NACCS Tejas Conference at UTPA Feb. 21-23 highlights Chicana/o issues, activism
Contact: Christy Mendoza, intern/writer (956) 665-2741
Posted: 02/13/2013
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Dozens of prominent Chicana/o studies scholars from across the country are gearing up to participate in the>National Association of Chicana & Chicano Studies (NACCS) Tejas 2013 Regional Conference on Feb. 21-23 hosted this year by The University of Texas-Pan American.

The conference - titled "Chican@ Studies ¡Ahora! Community Based Pedagogies, Scholarship and Activism" ¬- offers faculty, students and the community three days of rich cultural experience that includes intellectual discussions, workshops, and cultural events that address the diverse and unique ideas that arise from current issues pertaining to Mexican Americans, Chicana/os, and Latina/os.

"The NACCS conference will address critical and timely issues in higher education, including community centered curriculum, teaching innovation, research, and recent national discussions and controversies regarding Ethnic Studies programs," said UTPA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez.

Established in 1972, NACCS is an organization that serves academic programs, departments and research centers that focus on issues pertaining to Mexican Americans, Chicana/os and Latinas. NACCS not only provides a forum for scholars and students but also serves as an advocate for those challenging systems of inequality based on class, race and gender identities.

This year, the NACCS regional conference will discuss many controversial topics such as the political fire Ethnic Studies has undergone in colleges across the United States, particularly in Arizona. The conference will also address Chicana feminism, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual &Transgender Community (LGBT) issues, and the responses to oppressive school policies by Chicana and Chicano studies educators.

"The conference brings together multiple voices from diverse disciplinary perspectives from all over Tejas and the nation. Scholars, artists, and activists address issues related to the greater Mexican American and Latina/o communities and the importance of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies," Rodríguez said.

Many leading Chicano Studies program scholars and educators will be speaking and facilitating workshops throughout the conference, including Dolores Delgado Bernal and Enrique Alemán, University of Utah; Sheila Contreras, Michigan State University; Norma E. Cantú, The University of Texas at San Antonio and University of Missouri, Kansas City; Norma Alarcón, University of California, Berkeley; and Roberto Calderón, University of North Texas.

"With our conference, we wanted to highlight the rich and long history of Chicana/o studies scholarship, especially the recent work being produced that rethinks the relationship between educational institutions and the community," said Dr. Marci R. McMahon, UTPA assistant professor of English and conference co-chair. "The work we produce and what we teach in our classes must reflect the 90 percent Latina/o demographic in the Valley as well as the shifting demographics in this nation."

Delgado Bernal, a professor of education and ethnic studies with research focused on the underrepresentation of Latino/a students in higher education, will be a workshop facilitator and the keynote speaker at the conference's Opening Plenary and Dinner Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Ballroom.

Many of UTPA's own professors and graduate students will also present during the conference's events and workshops.

"The planning committee has worked extremely hard to prepare a timely and an intellectually stimulating conference, and they are very proud to include UT Pan American students, faculty, and the Río Grande Valley community-at-large, as well as students, faculty, and community members from beyond," Rodríguez said.

The conference will commence at 9 a.m., Feb. 21 at various locations on the UTPA campus. Conference events will not only include academic discussions, but also an exquisite cultural exploration for the whole family.

The Noche de Cultura (Night of Culture) will exhibit the incredible talent of female accordionist Eve Ybarra, also known as La Reina de la Acordeón (The Queen of the Accordion), performing along with her conjunto, a group of exceptional South Texas acoustic and accordion musicians, on Friday, Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the UTPA ballroom. Ybarra will also host a conjunto workshop Feb. 23 at 10:30 a.m. in the International Room at the ITT Building.

Rodríguez will welcome honored guests along with the UTPA and local community to a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 22 at 8:45 a.m. for the new UTPA Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program Center located at the Education Complex, Room 2.216B on Feb. 22 at 8:45 a.m. UTPA MAS is serving as one of NACCS Tejas 2013 Conference sponsors.

Helena Maria Viramontes, creative writing professor at Cornell University and author of "The Moths and Other Stories" (1985) and "Their Dogs Came with Them" (2008), two very influential texts on Chicana history, will read some of her work and host a book signing Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. in the ITT International Room. Viramontes will also conduct a writer's workshop earlier in the day.

The conference will conclude with UTPA Associate Professor Eric Wiley's stunning and award-winning multi-media documentary Crawling with Monsters Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the studio theater located in the first floor of the Arts and Humanities Building (formerly the Communication and Arts Building).

For full program information and a complete itinerary of events, visit Registration for conference events can be done online at or in the Borderlands Room in the Education Building, Room 3.204 on Feb. 22 from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Events are free to UTPA faculty and students with registration.