Institute for Latino Studies launches Virgilio Elizondo Distinguished Visiting Professorship

Author: Kate Garry

Arlene Dávila Arlene Dávila

Anthropologist Arlene Dávila will visit the University of Notre Dame Wednesday-Saturday (April 23-26) as the inaugural recipient of the Institute for Latino Studies’ Virgilio Elizondo Distinguished Visiting Professorship.

A professor of anthropology and American studies at New York University, Dávila “is one of the country’s leading Latino studies cultural anthropologists, but on that firm foundation, she does not hesitate to venture forth into interdisciplinary work ranging across history, media studies, the sociology of mobility and popular culture — and she does so across several Latino groups,” said ILS Director José Limón, the Notre Dame Professor of American Literature and Julian Samora Professor of Latino Studies.

Timothy Matovina, professor of theology and executive director of ILS, said that Dávila “has been praised as ‘the finest, fiercest and most piercing of our public intellectuals.’”

Dávila’s research spans urban ethnography, the political economy of culture and media, creative economies and consumption, immigration and geographies of inequality and race.

She is the author of five books, “Culture Works: Space, Value and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas” (2014), “Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race” (2008), “Barrio Dreams: Puerto Ricans, Latinos and the Neoliberal City” (2004), “Latinos, Inc.: The Marketing and Making of a People” (2001) and “Sponsored Identities: Cultural Politics in Puerto Rico” (1997), and co-editor of “Mambo Montage: The Latinization of New York” (2001). “Latino Spin” won the 2010 Distinguished Book Award in Latino Studies from the Latin American Studies Association.

Rev. Virgil Elizondo Rev. Virgil Elizondo

“This new visiting professorship is named in honor of our leading senior professor in the Institute for Latino Studies, Father Virgilio Elizondo, whose name and scholarship exemplify the rigorous academic direction that the Institute has been taking in the last three years,” Limón said.

Elizondo, the Notre Dame Professor of Pastoral and Hispanic Theology, is widely recognized as the “father of U.S. Latino religious thought” and was hailed by Time magazine as one of the top spiritual innovators of the 21st century.

“When we considered the possible invitees for launching this new program,” Limón said, “the distinguished professor Arlene Dávila immediately came to our minds. We are delighted to have her as our inaugural Virgilio Elizondo Visiting Professor.”

The visiting professorship includes a public lecture or performance, a symposium, presentations in Latino Studies classes and meetings with graduate and undergraduate students to mentor them in their research projects and careers.

Dávila will present a public lecture, “Locating Neoliberalism in Time, Space and ‘Culture,’” at 4 p.m. Thursday (April 24) in the Eck Center Auditorium, and will lead a Young Scholars Symposium for advanced doctoral students and pre-tenured professors.

Created in 1999, the Institute for Latino Studies plays a vital role in fostering understanding of the U.S. Latino experience and seeks to prepare transformative leaders in education, the professions, the economy, civic affairs, faith and family life.

Building upon the intellectual legacy of the late Julian Samora, a pioneering Latino scholar and professor in Notre Dame’s Department of Sociology, the institute supports interdisciplinary initiatives in Latino studies as a key component of the University’s academic mission.

The Virgilio Elizondo Distinguished Visiting Professorship is among several new ILS initiatives, including the Transformative Latino Leadership Lecture Series, which brought historian and author Carlos Eire and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to campus this year; a new Latino studies seminar; and an aggressive faculty hiring program designed to bring to Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters the best academics working in Latino studies.

Among the first recruits are historian Mike Amezcua, sociologist Jennifer Jones and theologian Peter Casarella. Together with ILS, the College of Arts and Letters is also conducting a search this year for an endowed professor in Transformative Latino Leadership.

Originally published by Kate Garry at on April 17, 2014.