Campus: CSU, Los Angeles -- June 16, 2000

Cal State L.A. Students to Participate in Prestigious Smithsonian Program

Chicano Studies graduate students Adriana Aguirre (South Gate resident) and Salvador Jimenez (La Puente resident) from California State University, Los Angeles, have been selected to participate in the prestigious "Interpreting Latino Cultures: Research and Museums Seminar" program, sponsored by the Smithsonian.

Directed by Chicano Studies professor Francisco Balderrama, Aguirre's current research toward her master's thesis combines literature, art, and history to demythologize Mexicana/Chicana icons. Jimenez is exploring the history of a middle class Mexican American organization through research on the "California-Arizona Club" of East Los Angeles.

Only 12 graduate students (master's and doctoral students) were selected nationally for the program, which will take place at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. for two weeks in July 2000. The hands-on program trains participants in methods of researching and interpreting museum and archival collections and involves faculty scholars from the Smithsonian and other institutions. Transportation and housing will be provided to the students by the program. The Smithsonian Program is also supported by the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUP).

The seminar program challenges students to develop strong research skills while exploring issues of interpretation and representation of cultural materials and traditions in museums. Practicum in conducting object-based research and in accessing and using the collections of the Smithsonian, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress are key components of the program. The program also offers students an opportunity to forge relationships with a community of scholars, curators, and archivists often unavailable in their home institutions.

The two-week program aims: to introduce participating Latino graduate students to qualitative research methods, literature, and issues; to introduce participants to methods for researching, interpreting, and in some cases reinterpreting Latino history and culture; to provide access to a community of Latino scholars, curators, and archivists, who are not often available at students home institutions; and to establish networking among students and faculty presenters in order to develop some degree of professional and personal support.

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