WSU to host Northwest Latino/a conference

Washington State University will host “El Otro Norte: Raza, Race and Resistance in the Pacific Northwest,” an all-day conference on Latinos and Latinas in the Pacific Northwest, March 4 at the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education building.

A complete schedule of the conference events and locations can be found at

“The Latino/a population in the Pacific Northwest, which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho, has more than doubled in the last decade, growing faster in each state than any other racial/ethnic group,” said Jose Manuel Alamillo, WSU assistant professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies. “These growing population numbers, however, have not translated into greater political and economic power, higher educational achievement rates, easier access to health care or more attention by researchers.”

Devon Peña, from the University of Washington, will deliver the keynote address, titled “Indigenous Diasporas and the Future of Eco-Justice in North America.”

The author of “Mexican Americans and the Environment: Tierra y Vida” will discuss his recent work on transnational indigenous communities and their “place-making” practices in Mexico and the United States transforming vernacular landscapes through urban agriculture. Peña will also discuss the implications of the indigenous diaspora for the future of the environmental justice movement in Latina/o communities of the Pacific Northwest and United States in general.

“Devon Peña is the nation’s foremost expert on environmental racism as it pertains to Latino/a community,” Alamillo said.

The closing plenary will feature newly published research and explore the future direction of Chicano/a studies in the Pacific Northwest. Marcos Pizarro, from San Jose State University, will discuss his new book, “Chicanas and Chicanos in School: Racial Profiling, Identity Battles, and Empowerment.” The book examines racial identity formation is a crucial variable in Chicana/o students’ success or failure in public schools of East Los Angeles and rural Washington State.

Jerry Garcia from Michigan State University and Gilberto Garcia from Eastern Washington University will discuss their edited volume, “Memory, Community, and Activism: Mexican Migration and Labor in the Pacific Northwest.” Eleven essays by leading scholars on the Mexican experience in the Northwest shed new light on immigration/migration, the Bracero program, the Catholic Church, race and race relations, Mexican culture, unionization and Chicana feminism. Maria Cuevas, one of the contributors, will discuss farm worker organizers in Washington State.

The conference, which is sponsored by the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Pacific Northwest FOCO chapter and the Latino/a Northwest Research Symposium, will also include panels and roundtables on immigration, citizenship, education, environmental racism, ethnic identity, literature, film and popular culture, electoral politics, grassroots community organizing and coalition building.

“WSU recently became a Hispanic Serving Institution partner, the only four-year public university in Washington State to do so. This means that WSU will dedicate more resources toward increasing the recruitment and retention of Latino/a students, faculty and staff,” Alamillo said.