UMass Welcomes Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) to Campus for its 2019 Summer Conference

For the first time in the organization’s history, the 2019 Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) Summer Institute was held on the East Coast. The Integrative Learning Center at UMass Amherst opened its doors to the group dedicated to advancing Chicana/Latinx and Native American women students, academics, and activists.

This year’s theme was “Sin Fronteras Ni Barreras: Mujeres Activas and the Unmaking/Remaking of a New World.” It reflects the ongoing commitment to resistance, community making, identity formation/affirmation in the service of unmaking/remaking the nation. According to the conference program, members “join together in creative work and scholarship focused on gender non-conforming, transgender, queer, Chicanx, Latinx, Afro-Latinx, Asian-Latinx, Native American and Indigenous individuals and communities, to challenge and resist structures of oppression and exploitation in local, national, and international contexts.”

More than 150 Chicana/Latinx and Indigenous women and gender non-conforming people participated, including students, scholars, and activists, participating in important conversation and collaborations that will last for years to come. The three-day conference united folks from all over the country, and also the Pioneer Valley, including the Five Colleges, as well as sister colleges such as Wellesley College and Holyoke Community College.

The 2019 MALCS Summer Institute was held primarily in the Integrative Learning Center, along with the Old Chapel and Smith College’s Campus Center, where the Tortuga Awards Dinner was held. The Tortuga Award is a token of appreciation for scholars and administrators who have made a difference in their respective academic and administrative fields, cleared the educational path for many women of color and gender non-conforming peoples, and whose work established and enhanced MALCS.

This year’s award recipient of the Tortuga Award was Dr. Seline Szkupinski Quiroga of Arizona State University, for her mentoring of countless MALCS members through the years, and her role in helping to grow the organization. The Community Award was presented to The Pioneer Valley Workers Center, an immigrant and worker-led organization that builds collective power through developing grassroots leadership in Western Massachusetts and beyond.

The Summer Institute was sponsored by several UMass Amherst departments and offices including the Department of Communication, and also Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Wellesley College.

Professor Mari Castañeda, Ph.D., Communication and SBS Associate Dean for Equity & Inclusion, took primary lead in hosting the summer institute on campus and co-chaired the local site committee. Other members of the New England local site committee included Irene Mata, co-chair, Wellesley College; Leslie Marie Aguilar, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism; Ginetta E.B. Candelario, Smith College & Meridians; Ellen Correa, UMass Amherst; Maria Salgado Cartagena, Hampshire College; Giselle Guillén-Martinez, Mount Holyoke College; Solsiree del Moral, Amherst College; Karina Fernandez, Hampshire College; Stephanie Fetta, UMass Amherst; Dawn Lovegrove, Holyoke Community College; Monica Mercedes Garcia, UMass Amherst; Priscilla Maria Page, UMass Amherst, Kimberlee Pérez, UMass Amherst; Vanessa Rosa, Mount Holyoke College; Patricia Sandoval, Holyoke Community College.

--Omadelle Nelson Bowser, Manager of Academic Programs