CIROI Faculty and Staff

Faculty members and staff affiliated with CIROI, in alphabetical order:

Marysol Asencio* 

Marysol Asencio is a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at UConn. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Connecticut, she was a faculty member and co-Director of the Health Promotion Disease Prevention track at the Columbia School of Public Health. She has been involved professionally in Latina/o sexuality and reproductive issues as a researcher, teacher, and community educator/advocate for the last 20 years.

Roger Celestin 

Jason Chang*

Jason Chang is an Assistant Professor of History and Asian American Studies. After finishing his PhD from the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California at Berkeley in 2010, he lectured in Asian American and Latin American history at the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a Masters of Public Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Combining Asian American Studies and Latin American Studies, Professor Chang has worked with colleagues in these related fields to push for a hemispheric conception of Asian America that attends to both the transnational features of Asian diasporas in the Americas and the importance of local, regional, and national frames of analysis. His first book, Chino: Racial Transformation of the Chinese in Mexico, 1880-1940 (submitted for review), analyzes the regional histories of Chinese migration and integration in Mexican society to show how the racial image of the Chinese shifted over the course of the 1910 revolution and subsequent reconstruction. The shifts in this racial form demonstrate how Mexican anti-Chinese politics, or antichinismo, influenced the formation of mestizo national identity; the exercise of sovereign authority by the postrevolutionary state; and the cultural politics of how Indians became racialized subject/citizens of the Mexican state. His short-term research agenda focuses on Asian participation in Pacific and Caribbean seafaring culture.

Antonia Cordero 

Antonia Cordero, D.S.W., is an Associate Professor and faculty of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project. Antonia teaches courses in casework, micro foundation theory and practice, and Puerto Rican/Latino/a Studies. Her areas of specialization include individual, group and family therapy, mental health and community services to the Latino/a populations, and field work education. She was the recipient of the University of Connecticut Outreach Recognition Award for Faculty in 2006.

Diane Drachman

Diane Drachman, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Casework. Professor Drachman teaches courses in casework practice, micro foundation practice, and services to immigrant populations. Her areas of specialization include social work with immigrant and refugee populations, social casework, and social work practice with self-help groups.

Anne Gebelein

Anne Gebelein received her doctorate, M. Phil., and Master’s in Hispanic Literatures from Yale University Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese. Prior to her position at UConn, she worked as an educational consultant for the Anti-Defamation League and the Coordinating Council for Children in Crisis, and as a translator in health care and law enforcement settings. She has also held teaching positions at Yale, Columbia, UMass, and Trinity College. Professor Gebelein’s most recent research involves service learning in Latin American Studies, but she is also interested in intersections of border studies, human rights, testimony, and migration.

Jane Gordon*

Jane Gordon is Associate Professor of  Political Science and African American Studies.   She is a specialist in political theory, with a focus on modern and  contemporary political theory, Africana political thought, theories of  enslavement, political theories of education, methodologies in the social  sciences, and political theory in film and literature.  Her first book, Why They Couldn’t Wait: A Critique of the  Black-Jewish Conflict over Community Control in Ocean Hill-Brownsville (RoutledgeFalmer 2001), was listed by the Gotham  Gazette as one of the four best recent books on civil rights.   She is co-editor with Lewis R. Gordon of The  Companion to African American Studies (Blackwell Publishers, 2006),  which was the NetLibrary Book of the Month in February 2007, and Not Only the Master’s Tools:  African-American Studies in Theory and Practice (Paradigm Publishers,  2006).  She is also the co-author of Of Divine  Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Paradigm  Publishers, 2009).  She is also co-author of Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Paradigm Publishers, 2009) and author of Creolizing Political Theory: Reading Rousseau through Fanon (Fordham UP, 2014). She has written chapters for several  anthologies on political thought and Africana studies, and her articles have  appeared in such journals as the C.L.R. James  Journal; differences; Journal of Asian and African Studies; Journal of Contemporary Thought; Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy; Journal of Political Theology; Performance Research; Philosophical Studies in Education; Review of Education, Pedagogy, and  Cultural Studies; and SOULS.   Her recent essay, which is the core of her next book project, “Theorizing  Contemporary Practices of Enslavement: A Portrait of the Old and New,” won the  American Political Science Association 2012 Foundations in Political Theory  Best Paper Prize.

