LAS essay and research prize


2024 – The committee for the 2024 Latin American Studies Essay Prize has selected Carmen Díaz García for their essay, “Orines y flores: el erotismo abyecto y masculinidades alternativas en Resinas para Aurelia.” This was their final essay for SPAN365 (Latin American literature) taught by Dr. Tamara Mitchell. Carmen Diaz Garcia’s essay offers a nuanced and well-argued reading of the Puerto Rican author Mayra Santos-Febres’ short story “Resinas para Aurelia.” The paper analyzes the polarizing figure of Lucas, a character who engages in necrophilia that has been read by criticism as either a harmful act in line with a long history of misogyny in Puerto Rico or as a sort of alternative masculinity that demonstrates care atypical of Puerto Rican men. Carmen’s reading in dialogue with the writing of Julia Kristeva makes space to read Lucas’s actions as both a challenge to traditional forms of masculinity but also as a form of machista violence. The paper is carefully organized, excellently written and edited,  well researched and offers a model of high level academic Spanish.

2023 – The committee for the 2023 Latin American Studies Essay Prize has selected Forrest Berman-Hatch for their essay “Rights of the Individual, Reciprocity with Nature: Tensions between Liberal and Indigenous ontologies in the Latin American Rights of Nature Movement” written in POLI 332 with Dr. Maxwell Cameron in 2022W, 1. The paper offers a sharp reading of the tension that exists between anthropocentrism and biocentrism and how Indigenous ontologies are mapped or forced onto liberal frameworks. Despite an imperfect fit between individual rights and the collective interests of nature, this paper skilfully shows how a decolonial turn has begun to shape old legal paradigms. The essay focuses on Ecuador and Bolivia, two states that have, through the constitution or laws, begun to advance new socio-ecological relations.