Raul Fernandez

Raul Fernandez, UCI Chicano/Latino studies professor emeritus, has been awarded the 2022-23 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award. Presented by the Council of University of California Emeriti Associations, the honor recognizes one to two outstanding faculty each year in the humanities and/or social sciences for research and scholarly activities since retirement. The honor carries a $5,000 prize.

Fernandez is widely recognized for his scholarship on the economic and cultural transactions between the U.S. and Latin America. However, that simple description, note his award nominators, does not do justice to a singular scholarly odyssey that started with the study of rehabilitation for people addicted to heroin through analysis of the Mexican-American border region, to Latin American cultural studies, and then to the field for which he is now best known, Latin jazz.

As a Fulbright Fellow, Fernandez curated the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Latin Jazz: La Combinación Perfecta, which opened in Washington, D.C. in 2002 and traveled to twelve US cities through 2006. His ground-breaking research on Afro-Caribbean music and dance has brought welcome attention to the cultural contributions of the Afro-Latino diaspora and fostered an understanding of the crucial role that Afro-Cuban culture has played in the evolution of modern music in the U.S. and around the world through jazz.

That work provided an important foundation for the creation of the UC-CUBA Academic Initiative, a multi-campus research program launched in 2006. Since its inception, the initiative has been a seedbed for new scholarships, graduate training, and publications. While he officially retired from UCI in 2012, he was director of UC-CUBA from 2012-15 and continues to serve as executive secretary.

Fernandez has remained active in retirement within his department, on campus and systemwide, including serving as chair of the Department of Chicano Latino Studies – a department which he helped cofound, as a member of the School of Social Sciences Executive Committee, and on the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program selection committees. He serves as the faculty liaison for the Chicano/Latino Staff Association at UCI, has mentored scholars, taught courses, and sits on doctoral committees across multiple disciplines at UCI including anthropology, history, literature, political science, sociology, and Spanish, and interdisciplinary committees in humanities at UC Merced and UCLA.

Since retirement, he has published more than 15 scholarly articles, review essays, and reports, as well as a book, Ontología del son, La Habana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 2021, a major collection of 20 articles in Spanish, on Cuban music and musicians.

In 2018, he was recognized with the UC Irvine Outstanding Emeritus Award.

Fernandez completed his secondary education in Cuba, received his bachelor's from UC Berkeley in 1966 and his Ph.D. in economics from Claremont Graduate University in 1971. He joined the faculty at UC Irvine in 1969.

Fernandez is UCI’s ninth recipient of the Panunzio prize. Joining him in receipt of this year’s award is Charlene Harrington, UC San Francisco, professor emerita of nursing, retired in 2008. The two bring the total number of Panunzio award recipients to 51 since its founding in 1983.

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