Lewis Gordon*

Lewis R. Gordon is Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies, with affiliations in Asian and Asian American Studies, Caribbean and Latino/a Studies, and Judaic Studies, at the University of Connecticut.   A graduate of Yale University and the Lehman Scholars Program of the City University of New York, he is the author of several influential monographs such as Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism (Humanities Press, 1995; Humanity Books, 1999), Fanon and the Crisis of European Man (Routledge, 1995), Her Majesty’s Other Children (Rowman & Littelfield, 1997), which won the Gustavus Meyer Award for Human Rights in North America, Existentia Africana (Routledge, 2000), Disciplinary Decadence (Paradigm Publishers, 2006), An Introduction to Africana Philosophy (Cambridge UP, 2008), and, with Jane Anna Gordon, Of Divine Warning: Reading Disaster in the Modern Age (Paradigm), anthologies such as Fanon: A Critical Reader (Blackwell’s), Existence in Black (Routledge), A Companion to African-American Studies (Blackwell’s), and Not Only the Master’s Tools (Paradigm), more than 200 articles, many of which have been translated into several languages, and interviews and essays for a variety of public forums, including on which he now serves on the Board of Directors.  His most recent book is What Fanon Said: A Philosophical Introduction to His Life and Thought (Fordham UP, 2015), and he is completing a series of monographs in such languages as Romanian, Spanish, and French.

Ruth Glasser 

Ruth Glasser was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Worked as a VISTA volunteer in North Carolina in 1979-1980. Has worked on a variety of academic and community-based endeavors including books, curriculum projects, oral history projects, and exhibits. Publications include My Music is My Flag: Puerto Rican Musicians and Their New York Communities, 1917-1940 (University of California Press, 1995), Aquí Me Quedo: Puerto Ricans in Connecticut (Connecticut Humanities Council, 1997), Aquí Me Quedo K-12 Curriculum Guide (Mattatuck Museum, 1999), [as co-editor] Caribbean Connections: Dominican Republic (Teaching for Change, 2004).
Guillermo Irizarry

Guillermo Irizarry is Associate Professor of Spanish and Puerto Rican/Latina/o Studies at UConn, Storrs. He has held faculty appointments at Bucknell, Brown (Visiting), Massachusetts at Amherst, and Yale. His book, José Luis González: el intelectual nómada (2006), was awarded Puerto Rico’s highest honor for a humanities scholar: “Best Research and Criticism Book” by the Academy of Literature of Puerto Rico. He has published on Latina/o and Latin American cultural production in late modernity, “Post-national Discursive Technologies in Exquisito Cadáver” (Centro), “Cadavers Encountered” (Latino Studies), and “Standing in Cultural Representation” (in The Politics of Performing Latin American Theatre), among other essays.

Ariel Lambe 

Ariel Mae Lambe completed her doctoral studies at Columbia University, where her work was supported by FLAS, Javits, and Columbia Teaching Scholars Fellowships. She earned a B.A. with honors in history at Yale University in 2004.

