NYU Arts & Science Professor of Anthropology and Social & Cultural Analysis Arlene Dávila was recently named a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow in the field of Fine Arts Research. As founding director of The Latinx Project, newly named a provostial center at NYU, Dávila is a passionate advocate for expanding the academic field of Latinx Studies, including the ways Latinx people are represented and perceived across media, art, advertising, and politics and educating students on the impact of Latinx people on American history.
Beginning her career in cultural museums, Dávila has written seven books and co-edited three volumes on the topics of Latinx art, culture, representation, and perception, as well as on the topics of Latin American economies and social inequalities. Most recently, Dávila published Latinx Art: Artists, Markets, and Politics in 2020, which calls to decolonize the art world and shine a greater spotlight on overlooked Latinx art and artists. In 2016, Dávila released El Mall: The Spatial and Class Politics of Shopping Malls in Latin America, which discusses the growing prominence of shopping malls and consumption in Latin America and the resulting impact on class and social inequality. Dávila's most well-known book is Latinos Inc: The Marketing and Making of a People which remains an influential text about the historical development of Latinx identities across disciplines.
While Dávila has produced an impressive portfolio of published works and extensive research, she is most excited about her work with NYU's Latinx Project, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Since 2018, Dávila and faculty from across NYU’s schools have provided a hub of creation and research dedicated to the exploration and promotion of U.S. Latinx art, culture, and scholarship, hosting influential artists and scholars. The Latinx Project is a permanent space for the celebration and exploration of Latinx studies and recently received a $1.3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to further support and enhance this mission. This new funding will enable The Latinx Project to continue to grow its programming, research, and publications.
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation aims to "add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country" by recognizing and honoring exceptional scholars and artists. Over 2,500 applications are received each year but only 175 are named Guggenheim Fellows by a highly-selective panel of renowned experts and previous winners in each field. It is possible for an area to bestow no awards in a given year depending on the applications received. This year, Dávila was one of three recipients in the Fine Arts Research category and one of five 2023 Guggenheim Fellows from NYU.