Joe Baez, IRT ‘18 talks about his research and upcoming presentation this May in Mexico at the LASA 2020 Conference.
What is LASA?
LASA is the Latin American Studies Association. This year’s conference is titled Améfrica Ladina: Vinculando Mundos y Saberes, Tejiendo Esperanzas. Améfrica Ladina is a reinterpretation of the term “Latin America” that centers African and mestizo groups in the region. The terms that come after the colon translate to: Linking Worlds and Knowledge, Weaving Hope. The conference will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico from May 13th to May 16th.
How did you learn about LASA?
I learned about LASA through networking. In 2017 and 2018, I presented at the Borderlands Graduate Symposium. This symposium was hosted by the Sociology department at the University of Connecticut. In 2018, my presentation took place in UConn’s Rainbow Center. Their Rainbow Center is a space for LGBTQIA students, staff, and faculty. After my presentation was over, I was invited to give a guest lecture at the Rainbow Center. This lecture was part of a lecture series called “Out to Lunch,” in which the Center invited scholars to present contemporary, interdisciplinary LGBTQ scholarship. After this talk, I received a private message on LinkedIn by a colleague I met at UConn throughout the years. She had a colleague at Columbia University who was organizing a panel at LASA 2020, and invited me to present on it.
Why did you seek to present at LASA?
I accepted this invitation because it is completely out of my element. I do not have the greatest familiarity with Latin American Studies, and this is both intimidating and exciting. Participating in LASA 2020 can be fruitful for me because I am Dominican, and because my research interests are about queer, fat people of color. I see LASA 2020 as an opportunity to listen in on conversations about Latinx identities that I have not always been a part of, both as a scholar and as an Afro-Latinx person.
What will you be presenting on at LASA 2020?
For LASA 2020, I will be presenting a more developed form of my research. My undergraduate thesis is titled “In My Dreams, I Am Being Held”: Queer, Fat People of Color’s Experiences on Online Dating Applications.” I will be presenting this research with revised questions and new evidence that I will be collecting this semester.
How is this work related to your PhD studies?
In my coursework, I am required to take a research seminar every Spring semester. Coming out of my first semester of coursework, I am formulating a new research questions about sexual stigmas that are ascribed to queer, fat people of color. In order to best prepare for my research seminar, and for LASA 2020, I will be shifting my project to examine sexual stigmas, with a specific focus on queer, fat, Latinx, and specifically Afro-Latinx, people. In summary, this upcoming conference presentation is an opportunity to explore a new topic within my research and a more specific group of people.
Why is this research/presentation significant for you/your discipline?
This presentation is important for me because it will allow me to participate in a field I am not directly affiliated with. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in American Studies, and my closest affiliation is with Women’s and Gender Studies and Fat Studies. LASA 2020 will be an opportunity to network and workshop my research with scholars who I may not always be in conversation with. Additionally, there is a possibility our panel may produce a publication after LASA 2020, which is highly promising. Also, I have never been to Mexico. And I am excited for the trip.