From Populism to Hip Hop - 2017 GLPASC Conference a Resounding Success

Philadelphia -  On Tuesday, April 18th, junior and senior scholars, Dr. Thea Riofrancos, keynote speaker and an expert on populism, as well as renowned Cuban hip hop artist, La Fina, convened in Perry World House for the 2017 Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Student Conference. 

 This year’s conference theme was Contemporary Approaches to Arts, Culture, and Politics. Kicking off the evening, we heard opening remarks from Dr. Elizabeth Borland, President of the Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium as well as our own Dr. Tulia Falleti, Director of Penn's Latin American and Latino Studies program.  

 Following the opening remarks, undergraduate and graduate students alike, from a number of the region’s universities and colleges including Penn, the College of New Jersey, Temple, Rutgers Camden, Bryn Mawr, St. Joseph’s University and University of Delaware presented innovative research on Latin American and Latinos in the United States. Topics included the political economy of Amazon Deforestation, ethnic cleavages and policy preferences in the Andes, public art in modern Cuba, role of media and culture in Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, and language learning and immigrant student performance in the U.S.


Dr. Thea Riofrancos, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Providence College, delivered the keynote talk entitled “The Specter of Populism: Learning the Wrong Lessons from Latin America.” Dr. Riofrancos has been engaged in a debate with scholars globally about the state and impact of populism in Latin America and the world, including the United States.


The rap artist sensation La Fina shared her story as a feminist Afrocubana rapper and the Director of “Somos Mucho Más,” the only female hip hop initiative in Cuba.  La Fina has been active in rap and hip hop for the past 15 years collaborating and organizing all rap festivals in Cuba including the 1st International Festival of Female Rap in Cuba, which she created and directed.  La Fina uses hip hop as a tool for social change, including in the fight for gender equality. 


The conference was sponsored by University of Pennsylvania’s Latin American and Latino Studies (LALS) and the Greater Philadelphia Latin American Studies Consortium (GPLASC). It is co-sponsored by Penn’s Hispanic and Portuguese Studies. La Fina’s performance was co-sponsored by a number of organizations including LALS, Penn’s Spanish and Portuguese, Center for Africana Studies, and the Iniciative Somos Muchos Más.


We would like to thank all of the students who shared their work, as well as Dr. Thea Riofrancos and La Fina! LALS was honored to co-sponsor this successful event, and we hope all who attended enjoyed. Please see below for a few photographs from the event! 


Please visit here to see photos!


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