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Upcoming CERLAC Events

All events, unless otherwise indicated, are held at York University's Keele Campus in Toronto (map)


The Politics of Inclusive Development: Policy, State Capacity and Coalition Building. Judith Teichman. February 11, 2016.

Brown Bag Seminar Series: "Land, Agrarian Transformation and New Peasant Movements in Colombia". Kyla Sankey. February 4. 2016.

CERLAC Internal Speaker Series: Undoing modern subjectivities: Childhood, infancy, and the contemporary Mexican novel of deformation. Alejandro Zamora. February 3, 2016.

Occupiers and Dreamers: Insiders and Outsiders in a New Political Generation. Ruth Milkman. February 2, 2016.

Decolonizing Panamerica: A Panel Discussion with Emerging Scholars Chevy Eugene, Helene Vosters and Sasha Kovacs. January 27. 2016

A Conversation with Yvette Nolan and Daniel David Moses. Moderated by Michael Greyeyes. January 26, 2016

Playing Under the Gun. An Athlete's Tale of Survival in 1970s Chile. By Hernan E. Humana. January 20, 2016

Nursing in Post-Neoliberal El Salvador: Contributions, Hurdles, and New Horizons in the "Constructing Hope" Health-Care Reform. January 13, 2016.

Film Screening: The Pass Sytem. December 3, 2015

"The West Indian Domestic Scheme: Racialized Labour, Migration & Gender". November 28, 2015

Peace, Victims, & Corporate Interest - Colombia at the Crossroads. November 19, 2015

The Diana Massiah Lecture in Caribbean Studies. Dionne Brand: "The Language of the Blue Clerk". November 19, 2015.

Brown Bag Seminar Series:"Existentialism: Capitalist Ideological Myth". Tricia Herman. November 18, 2015.

'Beat Down Babylon': Rastafari, Reggae and Island Theology. By Judith Soares. November 10, 2015

Speaker Series - A Reading and Conversation with Carmen Aguirre. November 5, 2015.

"The Road to Morant Bay: Politics in Free Jamaica". Dr. Swithin Wilmot. October 13, 2015.

Brown Bag Seminar Series: The performance of human rights and decolonial visuality in Guatemala and Canada. Zoe Heyn-Jones. October 6, 2015.

Conflict and Historical Memory in Colombia. October 2, 2015.

From Zorro to Zombie in Thirty Years: The Rise and Fall of Muhamad Yunus and the Microcredit Model. By Milford Bateman. September 29, 2015.

Climate Change, Development Ethics, and the Global South. By Des Gasper. September 24, 2015.

Speaker Series - "Decolonizing Panamerica: Performance, Activism, Indigeinity." By Doris Difarnecio. September 24, 2015.

CERLAC Graduate Student Orientation Session. September 23, 2015.

RESISTENCIA. The Fight for the Aguan Valley. A Film by Jesse Freeston. September 17, 2015.

Archive, Freedom, History and the Radical Imagination: Graducate Workshop with Dr. Anthony Bogues. September, 8, 2015.

CERLAC's Youth Summer Program - Young Amautas of the Americas. July 27-31, 2015

Toronto 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Poet-Tree Project. The Poetry of Sports & the Sport of Poetry. July 8 and 11, 2015.

CERLAC Annual General Meeting 2015. May 1, 2015.

Transnational Homies and the Urban Middle Class: Defining the Ideal Transnational Service Worker in Guatemala. Luis Pedro Meoño Artiga. Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

From Boom to Bust: Implications of the Commmodity Crash For Extractive Economies in the Global South. Yao Graham. Thursday, April 9, 2015.

Spanish Lecture Series: “Conceptualizing the Landscape of Language and Trauma within Host-Foreign Linguistic Immersions Through the Study of Oscar Hijuelos’ Thoughts without Cigarettes”. Postponed Fernanda Carra-Salsberg. Thursday, March 19, 2015.

