Northwestern launches Center for Latinx Digital Media, creating space for global community


Courtesy of the Center for Latinx Digital Media

LDM Center founder and director Pablo Boczkowski, and coordinator Mora Matassi.

Maria Ximena Aragon, Assistant Web Editor

Northwestern’s Center for Latinx Digital Media will launch its inaugural fall series of virtual seminars that explore the intersections of digital media in Latinx communities Tuesday.

In collaboration with the School of Communication, the seminars are free and open to the public, with over 600 individuals from 29 countries registered to attend. The center aims to provide a common ground for research and collaboration in relation to Latinidad and digital media. LDM Center director and Communication Prof. Pablo Boczkowski considers the project to be a “decade in the making.”

Boczkowski said digital media is an “ideal” object of study in helping identify differences and commonalities within and across Latinx communities.

“It’s been really amazing to see the collaborative spirit,” Boczkowski said. “I’m actually really happy that it finally exists and to work at a place that supports and encourages these kinds of initiatives.”

Through the seminar series, the center hopes to highlight the work of Latinx communities regionally and abroad. The inaugural seminar will be presented by Prof. Jessica Retis from the University of Arizona, who will discuss the origins and challenges of bilingual journalism in the digital era.

The 10-part series will include guest speakers from the University of Southern California, Universidad de Costa Rica, NU in Qatar and more.

The program launched its social media channels in early September, aiming to create a space for inclusivity and accessibility. Mora Matassi, the research assistant and coordinator for the LDM Center, said she is proud of the response.

“People want spaces to share their knowledge, to produce knowledge, to incentivize young scholars who want to start conversations in the field of digital media across the Americas,” Matassi said. “Just from seeing social media interactions I’ve seen a lot of interest and a lot of pride in this initiative.”

The center’s work includes conducting research on disinformation in Argentina to the impact of social media on democratic processes across the Americas. The center also has upcoming projects on the creation of public outreach profiles and the launch of “El Café Latinx Podcast,” a one-on-one conversation series with leading scholars in the field. Sharing professional experiences, research and advice, the podcast aims to explore Latinx identity.

The center has received funding from the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs in the form of a Global Connections Seed Grant to support the initiative.

“Right now the path is very open,” Ph.D. candidate and LDM Center graduate representative Diego Gómez-Zará said of the center’s impact in the future. “I hope this can be one of many efforts among American universities to create centers and initiatives like this one”

Faced with the challenges of a pandemic, the center viewed it as an opportunity to adapt and create innovative programming that showcases both the Latinx community and NU to the world.

“As hard as the pandemic has been on each of us, when it comes to education, it has shown us that we can build projects at a distance and that we can meet remotely,” Matassi said. “We find great joy in seeing each other through the screen to be able to build a community to share knowledge, ask questions, and find some answers.”

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