Office Space: Dr. Javier Aguayo, Assistant Professor of Political Science
The way a person decorates can say a lot about them. In the Office Space series, we go beyond the résumé and get to know York College faculty and staff members through the objects they like to keep close.
Dr. Javier Aguayo has been with York College for 17 years. He was born and grew up in Lima, Peru, where he attended law school at Universidad Catolica del Peru. At the time, Peru was enmeshed in civil war and a failing economy, so after graduating in 1989, Dr. Aguayo decided to emigrate to the United States. That process would end up taking several years, and would force him to reinvent himself numerous times.
He received his master’s degree from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1993 and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2005. In 2014, he met his future husband, Gioniver, in Santo Domingo. The two were married in York College’s Brougher Chapel, surrounded by colleagues, students, and friends.
For Dr. Aguayo, York College has been a welcoming space where he is able to explore his academic interests. He teaches classes in International Relations, the Government and Politics of Latin America, and Social Movements Around the World. He returns to Peru at least once a year.
1. London Skyline Wall Sticker
One of the first things you notice when walking into Dr. Aguayo’s office is a large sticker of the London skyline on his wall. The first time he ever left his native Peru, it was to visit London, and Dr. Aguayo remembers how the city appeared beautiful and orderly compared to his home city. Thirty years later, the image of the London skyline gives Dr. Aguayo a daily chance to remember the “sense of possibility and wonder” that the city inspired in him on that trip.
Even those less-than-familiar with Peruvian culture will probably notice some of the South American nation’s most recognizable symbols upon entering Dr. Aguayo’s office: Llamas. The office boasts two of them, both of which come from Peru. One is a huge cardboard cutout, a gift from a friend who worked at a bank that ran a marketing campaign featuring a llama. The other is smaller, made out of llama wool, and was purchased by Dr. Aguayo in Lima.
3. Keith Haring "Fight AIDS" Original Poster
Dr. Aguayo found the poster, a print of one of American artist Keith Haring’s original works (much of Haring’s work was meant to bring attention to the AIDS crisis), in a dumpster behind the building where he lives. Like much of Haring’s work, it is striking in its simplicity and features three human figures and the words “Ignorance = Fear” and “Silence = Death.” It reminds Dr. Aguayo of when he came out in the 1980s and how terrifying the AIDS epidemic was.
4. Mayan Figurines
Dr. Aguayo keeps two Mayan figurines in his office. One is a sculpture of a priestess, the other is a man wearing a large feather headdress. They were both given to him by his predecessor, Dr. Bob Terry, who collected the sculptures and purchased them during trips to Mexico and Central America. “They were in his office for more than 20 years and now they are in mine for 20 years or more,” says Dr. Aguayo. “I plan to give them to my successor a few years down the road.”