WSU receives up to $60,000 from Library of Congress to research LatinX communities in Kansas


Courtesy of Rocio del Aguila

Two people hold each other during a celebration of Cinco de Mayo in Garden City.

The Library of Congress American Folklife Center, organized to protect and present folklife in America, recently selected a WSU project that centers on LatinX celebrations, including cultural, social and food elements. The celebration areas will be focused on Dodge City, Liberal and Garden City, where LatinX people make up nearly half the population in each.

The project was recommended by the vice provost and dean of the Graduate School Coleen Pugh about a year ago to Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate coordinator and associate professor of Spanish Rocio del Aguila.

“It looked like a beautiful opportunity, so that is the reason why I was like, ‘oh,’” Del Aguila said. “Then, I also contacted (Associate Dean of the Graduate School) Enrique Navarro and (Professor and Chair in the Department of History) Jay Price. They were like, ‘yes, this sounds like something we want to do.’”

The project will feature interviews, videos and photo documentation of LatinX communities and life. These will then be included in the Library of Congress American Folklife Center’s cohort “Of the People: Widening the Path.”

“The idea of this documentary film on this project is basically to document the traditions in western Kansas, thinking that it is an area where you have a lot of a Hispanic population,” Navarro said. “We are really happy that we got the grant because it is going to give us the opportunity to work with these populations and to show the traditions that they are keeping.”

Del Aguila said that she hopes this documentary and research will help promote a deeper understanding of these LatinX communities as well as immigrants in general.

“I think that it’s something helpful to understand, first, immigrant communities in general because I think that we have a lot of prejudice against immigrants,” Del Aguila said. “These people do all this hard work … for a reason. It’s not because they just want to take advantage of social security or something like that. They want to give something to their kids.”

If interested in contributing photos, stories or other research material, contact del Aguila at [email protected]