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  April 9, 2001

Speaker to Address Human Rights in Latin America

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 the 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 will take place at 11 a.m. on April 20 at the Konover Auditorium in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, will be the keynote address for the one-day conference, "Latino/as, Language and Globalization: Education, Law & the Media."

A law professor and practicing attorney for the past 25 years, Romany co-founded the Latino Critical Theory Group and 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 was also a member of the Latin American organization the Group of Experts, which drafted the Inter-American Convention on Violence Against Women. She 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, Romany 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 directs the Center on Race, Ethnicity, Gender and International Human Rights in the Americas.

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."

Several dozen scholars have been invited to attend the all-day conference, Silvestrini says. Ten of them have been asked to submit papers that will serve as the focus of discussion for the day. Silvestrini eventually wants to put out 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 will open 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. Space is limited. Those who would like to attend should contact the Institute for Puerto Rican & Latino Studies office at (860) 486-3997.

Allison Thompson

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