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Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

200 years free: IU history professors to discuss Bicentennial in Latin America

WHAT: Roundtable discussion: "The Meanings of the Bicentennial in Latin America"
WHEN: Sept. 27, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Collins Living-Learning Center, Edmundson B01
TICKETS: The event is free and open to the public.

Sept. 14, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In celebration of Mexico's 200-year independence from Spain, Indiana University's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies will present "The Meanings of the Bicentennial in Latin America" -- a roundtable discussion featuring IU Latin American History professors Peter Guardino and Arlene Diaz.

Peter Guardino

Peter Guardino

The actual anniversary of Mexico's independence is Sept. 16. The roundtable discussion, which is part of the group's Latin American Research Forum, will take place from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 27 in the Collins Living-Learning Center, located on 10th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.

Bradley Levinson, director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at IU, said the discussion is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about people who live south of the United States border.

"Our focus will be, 'What is the cultural significance of the Bicentennial in Latin America?'" Levinson said. "Students should become more aware of the Americas, and how significant celebrating 200 years of freedom is for the people. Their struggle for independence lasted longer than ours did."

Levinson said universal themes such as freedom, perseverance and country pride will be covered, and that no prior knowledge of Latin American culture is necessary to benefit from the discussion.

About the Bicentennial

Twenty years after Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence, Mexican soldiers still struggled to obtain freedom.

One evening, a city priest decided his people had been oppressed for too long. Father Miguel Hildalgo y Costilla -- who served at a cathedral in Dolores, Mexico -- struck a church bell that incited the Mexican Revolution seconds before midnight on Sept. 15, 1810. Just over a decade later, the insurgency rid the country of Spanish imperial rule and claimed the independence Mexicans enjoy today.

This year, cities and towns across Mexico will celebrate another anniversary of freedom. In past decades, Levinson said, Mexicans would fire rifles toward the sky at midnight to personify their liberation. For safety's sake, fireworks have largely replaced that tradition -- but townspeople still gather in riot-like clusters on the streets, cheering "Viva Mexico!"

Displays of patriotism are not limited to Mexico this year, however. Several Latin American countries, including Argentina and Chile, will also celebrate their bicentennials. Venezuela and Paraguay will honor 200 years of independence in 2011.


The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at Indiana University is a site for interdisciplinary research, instruction and outreach focused on Latin America and the Caribbean. CLACS offers academic programs, courses and financial aid to undergraduate and graduate students. The master's degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies is its principal academic program. More than 80 faculty members at Indiana University teach and conduct research on the region, with especially strong expertise on Mexico, Central America, the Andes, the Southern Cone, the Amazonian Region and Brazil. For more information, visit: