Alumna explores colonialism in Puerto Rico in aftermath of Maria

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico this past fall, and the slow recovery has left scholars and politicians wondering how to best help. On March 5, alumna Rosa Ficek ’03 will explore colonialism in Puerto Rico after this destructive hurricane in a public lecture, “Infrastructure, Colonialism and the State of Puerto Rico after Maria.” The talk, at 3:30pm in Cornell’s Morrill Hall, is free and open to the public.

“It is an enormous pleasure to welcome her back to Cornell, especially at this particular juncture when the devastation in Puerto Rico from hurricane Maria is very much on our minds, and we are hearing the personal stories from the 62 Puerto Rican students we have welcomed to our campus this Spring,” said Debra Ann Castillo, director of the Latina/o Studies Program and professor of comparative literature


Ficek, an associate researcher at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, and the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research, studies people’s engagements with both the natural and built environment to address questions about the colonial status of the environment.   Her current book project addresses border making and unmaking by the Pan American Highway (a 19,000 mile series of roads that connects the Americas) to understand how mobility, culture and the environment intersect.

She graduated with a BA in anthropology and Spanish from Cornell in 2003, where she was involved in Teatrotaller, a Spanish/English theatre group, had a Mellon fellowship, and completed an undergraduate honors thesis on the telanovela. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in anthropology.

Ficek’s talk is a collaboration by the Latina/o Studies Program and the Department of Science and Technology Studies and is co-sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology and Romance Studies, the American Studies Program and the Society for the Humanities

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