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Students compare bicentennial celebrations in Chile and Argentina

August 26, 2013

  • Assistant Professor of Sociology Sarah Warren

During the summer, Lewis & Clark students continue to work hard in their fields of study. By collaborating with faculty on research projects, students are able to engage their curiosity, expand their learning, and prepare for life after college, all while making meaningful contributions to scholarship.

Jack Andreoni ’14 and Patricia Milligan ’14 are working with Assistant Professor of Sociology Sarah Warren to compare and contrast bicentennial celebrations in Chile and Argentina. Their research investigates the cultural differences between patriotism and culture in each country. In the following Q&A, the team reflects on their experience.

What are you researching? What question or problem are you trying to answer/solve with your research?

We are researching bicentennial celebrations in Chile and Argentina. Both countries celebrated their bicentennial in 2010, and we’re looking at how each country portrayed their national identity within these celebrations. For example, we are looking at the stories that were told about what it means to be Chilean or Argentine during this highly symbolic and patriotic moment. In the broadest sense, we are trying to understand questions about how countries imagine themselves in a way that includes everyone but that also represents differences. We are particularly interested in how they represent racial and ethnic differences. Our research has the potential to influence how we understand racial and ethnic differences in countries that see themselves as largely homogeneous.

Is any of your research taking place off campus? If so, what’s that experience like?

More than half of the research process is taking place in Chile and Argentina. It is great fun to conduct research in a different country but also a challenge. Things take longer, and you have to rely on connections to help get your foot in the door. However, people have been very open toward our research in both countries, and we’ve been surprised by how willing people have been to talk to us about their bicentennial celebrations or their reasons for criticizing the celebrations.

What first sparked your interest in this research area?

We are all interested in questions of national identity and race in Latin America. The majority of Sarah’s research looks at indigenous movements and organizations in Chile and Argentina, so it fit well. For this project, we are looking at things from a slightly different perspective to better understand how indigenous people and other racial and ethnic groups are represented in the national imagination.

How has working closely with faculty influenced your education?

One of the primary attributes that drew us both to Lewis & Clark was the small class size and the opportunity to get to know your professors. Spending time doing research with a professor really allows you to get a true look at the academic research process, as well as learn things that are otherwise inaccessible in a classroom setting.

How do you hope your experiences this summer will impact your future studies or professional pursuits?

As seniors, we are currently preparing for thesis research. This experience has fully introduced us to the process we will shortly be engrossed in. It has also introduced us to an abundance of new academic topics to which we hadn’t given much thought, and now would love to continue to pursue.

About the program

The Mellon Foundation grant provides funds to help faculty infuse collaborative research into a broad range of new and existing courses, and supports an increased number of student-faculty summer research projects.

“We firmly believe that engaging students in the practice of their discipline is the best way to prepare them for life beyond the college,” said Tuajuanda Jordan, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Student-faculty research is seen as one of the strengths of our educational experience, and with this grant we can ensure that students have access to this type of opportunity.”

With this support, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation continues its long legacy of supporting and enriching the arts and humanities at Lewis & Clark.

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Zibby Pillote ’14 contributed to this story.


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