History conference to focus on human rights in the Atlantic world

A screening of "Landfill Harmonic" featuring the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, is planned as part of the Great Lakes History Conference.
A screening of "Landfill Harmonic" featuring the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, is planned as part of the Great Lakes History Conference.

Human rights in North America, South America, Africa, Western Europe and the Caribbean will be addressed during more than 25 presentations at the 42nd annual Great Lakes History Conference at Grand Valley.

Conference events will take place October 21-22 on the 2nd floor of the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Héctor Tobar, author of the New York Times bestseller, Deep Down Dark: The Untold Story of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free, will present this year's keynote address on Friday, October 21. The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in Loosemore Auditorium, located in the DeVos Center. His presentation, “Workers, Readers and Resistance: a Personal Journey through Latin America and the Immigrant Experience," is free and open to the public.

The son of Guatemalan immigrants, Tobar will explore how his own personal experiences intersect and overlap with those of people, places and immigrants of Latin America that he has encountered in his travels and for his writings.

The conference will be preceded by a screening of the 2015 documentary, "Landfill Harmonic," on October 20, at 2 p.m., at Coit Creative Arts Academic (617 Coit Avenue NE) in Grand Rapids. The film follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. The documentary highlights the issues of poverty and waste pollution around the world, as well as the transformative power of music.

The conference is sponsored by Grand Valley’s Office of the President, History Department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Area and Global Studies program, Latin America and Latino/a Studies program, English Department, Frederik Meijer Honors College, Modern Languages and Literatures Department, Political Science Department, School of Communications and Sociology Department.

The Great Lakes History Conference was established in 1975 as a means to allow faculty from educational institutions in the Midwest to present their research to colleagues and to cultivate interdisciplinary work. The conference has since evolved and now bridges the divide between universities and the general public.

The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required.