Columbia University

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Frances Negrón-Muntaner Named New Director of the Center of Ethnicity and Race (CSER)

Office of the Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences

November 20 , 2009

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Frances Negrón-Muntaner as the new director of the Center of Ethnicity and Race (CSER). Frances assumed the directorship on July 1, 2009 succeeding Claudio Lomnitz, whose leadership over the past three years resulted in a profound rethinking of the role of ethnic studies in the undergraduate curriculum and at Columbia University more broadly. For his tireless contributions, I am deeply grateful.

Born in Puerto Rico, Frances received a BA in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, an MA in Anthropology and an MFA in Film and Video, both from Temple University and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Rutgers. The breadth of her educational background is reflected in her scholarly work which traverses several fields including cinema, literature, cultural criticism, and politics.

Since 2003, Frances has been a member of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia where she specializes in 19th and 20th century Caribbean and U.S Latino literatures and cultures and a member of CSER where she has worked closely with previous directors and students in shaping its mission. Beyond academia, she has extensive experience in journalism, both as a columnist and editor, working for publications such as The San Juan Star, El Diario/La Prensa and The Puerto Rico Herald. With respect to film, her undertakings have had considerable influence: she was the founder of Miami Light Project's Filmmakers Workshop, a founding board member and former chair of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and since 1998, has been the president of Polymorphous Pictures, Inc.

A prolific writer, in addition to numerous articles and reviews, Frances is the author of Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture (named 2004 Choice Outstanding Book) and has edited several books including Sovereign Acts (South End Press, 2008) and None of the Above: Puerto Ricans in the Global Era (Palgrave 2007). Also a widely respected film maker, Frances has directed, written and/or produced a number of films including Brincando el charco: Portrait of a Puerto Rican, which garnered several prizes and distinctions and AIDS in the Barrio which was awarded First Place at the John Muir Medical Film Festival. She currently is completing two documentaries on the relationship between the military and civilians in Guam and Vieques, and writing a social history of the reggaeton genre.

Her extensive work in the fields of Latino Studies and mass media has been widely recognized. She is the recipient of Ford, Truman, Scripps Howard, Rockefeller, Creative Capital/ Warhol Foundation, and Pew fellowships as well as a Social Science Research Council grant. In 2005 she earned a spot on Hispanic Business Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics” list and in 2008 was recognized as a “global expert” by the United Nations' Rapid Response Media Mechanism.

We look forward to working with Frances, and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, in the years ahead.

Nicholas B. Dirks
Franz Boas Professor of
Anthropology and History
Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences