Dean's Professor in the Humanities
Silvio Torres-Saillant, Professor in the English Department, formerly headed the Latino-Latin American Studies Program in the College of Arts and Sciences. He co-founded La Casita Cultural Center, an organization opened in the Near West Side of the City of Syracuse with the mission to create bridges of communication, collaboration, and exchange linking Syracuse University with the Latino population of the city and promoting the Hispanic heritages of Central New York. He serves in the core team of DK (Democratizing Knowledge), an initiative supported by the Chancellor’s Leadership Projects that promotes strategies for decolonizing the academy, and in the Syracuse University chapter of The Future of Minority Studies, a nationwide consortium of scholars working on efforts to foreground the ways of knowing and bodies of knowledge subjugated by the colonial transaction. He completed a two-year term as William P. Tolley Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities.
Professor Torres-Saillant came to Syracuse after having founded the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, a prestigious interdisciplinary research unit located in the City College of New York. He had his first full-time faculty position in the English Department of Hostos Community College, CUNY, and has held visiting appointments at Amherst College, Harvard University, the University of Cartagena, and the San Andrés campus of Colombia’s Universidad Nacional.
Torres-Saillant has served in the Delegate Assembly of the MLA, has chaired the MLA Committee on the Literatures of Peoples of Color in the United States and Canada and the selection committee for MLA Prize in Latino and Latina/Chicano and Chicana Literary and Cultural Studies, has served in the selection committee for the Senior Fulbright Scholar Program in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, has formed part of the Board of Directors of the New York Council for the Humanities, inter alia. A member of the Editorial Board of the University of Houston’s Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, he serves as Associate Editor of Latino Studies (Palgrave) and has edited the New World Studies Series for the University of Virginia Press.
Professor Torres-Saillant has recently lectured in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curazao, Dominican Republic, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, and Mexico, apart from cities throughout the United States. His upcoming speaking engagements will take him to Bogota, Havana, Heidelberg, and Santiago (Chile), in addition to Amherst, Kutztown, Nashville, Stanford, and Storrs.
Research and Teaching Interests
Professor Torres-Saillant's research and teaching interests revolve around some central concerns pertaining to the enduring legacy of the colonial transaction spearheaded by the Christian West starting over five centuries ago. They have to do with the relations of power that make bodies of knowledge unequal across regions, languages, and cultures of the world. They involve the disparate value attached in the academy to ideas and ways of knowing depending on the geopolitical location of their producers. They respond to the continuing monopoly that the Christian West holds over the authority to define the human. As such, his research and teaching projects touch on race, ethnicity, intellectual history, imperial violence, the problem of culture and civilization, diaspora, migration, the tension between the ethnic and the human, and the necessity to interrupt the logic of maltreatment that informs the corporate capitalist system spawned by the colonial transaction.
Professor Torres-Saillant has recently taught “Literature of the New American,” a course that surveys the writings of American authors of Native, African, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Irish, and Italian descent; “Transatlantic Letters,” a course that traces the cultural history produced by the colonial encounter of Spanish and British settlers from 1513 to 1940 in the territory now known as the United States; “Literature of the Caribbean Diaspora,” a course that examines interconnections among the literary productions of Caribbean-descended writers from the United States, Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain; “Latino Fiction, “ a course that surveys the literary works of American writers of Hispanic descent from Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton to Justin Torres; “The Latino autobiography,” a course that explores the difficulties involved in the study of life-writing and in placing Latino-ness as a stable social identity; and “Living in a Diverse Society,” a course that deals with diversity as an academic subject, designed for students in the Multicultural Living and Learning Community.