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Association of Hispanists welcomed in Cardiff for annual conference

23 May 2017

A selection of images taken during the Annual Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI).
A selection of images taken during the Annual Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI).

Cardiff was the host city for this year’s Annual Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland (AHGBI)

Modern Languages have been taught in Cardiff since the University began in 1883 but this was the first time in the Association’s 62-year history that the three-day conference has taken place in Wales.

The AHGBI is one of the oldest and largest Modern Languages subject associations in Europe, with a membership body of around 400 Hispanists. The association promotes the study of the languages of the Iberian Peninsula (Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Basque and Galician), and those cultures associated with them throughout the world, and encourages scholarly research into all aspects of these languages and cultures. Their annual conference, which took place on 10th -12th April, is a key instrument in delivering this mission.

There was a varied programme of events for the 100 delegates in attendance including 87 research papers, two keynote speeches and a plenary discussion.

The Monday plenary lecture was by Spanish comics specialist Dr Manuel Barrero from Seville. Dr Barrero discussed the state of comics studies in Spain, a growing field of academic enquiry that has a strong institutional presence at Cardiff through the unique Santander Collection of Hispanic Studies and Graphic Literature (SanCoGraL) which was set up in 2011 by Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the School of Modern Languages, Dr Tilmann Altenberg. Dr Altenberg (pictured top left) and his colleague Dr Ryan Prout showcased their comics research during the conference and Dr Altenberg presented findings from his ongoing project on representations of the Falklands War in Argentine culture.

Tuesday’s plenary lecture was given by Professor David William Foster of Arizona State University (pictured top right), USA, who presented his recent ground-breaking work on urban Chicano photography. Prof Foster discussed examples from the little-known and understudied photographic record of everyday life of Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles. The event closed on the Wednesday with an innovative plenary panel on Disability in Spanish and Latin American Culture and Society with Professor Beth Jörgensen, University of Rochester, USA, Professor Susan Antebi, University of Toronto, Canada, and Professor Susanne Hartwig, University of Passau, Germany. The papers and lively discussion revealed the largely untapped potential of Disability Studies to change our perception of reality and improve people’s lives.

The conference also hosted the launch of the University of Wales Press’s most recent volume in the Iberian and Latin American Studies series, The Enlightenment in Iberia and Ibero-America by renowned expert in the political and cultural history of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Mexico and Spain, Professor Brian Hamnett of the University of Essex (pictured bottom right).

This year’s conference was co-sponsored by the Spanish Embassy, represented by Education Counsellor Dr Gonzalo Capellán de Miguel (pictured bottom centre). The School of Modern Languages recently entered into an agreement with the Spanish Embassy Education Office in the United Kingdom (Consejería de Educación) and Welsh Government, to collaborate in activities to promote the study of Spanish in Wales.

Dr Altenberg said after the event: “The high intellectual level and constructive atmosphere of the conference were a celebration of academia at its best. Delegates were impressed with the flawless organisation and warm welcome they were given by Cardiff University.”