King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center

Hispanic Community September 2021 PREMIUM
An Iconic Representation Of Spanish Culture and Civilization In The Heart Of Manhattan

Written by Jordana Mendelson Director, KJCC, NYU Coordinating Committee Member, el taller@KJCC Associate Professor Department of Spanish and Portuguese, NYU

Upcoming Anniversary: 25 Years of Academic, Cultural and Public Outreach

April 2022 marks the 25th Anniversary of the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at NYU (KJCC). Over the past 25 years the Center has hosted hundreds of programs and events focused on three principal areas: Academic, Cultural, and Public Outreach. The scope of these programs has evolved since the founding of the Center and has broadened significantly to include a range of disciplines and practices (humanities, social sciences, sciences, arts, and performance, to name a few) with the inclusion of academic and non-academic specialists from across the Spanish -and Portuguese- speaking world (KJCC’s first dedicated event on Portugal took place in 2010). We have become known for the prestige of our Chair-holders (the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization and the Andrés Bello Chair in Latin American Cultures and Civilizations), our world-class lecture and film series (especially the annual Cortocircuito Latino Short Film Festival and our biannual Spanish Film Festival) and our exhibits. We are also recognized  for our collaborative relationships with other departments and centers on campus, and with cultural institutions in New York, the United States and abroad, which have included the Spanish Embassy, the Consulate General of Spain in New York, the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, the Instituto Cervantes and the Institut Ramón Llull, among many others.

Our Mission and History

The original mission of the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center is to promote research and teaching about Spain and the Spanish-speaking world at the university, and to organize free public programs for a general audience that highlight the history, politics, and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. However, as the scope of our programs has grown to include the Portuguese-speaking world, and as academic fields have evolved, the Center has embraced a more inclusive approach to programming that fosters discussion about the Spanish-speaking world in dialogue with the diversity of languages and cultures within the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, Latin American and Asian Pacific communities, and  also within the United States and among Spanish-speaking communities across the globe (including Africa and Asia). As scholarship on  linguistic and cultural identities among Spanish speakers has increasingly recognized these identities as diverse, layered, and contested, the KJCC has responded by broadening and strengthening its partnerships with individuals and institutions across NYU and the globe.

When we opened, the only other Spanish language related center at NYU was the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), founded in 1966. The King Juan Carlos I of Spain Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization was established in 1985, and our Center (KJCC) opened in 1997. A year later, the Hemispheric Institute opened in 1998. In 2000, the Andrés Bello Chair in Latin American Cultures and Civilizations at KJCC was created. In 2018, the Latinx Project was founded. Most recently, the KJCC serves as the programmatic home for the newly launched Sulo: the Philippine Studies Initiative at NYU. With each and every one of these centers and initiatives, the KJCC has contributed to building and enhancing points of overlap and synergy at NYU, which has ultimately strengthened all of our centers and created a vibrant environment on campus that supports the study of the cultures, histories, geographies, and languages in Spain and the Spanish speaking world among the students, faculty, and staff at NYU, and the broader public.

Our Current Programs and Plans for the 2021-2022 Academic Year

While the Center is known for its in-person programming and after-event receptions, this past year we had to pivot to 100% online programs. This meant that we have been able to reach many more people across the New York metropolitan area and beyond. Connecting with international scholars and co-sponsoring projects with foreign institutions and centers was facilitated through our live stream events and programs, forging partnerships which we hope to build on in the coming years. (You can watch these events on our YouTube channel: )

This academic year (2021-2022) will continue much like last year, with our fall programs  entirely online. In the Spring, we hope to start doing some limited programming in person and continue to find ways to broadcast our programs so that we can continue to serve the faculty and students at NYU, as well as  the broader community. We are fortunate because  the KJCC has several spaces that are used  for programs and exhibits, including our indoor spaces (a state-of-the art auditorium, seminar room, dining room, library, and atrium) and our outdoor patio, which we hope to explore even more in the coming years as an alternative space for more informal get-togethers, live music performances, and conversatorios.

The KJCC regularly hosts and co-sponsors programs with the Creating Writing in Spanish program at NYU, and this past year showed that even online, these events in Spanish are a must-see for anyone interested in literature, poetry, and theater in Spanish. The KJCC website features  an archive of Creating Writing in Spanish Series (CWS), the KJCC Poetry Series, and DramaLab. This is a rich, multi-layered resource for writers, researchers, and teachers that grows every year:

One of the signature features of the KJCC is our visiting Chairs: the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization and the Andrés Bello Chair in Latin American Cultures and Civilizations. Over the 25 years since the Center was founded, we have hosted many of the most prominent writers, scholars, artists, and performers in Spain, Latin America and the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world. We have begun a project of video interviews with past Chairs in celebration of our upcoming anniversary called “Atrium: Voices from the KJCC.”

Last year, because of the challenges brought forward by the pandemic (we could not have foreign scholars in residence, and we recognized the precarity of younger scholars just entering their academic careers), we modified our Chairs in support of emerging scholars by appointing two Postdoctoral fellows. This one-time initiative produced a series of panels and lectures that were unique because they featured emerging scholars who had just completed their PhDs, whereas our Chairs are normally held by prestigious senior scholars who are nominated by members of the NYU community. For the coming academic year, we will not have any Chairs in residence because of the ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic, and will instead be focusing on the 25th Anniversary programs. For more on last year’s Postdoctoral Fellows and previous Chairs see:

Among the other programs we supported last year and that we will continue to host this coming year are: SONORIDAD.ES: Artist-in-Residence Program (2020-2022), Conversatorios: Art and Activism Series, el taller @ KJCC, Cortocircuito Latino Short Film Festival, Sulo: the Philippine Studies Initiative at NYU, and our Scholar-in-Residence program, which highlights the work of a non-NYU scholar who has proposed a program in collaboration with the KJCC and/or the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. 

To stay informed of all of our upcoming programs and events (free and open to the public, whether online at our FB live page or in person), we encourage readers of Hispanic Outlook on Education to subscribe to our Newsletter:

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