Spring 2024 Lecture Series

Please check the details of each event for format and location. All events, as always, are free and open to the public.


The Case of Colonia Dignidad: Fascist Aesthetics in Latin America’s Southern Cone

Fischer photo

Carl Fischer // Fordham University

  • Thursday, February 22, 2024
  • 5:30pm Reception // 6:00pm Lecture
  • McWherther Library Second Floor Commons 
  • This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of World Languages and Literatures and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

Colonia Dignidad was an autarchic, autonomous enclave populated by Germans in a remote part of southern Chile. From the early 1960s onward, the Colonia’s longtime leader—a former Nazi named Paul Schäfer—established a culture of betrayal, surveillance, and child sexual abuse there, relatively insulated from Chilean state intervention. Archival research has shown how the Colonia operated as a "state within a state," using maps and other forms of statecraft that catalogued people and places from above, while glossing over the bodies, knowledge, and nuances that a closer vantage point might confer. 

This talk will use the growing body of material about the Colonia that has emerged following Paul Schäfer's death -- archives, legal cases, testimonies, as well as art and literature -- to place the story of Colonia Dignidad within the larger tradition of geopolitics. The ideology of geopolitics, which dates back to the late 19th century, was conceived to systematically manage territorial space from a fixed nationalist and imperialist perspective, and it was influential for Nazis and Southern Cone dictators (including Pinochet) alike.

Carl Fischer is professor of Latin American Studies and Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Fordham University. He is the author of Queering the Chilean Way: Cultures of Exceptionalism and Sexual Dissidence, 1965-2015 (2016; translated into Spanish as Locamente excepcional: La vía chilena a la disidencia sexual, 2024). He is co-editor (with Vania Barraza) of Chilean Cinema in the Twenty-First-Century World (2020) and (with María Angélica Franken) of the special issue “Representaciones del caso de Colonia Dignidad en la producción cultural chilena reciente” in Anales de Literatura Chilena (2023). His writing has been published in American Quarterly, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Hispanic Review, and Comunicación y medios, among other academic journals. Currently, he is working on a new book project, tentatively titled Cosmic Racisms: Fascism, Geopolitics, and Aesthetics in Latin America’s Southern Cone.


"Bossy Women": Voices and Stories from the Early South

Dubcovsky photo

Alejandra Dubcovsky // University of California, Riverside

Belle McWilliams Lecture in History

  • Thursday, March 28, 2024
  • 5:30pm Reception // 6:00pm Lecture
  • Maxine Smith University Center Shelby Room (UC 342)
  • This event is jointly sponsored by the Department of History and the Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities.

There were so many "bossy women" ("mujeres mandonas") in Florida, or so Franciscan Friar Francisco Pareja complained in 1627. While he was mainly criticizing the Timucua, Guale, and Apalachee women he was trying to missionize, his frustration hints at a much larger story. This talk centers the lives of these "Bossy Women," uncovering the experiences, struggles, and resilience of different women in the colonial South. These often-overlooked stories offer more than new voices and perspectives. They challenge us to rethink what is unknown and unknowable about the past.

Alejandra Dubcovsky is a professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. She received her BA and PhD from UC Berkeley, and a Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State. Her first book, Informed Power: Communication in the Early American South (Harvard UP, 2016), won the 2016 Michael V. R. Thomason Book Award from the Gulf South Historical Association. Her second book, Talking Back: Native Women and the Making of the Early South was published by Yale Press in 2023. Her works have been featured in several journals, including Ethnohistory, Journal of Southern History, and the William and Mary Quarterly. She has served in the editorial boards of the journals of Ethnohistory, NAISA, Native South, and the American Historical Review. She received the New Directions Mellon Fellowship, to collaborate with linguist Aaron Broadwell on the Timucua language. A digital resource connected to the work is available here.