Miami Presents: The Kissing Bug - A conversation with author Daisy Hernández

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Miami professor Daisy Hernández was recently featured on NPR for her book, The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease.  Join us for a special conversation between Daisy and Miami’s vice president for institutional diversity and inclusion, Cristina Alcalde.

The event, part of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month observances, will include a virtual Q&A session with the participants:

Dr. Cristina Alcalde provides vision and leadership for university-wide diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at Miami University, a role she began in July of 2021.  She is also professor in the Department of Global and Intercultural Studies.  Alcalde was previously professor of gender and women's studies and the Marie Rich Endowed Professor at the University of Kentucky, where she also served as associate dean of inclusion and internationalization in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her areas of expertise include gender and gender violence, racialization, migration, and exclusion and belonging. Her most recent book, Peruvian Lives across Borders: Power, Exclusion, and Home is based on multi-sited research in Peru, the U.S., Canada, and Germany. Alcalde earned her doctorate in anthropology and her master’s in Latin American studies at Indiana University and her bachelor of arts in anthropology at the University of Louisville. 

Daisy Hernández has been writing about the intersections of race, immigration, class and sexuality for almost two decades. A former New York Times reporter, she is the author of The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease (Tin House). She has also the author of the award-winning memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed (Beacon Press) and coeditor of the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism (Seal Press). Daisy has reported for National GeographicThe Atlantic, and Slate, among other media outlets, and her writing has been aired on NPR's All Things Considered. She is also a contributor to the Buddhist magazine Tricycle and an Associate Professor in the Creative Writing Program at Miami University.

About The Kissing Bug

Growing up in a New Jersey factory town in the 1980s, Daisy Hernández believed that her aunt had become deathly ill from eating an apple. No one in her family, in either the United States or Colombia, spoke of infectious diseases. Even into her thirties, she only knew that her aunt had died of Chagas, a rare and devastating illness that affects the heart and digestive system. But as Hernández dug deeper, she discovered that Chagas—or the kissing bug disease—is more prevalent in the United States than the Zika virus.

After her aunt’s death, Hernández began searching for answers. Crisscrossing the country, she interviewed patients, doctors, epidemiologists, and even veterinarians with the Department of Defense. She learned that in the United States more than three hundred thousand people in the Latinx community have Chagas, and that outside of Latin America, this is the only country with the native insects—the “kissing bugs”—that carry the Chagas parasite.

Through unsparing, gripping, and humane portraits, Hernández chronicles a story vast in scope and urgent in its implications, exposing how poverty, racism, and public policies have conspired to keep this disease hidden. A riveting and nuanced investigation into racial politics and for-profit healthcare in the United States, The Kissing Bug reveals the intimate history of a marginalized disease and connects us to the lives at the center of it all.

The presentation is free to watch online, but registration is required.  Please reach out to J.J. Slager, slagerjj@miamioh.edu, with questions.  

Register for this free event