Vilas Travel Funding Information
New competition starts Feb. 1, 2013 for both the Research award and the Conference funds.
The spring 2013 Vilas Research Travel Award competition will open on February 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM. Applications for the spring competition will be accepted between February 1, 2013 and February 28, 2013 at 5:00 PM.
Applications for Vilas Conference Presentation Funds will be accepted beginning 9:00 AM, February 1, 2013. At this time students may apply for conference travel that began or will begin between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013.
Winners of the Fall 2012 Vilas Research Travel Grant Award have been announced! This semester the Review Committee awarded five $1500 awards to fund outstanding research conducted outside the contiguous United States, and 25 $600 awards to support domestic and international travel.
Vilas Winner Profile: Oscar A. Perez
A PhD candidate in Spanish Literature, Oscar A. Perez is interested in exploring the relationships between disease and power. His research focuses on how the concept of disease has been used by authoritarian regimes to legitimate their practices, and marginalize their opponents, in three different Spanish-speaking countries and historical moments: Mexico (1886-1910), Spain (1936-1975), and Cuba (since 1959). As a winner of the Vilas Research Travel Grant, Oscar will be traveling to Madrid, Spain, during the summer of 2013, where he will consult archives at Spain’s National Library and General Archive of the Administration.
Authoritarian regimes have constructed notions of health and disease to exercise power, control populations, and to identify and exclude their challengers. For example, at the end of the Spanish Civil War, there was an outbreak of infectious diseases in the country. The war had left a health system incapable of controlling the crisis, a situation in clear conflict with the triumphalist image of Spain that the new government sought to project. To face the challenge, the regime established strict measures of social control justified by the health emergency. However, it also put forward a discursive apparatus to attack, not only the threat of diseases like tuberculosis, but also any other menace to the regime, including those individuals opposing it. By studying primary sources such as criminal codes, registries, medical records, speeches, and interviews, among others (many only available in local archives and libraries), we can begin to understand the specific mechanisms used by authoritarianism to elaborate notions of disease.
The significance of Oscar’s work could span beyond the scope of Spanish and Latin American literary and cultural studies. In it, he will be showing specific examples of the way discourses of disease have been used to exercise power and, equally as important, how those discourses have been questioned and debunked by cultural productions such as novels, short stories, feature films, and documentaries. In an era where health and disease have increasingly become the center of many debates, it becomes crucial to be able to identify the non-medical aspects in the rhetoric that is being used, empowering citizens and fostering more critical discussions.