Association for Spanish and Portuguese Mormon Studies

By June 10, 2009

About a year and a half ago, I received an invitation to join the newly created Association for Spanish and Portuguese Mormon Studies. At the time it consisted of a website (now apparently defunct) and a google group, which members used to communicate. I have no idea who started the group (or whether it was initially an individual or group effort). It was an exciting prospect for those interested in the international Mormon experience. Especially noteworthy, I think, is that the group consisted of not only scholars located here in the United States (including a handful of bloggernacle regulars), but also a group of Latin American scholars who were eager to engage the various issues Mormon Studies in Latin America presents students and scholars. 

Emails and messages sent out via the google group started in October 2007 and the frequency of discussion gradually increased over the course of the next few months. In addition to discussing research, talk of meeting and organizing in some official sense began to be considered. Suggestions were made to meet at MHA in 2008 and then again in 2009. Neither of these suggestions came to fruition (at least that I’m aware of. I attended both conferences and actively read each message posted and sent out on the group page). Some of the Latin American scholars didn’t think it appropriate of reasonable to have meetings for such a group in the U.S. (a fair concern to be sure). Ultimately, the group largely has ceased to exist.

This, I think, is quite unfortunate. While the Mormon experience in Latin America and among Spanish speakers is only a peripheral interest of mine (not to mention that my Spanish speaking (quite poor) and reading (fair) abilities aren’t up to par to really instigate things in a group consisting of primarily Spanish speakers, I would love to see the organization regather and move forward. The field of Mormon Studies desperately needs the presence of such a group. Here are my recommendations to anyone interested. Depending on the feedback here, I’ll possibly post this as a message on the group page (and would invite anyone willing to help me translate this into Spanish (and possibly Portuguese) so that it can reach those who do not speak English).  Here are my suggestions to anyone interested in joining the group (or those who are already members):

  • Join the google group.
  • If possible, revamp the website or create a new one. 
  • Initiate and engage in conversation there. If possible, send messages in as many of the relevant languages as possible (Spanish, English, and Portuguese) so that it can reach the widest audience possible.
  • Plan to assemble at either next year’s Mormon History Association annual meeting in Independence, Missouri or 2011’s meeting in St. George, Utah (perhaps a better location for the organization’s interests and regions of residence). 
  • Propose a session or two for next year’s (or 2011’s) MHA. If needed, propose a session that will be conducted in Spanish. Use that session (or those sessions) to gauge the interest in the group. The possible topics to propose a session on are endless (ranging from broad topics like “The Mormon Experience in Latin America” to more specific ones like “Changing Conceptions of Lamanites in Mormon Culture”).
  • Seek out potential officers/board members that have the time and desire to be in charge of things for the first year or two. Depending on the response to this, perhaps the most feasible option for now is to continue proposing and presenting on relevant topics at already-established venues. As interest grows (and I’m confident it will), consider symposia and conferences solely for the Association. 

I am more than willing to help out in any way that I can, but I am severely limited in many respects. I am a poor graduate student who doesn’t speak Spanish or Portuguese, whose own primary research interests lay far outside the subject(s) at hand, and who is moving to the east coast in August. If anyone knows anything more about the group’s status, wants to critique any of my suggestions, and/or has further suggestions on how to make this work, please discuss in the comments.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Chris, thanks for highlighting this. I’m also willing to help. I speak Spanish and have been carrying out research on the Church in Mexico.

    Comment by Jared T — June 3, 2009 @ 3:58 pm

  2. I seem to remember that the discussions in the group were heading in a fruitful direction (with the possibility of a journal or something), but then it went downhill as group members were divided over the Lamanite/racial issues Latinos face. Some wanted to militantly critique the implications of the church’s racializations, while others wanted to keep a faithful tone throughout. There were a ton of emails back and forth on the issue, some of them quite long so I stopped reading.

    Comment by David G. — June 3, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  3. You’re right, David. Thanks for reminding me of that. I know it’s not fun, but perhaps an association like this is an appropriate venue for such discussion, and that a middle ground could be reached.

    A journal seems awfully ambitious to me. It seems like it would make more sense for 2-3 sessions of 3 papers each over the course of a couple of years at MHA (or similar venue) would be a better first step. Then perhaps those papers could be collected and published as a separate volume or as a first volume in a journal.

    Comment by Christopher — June 3, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

  4. […] Link to Full Story provided by Learn To Speak Spanish. […]

    Pingback by Juvenile Instructor » Association for Spanish and Portuguese … — June 3, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  5. Chris, I’m glad you brought this back now so it wouldn’t be buried in the avalanche of Sacred Space notes.

    David, that’s unfortunate. Do you see this a matter of devotional vs. scholarly?

    This would be a good place to talk about the nature of other Mormon Studies associations. Are there many independent organizations that encompass the two sides you mention, or are they all pretty either/or.


    Can a Spanish-Portuguese Association have a tent wide enough to encompass both?

    Comment by Jared T. — June 10, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  6. David, is there a place where these exchanges are available? I’d like to learn more about the dynamics of the discussion to understand the issues at stake better.

    Comment by Jared T — June 10, 2009 @ 11:27 am

  7. Jared (#6)

    If you go to the google group linked to in the post, you should be able to view all past discussions.

    Comment by Christopher — June 10, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  8. Nice, thanks.

    Comment by Jared T — June 10, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  9. David, that?s unfortunate. Do you see this a matter of devotional vs. scholarly?

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean, Jared. You’ll have to read through the emails to get your take on it, but my recollection (which is no doubt colored by my conversations with Ignacio Garcia at the time) is that there were some who wanted to use the association as a political venue to attack the Lamanite racializations head on, while others did not want to challenge the Brethren directly, and preferred to have the association concentrate on less-politically charged issues.

    Comment by David G. — June 10, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

  10. Yea, after I wrote that I didn’t even know what I meant, actually 🙂 I’ve been reading through the emails and it’s making more sense…

    Comment by Jared T — June 10, 2009 @ 2:35 pm


Recent Comments

wvs on JWHA CFP 2020 (St.: “Looking forward to this. Thanks J.”

Daniel Stone on JWHA CFP 2020 (St.: “Thanks much for posting this, Joey!”

Mel Johnson on JWHA CFP 2020 (St.: “This JWHA will be outstanding, maybe the best ever. I encourage all Restoration historians and cultural studies people to attend along with their friends. The setting at…”

Gary Bergera on George F. Richards' journals: “I remember reading through the microfilms of the Richards's journals in the mid- to late-1970s. Nothing was redacted. They were amazing.”

Jeff T on George F. Richards' journals: “Thanks, Stapley!”

Hannah Jung on George F. Richards' journals: “That is exciting! I had no idea this was in the works! Any idea when the plan is to release the next twenty years of…”