Documentaries as Storytelling about Latin American Migration

Photo taken by Andrea Rosas Herrera.

In Fall 2018, the Research Center for the Americas is partnering with Alexandra Sanchez, UC Santa Cruz Visiting Scholar with the Film & Digital Media Department (FDM). Alexandra is involved with ÉXODOCS, a research project rooted in the field of Documentary Studies. This project focuses on the circular migration patterns of individuals, communities, ideologies, and so forth. Of particular interest to ÉXODOCS is the U.S. LatinX community. The ÉXODOCS team is led by Professor Dr. Inge Lanslots and Associate Professor Dr. An Van Hecke and is a project of Research Group VICT (“Vertaling en Interculturele Transfer” or “Translation and Intercultural Transfer”).”  This four-year research project (2017-2021) is associated with the University of Leuven, a Dutch-speaking research university located in Flanders, Belgium.

Alexandra's mentor is RCA Faculty Affiliate Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, Associate Professor of FDM and Director of Graduate Studies of the Social Documentation MFA Program at UC Santa Cruz.

Alexandra will work with a team of nine undergraduate students as part of the RCA's Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP). The URAP team will be analyzing hours of Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) documentaries on the subject of Latin American migration to the United States to decipher the dominant narratives about human mobility contained in these documentaries from the past three decades. What are these documentaries striving to convey to public audiences about Latin American migration? These PBS documentaries are only available for viewing in the United States so this team will be valuable research assistants to Alexandra as she needs to assess the last 30 years (1988-2018) of PBS documentaries.

The research results of these URAP team discussions will feed into ÉXODOCS' overall work analyzing how theories of cultural (self-)translation apply to documentaries on Latin American migration to the United States. 

Below is the URAP team:

  • Lehna Cohen, Latin American and Latino Studies and History of Consciousness, Kresge College
  • Crystal Cisneros-Villa, Feminist Studies major and Legal Studies minor, Kresge College
  • Gina Fernandez, Latin American and Latino Studies, Merrill College
  • Araceli Herrera, Psychology major and Latin American and Latino Studies minor, Porter College
  • Crystal Farmer, Sociology major and Latin American and Latino Studies minor, Kresge College
  • Luis Diego Ramírez, Politics and Sociology/Latin American and Latino Studies, Carson College
  • Nattjelly Lupita Betancourt Ramos, History and Latin American and Latino Studies, Stevenson College
  • Andrea Rosas, Politics and Latin American and Latino Studies, College Ten
  • Tatiana Ruiz, Feminist Studies, Porter College
Alexandra Sanchez obtained an Advanced BA in Applied Audiovisual Communication from Thomas More University College in 2012, an MA in English and Spanish literature and linguistics from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2013, and an Advanced MA in Literary Studies from the University of Leuven in 2014. Her interest in the Latin American diaspora of the USA and their production of literature, films and documentaries allowed her to teach and study at Hollins University in 2014-2015 thanks to a Fulbright FLTA grant. Between 2015 and 2017, she lectured English Proficiency at the Faculty of Translation and Interpretation of the Université de Mons. She also conducted research on the use of Spanglish in (American) English translations at the American Studies Center of the UMONS. Since October 2017, she has been conducting doctoral research under the supervision of Professor Dr. Inge Lanslots and Associate Professor Dr. An Van Hecke within the framework of research project ÉXODOCS. She is currently completing a semester-long research stay with the Film and Digital Media Department of the University of California Santa Cruz in order to expand her academic knowledge on (the workings of) PBS documentaries.