Merida Rua to Present Next Talk in Annual Faculty Lecture Series

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: Noelle.Lemoine@williams.edu

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 21, 2013—Mérida M. Rúa, associate professor of Latino/a Studies and American Studies and chair of the American studies program, will present the fourth talk of the Williams College annual faculty lecture series on Thursday, Feb. 28. The lecture, titled “A Grounded Identidad: Making New Lives in Chicago’s Puerto Rican Neighborhoods,” will take place at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, Thompson Chemistry. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in Schow atrium.

From February 2001 to August 2003, Rúa rented an apartment upstairs from Caribe Funeral Home, the first Puerto Rican-owned funeral home in Chicago, where members of the Puerto Rican community came on a daily basis to gossip, to reminisce, and to enjoy each other’s company. At wakes, family and friends would engage in lively debates about whether a life had been a success or failure, hence, about the values and experiences of the community itself.

Rúa’s presentation will explore the ways in which Puerto Ricans in the diaspora have understood, negotiated, and challenged their location and rights within U.S. political and social structures. Through an analysis of reflections on community life by individuals visiting and/or paying respect to the dead and the living in a Chicago funeral home, her presentation sheds light on how an ethno-racial group navigates the boundaries of inclusion. Rúa’s examination of community life focuses on how commemorations, the sharing and making of memories, influence the social and political dimensions of identity.

Rúa’s areas of expertise include urban history and ethnography, migration and social networks, identity and community formation, and U.S. Latina/o studies. She has taught courses on Latina/o identities, urban studies, and the issues of home and belonging. She is the editor of Latino Urban Ethnography and the Work of Elena Padilla (University of Illinois Press, 2011). She has written numerous journal articles, including “Processing Latinidad: Mapping Latino Urban Landscapes through Chicago Ethnic Festivals” in Latino Studies, which she co-authored in 2007.

Rúa received tenure from Williams in 2010. She received her B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1993 and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2004.

The Faculty Lecture Series will continue on March 7 with a lecture by Brent Heeringa, associate professor of computer science, titled “When Pretty Good is Good Enough: A Tour of Approximation Graphics.”

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