News Column

Hispanic Studies Professor Awarded Fulbright Grant

April 16, 2013


Houston University Hispanic Studies Chair Ana Bencomo
Houston University Hispanic Studies Chair Ana Bencomo

University of Houston Hispanic studies department chair Ana Bencomo was awarded a Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant, according to a university news release.

Bencomo was awarded the grant to research how a young generation of Mexican writers are reporting narco-violence through a journalistic genre known as chronicle (crónicas).

The Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends approximately 800 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 130 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

"The chronicle style crosses the boundaries between fiction, nonfiction and literature," Bencomo said in a statement. "It's more of a type of intellectual journalism. The journalist may use some investigation of the facts, some personal narrative, interviews, subjective and objective sources, and their own impression, but the final result is a hybrid in terms of all the information they have."

Bencomo is a native of Venezuela and a scholar of contemporary Latin American literature with a focus on Mexican studies. She has published two books on the Mexican chronicle journalist style, co-edited a volume of transnational studies and is the author of many academic articles.

During Bencomo's yearlong stay as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar, Bencomo will teach courses on the Mexican journalistic chronicle genre at the University of Guadalajara, according to the release. She will have access to periodicals, newspapers and weekly magazines that would not be available to her otherwise. Additionally, she will interview journalists to learn more about the process of reporting on narco-violence.

Bencomo will compare the modern Mexican journalistic chronicle style to the so-called new journalism in the U.S. in the 1960s, when there was a rise of a new style of writers covering important nonfiction events.

"The journalist who writes a chronicle piece, this hybrid piece, may use data and numbers, but in a broader context," Bencomo said. "The chronicle reporter will ask 'Who are the victims? Why was a 15-year old girl dancing in a casino at 5 p.m. in the afternoon? Why was she not in school?'

"Even though the journalists chronicle the horrors of narco-violence, they usually find a novel and humanistic approach to the story and leave the story open-ended, rather than reporting a traditional journalistic piece that answers who, what, when, where and why," she continued. "For some writing a chronicle, the drug lord is not necessarily 100 percent evil."

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