College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Rafael Acosta

Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Assistant Professor
Primary office:
785-864-0284
Wescoe Hall
Room 2620
University of Kansas
1445 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045-7594


Rafael Acosta grew up grilling under the shade of the Río Bravo's pecan trees. His current research projects involve the political and legal matrices of affect that develop around culturally relevant stories and narrative figures. That or how stories convince us to do (or not to do) things in the political arena. His research interests focus on a notion of Comparative Literature that uses Mexico and the United States (instead of the France-England-Germany axis) as the nexus of meaning that allows for interpretation. He studies the narratives of these countries in conjunction with other European or narrative constructs, for example, studying the kinship of Drug runner ballads and the Illiad, in order to develop a concept of an economy of honor and glory and to examine how literary representations of the Drug Lord develop notions of political legitimacy that belie social contract theories: how the Aeneid and the Trojan’s nation building narrative relates to other stateless nations identitary narratives, specifically in the construction of Chicano Aztlán through prison narratives, or how the Cormac McCarthy’s nomad dystopias in Blood Meridian help us analyze the dangers of the territory of exception where the judiciary power carries out its functions. 

His current book project, Druglords, Bandits, Cowboys and Illegality in the Mexican American Frontier, reflects on how narratives of the frontier provide a political laboratory for the political production of the center, and how these narratives are used to further political goals. He analyzes narrative in literary, cinematic and musical form, referring to works by Américo Paredes, Luis G. Inclán, Clint Eastwood, Rolando Hinojosa, Yuri Herrera, and Cormac McCarthy.


Giving

Diversity

Our Statement on Diversity in support of Rock Chalk Invisible Hawk and the University of Kansas Black Student Union’s efforts to combat racism.
The School of Languages & Cultures serves as a gateway to understanding the diversity of the world, through learning languages, literatures, and cultures, past and present. Through its research and teaching, the SLLC offers students opportunities for deep engagement with a wide range of languages, literatures, and cultures that provide the knowledge and skills to interact with and understand the world. The faculty and students who teach, research, and learn in the SLLC consider issues of diversity fundamental to all of our work. The study of others' languages, literatures, and cultures enables us to develop deep empathy and perspective informs the way that we approach issues before us, whether on a personal, local, regional, national, or global scale. Therefore take it as axiomatic that the SLLC stands for a campus that is committed to the meaningful sharing, contemplation, and discussion of ideas that emerge from multiple cultural perspectives and experiences. We continually rededicate ourselves to the principle of diversity. We strive to create an atmosphere where all students and faculty feel comfortable and welcome to express their views as well as work together to solve conflict. Further, we view our mission as a center of diversity on a flagship campus as requiring us to lead by example.

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