ADRIÁN PÉREZ MELGOSA MEMORIAL FELLOWSHIP
The board of directors Herstory Writers Network has inaugurated a new fellowship fund in the memory of Adrián Perez Melgosa, to support the programs that grew out of one of the richest partnerships of our 27 years. We are excited to award the first fellowship to Marian Nozaleda, a PhD student in Hispanic Languages and Literature, who like Adrián grew up in Franco’s Spain, whose connection to the power of storytelling and the elevation of immigrant voices, health justice and healing, echoes Adrian’s own. We invite you to make contributions in his honor, along with any memories, tributes and reflections that you would like to share, for a special web page we are creating in his honor.
Honoring Adrián Pérez Melgosa
From Herstory's 25th Anniversary Gala Journal
“Illness cannot communicate with health, because health doesn’t remember what it was like to be living in illness. Illness doesn’t remember what it was like to be living in health,” Adrián Pérez Melgosa said to me during one of our talks about navigating the spaces, internal and public, in our lives. Whatever the reason for our conversation, we’d return to his vision of “Healing, Survival, and Resiliency,” which became the theme for the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook University during the COVID years.
“Certainly, the recent happenings in connection to my personal health have had a strong impact on my selection of this topic,” Adrián had written in the text that lives still on the HISB website. “Beyond that, however, questions of healing, resiliency and survival are central to our understanding and management of current challenges in connection to individual, social, and environmental issues which are perceived as acute crises, and imminent threats. These concepts speak of experiences that are central to the human experience.”
Whenever I needed deeper nurture, or an exploration of meaning on those terms that only small children and great
thinkers dare to enter, whenever I needed a push away from the every-day-ness of life, I would go to Adrián, or if he wasn’t available, I’d call up his words in my mind. I didn’t take advantage of this very often. I didn’t need to, because
there was enough coming out of each conversation to keep me going for months at a time. Few people I have known
are so quiet about what they have to offer.
What Adrián had to offer me and Herstory never took place in long and elaborate ways; even his speaking felt
more like listening. But out of that kind of speaking/ listening, those structures that make Herstory what it is today were firmly born. First the connecting of the campus and the community, our bringing newcomer students who had crossed the border alone to write side by side with college students in the humanities, the formation of our first campus community workshop, called “Testify: Memoir as a Tool for Action,” then the creation of our training institute and fellowship program. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with Adrián about whether we could see the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook as Herstory’s permanent home, nor the interviews we did together for the fellows who remain part of Herstory’s family today. How deep were his questions and caring.
– Erika Duncan, September 2022
Adrián Pérez Melgosa, Associate Professor of Hispanic Languages and Literature, was Director of the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook from Summer 2018 to Spring 2022. As Director, he spearheaded the development of vibrant initiatives including the “Pressing Matters” and “Abolitionist Futures” lecture series, and he forged our ongoing community partnership with Herstory Writers Workshop. He was an inspiring teacher, devoted mentor, and beloved colleague. Adrián’s research explored how visual and written narratives shaped collective identities in the Americas and Europe. His 2012 book, Cinema and Inter-American Relations: Tracking Transnational Affect (Routledge) studies the role of commercial films in articulating the political and cultural relationship between the U.S. and Latin America since 1933. The Memory Work of Jewish Spain (Indiana UP, 2020), co-authored with Daniela Flesler, draws upon oral interviews, visits to Jewish memory sites, and the analysis of literature, performances, and political discourse to explore recent initiatives to reconnect Spain with its Jewish past (in the context of longstanding national ambivalence). The book won the 2021 National Jewish Book Award for Sephardic Culture from the Jewish Book Council. Adrián created the “Cultural and Social Map of Latino Long Island” (with funding from the Hagedorn Foundation). This interactive online map visually renders historical, cultural and statistical information and includes video oral histories in order to make visible the social, economic and cultural contributions of the growing Latino population on Long Island.
Adrián lives on in the students he taught and mentored, in the brilliant books and articles he wrote and in the visionary path he charted as Director of the Humanities Institute at Stony Brook. Everyone who had the privilege and pleasure of working with him is better for that experience. Working closely with Adrián during his leadership of the HISB, as he somehow managed to enact his vision for the Institute even as he battled the illness that finally took him too soon from us, I came to understand the depth of his commitment to, and joy in, the pursuit—and sharing—of knowledge. His intellectual curiosity, unwavering ethical sense and generosity
of spirit sustained him and enriched us all.
Adrián lives in our memories, where the ideals he embodied and the principles he lived inspire us to do our very best work in a way that makes a difference in the world. This is the “memory work” Adrián has left to us.
–Susan Scheckel, September 2022