Anke Birkenmaier: Latin America Scholar

BY CARMEN SIERING Anke Birkenmaier, who was named director of the Indiana University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies in July, laughs when asked how a German national ends up in the United States to study Latin American literature. “It’s not surprising,” says Birkenmaier, who graduated from the University of Tübingen near the Black Forest in Germany. “I came for my doctorate.” She says Latin American studies was a marginal field in Germany. “And I wanted to study Cuba,” she says. “A lot of Cuban Studies are done in the United States.” The recent thaw in U.S.–Cuban relations has been a boon for Birkenmaier. She’s part of the initiative called for by IU President Michael A. McRobbie to promote […]

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Enter the Non-Virtual World When You Come Into Athena

BY PETER DORFMAN Merribeth Fender, co-owner of Athena, invites people to step away from work, put down their smartphones, and try to reconnect with the tangible — the objects, sensations, and beings that have meaning in the non-virtual world. Having worked 36 years in retail, Fender, 65, has seen tastes and habits evolve. “People go by every day, staring at their phones, talking to people who aren’t there,” she muses. “They look so lonely.” At Athena, on the east side of the downtown Square, Fender surrounds herself with objects of stone, wood, clay, fiber, metal, glass — resonant things that invite the beholder to see and feel them as they are, not as they look on a glowing screen. They’re […]

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