Special Projects Fund Recap: Latino Caucus in Political Science/Sector Latino de Ciencia Politica

Dr. Eric Gonzales Juenke (right) presenting the Latino Caucus 2017 Best Book Award to Dr. Heather Silber Mohamed (left) for her book, The New Americans? Immigration, Protest, and the Politics of Latino Identity.

This year el Sector Latino de Ciencia Politica, also known as the Latino Caucus, celebrates its 20th anniversary. For two decades, they have worked to promote the professional development and well-being of Latina/os in political science, and those interested in the study of Latina/o politics through the annual Latino politics workshops, panels and receptions at the annual meeting, as well as working with APSA to award the Fund for Latino Politics Awards each year . Their commemorations kicked off with a day-long pre-conference at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. The “Looking Back and Moving Forward” conference featured several workshops on research, scholar activism, public intellectualism, a mentoring lunch, and plenaries featuring Mario Barrera (add institutions), Carol Hardy-Fanta, former APSA president, Rodney Hero, Carlos Muñoz, and Christine Sierra.

Reporting back after the event, then-president of the caucus Valerie Martinez-Ebers described the conference as “without a doubt the largest gathering of Latino/a political scientists and those that study Latino politics that I have ever seen.” She emphasized the important role of travel grants – also funded through the Special Projects Fund – that enabled scholars from all career stages to attend, from graduate students to junior faculty, tenure track, and emeritus. As Professor Martinez-Ebers explained, “it was a historic event with everyone from brand new graduate students to some of founders of the first Latino caucus.”

From right to left in the picture: Yanira Rivas Pineda de Melendez (PhD Candidate) Angie Bautista-Chavez (PhD Candidate) Catherine Wineinger (PhD Candidate) María Laura Veramendi García (PhD Student)

The pre-conference program was designed to make new scholars feel welcomed and to re-energize more experienced scholars. One of the events that thrilled people the most was the plenary session, where junior scholars presented on the impact of the Latino/a politics literature, each speaking about a book that “ploughed the field” in Latino politics. The junior scholars then presented awards to the authors of those books and had the opportunity to meet the scholars whose work they had been studying.

There was also a great deal of time for formal and informal networking, and organizers are excited about the promise for new collaborative research, new mentoring relationships, and for Latina/o scholars to feel more welcome at APSA.

Ronald Schmidt (California State University, Long Beach) presents during the afternoon plenary session, “Early Latino Politics Research and Its Impact Today”

In Valerie’s words, the pre-conference “laid the groundwork for the Annual Meeting to become a week of community and collaboration.”

Following the commemorative conference and under the leadership of incoming president Melissa Michelson, the caucus is working to create a new book award to recognize seminal books in Latino politics, and is looking forward to their next twenty years.

Mario Guerrero (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona)
Valerie Martinez-Ebers (University of North Texas)
Tony Affigne (Providence College)
Jessica Lavariega Monforti (California Lutheran University)
Melissa Michelson (Menlo College)