MSSU Mexico Semester

Lectures and Presentations

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Watercolors of Mexico  Watercolors of Mexico
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday
Aug. 29 through Sept. 23, 2005
Spiva Art Gallery on campus
Admission: free

Fifty watercolors by artists from Morelia, Mexico were on exhibit. Subjects of the paintings range from landscape to figures done in a variety of styles; all are colorful and fresh. Maestro Eugenio Altamirano Gamino, artist and teacher with 40 years of experience, and his student Ruben Chavez Rivera organized the exhibit. They both currently reside and work in Morelia.

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Reading, Revolution, Modernity in Mexico: The Meanings of Literacy
10:00 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Danny Anderson

Reading, especially literary reading, has particular social meanings in Mexico. Before the 1910 revolution, during a belle époque of elite splendor, reading marked divisive class differences that led to a decade of civil wars. After the revolution, the new state employed literacy campaigns and publication programs in order to unite the nation and create a new generation of readers. This presentation examined the social meanings of literary reading and literacy from the 1890s through the 1940s, emphasizing in particular ethnographer and novelist Francisco Rojas González’s La negra Angustias [The Mulatta Angustias] (1944) as a fictional work that synthesizes the dynamics of this turbulent period.

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Tlatelolco: Cultural Memory and the Mexican Student Movement of 1968
11:00 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Danny Anderson

On October 2, 1968, days before the inauguration of the Olympic games, the Mexican student movement culminated in a violent tragedy. The state dramatically revealed its repressive force, and the death of students in Mexico City’s Plaza of the Three Cultures, also known as Tlatelolco, became a watershed historical moment. This presentation reviewed the movement and the role of subsequent writings about it as a practice of cultural memory that seeks to heal the scars of this traumatic event. Particular attention was given to journalist and novelist Elena Poniatowska's chronicle Massacre in Mexico (1971).

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Postmodern Politics and Mexican Development
9:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 9, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Patrick Peritore

Mexico has tried distinct models of development, dependent development during the Porfiato 1870-1910, import substitution under some 70 years of PRI dominance, and is now working on Post-Fordist export promotion from regional centers. But Mexico lacks the technostructure, financing, and corporate-government-university linkages to succeed in becoming a global player in this new economy. The biotechnology industry will be the major example of this problematic.

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Mexico's Environmental Politics
11:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 9, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Patrick Peritore

Mexico has one of the most fragile and unique ecologies in the world and is being endangered by the export economy they must convert to as required by the global economy. This talk detailed the ecological crisis that Mexico faces and the response that governing elites are making to these problems.

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Class in Mexican History and Culture
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Víctor M. Macías-González

This lecture covered Mexico’s social class structure — one of the most stratified in Latin America — and explored its cultural, racial, and historical roots. How do Mexicans today construct their class identities? How does consumption interact with race and ethnicity in class discourse of decencia (propriety)? What is the role of etiquette in Mexican society? Special emphasis was given to the modern period (1867 to the present), noting how despite the country’s modernization, there are interests and patterns that persist from the late colonial period.

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Gender and Sexuality in Mexican History and Culture
1:00 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Víctor M. Macías-González

Foreigners’ stereotypes of Mexican national characteristics have been based on observations of the gender binary of the hypermasculine male — the macho — and the chaste, honorable, virgin maiden. Until recently, analysis of gender excluded homosexuality, which scholars have increasingly identified as playing a greater role in the elaboration of discourse about the nation. The lecture analyzed how gender creates order in Mexican society, focusing on how ideas about gender evolved in Mexico over the early national (1750-1867) and modern period (1867 to the present), and how these created a sexual system different from that observed in the U.S.

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Gockel International Symposium: U.S.-Mexico Relations: From Drugs & Thugs to a More Strategic Partnership
9:30 a.m. Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Taylor Performing Arts Center
Admission: free
Speaker: Armand Peschard-Sverdrup

The U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship covers a multitude of issues ranging from trade, immigration, border security, energy, drug-trafficking, and trans-boundary water management; with each issue having its own distinct impact on both countries. The management of the relationship has become even more complicated as a result of Mexico’s evolving democratic governance. Given how integrated our two countries are, it is vital that we develop a more sophisticated understanding of our neighbor to the South.

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Medium-size Powers and Multilateral Action: The Case of Mexico (first presentation)
7:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Loretta Bondì

Loretta Bondì describes Mexico as a case study of how a medium-sized power could shape and ameliorate domestic and international policies through multilateral cooperation. Moreover, the experiment of President Vicente Fox’s early foreign policy team offers important lessons on the dialectic tension between idealism and pragmatism in public policy-making. The speech examines Mexico’s progress over two crucial items and tests of the government’s foreign policy agenda: active participation in United Nations institutions, particularly the U.N. Security Council at the time of the debate over Iraq, and Mexico’s foreign and security policy centerpiece: the promotion of human rights. It wraps up the analysis of the multilateral dimension of Mexico’s efforts by chronicling and describing Mexico’s contribution to the definition of a new security concept for the Americas.

