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Conference to Explore Intersection of Human, Women's Rights
(Released: 04/18/01)

By Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Is there a connection between human rights and women's rights in Latin America? Celina Romany, a professor of law and human rights activist, believes there is.

In a public lecture, "Human Rights and the Interaction of Race, Gender and Ethnicity: A View from the Americas," Romany will bring together her experience on Latinas' rights advocacy and her knowledge of human rights in Latin America. The talk, which begins at 11 a.m. Friday, April 20 in the Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, is the keynote address for the one-day conference, "Latino/as, Language and Globalization: Education, Law & the Media."

Sponsored by the Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies, the conference will critically examine issues related to language and culture in the context of globalization.

"We're defining language more broadly than 'what you speak'," says Blanca Silvestrini, interim director of the Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies. "We want to show that this is a dynamic process. The role of language changes, but it is still very central."

A law professor and practicing attorney for the past 25 years, Romany co-founded the City University of New York's clinic on women's international rights, which was the first law clinic on the topic in the United States. She was the first Puerto Rican law professor to hold a tenured position at a law school in the United States.

Romany obtained the largest jury verdict in a sexual harassment lawsuit in Puerto Rico in the case of a policewoman who sued the police department. Currently, she divides her time between Puerto Rico, where she has a private practice, and Washington, D.C., where she is a distinguished scholar-in-residence at American University's Washington College of Law, and she directs the Center on Race, Ethnicity, Gender and International Human Rights in the Americas.

Several dozen scholars have been invited to attend the all-day conference. Ten have been asked to submit papers that will serve as the focus of discussion for the day. Silvestrini eventually wants to publish a book based on the conference.

"We hope to produce a volume that will have an impact in understanding the cultural relevance of the ongoing process of transit between Latin America and the United States," she says. "There is a need for the kind of expertise we have."

The conference begins at 8:45 a.m. with opening remarks from Silvestrini; Ronald Taylor, vice provost for multicultural affairs; and Isnoel Rios, director of the Puerto Rican & Latin American Cultural Center. From 9 to 10:50 a.m., half a dozen professors from the University of Connecticut and universities in Puerto Rico and Chile will discuss globalization and the law. After Romany's lecture and a lunch break, six professors from schools across the country will discuss education and the media from 2 to 4 p.m. The conference will conclude with a session on the Institute's research agenda.

The agenda for the event follows.

Latino/as, Language and Globalization: Education, Law & the Media Conference Agenda

8:45 a.m. Opening, Dodd Center Lounge

Master of Ceremony: Blanca Silvestrini, interim director, Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies
Ronald Taylor, vice provost, Office of Multicultural Affairs
Isnoel Rios, director, Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center

9 - 10:50 a.m. Discussion on Globalization & Law, Room 162, Dodd Center

Opening remarks: Ross MacKinnon, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Jorge Duany, University of Puerto Rico, Department of Anthropology
Angel Oquendo, University of Connecticut School of Law
Blanca Silvestrini, University of Connecticut History Department and Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies
Celina Romany, InterAmerican University, School of Law, Puerto Rico
Samuel Martinez, University of Connecticut Anthropology Department.
Jorge Vergara, Univeridad Arturo Prat, Department of Ciencias Sociales, Chile

11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Public Lecture - "Human Rights and the Interaction of Race, Gender and Ethnicity: A View from the Americas," Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center

Opening Remarks: Nell Jessup Newton, dean, University of Connecticut School of Law
Lecturer: Celina Romany

12:45-1:50 p.m., Lunch, Room 170 - Dodd Center Lounge

2 - 4 p.m. Discussion of Education and the Media, Room 162, Dodd Center

Opening Remarks: Richard Schwab, dean, Neag School of Education
Xaé Reyes, UConn School of Education and Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies
Carlos Torre, Southern Connecticut State University, School of Education
Diana Rios, University of Connecticut Department of Communication Sciences and Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies
Alberto Gonzalez, Bowling Green State University, Department of Communication Sciences
Dolores Tanno, University of Nevada, Hank Greenspan School of Communication
Luis Reyes, Brooklyn College, CUNY, School of Education

4 - 4:30 p.m. Research Agenda, Room 170, Dodd Center

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