Jacqueline Loss 

Jacqueline Loss (PhD, 2000, Comparative Literature, University of Texas-Austin) teaches Latin American and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies. Her publications include Dreaming in Russian: The Cuban Soviet Imaginary (University of Texas Press, 2013) and Cosmopolitanisms and Latin America: Against the Destiny of Place (Palgrave, 2005). She is the co-editor with José Manuel Prieto of Caviar with Rum: Cuba-USSR and the Post-Soviet Experience (Palgrave 2012) and with Esther Whitfield of New Short Fiction from Cuba (Northwestern University Press, 2007). In addition she served as an advisor for Literature from the Axis of Evil: Writing from Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Other Enemy Nations (New Press, 2006). Among the writers she has translated into English are Víctor Fowler Calzada, Antonio Álvarez Gil, Ernesto René Rodríguez, Jorge Miralles, Anna Lidia Vega Serova, and Armando Suárez Cobián. Her critical essays have appeared in Nepantla:Views from South, Miradas (Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de San Antonio de los Baños), Chasqui, Latino and Latina Writers, Mandorla, and New Centennial Review, among other publications.

Samuel Martinez 

Samuel Martínez is a Cuban-born ethnologist. He is presently on the board of the American Ethnological Society and has served as Chair (2003-04) of the American Anthropological Association’s Committee for Human Rights. He contributed an extensive expert affidavit in support of the landmark case of Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic presented before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2005.

Catherine Medina 

Catherine Medina, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies. Catherine teaches courses in casework practice, micro foundation theory and practice, social welfare policy, and health disparities among Latinos. Her areas of specialization include mental health services to Latin@ children and adolescents, social work practice with abused and neglected children, provision of culturally competent services, social work practice with Latin@ individuals and families, advising/mentoring, and recruitment and retention of Latino/as in social work programs.

Mark Overmyer- Velazquez*

After completing his doctoral studies in Latin American history at Yale University (2002), Overmyer-Velazquez taught in the History and Chicano/a Studies Departments at Pomona College before coming to UConn in 2004. His first  book, Visions of the Emerald City: Modernity, Tradition and the Formation of Porfirian Oaxaca, Mexico (Duke, 2006), analyzes how elites (city officials and Church leaders) and commoners (city artisans and female sex workers) mobilized visual cultures to construct and experience the mutually defining processes of modernity and tradition during late 19th and early 20th century Mexico.

His second book examines critical themes in the transnational history of migration between Mexico and the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Beyond la Frontera (Oxford, 2011) brings together a group of leading scholars to analyze the history of Mexican migration from both sides of the border. He is also editor of the two volume series, Latino America: State by State, which addresses the historical significance of the growing Latin(o) American population throughout the United States. While paying careful attention to the transnational dimensions of Latin American migration to the U.S., individual chapters examine the wide range of different Latino/a identities, ethnicities, and social and political positions at the state level

Melina Pappademos*

Melina Pappademos earned a B.A. from Cornell University, her M.A. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and her Ph.D. in history from New York University. Her research and teaching interests focus on the social and cultural history of race, social and political mobilizations, and nationalisms, particularly of people of African descent in the Caribbean and Latin America. Supported by such institutions as New York University, the Ford Foundation, Harvard University, Wesleyan University, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Fulbright-Hays Research program, Dr. Pappademos published her first book,  Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic (University of North Carolina Press). The book was awarded the 2012 Murdo J. Macleod Best Book Prize from the Southern Historical Association-Latin American and Caribbean Section. It reconstructs historical patterns of black Cuban political activism and their relationship to the political structures and cultures of the Cuban republic (1902-1959). Her second book project, funded by a University of Connecticut Research Foundation Large Grant and a National Academy of Sciences Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, examines racial symbolism during Cuba’s turbulent 1930s and 1940s.

Graciela Quinones- Rodriguez 

Psychiatric Social Worker, University of Connecticut, Student Health Services

Clinical Orientation: Contextual, Interpersonal, Dynamic, Reality Therapy

Clinical Expertise: Depression and anxiety disorders, dual diagnosis, adjustment and acculturation issues, people living with chronic conditions, trauma survivors, existential issues, personal growth, relational problems, social skills and bereavement. Individual, couples, and groups.