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Mexican Politics: Countdown to the 2006 Presidential Elections (second presentation)
7:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Armand Peschard-Sverdrup

After 71 years of single-party rule, the Mexican electorate took the bold step in 2000 of voting opposition candidate Vicente Fox into office. It was an historic election, which brought about many unprecedented political changes. While Mexicans were praised for their courage in embracing democratic change, have they become disappointed with its outcome? Has the Fox Administration been able to deliver on its promise of change? And how will that impact the upcoming 2006 elections?

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Maya History: Culture Origins to Spanish Conquest
10:00 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: Free
Speaker: Christopher Powell

This presentation by Christopher Powell discussed the culture history of the ancient Maya from their archaic origins, through the classic age of mighty kings, and into the Spanish contact period. The story of how the Maya rose up out of the lowland rain forests of Mesoamerica as independent city states, and how that lack of central authority contributed to the famous “Maya Collapse” was a key part of the presentation. This lecture provided the cultural background for the subsequent talks presented by Powell and Dr. Edwin Barnhart.

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Maya Calendar Systems
1:00 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: Free
Speaker: Dr. Edwin Barnhart

Interest in the Maya calendar has increased dramatically over the last decade, though many misconceptions now float about in books published by self proclaimed “maya prophets.” This presentation by Dr. Barnhart separated fiction from fact by discussing the origins and mechanics of the Maya calendar system. By the end of the Classic Period, the Maya were using as many as eight separate cycles to record a single historical date. Attendees of this presentation learned why scholars say the Maya calendar was the most elaborate and elegant time recording system ever created in the ancient times.

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Maya Archaeoastronomy
11:00 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: Free
Speaker: Christopher Powell

This presentation by Christopher Powell explained what scholars currently know about the astronomy skills of the ancient Maya. Attendants learned why the Maya have the reputation as the finest astronomers of the ancient New World. Temples aligned to the Sun, ancient books recording planetary cycles, and even a Maya system for predicting eclipses were discussed. In addition, brand new archaeoastronomy research being conducted at the ruins of Palenque was presented.

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Literary Lions Book Club
6:30 p.m., Sept. 22, Oct. 6, Oct. 20, 2005
University Java Coffee Shop in Spiva Library
Cost: $25 (includes book and refreshments)

The Literary Lions Book Club read the novel Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros. Caramelo is the fictional history of a Mexican-American family.

Caramelo is narrated by Lala Reyes, the youngest of seven children in a Mexican-American family living in Chicago. Each summer, the family makes a pilgrimage to Lala’s grandparents’ home in Mexico. Lala not only recounts the story of the trips and her adventures on both sides of the border, but also tells the story of her grandparents’ lives.

With all the lies and embellishments added, however, the true story may never be known. Caramelo is a novel that celebrates and castigates both cultures, yet is infused with warmth and humanity.

Dr. Eugene Berger, assistant professor of history at MSSU, was the guest speaker at the Sept. 22 meeting.

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The Tomb of Pakal: Great King of the Ancient Maya
10:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 23, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: Free
Speaker: Dr. Edwin Barnhart

This presentation by Dr. Barnhart told the fascinating story of one of the greatest kings in Maya history, Lord Hanab Pakal of Palenque. Found covered in jewels and sealed within a 20-ton stone sarcophagus, his tomb remains one of the most incredible archaeological finds in the New World. The tomb’s 1952 discovery, its importance in world history, and the long road to discovering its occupant’s true identity were all discussed during this presentation.

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Maya Sacred Geometry
11:00 a.m., Friday, Sept. 23, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: Free
Speaker: Christopher Powell

This presentation discussed an exciting new line of research on what is being called “Maya Sacred Geometry.” Based on Christopher Powell’s own original research, it explained how, like the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, the Maya used proportions derived from nature in their art and architecture. Decades of research have failed to produce a Maya “unit of measure” and now Powell’s research finally explained why. Evidence for a still surviving tradition of Maya geometry was also presented.

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Marketing in Mexico: Why the Differences are Critical
10:00 a.m., Monday, Sept. 26, 2005
Cornell Auditorium in Matthews Hall
Admission: free
Speakers: Dr. Robert Hoover and Dr. Marye Tharp

A discussion of how and where Mexicans shop and how their produce usage differs from Americans. Also, advertising to Mexicans was discussed, including how this differs from methods used in the U.S.

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Doing Business in Mexico
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26, 2005
Billingsly Student Center, Room 310
Admission: $10
Speakers: Dr. Robert Hoover and Dr. Marye Tharp

Dr. Marye Tharp and Dr. Robert Hoover, joined by Cory Simek, program officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce, discussed the demographic, political, religious, and economic outlooks of Mexico; important differences in business language used in various regions of Mexico; the “do’s and don’ts” related to cultural and professional aspects; the success factors in differentiating, pricing, distributing, promoting and labeling your product or service; E-commerce — Mexico’s ability to support electronic commerce; and much more. Sponsored by the Missouri Southern International Trade and Quality Center, the seminar included a networking luncheon.

