New Mexico History Museum

Ilan Stavans Shakes Things Up

November 20, 2009


Santa Fe, NM (Oct 9, 2009) – Ilan Stavans, "the czar of Latino culture in the United States," will speak on "The Jewish Experience in Latin America" at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15, at the New Mexico History Museum. The event is free with Museum admission and open to the public. The Museum is at 113 Lincoln Ave. in Santa Fe; admission is free to NM residents on Sundays.


Stavans’ lecture is part of the week-long festival, "¡Celebrate! The Jewish Experience in Spanish-Speaking Countries,"  organized by the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League. The weeklong festival, to be held in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos, combines film, music, art, theater, food, exhibits and lectures to explore the roots, challenges and future of Jewish communities across the Americas. For a full schedule of events, go to

Stavans, a Mexican-American essayist, lexicographer, cultural commentator, translator, short-story author, TV personality and teacher, is known for his insights into American, Hispanic, and Jewish cultures. He has been called "the czar of Latino culture in the United States" by the New York Times and "Latin America's liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast" by the Washington Post. Stavans’ Jewish family emigrated from Poland to Mexico. He is the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and the recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Latino Literature Prize, the Antonia Pantoja Award, Chile's Presidential Medal, and the Rubén Darío Distinction. He earned an Emmy nomination as host of the PBS show La Plaza: Conversations with Ilan Stavans.

According to Harvard's renowned professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr.: "Ilan Stavans is an inventive interpreter of the contemporary cultures of the Americas…. Cantankerous and clever, sprightly and serious, Stavans is a voracious thinker. In his writing, life serves to illuminate literature—and vice versa: he is unafraid to court controversy, unsettle opinions, make enemies. In short, Stavans is an old-fashioned intellectual, a brilliant interpreter of his triple heritage—Jewish, Mexican, and American."

In addition to the lecture, Stavans will be signing copies of his books, including On Borrowed Words (Penguin), The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (Oxford), Tropical Synagogues (Holmes and Meier), The Cross the and the Scroll (Routledge), The Essential Ilan Stavans (Routledge), The Disappearance (TriQuarterly), and Becoming Americans (Library of America).

The lecture is sponsored by the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League, the New Mexico History Museum and the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Major funding for ¡Celebrate! has been provided by the Isaac Liberman Foundation.  Partners who have made this program possible include: the Mexican Consulate; Mexican Foreign Ministry; National Hispanic Cultural Center; Instituto Cervantes; Casa Sefarad-Israel; Latin American and Iberian Institute at UNM; New Mexico History Museum; El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe; Hotel Santa Fe; Ronald Gardenswartz Jewish Community Center; Israeli Consulate; Working Classroom; Congregation Nahalat Shalom; Sokolove/Singer/Buchwald families; Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies; New Mexico Jewish Historical Society; Jewish Arts and Culture Group of Santa Fe; and New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.

The New Mexico History Museum is the newest addition to a campus that includes the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the United States; Fray Angélico Chávez History Library; Palace of the Governors Photo Archives; Palace Print Shop & Bindery; and Native American Artisans Program. The New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors, 113 Lincoln Ave., is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit

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