The 2015 Michael Baptista Lecture. Education and Mobilization in Contested Mexico - Situating Ayotzinapa. Wednesday, March 18, 2015. New Location

Spanish Lecture Series: “Transformations in Quechua Literature: Peru, 1900-1950”. Alan Durston.  Thursday, March 5, 2015. Postponed

Red Jacket. By Pamela Mordecai. March 5, 2015. Postponed

Thinking About Independence. A conversation with Cecil Foster. March 4, 2015. Postponed

Eye Around Matter. Karyn Olivier. February 25, 2015.

Brown Bag Seminar Series:Internalizing Racism among Mestizas: Geographies of Inclusion and Exclusion in the Public Spaces of Pereira, Colombia. Julian Gutierrez Castaño. February 11, 2015.

Liberty or Death! The Life and Campaigns of Richard L. Vowell in the Liberation of Latin America from Spain. Seminar by Dr. Maria Paez Victor. February 5, 2015

Canadian Imperialism: The History of the Extractive Industry in Colombia. Stefano Tijerina. November 27, 2014.

Inaugural Lambert Lecture on Indigenous People & Neotropipal Conservation: South American Andean Indigenous Emerging Paradigms on Bio-cultural Landscapes in the Context of Climate Change. Tirso Gonzales. November 26, 2014.

Brown Bag Seminar Series: Of No Nation: Writing Enslaved Women into Human Sorority and Citizenship in the Americas. Jan Anderson. November 25, 2014.

How to Present a Conference Paper. Workshop by Judy Hellman. November 18, 2014

The Diana Massiah Lecture in Caribbean Studies. Banking the Unbanked: Mobile Banking Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti. Dr. Espelencia Baptiste. November 12, 2014.

International Network of People Affected by Vale: New Forms of Resistance to Global Mining Corporations. Danilo Chammas and Dr. Judith Marsharll. November 6, 2014.

Brown Bag Seminar Series: Womonist Indigenous Resurgence in the Caribbean. Charlotte Henay. October 29, 2014.

Building the Foundations: A symposium on CERLAC's early years and the history of Canadian LAC Studies. October 21, 2014.

Going back "home": Testimonies of Brazilian women "living abroad". Monica Conrado. October 16, 2014.

CERLAC - 4th Interntional Graduate Student Research Conference. Student Engagement Committee Meeting. September 30, 2014.

CERLAC - Graduate Orientation Session. September 23, 2014.

Rose-Marie Belle Antoine talk. September 8th, 2014.



Past Events

CERLAC Annual General Meeting 2014. May 5, 2014

Building Solidarity with Honduras: Peoples Rights over Corporate Rights. April 7, 2014.

The 2014 Michael Baptista Lecture with Greg Grandin (New York University). March 26, 2014..

Researching Contentious Politics and Mining Regime: Comparison from Latin America and South East Asia. Dr. Jewellord Nem Singh. March 25, 2014

Corporate Accountability and Community Consent: The Case of Tahoe Resources in Guatemala. March 20, 2014.

Daniel James - Lecture and Talk on "Between History and Memory: "Oral History and the Challenge of the Memory Boom." March 20, 2014.

Koener Lecture in Neotropical Conservation. Featurin Judy Baca. March 18, 2014.

Voices Across Borders. A Symposium on Youth Experiences with Violence in Jamaica and Canada. March 7, 2014 (Jamaica) and Vigil for Roxie - A One Woman Play. March 9, 2014. (Jamaica)

Memory and Mourning in the Work of Doris Salcedo. By Gina Beltran, PhD. March 11, 2014.

A talk by Dr. Gustavo Lins Ribeiro. "ANTHROPOLOGICAL COSMOPOLITANISMS AND WORLD ANTHROPOLOGIES". February 28, 2014 at 3:30.

How to Present a Conference Paper Workshop February 26, 2014 at noon.

Indigenous Rights in Colombia. February 7, 2014 at 2:00 PM.

