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Fall 2018 CLACS New Core Faculty Members

Published: Wednesday, 05 Dec 2018
Author: Angie Melissa Vega
Department: Latin American Studies Center

Samantha Fox (SOC)
My name is Samantha Fox and I am a world historical sociologist with a focus on the encounters between a historically expanding capitalist system and indigenous/peasant peoples. I take a political economy approach that integrates decoloniality, social reproduction, and environmental/ecological justice. The focus on my research is on autonomy from states and markets. My research primarily focuses on indigenous communities autonomous political organization and the ways communities maintain solidarity in the face of extractive development, and development more broadly. Inspired by the explicit push for autonomy by the Zapatistas, my work looks more closely at the everyday (or what Fernand Braudel called material life) to understand the values and norms that structure mundane interactions to recreate a sense of community and the extent to which a sense of community is tied to or dependent upon the market economy. My work on indigenous resistance to mining at the Marlin Mine, Central America's largest gold and silver mine, in Guatemala examined the strategies the mining company used to divide communities and the counter-strategies communities employed that involve dissociative organizing to prevent cooptation by external actors and a praxis of disruption that uses alternative value claims to question development. As I continue my research in Central America, my research asks if there is a regional autonomy that exists or is in the process of forming among indigenous and peasant peoples in the countries of the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) as they confront an integrated development strategy put forth by transnational entities in conjunction with local elites. I have taught courses in Latin American Studies including Environmental Activism in Latin America and the Caribbean, Introduction to Latin American Studies, and Indigenous History and Contemporary Culture in Latin America. All my courses incorporate themes from Latin American Studies, especially autonomy and development. In terms of outreach, I have brought speakers to campus and hosted film screenings with organizations such as the Mexico Solidarity Network, Guatemala Human Rights Commission, and local organizations working with migrant workers. 

Abbigail Bennett (FW)

Abigail Bennett is Assistant Professor of Global Inland Fisheries Ecology and Governance. Her research engages institutional analysis, political economy, and discourse analysis to study processes of institutional emergence and change and associated social and ecological outcomes in fisheries. In particular, she is interested in understanding how different governance arrangements - both formal and informal - shape intersections of fish trade, food security, and sustainable fisheries livelihoods. Her research also seeks to track the discursive representation of inland fisheries in policy and development spaces and the role of fisheries science in shaping those narratives. Relatedly, she aims to connect her research to outreach with organizations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission in order to inform scholarship and work across the science-policy interface. Abby's dissertation research and resulting publications focused on management of the sea cucumber fishery in the Yucatan in Mexico.

Will Reyes-Cubides (RCS)

Will K. Reyes-Cubides is the Academic Specialist of Curriculum Development for Spanish in the Department of Romance and Classical studies. In addition to working on curriculum development for the program, he serves as the immediate supervisor for all of the instructors and TAs in the 100 – 200 level program in Spanish, and responds to student concerns and grievances. During the past 20 years he has taught all levels of Spanish as well as English as a Second Language, Hispanic literature, linguistics, and cinema courses at various universities in the United States and in Colombia, and has also worked as a Language Program Coordinator for over 10 years. He has been the recipient of the Boston Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award; the Cornell University Public Service Award; the United States Department of Education Title II Grant, Massachusetts Coalition for Teacher Quality and Student Achievement, and the Inter American Prize for Educational Quality and Innovations at MIT granted by the Institute of Advanced Studies for the Americas (INEAM) of the Organization of American States (OAS).

He specializes in second language (L2) pedagogy, second language acquisition (SLA), curriculum design, web enhancements on classroom activities, the alignment of internal measures of language proficiency with national proficiency standards, and the assessment of the effect of technology on learning. His areas of interest also include software for language test design and development, L2 placement, HIV and AIDS biomedical, social and moral discourses in Latin America, LGBTQ+ studies and environmental issues in the Hispanic world.

Brent Ross (AFRE)

Dr. Ross is an associate professor of Food Industry Management in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. His primary research interests include the dynamics of entrepreneurship and the use of simulation methods to explore organizational phenomena in the agri-food system. Current and previous research studies have focused on modeling the process of identification and exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities in the agri-food system, the role of social capital in network formation and sustainability, financing alternative governance structures in agri-food industries, and business development in LDCs. During his spring 2019 sabbatical, Brent will be involved in research on two projects in Peru that on developing new knowledge and understanding of Peru's rapidly evolving food system, particularly with respect to the areas of entrepreneurship and food system innovation.  Specific activities that are planned in collaboration with local faculty and investigators include: i) an examination of business model and organizational innovation within various Peruvian food value chains, and ii) analysis of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and the key performance indicators for entrepreneurial assistance and support programs in Peru.

Kurt Rademacker (ANP)

Kurt Rademaker is an interdisciplinary archaeologist interested in human-environment dynamics, hunter-gatherer colonization of South America, adaptations in extreme environments, and foundations of complex societies. He obtained his PhD from the University of Maine in 2012. In the past 15 years he has carried out archaeological research primarily in the Peruvian Andes and quaternary studies in Peru and Scotland. He has also worked as an archaeologist in the Eastern Woodlands and Great Basin regions of the U.S., in Mexico, and in Chile. In Peru his team searches for and investigates hunter-gatherer sites from the Pacific coast to the high-elevation Andes. His ongoing collaborations with earth science colleagues are producing high-resolution paleoenvironmental records for comparison with cultural sequences. Other current collaborative research with physical anthropologists and paleogeneticists is focused on understanding how humans have adapted to live in the high-elevation Andes Mountains.

Silvina Bongiovanni (RCS)

Dr. Silvina Bongiovanni is an assistant professor in Romance and Classical Studies. Her main research area is experimental phonology: she studies the phonetic underpinnings of phonological variation in the Spanish language. Bongiovanni's primary focus of inquiry explores variation in nasality (i.e. sounds that are produced with air passing through the nose as well as the mouth), both in vowels and in consonants. In her dissertation, Silvina examined dialectal and phonological differences in anticipatory vowel nasalization (when the nasal consonant follows the vowel, e.g. pan /pán/ 'bread') in Dominican and Argentine Spanish by comparing how nasality changes over time (i.e. time-course) and if the word-final nasal consonant is weakened. One important finding was that Spanish anticipatory vowel nasalization and nasal weakening co-vary, but one is not a pre-requisite for the other. Bongiovanni has also researched the merger between /ɲ/ and /nj/ (e.g. huraño 'unsociable' vs. uranio 'uranium') in Buenos Aires Spanish. She found that older males produce a contrast, whereas females do not —women are leading the sound change. Additionally, Silvina has carried out corpus studies examining sociolinguistic distribution of phonological variants (e.g. aceptar vs. ace[k]tar vs. acetar 'to accept'), the link between frequency of phonotactic collocations (i.e. combinations of consonants) and phonological variation. She is also interested in the acquisition of phonological systems by second language speakers and has examined the impact of learning context (study abroad vs. at-home) on development of L2 sound systems.