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Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos

Newsletter of the Centro De Estudios Puertoriqueños * Spring 2010 * Volume I * Number 1

Centro Welcomes
Dr. Iris Zavala Martínez

Distinguished Lecturer and new faculty member Dr. Iris Zavala Martínez brings to Centro a wealth of experience in Puerto Rican psychosocial health, including involvement in the clinical, academic and programmatic aspects of her field, both on the island and the mainland. Dr. Zavala Martínez's major areas of interest are: subjectivity, trauma (situational, colonial), melancholia; community psychosocial health and program development; critical psychology and psychoanalysis; and writing as a therapeutic tool.

Acclaimed in her field, Dr. Zavala Martínez also is committed to a vision of social justice & participating in advocacy groups on breast cancer, producing a video on Vieques and another against the mining of Puerto Rican lands (Los Barrios se Oponen), participating in a women's NGO (Taller Salud), and serving as mentor, facilitator and consultant to various community and professional activities.

In 2008, Dr. Zavala Martínez was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Puerto Rico Psychological Association, and in 1992 she won the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program Achievement Award for Mental Health Public Service and the Puerto Rican Senate Public Mental Health Service Recognition Award.


Make The Connection...

If you haven’t attended one of Centro’s imaginative events, projects or activities, you’re missing out on enlightening, exciting, sometimes controversial, and always satisfying cultural experiences related to the Puerto Rican experience.

What exactly are you missing?

How about our Film Corner, forums on Puerto Rican films, introducing new works, artists, and producers? There is Meet the Authors, celebrating their book releases or recent publications that contribute to Puerto Rican studies, may be up your alley. Or, if you prefer, Exhibits of graphic art, photos, and historical documents telling the story of our emigration, beautifully displayed in Centro’s library. Or do our exciting Forums, focusing on history, new research, and Puerto Rican cultural trends, stimulate your interest?

Whatever your tastes, Centro is reaching out to you. And all of the events are free, open to the general public, and conveniently held in the Centro Library & Archives, on the 3rd floor of Hunter College East Building.

Attending a Centro event offers more than knowledge and entertainment. They’re a chance for you to mingle and meet others interested in the Puerto Rican experience, to introduce your friends to Centro, and even participate in projects, such as The Legacy Series: Those Who Made a Difference, audio-videos that celebrate and preserve the contributions of notable Puerto Rican pioneros. The Barrios Series focuses on the neighborhoods that are home to most mainland Puerto Ricans.

One more way to stay involved with our heritage is through this website. Schedules for all the participatory events are posted right here on – along with the latest news, requests for proposals, job information, new research, and more.

Coming soon – Voices our virtual town square featuring works of literary and graphic art, poetry, prose, and lots of commentary from folks like you.

Check us out, and check in at one of our Centro events!

Click Here for Spring 2010 Events...

Affecting Policy to Erase Disparities

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies will use an allocation of $30,000 to support 10 much-needed research studies focusing on the social conditions the Puerto Rican community faces in the States, and on the public-policy implications advanced by these studies. This research, under the auspices of the Puerto Rican Research and Policy Initiative, will support research projects addressing the social safety net, criminal justice, neighborhood change, health, and education and economic opportunity. These projects will be presented at the Public Policy Forum, which will be held by Centro in the fall of 2010 and will coincide with a special issue of the Centro Journal. That issue will highlight the policy issues raised at the conference. For more information about the initiative please visit the Centro web site.

An addition to our Collections...
“Ruperto Ruiz, Civil Rights Activist”

The Centro Library & Archives continues to grow, this time with the donation of the papers of Ruperto Ruiz, a commissioner on the New York State Commission for Human Rights under Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller. A portion of the materials, donated by his granddaughter Laura Casinelli Ruiz, has already been received at the archives. When the entire collection arrives, it will include 10 bound volumes of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and speeches, all of which serve to document Ruiz's activities and prominent role in the community.

Ruiz, a lifelong Republican, emigrated from Puerto Rico to New York City in 1923. He was active in New York City and federal political circles from the 1950s through the 1970s. Rockefeller appointed him to the commission in 1962. In 1983, Ruiz retired to Puerto Rico and died in 1989.

Centro wishes to thank Ms. Casinelli Ruiz for her thoughtful donation.

