Corrales on Gay Rights in Colombia
Javier Corrales, professor of political science, was among the experts commenting in a recent Washington Post story about a lesbian couple in Colombia seeking legal recognition of their rights as a couple and parents. The Post wrote that Corrales, “who has closely studied the gay rights movement across several countries, said the region may be on the cusp of a revolution. But he described fierce pockets of resistance across the Americas, places where homophobia and violence are common.”
Cullen Murphy Elected Chairman of Trustees
Stavans: Reclaiming Travel
Why do we travel? And do we do it well anymore? Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture Ilan Stavans and his co-author Joshua Ellison, editor of the literary journal Habitus, recently took up those questions in an opinion piece for the New York Times. They lamented, “We have turned travel into something ordinary, deprived it of allegorical grandeur. We have made it a business: the business of being on the move. Whatever impels us to travel, it is no longer the oracle, the pilgrimage or the gods. It is the compulsion to be elsewhere, anywhere but here... travel is a search for meaning, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. The humility required for genuine travel is exactly what is missing from its opposite extreme, tourism.”
Sarat on Diminishing Clemency in Massachusetts
The Associated Press recently spoke with Austin Sarat, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, for a story about the Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s record on issuing pardons or commuting sentences of convicted criminals. Sarat noted that Patrick is not alone in being leery of practicing clemency: "If you grant a commutation or pardon, you may please the person who's the recipient or their family, but there is no political gain to run on the idea that you are interested in using the clemency process," he said.
Constance Congdon and the Ko Fest
The Daily Hampshire Gazette ran a feature story about this year’s Ko Festival of Performance, which runs through Aug. 5 at the Holden Theater and other locations on campus. The festival's title this year is "An Irreverent and Intergenerational Look at Age and Aging." The Gazette spoke with playwright-in-residence Constance Congdon, whose one woman piece “Is Sex Possible?” opened the festival. The piece, which examines sex and dating after 50 in a frank and humorous fashion, is based on her own experiences, she told the Gazette: "I think that's the best material. ... A lot of playwriting is listening and then writing down, which also includes listening to yourself.”
Stavans Reviews Traveler of the Century
Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, recently reviewed Traveler of the Century, a new translation of El viajero del siglo (2009), by Argentine writer Andrés Neuman. In the article, published in the Jewish Daily Forward, Stavans praised the book, which tells of a traveller’s wanderings through Europe in the 1820s, “is large and philosophical and deliciously slow — an old-fashioned kind of narrative, less interested in pleasing the tyrannical literary market with fast, easy satisfactions than in bamboozling it through sustained ruminations on politics, God and the nature of things.”
Shane Zhao, back from Rio
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently spoke with Shane Zhao ‘14E, one of three Amherst students who participanted in the recent Rio+20 U.N. environmental conference. He spoke about how, as one of the founders of China's largest youth environmental activism group, he ended up at the Rio de Janeiro conference.
Concluding, as other commentators have, that the conference was not a success for environmentalists, he said, “The result doesn't surprise me. I was at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in 2009 and I learned how difficult it was for more than 100 countries to reach a legally binding agreement.”
Amherst: Ahead of the Curve in Latino Enrollment
In a recent piece touting Massachusetts as a leader in attracting Latino college students, Boston Globe higher education writer Mary Carmichael spotlighted Amherst as setting the gold standard. She spoke with Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture, about the college’s doubling its Latino enrollment in the past decade, and with Tom Parker, director of admissions, about Amherst’s generous financial aid package.
“Amherst’s healthy endowment means it can afford to give students plenty of financial aid - the average award is $41,150 and includes no loans,” Carmichael wrote. “During recruitment season, the school flies almost 200 kids from around the country to campus for ‘diversity open houses.’ Once students are enrolled, it buys them two round-trip plane tickets apiece every year. That can make a big difference to Latino students from the Southwest, [said Parker], because ‘these may be kids who have never been to Massachusetts - maybe kids who have never even been in an airport.’”
The piece drew the attention of a blogger at NBC Latino, who followed up with a piece also featuring Tom Parker. “The last three classes at Amherst have been 42 percent American students of color, including Latinos, and 10 percent non-US citizens … We are just trying to reflect what the U.S. looks like,” he said.
Tiersky asks Chen Guangcheng
Ronald F. Tiersky, Joseph B. Eastman '04 Professor of Political Science, had a chance to put a question to Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng at a May 31 forum hosted by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Tiersky asked Chen about struggles going on within the top leadership between old-style communists and those with a perspective more like Chen’s.
Chen responded, “Everything is in a state of historic transition…the development of civil society in China and how to have it function well after it's established -- that's going to depend on the Chinese people…many people want to move the mountain in one week. That's not realistic. We have to move it bit by bit and start with ourselves. If everybody would do that, then maybe the effect would be very good. But you can't expect it to happen overnight.”
Little White Houses in the News
The Boston Globe recently wrote about "The Little White House Project: ‘Dwell in Possibility’," an art installation on the grounds of the Emily Dickinson Museum. The houses, designed by Deerfield Academy student Peter Krasznekewicz, are emblazoned with lines of the poet’s work, painted large. When the exhibit is dismantled at the end of June, materials used in the construction of the houses will be recycled by Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity for a new, actual home.