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¿(Un)Friendly Neighbors? U.S.-Mexican Relations in Historical Perspective: Understanding the Differences of Proximity
11:00 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005
Justice Center Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. John Chuchiak IV

The border between the United States and Mexico represents the greatest division between the standards of living that exists between two neighboring countries. Although U.S.-Mexican relations have been largely negatively characterized by border disputes, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration, a new era of U.S.-Mexican relations is only now beginning. What was once a relationship easily dominated by the United States is now developing into a bilateral relationship of increasing importance to both nations.

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Hernan Cortes and the Aztec Conquest: The Making of Mexico
2:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2005
Webster Hall 223
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. John Chuchiak IV

Dr. Chuchiak spoke to Dr. Larry Cebula’s Conquest of Mexico class. Other interested students were invited to attend.

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Mexico: Our Distant Neighbor
9:00 a.m., Monday, Oct. 10, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Winfield J. Burggraaff

From the 1940s through the 1960s, Mexico was seen by many as providing a model for Third World political and economic development. Unprecedented political stability was accompanied by rapid economic growth and impressive overall modernization. From the 1970s on, however, Mexico seemed to lose its way, as Mexican and outside observers became increasingly critical of its heavy-handed authoritarianism, pervasive corruption, and persisting poverty. The defeat of the ruling party — PRI — in 2000 and election of the charismatic Vicente Fox seemed to signal a new era of democratic openness and neoliberal economic reforms. Yet, on the eve of the 2006 election, Mexico stays mired in political scandal, lawlessness, bloody drug warfare on our very
border, and continuing huge flows of migratory workers — legal and illegal — into our country.

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Young and Living Large in Mexico City
10:00 a.m., Monday, Oct. 10, 2005
Cornell Auditorium in Matthews Hall
Admission: free
Speaker: Daniel Catllá Canedo

 

A graduate of the University of Kansas described what it is like to pursue a job with a large corporation in Mexico. He shared his tale of joy, pain, and suffering along with the highs, the lows, the perils, and the perquisites. For students wanting to work abroad after graduation, his insight proved to be invaluable.

 

Daniel Catllá Canedo, a 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas, is an analyst for NewellRubbermaid.

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Trouble on Our Border: Mexico and the U.S. at the Turn of the 21st Century
11:00 a.m., Monday, Oct. 10, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Winfield J. Burggraaff

 

Professor Burggraaff presented data that support the position that Mexico is a true leader of the Third World and has a position of great strategic and economic importance in the Americas. He then turned to other data that reveal the ugly underbelly of contemporary Mexico. In order, he looked at persisting poverty and income inequality corrupt authoritarianism, population pressures, and environmental degradation. Finally, he addressed two issues that bedevil U.S.-Mexican relations: the seemingly unmanageable flow of illegal immigrants and drugs north across our 1,800 mile border.

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Culture Shock: A Perspective on the Mexican/American Dream
11:00 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Guillermo DeLeon

 

A look at the various aspects of the Mexican/American Dream — cultural differences, religion, success, history, education, and family — and its effect on the Obra Mitologica. The history of Mexican theatre, “La Llorona,” and tacos also was discussed.

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What Difference did the Mexican Revolution Make?: Official and Revisionist Interpretations
9:00 a.m., Friday, Oct. 21, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Andrew Wood

 

Citizens and scholars have debated the “legacy” of the Mexican Revolution for decades. Now nearly 100 years later, Professor Wood discussed the major interpretations of the revolution as they developed over the course of the 20th century and consider how the centennial celebration will be observed.

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Marketing Mexican Popular Culture for the 21st Century: Tradition and Traditionalism
11:00 a.m., Friday, Oct. 21, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. Andrew Wood

 

From the images of Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo to Day of the Dead calendars, rock stars Café Tacuba and the ubiquitous taco and enchilada plate, Mexican popular culture has gone international in recent decades. In this presentation, Dr. Wood surveyed some key trends in the world export of Mexican culture and ask how this process has led to changes in the perception and status of the Mexican people.

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Songs of Passion and Strife
9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005
Webster Hall Auditorium
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. John McDowell

 

Dr. John McDowell introduced the remarkable song repertoire of Mexico’s Costa Chica, featuring a living ballad tradition that tells the history of the region from a grassroots perspective, in this concert/lecture.

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Poetry and Violence in the Ballads of Mexico's Costa Chica
1:00 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005
Cornell Auditorium in Matthews Hall
Admission: free
Speaker: Dr. John McDowell

 

Professor McDowell looked at three models of this linkage between poetry and violence, using the Costa Chica ballad tradition as a real-world laboratory. He takes up the theme of poetry and violence and how they are intertwined in Mexico’s corrido tradition.

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The Influence of Mathematics on Mayan Culture
3:00 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, 2005
Reynolds Hall 232
Admission: Free

Jenny M. Peters
Senior Honors Presentation
Project Supervisor: Dr. Linda Hand

 

In keeping with the Mexico semester, this presentation will focus on the influence of mathematics in the architecture of the Mayan culture of Mexico and Central America. The central topics of this thesis will be:

 

  1. The use of the golden section and other ratios as units of measure;
  2. The alignment of buildings, doorways and other passages with important astronomical events; and
  3. The differences between the use of mathematics in Mayan architecture and the use of mathematics in modern architecture.

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