María Elena Cepeda to Discuss Depictions of Colombians in Media

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., February 18, 2019—María Elena Cepeda, professor of Latina/o studies, will present “Latina Feminist Moments of Recognition: A U.S. Colombiana Encounter with Bomba Estéreo’s ‘Soy Yo’” as part of the annual Williams College Faculty Lecture Series. The lecture will take place on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 4:15 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, with a reception to follow in the Schow Atrium. This event is free and open to the public.

Cepeda researches and teaches in multiple disciplines, including the intersection of gender and ethno-racial identity in transnational Latina/o media and popular culture. Her work focuses specifically on the digressive features of social media, popular music, and media audience dynamics. Cepeda is the author of the book Musical ImagiNation: U.S. Colombian Identity and the “Latin Music Boom” (NYU Press, 2010) and co-edited The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media (Routledge, 2016). She is co-editing a special edition of the journal Latino Studies and authoring a new book Brand Colombia: Gender and Transnational Media Narratives of Global Colombianidad.

Cepeda’s lecture draws from her current book project, which centers on the broadly disseminated hashtag #ItsColombiaNOTColumbia and its related beauty queen memes, the recent viral music video “Soy yo” by Bogotá-based musical group Bomba Estéreo, and popular memes featuring feminist reworkings of Colombian reggaetón star Maluma’s lyrics. These transnational media narratives are the focus of her current project Brand Colombia which interrogates a Colombian media audience caught in the middle of state efforts to ‘re-brand’ Colombia.

Cepeda contends that the tragically violent era of narcotic trafficking made infamous by Pablo Escobar and the Cali cartel mires the way media depicts Colombians. Brand Colombia uncovers the origins, gravity, and impact of this culture industry constructed by the Pablo Escobar narrative, and spotlights the nation’s gendered re-branding efforts. The project also emphasizes how media serves as a daily expression of submerged anxieties about Colombian identity and gender under neoliberalism.

Cepeda earned her B.A. from Kenyon College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

About the Faculty Lecture Series

The Faculty Lecture Series was founded in 1911 by Catherine Mariotti Pratt, the spouse of a faculty member who wanted to “relieve the tedium of long New England winters with an opportunity to hear Williams professors talk about issues that really mattered to them.” From these humble and lighthearted beginnings, the Faculty Lecture Series has grown to become an important forum for tenured professors to share their latest research with the larger intellectual community of the college.

The series will continue on Feb. 28, Guy Hedreen, Amos Lawrence Professor of Art, will present “The Origin of Species in Empedocles and the Visual Representation of Monsters: A Tale of Two Theories.”

For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at