Interest Areas: Overall personal development & growth; strengthening of multi-cultural experiences and competency; social justice and social action; programming, outreach & public speaking; training/teaching & supervision; multidisciplinary team work

Laurietz Seda Ramirez

A Fulbright scholar and the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Grants (2000, 2003), Professor Seda is the editor of the book Teatro contra el olvido (2012) and the theatre anthology La nueva dramaturgia puertorriqueña (2003, 2007). She is co-editor of  Travesías trifrontes: Teatro de vanguardia en el Perú, Trans/Acting: Latin American and Latino Performing Arts and Teatro de frontera11/12.   She was the guest editor for a Special Issue on Caribbean Theatre for the Latin American Theatre Review (Spring 2004).  Professor Seda  is member of the editorial board for LATT Books, Latin American Theatre Review, Revista Teatro XXI, Desde el Sur and Boletín del Archivo Nacional de Teatro y Cine del Ateneo Puertorriqueño.   She has also published numerous essays on contemporary Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican, Argentine, Peruvian and Chilean theatre in edited collections and in journals such a s Hispanic Journal,  Latin American Theatre Review, Gestos, Conjunto, and Revista Teatro XXI. In 2006 she received the Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award from the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center.   In 2005 she directed and organized the VI Conference/Festival Latin American Theatre Today:Translation, Trangender and Transnationalism. Professor Seda is currently working on a book tentatively titled: Cruzando puentes: La dramaturgia latinoamericana ante la globalización

Marisol Ramos

Archivist for Latin American and Caribbean Collections

Diana Rios

Professor Rios served as director of the Institute for Puerto Rican and Latino Studies (IPRLS) from March 2009 to December 2010 and was associate director of IPRLS during 1997-2003. She is the author of many publications and papers examining mass media processes, audience and content, and aspects of ethnicity, race, culture and gender.

Charles Venator Santiago 

Charles R. Venator Santiago completed an M.A. in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and a Ph.D. in Political Theory and Public Law. He teaches courses in Latino/a politics, Latino/as and the law, LatCrit, immigration, Puerto Rican politics, political theory and public law.

Fiona Vernal- Wright 

Fiona Vernal is a native of Litchfield, Jamaica and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned her BA from Princeton University in 1995 and her MA and PhD from Yale. After completing her doctoral work in December 2003, she served as director of African Studies at Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Since 2005 she has taught at the University of Connecticut’s Department of History where her courses focus on precolonial, colonial Africa, the history of South Africa and the African diaspora. She is currently completing a manuscript which explores the relationship between African Christian converts, European missionaries and the politics of land access, land alienation and the “civilizing” mission of African social and economic improvement in nineteenth century South Africa. Dr. Vernal consults with the Connecticut Historical Society on oral history projects, most recently on an exhibit documenting and recording the impact of 9/11 on Connecticut victims, families and first responders: September 11, Connecticut Responds and Reflects. A second exhibit documented the history of West Indian migrants to the greater Hartford’s area: Finding a Place, Maintaining Ties: Greater Hartford’s West Indians. She is currently engaged in a photo documentation project on Caribbean migration to greater Hartford.
Lirio Negroni 

Lirio K. Negroni, Ph.D., MSW, is an Associate Professor and a Faculty of the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project. Dr. Negroni teaches casework, micro practice foundation and Puerto Rican and Latin@ studies courses and provides academic and field advising to casework students. Her specializations include mental health services to Latin@ children and adolescents, social work practice with abused and neglected children, provision of culturally competent services, social work practice with Latin@ individuals and families, advising/mentoring, community-university partnerships and recruitment and retention of Latino/as in social work programs.
Lisa Werkmeister Rozas 

Lisa Werkmeister Rozas, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Puerto Rican and Latin@ Studies Project. Lisa teaches courses in human oppression, casework, and health disparities. She is the chair of the Human Oppression curriculum unit. Her areas of specialization include cultural competence/responsiveness, pedagogy and diversity, intersectionality, and health disparities, specifically issues of health as a human right and the influence discrimination, power and privilege have on health status.
Michee Lachaud

