Santiago Quintero strives to connect students to richness of Hispanic community
Santiago Quintero was born in Bogotá, Colombia. But his father was from the country’s central Andean region, while his mother came from the northern Caribbean region.
“So, I’m a little bit from all over the country,” said Quintero, an assistant professor in Furman’s Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.
After graduating from Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, he continued his academic career in the United States. He received an M.A. from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and in 2017 became the first to earn a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Notre Dame.
In 2018, Quintero came to Furman, where he teaches courses in elementary and intermediate Spanish and the literature of Spanish America. He has also taught courses in the Latin American and LatinX studies minor and the film studies minor.
As an educator, Quintero strives to avoid cultural pigeonholes.
“I cannot kick my background out of myself,” he said, “but I’ve made an effort to not be the only exposure my students have to Hispanic culture. I try to include different aspects of Hispanic traditions in my classes and highlight that Hispanidad contains a myriad of traditions, backgrounds and peoples.”
For a May Experience course, Performing Memory in Latin America, co-taught with Eunice Rojas, an associate professor of modern languages and literatures, he brought a Latinx hip-hop group to campus for a concert and a workshop on ethnicity, social justice and community building He has also done scholarship on monsters – “from bloodthirsty vampires and gigantic nuclear insects to flesh-eating cannibals and sentient cyborgs” – in Latin American cultures and how these fearsome depictions help us understand fundamental notions regarding our identity, sociability, and even our own humanity.
Quintero hopes to help his students gain perspective on the wide range of cultures outside their own.
“It’s important that they see that, although I am an international faculty and a brown professor in a largely white school, my experience is not the only one,” he said. “I come from Colombia, and I’ve been privileged in many ways, so my experience is definitely not the same as a student, a faculty member or staff member who comes from Mexico, Perú or the Philippines.”
For Quintero, Hispanic Heritage Month is an essential celebration but also “a little bit of a Catch-22.”
“Of course, the first thing that this month should mean is awareness – awareness of Hispanic heritage’s uniqueness,” he said. “But the goal for this celebration should also be normalization. I hope Hispanic Heritage Month summons people into exploring the richness of the Hispanic community, but also that it ultimately, little by little, helps us normalize diversity in our workspaces, in our teaching and, ultimately in our lives.”