Author: Carrero, Yesenia

Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Leo Garofalo

-What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

I’m Leo Garofalo and I am associate professor of history at Connecticut College, and I teach Latin American history. My research is on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for not only colonial Latin America, in particular the Andes, but also the African Diaspora, particularly how it touches Europe and how it connects Europe to Africa and the Americas.


-What is the project you’re currently working on?

At the Humanities Institute, I have the great privilege of working on a book project that I’ve been doing research for for a couple of years now, and it’s on Afro-Iberian, that is Black no comma European slaves, sailors, soldiers, freed people, travelers who traveled back and forth between Europe and the Americas, particularly Portugal and Spain which had a large African-descent population. They had, by the begining of the sixteenth century, achieved the status of sailors, soldiers, slaves, artisans, domestics, and traders, and had a big presence in terms of participation in the colonization of the Americas carried out by the Portuguese and the Spanish. In fact, up until 1700, more people from Africa and of African descent arrived in the Americas than they did from Portugal and Spain. So, Black Europeans are a small group within that larger African diaspora–it’s a chapter that’s not as well know. So my book is trying to elucidate the importance of the position of these Black Europeans within the colonial and colonizing enterprise.


-How did you arrive at this topic?

This project began in many ways as a question that emerged when I was working in the archives in Peru, looking at how different groups of Europeans, different indigenous groups of many ethnicities, and West and Central Africans came together in large cities such as Lima, cities that were markets, that were colonial creations that had never existed in this format before with large resident populations with fish markets and taverns and breweries and so forth. My goal was to set out to understand who did this kind of work and how were they able to negotiate it when you had different groups coming together. Among the people who appear as very dynamic cultural mediators and people skilled at crossing different cultural zones and bringing together different practices were people of African descent who originated in Portugal and Spain. And so I was wondering, who are these Black Europeans, these people of African descent who appear to be playing such an important roll in daily life within the Americas in this formative colonial period? And so, once I finished that project, my goal was to try to trace these people back to Europe, to try to understand who they were, where they came from, what neighborhoods they lived in, how they made it to the Americas, and did they retain those connections once they got there?


-What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

Once of the things we’re learning when we look more closely at African diaspora is not only the tremendous impact of people coming directly from Africa, but also the impact of people who are traveling through Europe and acquiring a knowledge of Portuguese and Spanish ways whether that’s language or Christianity, ways to carry out different artisan practices. They are becoming then, in a sense, settlers and colonists, whether they are enslaved or free, whether they are forced migrants or people who are volunteers, like soldiers, sailors, and traders on these ships. They are coming to the Americas in this very formative time, and they are coming over at a time that is much earlier than when we usually think of as being the important period for Africans in reshaping the Caribbean and Brazil. We usually think that happens in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the emergence of the sugar complex. At that period of time, we’re well aware that Africans are playing a very important role. What we’re finding with this kind of research is that they also play a very important role in shaping and cementing Spanish colonialism in the Americas, where they are fully half of the migrant communities in these urban areas. And this happens in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


#SheffMovement Design Challenge

The Sheff Movement, in collaboration with UCHI, UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Hartford Public Library, The Hartford Foundation, The Sillerman Center, Achieve Hartford, Hartford Parent University and CREC, hosted a Design Challenge to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Sheff v. O’Neill decision.

The event aimed to promote meaningful public discourse and engagement that will ultimately strengthen Greater Hartford’s ongoing efforts to address racial and socioeconomic isolation and related inequities.

The Design Challenge brought together educators, researchers, students, parents, and other community members to work collaboratively to

  • Co-create a vision for achieving quality integrated education for all Hartford’s children;
  • Reinvigorate the court-mandated process of providing all Hartford’s children a quality integrated education;
  • Generate fresh new ideas, and outline strategies to meaningfully advance the goal of quality integrated education over the next three to five years.
We thank all of our partners for what was a lively and generative event, and invite you to watch this space for follow-ups from the Design Challenge and on other UCHI-Public Humanities community partnerships!

Alexander Heffner, PBS. “Picking Up the Pieces”

A conversation with Alexander Heffner of PBS and UConn’s own Michael Lynch, Micki McElya, and Evenlyn Simean. The theme of the evening will be,

“Picking up the pieces”: Can we move on from this historically divisive election to rebuild some meaningful public discourse?

What will politics look like in the United States after the tumultuous 2016 election? On November 10, 2016, Humility and Conviction in Public Life will host Alexander Heffner, Host of PBS’s The Open Mind and a discussion on “Picking up the Pieces” of U.S. political discourse. “Humility and conviction are indeed the path forward if we are going to break through the cycle of incivility in American politics that has defined our 2016 presidential campaign, I am delighted to join the UCONN community just days after we vote…to reflect on this unprecedented election, and to consider a vision for more civil American democracy.”
Heffner will be joined by UConn professor of political science Evelyn Simien and UConn professor of history, Micki McElya. Professor Simien’s most recent book Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015 and considers the historic firsts in American politics, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Published earlier this year by Harvard University Press, Professor McElya’s most recent book, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, examines the larger political and cultural implications of the history of Arlington National Cemetery. The discussion will be hosted by Michael Lynch, a professor of philosophy, the director of the UConn Humanities Institute, and the Principal Investigator of Humility and Conviction in Public Life, the recent recipient of $6 million in grant funding from the John Templeton Foundation. He is the author of the recent book, The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data.

