New I.S. hire brings geographic focus on Latin America

By Annie Flanagan

After a two-year search to fill the empty slot of a culture, technolgy and media professor, the International Studies department has hired global media scholar Amanda Ciafone to take over the interdisciplinary professorship that links International Studies with Humanities and Media and Cultural Studies. Ciafone brings a geographic focus on Latin America, something the department has been lacking, IS department chair David Chioni Moore said. In Fall 2008 Ciafone will teach four IS courses, which will be considered for cross-listing with HMCS because of her position’s curricular connection, HMCS professor Clay Steinman said.

The late Soek Fang Sim, who taught at Macalester between 2003 and 2006, previously held the position, but after her departure the slot remained open.

The position has been in development for many years as a collaborative effort between the departments and an allocations committee, Steinman said. “It is particularly challenging to hire new people in an interdisciplinary program because it’s not as obvious where the person will fit in.”

“This was harder than other searches,” Moore agreed, emphasizing the difficulties involved as well as the importance of choosing the right candidate.

“We interviewed people from 11 different disciplines.”

Ciafone brings a new perspective to the department not only in terms of geographical representation, but also in her focus on media, Moore said. He said the faculty has a higher concentration of experience in the European and African regions.

“Media is crucial to an understanding of globalization,” Moore said, explaining the importance of Ciafone’s position. “Also, I think her serious interest in capitalism will be interesting to students.”

“I am very excited about what Professor Ciafone brings to campus,” Steinman said. “She has a deep understanding of corporate economics and media production on a global scale.”

The search, which began when Sim’s contract was not renewed, involved staff from the IS and HMCS departments, an affirmative action representative and two students, Moore said.

The search committee reviewed more than 200 candidates, and last year brought four candidates to campus, said Moore, who added he was pleased with the search process.

“We needed everyone to agree because it’s such an important decision,” he said.