CLACS Initiatives

QINTI is an initiative housed at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of the University of Illinois that aims to facilitate the coordination of efforts, experiences, and expertise connecting Quechua instructors and activists in the United States and Andean nations. QINTI’s first goal is to define shared objectives and content in the Quechua curriculum, including clear goals for each level regarding speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Based on this shared
curriculum, QINTI members collaborate to develop open-access pedagogical materials that articulate shared grammatical, lexical, and fundamental cultural elements from a Pan-Andean perspective. In this way, QINTI aims to represent Quechua as a global and diverse culture shaped by migration processes, the rise of indigenous self-identification, and the use of modern technologies. Thus, alongside the speakers living in rural communities, we include heritage speakers and their families in Andean nations and abroad. Ultimately, QINTI wants to support the growing community of learners and instructors of Quechua as a second language in Andean countries and abroad. In this regard, we plan to develop an Online Open Portal as a digital space enabling a connection between students at different schools in the United States and abroad. While QINTI is currently focused on the Southern variety spoken in Peru and Bolivia, we hope those materials will prove useful to instructors and students of other Quechua varieties in the Central and Northern Andes, who are also encouraged to join this project.

Andean Gallery Reinstallation Project
CLACS’s collaboration with the Krannert Art Museum (KAM) in the reinstallation of the Pre-Hispanic Andean Art Gallery is building interdisciplinary ties across fields of study and geographies, in this case with scholars, students, and museums from UIUC, UIC, the broader Midwest, and Peru. Spearheaded by CLACS Associate Director, Kasia Szremski, an archaeologist whose work focuses on the political economies of the north-central coast of Peru, and KAM Senior Curator and Curator of Global African Art, Allyson Purpura, the project leverages CLACS’ strength in Latin American indigenous studies. As the hub of Latin America-focused scholarship at Illinois—with more than 140 affiliate faculty representing ten colleges—CLACS has maintained a special emphasis on the Andean region since our founding in 1963, anchored in our Quechua program and focused on interdisciplinary groups that bring in new research in Andean archaeology and art history; decolonization and the history of collecting; and student-designed museum evaluation protocol. KAM’s Andean collection consists of over 700 objects, representing approximately 3,000 years of central Andean history. Though is one of the most significant repositories of pre-Hispanic Andean art held by a public university in the nation, the current gallery installation dates from 1988, representing an outmoded exhibition style that focuses on artifacts as singular art objects separate from any sense of history, agency, or connectivity across time and space.

With to financial support, the Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Arts and Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, our goal is to reframe narratives around past Andean social and artistic complexities by creating an updated, socially engaged pre-hispanic Andean art exhibition which leverages the cultural richness of KAM’s collection to explore how pre-hispanic Andean artists actively engaged and experimented with visual motifs, ideas, and practices across time and space. This approach places the emphasis on how past Andean societies were active agents in the creation of their own (art) histories. We are also explicitly engaging with the histories of looting that brought these objects to KAM through tracing object biographies from their creation and original use to their illicit and violent removal from archaeological sites and journey to the museum. Our project seeks to be reparative by actively engaging with our Peruvian colleagues and descendant communities through the creation of an adaptive digital platform that will allow students, scholars, and communities in Peru to have remote access to the exhibition as well as involvement in the research and interpretation of their cultural patrimony.

Illinois Maya Initiative
Supported by funding through the CO+RE initiative, the Illinois Maya Initiative is made up of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and outreach professionals from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and Western Illinois University. IMI has three primary goals:

1) to establish best practices that will serve as a resource for members of the university community and community service organizations seeking research or engagement connections with the Maya community. The best practice models shall be consistent with ethical guidelines, state-of-the-art examples of collaborative research, and recognized indigenous community rights standards.

2) Serve as a clearinghouse to connect and align research and engagement efforts from across our campus and community, to minimize duplication, and to more effectively leverage existing skills, experiences, and outcomes from previous and ongoing work.

3) Develop a sustainable campus-community platform that will facilitate the development of the collaborative research and outreach work generated by community members, regional institutional stakeholders, and campus researchers and extension agents.

New Immigrant Foodways
Supported by funding through the office of Extension, this project brings together CLACS, our colleagues at the Center for African Studies, the University YMCA, and from Extension in an innovative community-based project geared towards helping new African and Latinx immigrants adapt to US food systems. Working with new and established immigrants, the owners of ethnic grocery stores, and the CU community gardens, we will create a series of cooking videos that explain how newly arrived immigrants can prepare healthy, traditional meals from their homelands while using ingredients readily available in the US.