ROMS Letter of Opposition to the Board of Trustees’ Proposal on the Confederate Monument

December 17, 2018

ROMS Letter of Opposition to the Board of Trustees’ Proposal on the Confederate Monument

We the following members of the Department of Romance Studies and affiliated students, faculty, staff, and alumni express our opposition to the proposal made Monday, December 3rd by the University administration to build an educational center to house the Confederate monument on campus. We find any solution that involves putting the Confederate monument back on the University campus unacceptable, and we call on the administration to take a strong position against the return of the Confederate monument to campus rather than continuing to treat its return as a viable option. As one of the largest departments on campus in terms of undergraduate instruction, we strive to create a university atmosphere that encourages engaged and enthusiastic learning. We thus oppose the presence of a monument on campus that serves as a reminder to many of our students of historical and current violence and oppression. It further endangers all of our students, particularly our minority students, by attracting white supremacists to our campus and growing police presence which has already led to increasing incidents of police brutality against students.

We would also encourage the administration to adopt a policy not to punish the graduate students and other instructors who are protesting this proposal, including those that protest by withholding their final grades. Further, we ask that the administration actively seek to dialogue regularly with student organizers about the future of the Confederate monument. Throughout the administration’s deliberations about the Confederate monument, before and since it was removed from campus, they have failed to properly take into account the outcry from students and faculty about the continued presence of the Confederate monument on the UNC campus. The University administration has continuously failed to enter into meaningful conversation with students and faculty about the Confederate monument, and has additionally failed to dialogue with members of the community located close to the proposed site for the educational center. We urge them to respond to the calls from those who would be most directly affected by the University’s proposed plan—the students, faculty, and staff as well as other community members close to the campus—rather than giving into pressure from the Board of Governors to consider returning the statue to campus.

We find the explanation that the Confederate monument cannot legally be removed from campus to be insufficient. We as a university have an obligation to take a moral stance on this issue, and to stand together against white supremacy. Legal technicalities or interpretations of the current statute are not worth endangering the physical and mental wellbeing of our students, who will continue to suffer as they have suffered in the past if the Confederate monument is returned to campus. The project for an educational center as proposed by the administration goes against the wishes of the campus community, acts contrary to the interests of our students, and represents an enormous financial commitment from the University that would be better used to fix existing problems such as building disrepair and lack of faculty.


Congratulations to André Keiji Kunigami

October 25, 2018

André Keiji Kunigami received his doctorate in Asian studies from Cornell University. He is a film and media scholar whose interests revolve around questions of perception, spectatorship, and temporality in the early 20th century so-called peripheral spaces to the “West.” At Carolina, he will work on revising his dissertation “Of Clouds and Bodies: Film and the Dislocation of Vision in Brazilian and Japanese Interwar Avant-garde” into a book manuscript. Before joining the University as a Carolina Postdoctoral Fellow, Keiji taught history of Brazilian and world cinema at the Fluminense Federal University.



Carolina has selected five postdoctoral scholars as 2018-20 Faculty Diversity Fellows. They are:

  • André Keiji Kunigami, Romance studies;
  • Jacob Lau, women’s and gender studies;
  • Sarah Mills, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center/Gillings School of Global Public Health;
  • Danielle Purifoy, geography; and
  • Annette Rodriguez, American studies.

The fellows receive paid two-year postdoctoral positions in their selected departments, additional funds for research, professional development and networking opportunities and a unique opportunity to work closely with a faculty mentor in their discipline.

The University launched the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity in 1983 as part of a continuing commitment to building a culturally diverse intellectual community and advancing scholars from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in higher education.



ROMS Silent Sam Statement

August 30, 2018

We thank our colleagues in the Department of English and Comparative Literature for their permission to adapt their statement on the toppling of the statue for our own department.