Centro Exhibit Travels to Newark

The Mission: Gilberto Concepción de Gracia and His New York Years originally on view in the Centro Gallery from July through September in 2009 will re-open at the Newark Public Library on April 29. The exhibit was curated by Centro Senior Archivist Pedro Juan Hernéndez and Concepción de Gracia's daughter, Alma. Concepción was a lawyer, journalist, author, politician and founder of the Puerto Rican Independence Party. Celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, the exhibition highlights Concepción de Gracia's years in New York City, 1936-1939, and his legal, political and civic activities and contributions.

This is the first of our archival exhibitions to travel to another institution, and we hope it will be one of many. As other venues display Centro's exhibits, it spreads the word about our institution in general and our archival holdings in particular, as well as raising the profile of the story of the Puerto Rican migration.

Centro recieves the FIPSE award for Cultural Competence Curriculum Initiative (CCCI)

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies/Centro has launched the Cultural Competence Curriculum Initiative (CCCI) with a one-year grant of $125,000 from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The FIPSE award enables Centro to work in collaboration with Hunter College’s professional schools of Social Work, Health Professions, and Education and other Hunter departments to develop a graduate-level curriculum focused on cultural competency.

We hope to promote the development of advanced academic competencies and to introduce Puerto Rican and Latino graduate students to culturally competent professional practice in social work, public health, education and other professions where they are underrepresented. Centro has already begun a review of the research and clinical literature on cultural competence. The next steps include partnership-building within the Hunter community, along with field-based professionals, practitioners and other stakeholders in institutions and organizations serving the wider Puerto Rican and Latino communities in targeted neighborhoods of New York. As part of this year’s activities, on May 6, 2010, Centro will sponsor a Conference on Cultural Competence.

Joe Conzo Photo Exhibit: Black and White and Puerto Rican All Over
While the media was focused on the desolation and difficulties of the South Bronx in the ‘70s and ‘80s, young photographer Joe Conzo was focusing – literally – on its vitality, sense of community and activism. His dynamic black and white photos of that turbulent era were on display recently in a successful show, “The Bronx: Mi Barrio, Mi Orgullo,” which opened March 11 in the Centro Library. Although best known for documenting the Hip Hop era, Conzo expressed particular pride in his early work at a joyful opening night party. Conzo has contributed five of his works to Centro.

Click here for a sideshow of the event!

Art Meets Politics at Centro Forum
Art and politics, their intersection and separation, was the subject of a lively forum March 17 sponsored by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies and 58 Gallery, Jersey City. The event, Art Against the Grid, held in the Hunter College faculty dining room, was moderated by Centro researcher Yasmin Ramírez. Works of renowned political artists Juan Sanchez, representing East Coast artists, and Favianna Rodriguez, representing the West Coast, were on display and were the center of the panel discussion.

Among the topics discussed were the divergences and overlaps between East Coast/ West Coast contemporary artistic strategies in social activism, and how global issues of mobility, immigration and dislocation were represented in their work and used to update analysis and further new critical frameworks. The event was preceded and followed by a delicious repast and time for meeting and greeting.

Click here for a sideshow of the event!

Hearing and Deaf, They Meet the Author
More than 100 visitors, both hearing and deaf, filled the faculty dining room recently to enjoy Centro researcher Dr. Andrés Torres talk about his insightful, honest, yet warm memoir, Signing in Puerto Rican: A Hearing Son and His Deaf Parents. Hunter Provost, Dr. Vita Rabinowitz, introduced Dr. Torres, at the Meet the Author event, which was signed for the audience, many of whom were members of the CUNY Coalition for Students with Disabilities. The reading was followed by a panel discussing deafness today that included Maryann Díaz, certified interpreter, Lisa Santiago, Hunter College student and Mary Bacheller, Seymour Joseph Institute for American Sign Language (ASL).

The only child of deaf Puerto Rican migrants, Dr. Torres grew up in New York City in a large, extended family that included several deaf aunts and uncles. He told loving stories, as his dad’s sign-language TV sports announcer, and stories of difficulties, such as being an adolescent and the embarrassment of accompanying his father to his doctors’ visits. Excerpts from the book, published by the Gallaudet. University Press, are available online:

Click here for a sideshow of the event!

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