Orange Alert

Ray Smith Symposium explores issues of Latina/o “citizenship” Jan. 31-Feb. 1

Critical race theorists Suzanne Oboler and Gerald Torres present keynote lectures and mini-seminar

Jan. 15, 2013, by Rob Enslin

Suzanne Oboler
Suzanne Oboler

In response to the United States’ growing Hispanic population, Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences is presenting several events on the theme of “citizenship,” Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The events are part of the yearlong Ray Smith Symposium titled “Moving Borders: The Culture and Politics of Displacement in and from Latin America and the Caribbean."

Events include keynote addresses by Suzanne Oboler and Gerald Torres—leading figures in critical race theory and professors at City University of New York and The University of Texas at Austin, respectively—on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium. The following day from 10 a.m. to noon, Olober and Torres will lead a mini-seminar in Maxwell Hall (204). Both events are free and open to the public; however, registration is required for the mini-seminar, which includes breakfast. To register, email Stephanie Fetta at

“Our fast-growing Latina/o population raises a lot of questions about what it means to ‘belong’ in the United States,” says Fetta, assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics. She, along with Inmaculada Lara-Bonilla, director of La Casita Cultural Center, organized all the events, in addition to a dramatic performance by Carmelita Tropicana, a Cuban-American actress based in New York City. “Carmelita will explore the contentious nature of citizenship in the 21st century,” says Fetta. “She will specifically address problems of race, ethnicity, and citizenship.”

Tropicana’s program, “Border Beasts,” is Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at La Casita (109 Otisco St., Syracuse). It is free and open to the public.

Oboler is professor of Latin American and Latina/o studies at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. An expert in Latina/o immigrant rights, she has edited multiple books on the subject, including “Latinos and Citizenship: The Dilemma of Belonging” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and “Neither Enemies nor Friends: Latinos, Blacks, Afro-Latinos” (Palgrave, 2005). From 2002-12, Oboler served as founding editor of the journal Latino Studies (Palgrave). She is also editor of the four-volume “Oxford Encyclopedia of Latino/as in the United States” (Oxford University Press, 2005) and the forthcoming “Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in Contemporary Politics, Law, and Social Movements.”

Gerald Torres
Gerald Torres
Torres holds the Bryant Smith Chair in Law at UT, where he specializes in environmental law, Native American law, water law, and property. Previously, he served as president of the Association of American Law Schools; associate dean of the University of Minnesota Law School; deputy assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.; and counsel to U.S. attorney general Janet Reno. Torres is co-author of the landmark book “The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy” (Harvard University Press, 2002). 

Tropicana (a.k.a. Alina Troyano) is a Cuban-American stage and film actress, based in New York City. Since the early Eighties, she has been part of the alternative arts scenes of the East Village and Lower East Side, regularly performing at Dixon Place and Performance Space 122. Openly lesbian, she is the author of a collection of thought-provoking essays and performance pieces titled “I, Carmelita Tropicana: Performing between Cultures” (Beacon Press, 2000).

“Citizenship” concludes with screenings of “City of Men” (2007) on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. and “Los rubios” (2003) on Thursday, March 21, at 6 p.m. Both screenings are in Eggers Hall (220) and are free and open to the public.

“Moving Borders” is organized and presented by faculty members of the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean, and is enabled by a major bequest from the estate of Ray W. Smith ’21, administered by The College of Arts and Sciences. For more information about the symposium, contact Elane Granger Carrasco, associate director of the Slutzker Center for International Services, at 315-443-2457.

The Special Collections Research Center at SU Library is also presenting a Ray Smith Symposium this year titled “Positions of Dissent.” More information is available at

Media Contact

Rob Enslin