Related links:

Statement of Malinda Maynor Lowery, Director of the Center for the Study of the American South

“Silent Sam” illustrated history created by Professor Jim Leloudis and University Historian Cecelia Moore

Wilson Library’s Guide to Researching Silent Sam

Recent History of the Debate on Silent Sam–group-4

Julian Carr’s dedication speech, which is archived in Wilson Library, UNC (Click on Scans 93-112)

Transcription of the speech here:

Description of the Monument on DocSouth

UNC’s FAQ on Silent Sam and other then-current campus issues (September 13, 2017)

Congratulations to Dr. Oswaldo Estrada for his new book!

August 21, 2018


In Troubled Memories, Oswaldo Estrada traces the literary and cultural representations of several iconic Mexican women produced in the midst of neoliberalism, gender debates, and the widespread commodification of cultural memory. He examines recent fictionalizations of Malinche, Hernán Cortés’s indigenous translator during the Conquest of Mexico; Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the famous Baroque intellectual of New Spain; Leona Vicario, a supporter of the Mexican War of Independence; the soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution; and Frida Kahlo, the tormented painter of the twentieth century. Long associated with gendered archetypes and symbols, these women have achieved mythical status in Mexican culture and continue to play a complex role in Mexican literature. Focusing on contemporary novels, plays, and chronicles in connection to films, television series, and corridos of the Mexican Revolution, Estrada interrogates how and why authors repeatedly recreate the lives of these historical women from contemporary perspectives, often generating hybrid narratives that fuse history, memory, and fiction. In so doing, he reveals the innovative and sometimes troublesome ways in which authors can challenge or perpetuate gendered conventions of writing women’s lives.

“A leading scholar on gender and literature, Oswaldo Estrada delivers a thorough, rigorous, and exciting account on the persistence of female icons in contemporary culture. Steeped in his deep knowledge of Mexico’s cultural history, Estrada’s book is a key contribution to questions of gender, iconicity, and the interrelations between popular and literary culture—a must read for scholars and students.” — Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado, author of Strategic Occidentalism: On Mexican Fiction, the Neoliberal Book Market, and the Question of World Literature

“By studying the way some of the most prominent female Mexican icons of all time have been reimagined in contemporary fiction and transformed into objects of consumerism, symbols of national identity, and memories of the past, this book fills a dire need in the Mexican studies field. The scholarship is exemplary, the style is impeccable, and reading the author is a pleasure.” — Patricia Saldarriaga, Middleburg College

Congratulations to Hannah Clager!

May 11, 2018

Hannah Clager, Class of 2013

Art History (Major) / African Studies (Minor)

Hannah began her studies in French at Georgetown University, while she was an art student at the Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. After transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010, Hannah continued with French to help her with art history research on contemporary African art.

She participated in UNC’s Summer French Program at the University of Paris – Sorbonne in the summer of 2011 and used her French skills when she moved to Dakar for fieldwork in 2012. While in Senegal, Hannah interviewed West African artists in French/Wolof about their work in the 2012 Dak’Art Contemporary African Art Biennial for her art history honors thesis. After graduation, Hannah worked at a law firm in Florida, where she was hired to facilitate French/English translations for clients living in Madagascar, Île de la Réunion, and France.

Hannah will be going to Harvard University this fall to complete her master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies after spending 14 months in Morocco as a Fulbright Student Researcher in 2016-17. In Morocco, she studied Arabic and French, and completed a case study of the new Mohammed VI Contemporary and Modern Art Museum in Rabat, closely examining the politics of artistic production, education, and censorship since the Moroccan ‘Arab Spring’. Her studies at Harvard will focus on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, human rights and refugee affairs, and cultural diplomacy in the MENA region.

Hannah was recently selected as a 2018 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow, where she will transition to a career in the U.S. Foreign Service following graduation from Harvard and will continue to use the French language as she works as an American diplomat overseas.

Congratulations to Claire Houlihan!

April 23, 2018

Congratulations to Claire Houlihan!

Congratulations to Claire Houlihan, winner of the 2018 John Philip Couch Award of the North Carolina Association of Teachers of French. She will study in Montpellier this fall.