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UTPA site of Tejas Foco Regional Conference Nov. 12-13
Posted: 11/05/2004
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The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) and The University of Texas-Pan American History Department will jointly host the Tejas Foco Regional Conference at UTPA Nov. 12-13 in various locations of the Student Union.

NACCS, a national organization initiated in 1972 at a meeting of social scientists in San Antonio, promotes communication and exchange of ideas among Chicana and Chicano scholars across all geographical and disciplinary boundaries as well as opportunities and participation at all levels and positions in institutions of higher learning. It also serves as an advocate for students and promotes research that challenges systems of inequality based on class, race and gender. The Tejas region is one of nine regional focos.

"The NACCS Tejas Foco conference is being held at the University of Texas-Pan American for the first time in recent memory. The panels, roundtables, workshops and cultural events provide a wide range of formats for students, scholars and community members to engage discussions and examinations of the Chicana/o, Mexican and Mexican American experiences in Tejas," said Trinidad Gonzales, lecturer in the UTPA Department of History and Philosophy.

Gonzales said that presently Chicana/o, Mexican and Mexican American history, literature and intellectual production is often neglected by universities in the United States.

"Even more neglected is the history, literature and intellectual history of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. People who attend will have the opportunity to see and hear poetry, plays, dance, music and scholarly presentations about our community. This conference fits the university's role of generating and presenting scholarship and cultural production that is directly relevant to the local community," Gonzales said.

With a general theme of "Food, Music, and Identity: The Flavors and Sounds of Tejas," the conference will provide panels, roundtables, workshops and cultural events covering Texas and Chicano/a history and experiences across a variety of disciplines.

The panel "Literary Historians at Work: Rediscovering Socio-cultural Significance in the Works of Americo Paredes" will provide three papers concerning one of the Lower Rio Grande Valley's most prominent cultural scholars and authors for the twentieth century. Paredes' cultural and scholarly work spans from the 1930s to 1999 when he passed away.

The workshop "Que Viva la Mujer Por Amor" is a workshop for women to discuss issues related to HIV infection in the Lower Rio Grande Valley as well as other issues facing women.

Another presentation will feature Jose E. Limon, one of Paredes' former students from the University of Texas, who will present "Sabor a Mi: Culture and Cuisine in Contemporary Border Fiction." Limon will discuss the use of food as a reflection of culture within the writings of Rolando Hinojosa Smith, Benjamin Saenz and Oscar Casares. Both Smith and Casares are award-winning fiction writers from the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Other speakers will include faculty and graduate students from UTPA, University of Texas-San Antonio, University of Houston, University of New Mexico, Texas State University and University of North Texas as well as community historians and area education administrators.

Registration begins at noon, Nov. 12, followed by UTPA President Blandina Cárdenas welcoming conference attendees at 1 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium. Forum sessions will run from 2-4:50 p.m. on Friday. After a scheduled dinner at 5-6:30 p.m., participants will be entertained by a poetry reading and a performance by the UTPA Folkloric Dance Company. Saturday, Nov. 13's schedule will begin with an 8 a.m. breakfast with forum sessions held 9-11:50 a.m. Following a noon luncheon, the play "Bracero Olvidado" will be presented from 2-2:50 p.m. All activities will be held in the Student Union. A complete listing of the conference agenda is available at http://www.naccs.org/naccs/Tejas.asp

The conference is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Victor Gomez at rociovictor@yahoo.com

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