IdeaLab Profile: Frances Negrón-Muntaner

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By Hunter Gause

In preparation for this Saturday’s Idea Lab: The “Emptying Island” – How mass migrations are reconfiguring Puerto Rico and the United States, I would like to introduce you to it’s host Frances Negrón-Muntaner. She is the creator of “The Puerto Rico Syllabus” which provides a list of resources for teaching and learning about the current economic crisis in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Frances curated the topics for PlayCo’s Idea Lab. Her latest project is Valor y Cambio (#valorycambio) is a story-telling, community-building, and solidarity economy project focusing on the question of what Puerto Ricans value as a society and introduces a community currency.

Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a disguised awarding interdisciplinary scholar and one of the world’s leading scholars in Latino studies. Frances uses a range of mediums to explore the Caribbean, African diaspora, and Latinos in the United States. She is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. In addition to her work as a scholar, she is an accomplished filmmaker.

As a professor at Columbia University, she was the founding director of the Media and Idea Lab and founding curator of the Latino Arts and Activism Archive at Columbia’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Library and was awarded the Lenfest Award.

As a published author, her work includes Puerto Rican Jam: Rethinking Colonialism and Nationalism, Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (2004), The Latino Media Gap: The State of Latinos in US Media. Her Op-eds have been featured in The New York Times, Pacific Standard, The Conversation, Huffington Post, Nueva Sociedad, O Globo, El Diario/La Prensa, and 80grados.

In addition to scholarship, Frances uses filmmaking to explore social issues further. Her films are AIDS in the Barrio, Brincando el charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican, Small City, Big Change, and Life Outside.

Her distinguished awards include Hispanic Business Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics”, The United Nations’ Rapid Response Media Mechanism recognized her as a global expert in the areas of mass media and Latin/o American studies, and various fellowships from Ford, Truman, Scripps Howard, Rockefeller, Pew, and Chang-Chavkin.