Development Economics, Environmental Economics, Econometrics
Miguel Gomes

Miguel Gomes, Assistant Professor of Spanish, is the author of La realidad y el valor estético: configuraciones del poder en el ensayo hispanoamericano (Universidad Simón Bolívar, 2010); Los géneros literarios en Hispanoamérica: teoría e historia (Universidad de Navarra, 1999); Horas de crítica: ensayos y estudios (Santo Oficio, 2002); Poéticas del ensayo venezolano del siglo XX (2nd ed., Universidad del Zulia, 2007), and several other volumes. He also edited, among other books, Estética hispanoamericana del siglo XIX (Biblioteca Ayacucho, 2003), Estética del modernismo hispanoamericano (Biblioteca Ayacucho, 2003), La vasta brevedad: antología del cuento venezolano del siglo XX (co-edited, 2 vols., Alfaguara, 2010). He has published many articles on modern Latin American poetry, essay, and fiction.
Odette Casamayor Cisneros*

Odette Casamayor Cisneros holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Havana, an MA in Cultural Politics from the University of Dijon/UNESCO Paris, and a doctorate in Art and Literature from L’´Ecole des Hautes ´Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. Having concentrated her research on contemporary Latin American Culture, she was also the recipient of a 2005 Rockefeller Foundation Post-doctoral fellowship, which sponsored her as a Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at SUNY Stony Brook.
Ricardo Salazar- Rey

Leader I grew up in the small Guatemalan town of El Tejar. From an early age I developed an unhealthy interest and passion for history fueled by the great gaps of wealth and education that surrounded me. When I turned 18, I took a bus to El Norte and eventually began attending West LA Community College part-time. After 5 great years at WLACC and with the support of many dedicated faculty and advisers I transferred to UCLA where I majored in history. After graduating from UCLA I had the great good fortune to be able to get a PhD in Latin American History under the wise and kind tutelage of John Womack. During this time I became interested in questions of institutional history and comparative slavery.
Robert Stephens 

Robert Stephens specializes in world music and music education. He is studying the history of Afro-Cuban music and culture and was awarded a Rockefeller Residency Fellowship in Bellagio, Italy. Stephens has earned graduate degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Indiana University.It was the sound of Brahms’s 2nd Symphony filling the Savannah Civic Center that inspired Robert Stephens to pursue a career in music education. Before coming to UConn, Stephens chaired the music department at Montclair State University in New Jersey, where he was also coordinator of the music education program. He received his doctorate in music from Indiana University, with concentrations in ethnomusicology and flute. He received his master of arts and master of education degrees from Columbia University and his bachelor’s degree from Savannah State College in Georgia. A strong advocate of travel and field experiences for students, Stephens worked towards globalizing the curriculum through exchange programs with other countries. While at Montclair State, he directed Project Southwest, a field-based research and teaching and learning experience on the cultural traditions of Indians on the Hopi Reservation in Second Mesa, Arizona. He also took students on field trips to Ghana, where part of the field study was to do a comparative analysis of Western and African aesthetics. Since 1998, Stephens has made several more trips to Cuba in search of information that can help him to understand how the culture of the Yoruba has survived in the ceremonial language of Lucumi. Yoruba people made up the majority of Africans transported to Cuba between 1820 and 1840, and more were brought to Matanzas than any other Cuban city. That is where Stephens is focusing his research.In this quest, Stephens is searching for the language — musical and theological — in which the memories of Yoruba survive.

*Faculty Affiliate of El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies and American Studies.



Jihan Asher

Jihan Asher is a second year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Latino and Latin American Studies. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Maryland-College Park in 2014. Her research interests include economic and social development in Latin America, migration and citizenship, corporate social responsibilitiy, and the experiences of African-descended people in the Caribbean.

Anne Theriault

Anne graduated from Eastern New Mexico State University with a BA in vocational office education. She has worked for the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, ENMU, the accounting firm of Dan Wade and Associates, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She joined the Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies in 2001, after working at the Asian American Studies Institute and UConn Development Office.