Alexander Heffner was a special correspondent for PBS’s Need to Know chronicling the Millennial vote in 2012. He founded and edited SCOOP08 and SCOOP44, the first-ever national student newspapers covering the 2008 campaign and the Obama administration, and taught a civic education/journalism seminar in New York City public school classrooms.

His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Newsday and RealClearPolitics, among other leading newspapers and magazines. He has been interviewed about politics, education and stories in the news by PBS, C-SPAN, CNN and the BBC, among other national and local broadcast venues. He was political director and correspondent for WHRB 95.3 FM and host and managing editor of The Political Arena, a Sunday afternoon public affairs broadcast.

Heffner has given talks and moderated panels at major universities and colleges, including the University of California-Irvine, the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the School of Politics and Economics at Claremont Graduate University, the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, Long Island University and Bryn Mawr College.

He is a graduate of Andover and Harvard.




Junior Faculty Forum, “Getting It Done: Strategies for Writing and Productivity”

“Getting It Done: Strategies for Writing and Productivity”

Monday, November 14, 12:30 to 1:30 pm

UConn Humanities Institute, Homer Babbidge Library, Fourth Floor

The Junior Faculty Forum welcomes its members to our Fall 2016 professionalization event: a panel on finding the time, and the strategies, to continue research and writing amid the many obligations academics face, especially teaching, service, and familial responsibilities. Our panelists will include:
  • Liz Holzer, Associate Professor of Sociology and Human Rights, on making the most of a teaching release,
  • Diane Lillo-Martin, Professor of Linguistics, on the challenges of writing book-length scholarship, and
  • Sarah Willen, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, on balancing productivity and family obligations.

The session will open with brief comments from each of our panelists. This will be followed by discussion and Q&A, as well as an opportunity for interested participants to form writing groups.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to Victoria Ford Smith ( no later than Friday, October 28.


October 31, ‘Reading Tyndale’s Obedience in Whole and in Part’ by Clare Costley King’oo

Early Modern Works in Progress Discussion:

English, University of Connecticut

Monday, Oct. 312-4 p.m., Humanities Institute, Fourth Floor, Babbidge Library

UConn English Associate Professor Clare Costley King’oo is co-editing a scholarly edition of William Tyndale’s Obedience of a Christian Man (1528) with Susan Felch of Calvin College. They are putting the edition together as part of the Tyndale Project, which has recently been awarded a Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The project promises to offer new ways of thinking about Tyndale, an influential Protestant reformer and Bible translator.

On Monday, Oct. 31 (Halloween and Reformation Day), King’oo will discuss “Reading Tyndale’s Obedience in Whole and in Part,” an article she co-authored with Felch. Forthcoming in Reformation, the article examines the early reception history of Tyndale’s Obedience. King’oo will discuss the article, the broader NEH project, and the future of Tyndale studies.

The article will be pre-circulated. Please contact George Moore at for a copy if you plan to attend the discussion.

Deva Woodly, The Public Discourse Project seminar series

devaDeva Woodly

Date: 10/25.

Time: 4:00 - 5:30 pm.

Location: Babbidge Library 4th floor room   4/209 meeting.

The Pragmatism of Social Movements

We often think of Social Movements as ideal enterprises; activities undertaken by passionate idealists who eschew the corruption of the status quo for the purity of an imagined better world. While the passion and idealism of social movement participants is certainly real, I argue that if we look at movements through the theoretical lens of American pragmatism, we find that they are an utterly practical, functionally necessary, and immanently effective apart of democratic politics. Taking the contemporary example of the Movement for Black Lives, we will explore the pragmatic imagination, organization, articulation, and political participation of this country's ascendant 21st century movement.

upcoming speakers



October 18, Peter Zarrow: UConn Political Theory Workshop

Peter Zarrow


Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209

From Trotskyism to Proletarian Democracy: China, 1930s
This paper explores the trajectory of the political thought of Chen Duxiu (1879-1942) through the 1930s.  Chen’s ideas changed dramatically over his lifetime but a utopian vision of true democracy was central to his thought.  He is best known as a co-founder and first general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and he dismissed democracy as regressive “bourgeois democracy” during the time of his membership in the Party from 1921 to 1929.  However, Chen was a leading advocate of democracy both before the 1911 Revolution and especially in its wake in the 1910s.  And again he returned to the theme of democracy in the 1930s.  This paper focuses on how Chen “returned” to democratic thinking over the course of the 1930s.  I argue that Chen’s conversion to Trotskyism allowed him to make sense of the CCP’s defeat (1927-1928) and stimulated him to rethink revolutionary goals as well as strategies.  Though he eventually abandoned Trotskyism, he did not precisely return to either the liberal or communitarian democracy he had earlier advocated, but rather developed the notion of proletarian democracy.  In Chen’s understanding, democracy was a kind of universal force unfolding through history and realized through class struggle.