Posted in Reading Habits

Reading Habits: Dr. Juan Allende

Dr. Juan Allende of the Political Science Department is our second interviewee in the Reading Habits Series.

Dr. Allende is often caught nosing through a book at McCain, checking out the new arrival shelf, and taking the time to explore. He frequently recommends books for the library to purchase so Agnes Scott students are fully equipped to explore the politics, literature, and culture of Latin America. In our conversation, Dr. Allende was very passionate, not about fluffy fiction pieces, but about how politics and human rights issues are often portrayed through art.

He  made a point to say that oftentimes, the best novels are the ones that subtly make a comment on political issues, for it is impossible to completely separate the personal from the political. And after all, who just wants to read textbooks all day? Sometimes, the strongest truths about society are communicated through art.

“You learn so much from hearing about an individual’s story. It makes the issues that seem abstract in class come alive,”

While Dr. Allende is constantly on the go and doesn’t have a lot of spare time for pleasure reading, he does enjoy reading in Spanish. He often recommends that the library purchase more translated (and original) texts from other countries. If you want a recommended title from Dr. Allende, expect a full immersion experience!

One book that is on Dr. Allende’s (long) list of must-reads to understand the political climate in Latin America is:

El arte de la resurreccion / The Art of Resurrection by Hernan Rivera Letelier

Winner of the 2010 Alfaguara Award, The Art of Resurrection is a novel that reaches beyond the borders of Chile and onto a national stage of recognition. Through a vision in the Elqui Valley, Domingo Zarate Vega discovers that he is none other than Jesus Christ reincarnate. In 1942 when he finds out that a prostitute named Magdalene is living in Providencia, he sets out to find her so she may become his disciple and lover. Together they spread the news of the impending end of the world, creating havoc among the villagers with their pious matrons. (

In addition, Dr. Allende recommends that everyone educate themselves about politics to better engage in a wider world. Here are some titles about Human Rights and Latin American Politics here in McCain:

  • Human Rights in Latin America: A Politics of  Terror and Hope, by Sonia Cardenas. Call # JC599.L3 C368 2010
  • Human Rights Policy of the Organization of American States in Latin America: A Philanthropic Endeavor, by Klaas Dykmann. Call # JC599.L3 D94 2008
  • Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy by Coletta A. Youngers. Call #HV5840.L3 D777 2005

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