The Chicago Graduate Conference is an annual conference organized by Spanish and Luso-Brazilian literature graduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago. Previously, all three universities had hosted separate graduate student conferences. However, for the past four years, these three programs have come together for the purpose of putting on an intellectual gathering at a grander scale, pooling resources and working collaboratively in order to provide the best possible opportunity for graduate students in Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian studies to share their work, network, and learn from their peers.

We are pleased to announce that the theme for this year’s conference, hosted online by Northwestern University, on April 15-16, 2021, will be Nature in Captivity: Paths Toward Liberation,featuring keynote speakers Gisela Heffes, and Jorge Marcone.

The voices sounding the alarm of climate change and environmental crises have increased exponentially over the last three decades to become the most pressing theme within the scientific community. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of considering the relationship between the human and nature. It is estimated that this will not be the only pandemic we will encounter in our lifetimes. The incremental rise in industrial production of animals and extractable resources has increased the potential for the transmission of viruses across species. Such realities have been forecasted in the arts, humanities, and social sciences through our attention to the factors that ground ecological practices in cultural epistemes. Moreover, the contribution of these fields of study to the debate on the relationship between the human, the environment, and the climate crisis is not only relevant, but urgent. This conference is an invitation to surround the climate crisis in multiple approaches that attempt to respond to the pressing question of “what is nature in captivity?” and to approach possible paths towards the liberation of all species that inhabit the planet.