Latinx Studies in the Midwest and Beyond Speaker Series

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Ingraham Hall, Room 206
@ 5:00 pm

Puerto Rican Studies in the Midwest, Panel I

Wednesday, September 27, 2023. 5:00 pm, Ingraham Hall 206

Our first panel on Puerto Rican studies in the Midwest focuses on Chicago, including the educational experiences of Puerto Ricans in that city, relations between Puerto Ricans and Palestinians, and migration and immigration to the city.


Sara Awartani

Position title:Assistant Professor of American Culture, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

An interdisciplinary historian, Dr. Awartani’s research, publications, and teaching focuses on twentieth-century U.S. social movements, interracial solidarities, policing, and American global power, with special attention to Latinx and Arab American radicalisms. Her first book project, Solidarities of Liberation, Visions of Empire: Puerto Rico, Palestine, and American Global Power (under contract with University of North Carolina Press) chronicles a globally expansive story of Palestine liberation, Puerto Rican radicalism, and the United States’ efforts to weaponize and police those freedom dreams.

Maura Toro-Morn

Position title:Professor of Sociology, Illinois State University

As a scholar in the fields of immigration and sociology, Dr. Toro-Morn has always been curious about why people move, how, and what are the consequences of their movements thus she has devoted a significant part of her career to studying migrations in a global perspective. She began to address the complexities of migration while researching the social class and gender dimensions of Puerto Rican migration to Chicago. She is part of a generation of scholars that has taken on that task of exploring the gender specific qualities of contemporary migrations, work that has contributed to the historicizing Latino immigration to the Midwest and to making the experiences of women immigrants across diverse geographies visible.

Mirelsie Velázquez

Position title:Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

A historian of education interested in issues of race/ethnicity, historical research in education, and gender and sexuality, Mirelsie Velázquez teaches courses on education, critical race theory, Latina feminism, oral history, and Puerto Rican Studies. Her book, Puerto Rican Chicago: Schooling the City, 1940-1977 (University of Illinois Press 2022), chronicles the Puerto Rican community’s response to the urban decay in which they were forced to live, work, and especially learn. Velázquez is completing research on the history of Black and Indigenous education in both the Oklahoma and Indian Territories, from the mid-19th century until statehood in 1907.