Anita Carrasco Presents: “In Search of Unconditional Hospitality: Latin American & Hispanic Student Experiences at Luther College”


Associate Professor of Anthropology Anita Carrasco projects a quote from one of the interviewees. Photo Courtesy of Korpo M. Selay

On Tuesday, May 2, from 7 to 8 p.m., members of the Luther community gathered to learn about Associate Professor of Anthropology Anita Carrasco’s research. The presentation was titled: “In Search of Unconditional Hospitality: Latin American & Hispanic Student Experiences at Luther College.” The one-hour presentation took place in Olin 102 and focused on findings from a research Carrasco conducted during the 2021-22 academic year. 


Carrasco got the inspiration for the research from anthropologist Sharam Khosravi’s concept of unconditional hospitality (2011), broadly understood as when someone is open to another person who is not like oneself. Under her guidance, three student research assistants from Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Chicago conducted 47 interviews collecting stories from other Latin American and Hispanic students reflecting on what it meant to be of a minority background at a majority-white institution, like Luther.


According to Carrasco, findings from the research show that Latin American and Hispanic students at Luther have had both positive and negative experiences but still believe that the community can take actions to address those. She also mentioned that the presentation aimed at presenting the voice of the most vulnerable students during the research.


“A special concern to me are first generation, low income, and undocumented students,” Carrasco said. “In today’s talk, I have chosen to give priority to their voices because after listening to the many stories recorded in all the interviews, these were the students that reported the most suffering.”


Carrasco presented the research findings under three themes: labels and a sense of community among students, the institutional memory of racial incidents and responses, and students’ experiences at Luther, focusing on the good, bad, and ugly. Under each part, the overall theme was explored through the interviewees’ thoughts about the theme, and anonymous quotes from the interviews supported this. 


Following the presentation was a question and answer period with the audience. Many asked how long it took to conduct each interview, how the research process impacted the three students that worked with Carrasco, and how Luther would use the research in the future. 


Junita Sangare (‘25) attended the presentation to learn more about unconditional hospitality and said that a research like Carrasco’s is an opportunity to become educated about diversity and inclusion issues at Luther. 


“Professor Carrasco shared the experiences of students that resonate with me as a Black woman at Luther,” Sangare said. “You come to a community expecting to be welcomed but find out that is not the case.”


Also in attendance was the International Students Coordinator at the Center for Intellectual Engagement and Support (CIES) Alejandra Cruz. Cruz spoke of how the research findings will give minority students a voice and the importance of such research to offices like CIES.


“CIES can use the research findings to find ways to make our Hispanic and Latin American students feel more welcomed on campus,” Cruz said. “Our doors are always open, and we hope students can reach out to us with their concerns and work together to make Luther more welcoming to everyone.” 


Carrasco ended the presentation by stating that she hopes the community acknowledges that Luther has racial issues to address and that minority groups on campus are not making things up. 


“I hope people walk away knowing that racial issues exist and that we can do better as a community,” Carrasco said. “We can make the experiences of minority students much better.”