Faculty Member’s Study of Social Mobility in Brazil to Receive NSF Funding

Benjamin Junge, associate professor in the departments of anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean studies, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $138,492 to fund a three-year investigation into the effects of a rapid expansion of the Brazilian middle class.

Ben Junge

Benjamin Junge

Beginning this fall, Junge and two co-investigators (Sean Mitchell of Rutgers University and Charles Klein of Portland State University) will be conducting a comparative anthropological study with residents of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Recife, collecting information about individual Brazilians through methods known as community ethnography and participant observation.

“We’ll be using these classic methods in anthropology, not just observing like a fly on the wall but actually getting involved,” Junge said. “We want to spend time with people and get to know them, to study class mobility from the vantage point of everyday life. This should allow us to answer questions about what the emergence of this middle class means for democracy and citizenship in Brazil.”

The researchers will focus their efforts on specific neighborhoods and take an active role in gathering data, conducting formal household surveys as well as more informal interviews and conversations with participants in an effort to better understand their lifestyles, the challenges they face and the goals that drive them.

The goal of the study is to assess and articulate the political and social identities forming among the nearly 40 million Brazilians who, thanks in large part to the world’s largest state-sponsored conditional cash transfer program, have risen out of poverty over the last 10 to 15 years.

Junge, who will work primarily in the city of Recife, will make multiple trips to Brazil over the course of the project, with the first scheduled for January 2016.

His work will get underway this fall, however, in his “Cultures of Brazil” course, where he and his students will consider how increased access to personal transportation, modern technologies and a wider range of consumer goods are impacting Brazilian ways of life. They will also analyze advertising campaigns, governmental documents, policy reports and other public discourses targeting the growing Brazilian middle class that have appeared in the nation’s media over the last few years.

Junge previously conducted research into Brazilian society in his graduate work at Emory University. This fall, he will assume the directorship of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies program.

More information about funding opportunities for faculty research is available through the Office of Sponsored Programs.

LA&S Outstanding Graduates Honored

Students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who excelled academically and outside of the classroom were among graduates honored during the campus-wide Outstanding Graduate Awards ceremony, held Thursday, Dec. 11 in the Multi-Purpose Room.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Philip Mauceri presented the students with certificates.

Congratulations to all LA&S Outstanding Graduates:

Alexis Moody

Asian Studies
Dennis Gross

Mia Faske
Carly Rome
Hayley Ward

Communication Disorders
Sarah McNamara
Shayna Burgess
Heidi Schmidt (Graduate)

Digital Media and Journalism
Gianna Canevari
Julio Olivencia
Alexandria Fontanez*

Maya Slouka
James Frauenberger
Karissa Keir
Danielle Brown (Graduate)

Kevin Vogelaar
Jessica Pierorazio (Graduate)
Jonathan Mandia*

Languages, Literatures & Cultures
Alexandria Fontanez*
Sarah Walling

Latin American & Caribbean Studies
Adam Repose

Elizabeth Saunders
Jonathan Mandia*

Political Science/International Relations
Andrew Roepe

Hannah Lake
Stefany Batista
Geoffrey Ralls
Morgan Gleason (Graduate)

Sarah Alestalo
Imuetinyan Odigie
Allison Smalley

Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Sudies
Emily Holmes

*Received multiple departmental awards.

Day of the Dead Celebration on Oct. 31

Day of the DeadThe annual Day of the Dead celebration will be held Friday, Oct. 31, from 1-3 p.m. in a new location:  the Old Main Quad.

Attendees are invited to join in the making of the Day of the Dead altar (ofrenda).  Hot Mexican chocolate and Day of the Dead bread will be served.

The event is sponsored by the Center for International Programs, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program; Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Spanish Conversation Table, Major Connections, Latin American Student Union, Latino Cultural Center, Latino Week and Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Cognitive Science Colloquium Series Begins with Sign Language Lecture

Coppola field photo 2

Dr. Marie Coppola conducts field work to promote equal access to language and education for deaf individuals.

Dr. Marie Coppola will be the first speaker of the 2014-2015 Cognitive Science Colloquium Series. Dr. Coppola is the director of the Language Creation Lab at the University of Connecticut. Her research investigates how sign languages emerge and are created in communities. Her talk will focus on homesign gesture systems (that is, gesture systems developed by deaf individuals who are not exposed to conventional sign or spoken language input), their characteristics, and the developmental consequences of linguistic deprivation with respect to other aspects of cognition.

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Dr. Coppola

Dr. Coppola’s talk, titled “Which aspects of language and cognition depend on linguistic input? Insights from homesign gesture systems” will take place on Thursday, October 23, at 3:30 pm in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium. The talk is sponsored by Campus Auxiliary Services and by the following programs and departments: Linguistics, Deaf Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Communication Disorders, and Psychology.

Abstract of the Talk:

Researchers in the cognitive sciences have long debated the relationships between linguistic input and language structure, as well as the relationships between language and cognition. Homesign systems offer a unique window into these relationships. Homesigns are gesture systems developed by deaf individuals who are not exposed to conventional sign or spoken language input. Homesign systems exhibit a number of linguistic properties, but appear to lack others, which depend on access to a linguistic model and/or interaction within a language community. Dr. Coppola will show that homesign systems have structure at a variety of levels of linguistic analysis, including phonology and discourse structure. Dr. Coppola will describe some of the developmental consequences of linguistic (but not social) deprivation, particularly with respect to number cognition. Finally, she will discuss her work with Manos Unidas (www.manos-unidas.org), a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote equal access to language and education for deaf individuals in Nicaragua.

