro-Latinos are generalized to be only present in Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations or Brazil, locations where slavery reached a zenith never before seen, however, the generalization tend to not represent or acknowledge Spanish Colonial America as a slave society due to the common misperception that slavery did not take hold. The purpose of this study is to debunk the generalization and expand how Afro-Mexicans claimed ‘New World’ ethnicities through matrimony during the Inquisition. To better understand how and who peopled married, it was necessary to look at archival Inquisition documents where people claimed their ethnicity and their legitimacy to marriage. The overall results showed that if a man claimed to be “Negro de Angola” so did his spouse and his witness. However, the full results have yet to be answered since the goal is not only to list but also to plot where they lived in Mexico City and how they formed kinship networks among their family and witness. The plotting and the networks would show how the Afro-Mexican community claimed religious rights to create a new community 
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund


Migration for Education: Haitian University Students in the Dominican Republic

Jenny Miner (2013); Additional Collaborator(s): Katherina Hauber*; Mentor(s): April Mayes
*Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Abstract: Haitian migrants living and working in the Dominican Republic face widespread discrimination and prejudice as a result of their lower class status and the perception they are racially distinct and inferior to Dominicans. Historically, the majority of Haitian migrants to the Dominican Republic have been rural, lower class workers seeking agricultural or construction work. However, within the last twenty years there has been a surge of a new kind of immigrant - Haitian students studying at Dominican universities. My research aims to explore the university students’ lived experiences and the unique issues they face as foreign students. Twenty-five individual interviews and three focus group discussions were recorded with Haitian students at five different universities in Santo Domingo. I focused on their motives for coming to the Dominican Republic for higher education, their experiences with discrimination inside and outside the university, and their plans for after finishing their studies. Student associations also emerged as an important topic, as every university had at the very least an established informal network of support for Haitian students. Their experiences and feelings will provide a context for exploring and understanding larger issues of discrimination, migration, and the relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP; Latin American Studies Arango Grant

A study of the Sino-Chilean trade: its implications for China-Chile Relations and the United States

Ge Zhang (2013); Mentor(s): Miguel Tinker Salas

Abstract: Employing data issued by the Chilean National Customs Service and existing secondary literature on the subject, this research analyzes (1) the state of China-Chile trade (2) the development of Sino-Chilean relations through trade in recent years (3) its implications for the United States. Conclusions: China´s enormous demand for minerals has sustained elevated copper prices worldwide benefiting the Chilean economy over the past decade. In addition to copper, China has diversified its imports of Chilean products to include forestry, meat, and fish products. Despite the scale of Chinese-Chilean trade, language, and cultural barriers have hampered bilateral academic and cultural exchange programs. Increased trade with Chile has likewise no yet translated into political influence for China in Chile. Chilean elites have been unwilling to risk its traditionally strong tie with United States and fear provoking Washington. 
Funding Provided by: Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Fund