LA&S Summer Internship Scholarships

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce scholarships to support low-paying or unpaid summer internships for students.  For summer 2014 we will offer two or three $1,000 awards.  This program is supported by generous contributions from SUNY New Paltz parents, alumni, and friends to the LA&S Dean’s Fund.

These are merit-based awards that take into account the student’s GPA, the quality of the internship, the relevance of the internship to the student’s academic major and educational goals, and the relevance of the internship to the student’s future career.


  • Applicants should be majors in a department or program within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Applicants should have a 3.3 or higher cumulative G.P.A.
  • Preference will be given to students in their junior year; seniors who will graduate in May or August 2014 are not eligible for this award.
  • The internship cannot be with a business or organization run by a family member, relative, or close family friend.

To apply, students should submit the following:

  • A 300-500 word description of the internship and its relation to the student’s academic major, educational goals, and career plans
  • A resume
  • An academic transcript with cumulative G.P.A.
  • Two letters of recommendation from faculty

Applications should be sent to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, JFT 614.  Deadline for applications is May 7, 2014.  Awards will be announced on May 15, 2014.

Free Hearing Test for Students, Faculty & Staff

DSC03877Hearing loss is a very common problem that can significantly affect an individual’s ability to communicate. The Speech Language and Hearing Center (SLHC) here on campus provides full audiological evaluations at no cost for students, faculty and staff.  The evaluation takes approximately one hour and will be performed by a nationally and state certified audiologist. If you are interested, please call 257-3600 to make an appointment.

Statistics on Hearing Loss:

  • About 20 percent of adults in the United States, 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss.
  • 60 percent of the people with hearing loss are either in the work force or in educational settings.
  • At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss.
  • About 2-3 of every 1,000 children are hard of hearing or deaf
  • Estimated that 30 school children per 1,000 have a hearing loss.

Source: John Hopkins Medicine

Latin American Economics Speaker Series Begins

The Department of Economics and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program present the first in a series of talks on Latin American Economics on Tuesday, March 4 at 5 p.m. in the Honors Center.

Economics Lecturer Franciso Martinez-Hernandez will speak on the topic, “Income Distribution and Economic Growth in Mexico: Vulnerabilities and Challenges in the Development Process.”

Students are encouraged to attend.

First World Diasporas of Color Undergraduate Conference Announces Call for Papers

Students are invited to participate in the First World Diasporas of Color Undergraduate Conference, held April 25-26 at the State University of New York at Geneseo.

This year’s conference theme is, “Global(izing) Identities and Migration across Diasporas of Colors.” Students are invited to present papers or posters that are concerned with all issues relevant to the diasporas of color in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States. Presenters may offer scholarly research or participate in panel discussions from all academic disciplines and social sectors.

To be considered, students must submit a 150-word abstract and short biographical statement by Tuesday, Feb. 25.  Submissions should be made online, at www.diasporas_of_color.geneseo.edu.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Crossing color lines across the diaspora
  • Documents and artifacts of protest
  • Economic development and empowerment
  • Environmental justice issues
  • Forceful relocations
  • Human rights issues
  • Internal exile and diasporas
  • Iroquoia
  • Literary and other artistic interpretations
  • Media representations
  • Migration and immigration
  • Nation languages, creolized cultures and genres
  • Non-violent vs. militant approaches
  • Politics and activism
  • Prisons
  • Race and identity across the diaspora
  • Refugee and stateless groups
  • Religion
  • Revolutionary models
  • Role of African/Black, Americana, Asian, Latin American and/or Transatlantic Studies
  • Social media/technologies as tools for change
  • Transnational adoptions and identity
  • Using language as a subversive tool
  • Voices of first-nation peoples

The conference is sponsored by the State University of New York at Geneseo Departments of English, History and Languages and Literatures, and by the Africana Studies, Americana, Asian Studies and Latin American Studies Programs, in collaboration with the State University of New York at New Paltz’s Black Studies Department and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.

For more information, contact Dr. Rose McEwen at mcewen@geneseo.edu.

Video Screening and Conversation with Visual Artist Liliana Porter

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures will host a video screening and conversation with acclaimed visual artist Liliana Porter on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the Coykendall Science Building Auditorium.

Porter is an Argentinean artist who has resided in New York for many years. In her work, she places found objects in different situations, constructing small “vignettes” that endow things with an interiority and identity, inviting and activating the spectators’ curiosity and desire. Porter’s work with these objects invites us to think about the role of the gaze in contemporary material culture, interrogates our relationship with commodities and plays with our different notions of value.

During her long and prolific trajectory, Porter has used and moved swiftly thorough different media—printmaking, works on canvas, photography, video, installations or public art projects. Her work has been commented on profusely in Latin American cultural criticism and is represented in many important collections, such as the TATE Modern Collection, London, UK; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The event is co-sponsored by the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program and Campus Auxiliary Studies.

Liliana Porter