Inaugural CERLAC Film Series. February 6, 2014 at 5:30.

MAS BY OTHER MEANS: A Conversation between Carnival and Contemporary Art with Marlon Griffith and Christopher Innes. February 4, 2014 at 3:30.


Brown Bag Seminar:

Country style Community Tourism operating in Jamaica. February 27, 2014 at noon.


Ongoing Events

Latin American Politics Study Group

Brazilian Studies Seminar






Past Events


2013 - 2014 Academic Year

2012 - 2013 Academic Year

2011 - 2012 Academic Year

2010 - 2011 Academic Year

2009 - 2010 Academic Year

2008 - 2009 Academic Year

2007 - 2008 Academic Year

2006 - 2007 Academic Year

2005 - 2006 Academic Year

2004 - 2005 Academic Year

2003 - 2004 Academic Year

2002 - 2003 Academic Year

Previous Events (2001-2002 and before)


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Event Video Coverage


Video coverage of The 2015 Michael Baptista Lecture. Education and Mobilization in Contested Mexico - Situating Ayotzinapa

Panel: Jo Tuckman, Luis Hernandez and Maria Luz Arriaga, March 18, 2015


8th Annual Jagan Lecture Series Video 

Professor Keith Sandiford, March 21, 2009


Video footage of various panels and presentations of the "Rethinking Extractive Industry" Conference

York University, March 5-7, 2009


The Context of Atlantic Slavery and the Abolition of the British Slave Trade

By Franklin W. Knight, Nov. 13, 2007


Years of Human Rights Struggle in Argentina

By Nora Cortiñas, 2006 Baptista Lecture


Sweet & Sour Sauce: Sexual Politics in Jamaican Dancehall Culture

By Carolyn Cooper, 2005 Jagan Lecture


The Disappearing Island: Haiti, History, and the Hemisphere

By J. Michael Dash, 2004 Jagan-Baptista Lecture


Many past CERLAC events have published reports that can be accessed here:

CERLAC Bulletins

CERLAC Colloquia Papers


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The CERLAC Review (Newsletters)


Issues available online:

Issue 31 2006-2007 (pdf) (html)

Issue 30 2004-2005

Issue 29 2002-2003 and 2003-2004

Issue 28 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 

Issue 27 1999-2000 

Issue 26 Summer 1999

Issue 25 April 1997 






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2015 Michael Baptista Essay Prizes Awarded


The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) at York University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

At the undergraduate level, the prize was shared between two honorees: Jahkeil Goldson (LA&PS) with the paper “The Project of Modernity: Epistemic Violence and its Relationship with Essentialism and Hegemony” and Fred Daou (LA&PS) with the paper “Hybridity: A High Breed of Antiimperialism Politics.” As one adjudicator describes, Jakhil Goldson’s essay “offers a nuanced discussion of the relationship of modernity, global reconfigurations of power and the complex disciplining order being established through globalization. I personally like to way in which the author weaves the initial argument around epistemic violence and, as the paper progresses, [illustrates] the implications of this concept in terms of control and subordination of marginalized communities.” Another adjudicator commented “Jakhil Goldson demonstrates a grasp of some rather complex theoretical concepts and an ability to draw on a number of sources, from across disciplinary perspectives, to develop an articulate and coherent argument. I was impressed by her ability to draw on relevant and significant examples to support and demonstrate her argument.”
According to one adjudicator of Fred Daou’s paper, the work “is theoretically ambitious,” while another adjudicator commented that the paper is “an excellent and very well written essay that demonstrates a grasp of complex theoretical concepts and an impressive ability to develop a logical, coherent, and compelling argument. Fred Daou’s approach to the topic of the essay is original, focused, and obviously informed by a considerable depth of knowledge.”

At the graduate level, the prize was awarded to John Laman (LA&PS) for the paper “Revisiting the Sanctuary City: Citizenship or Abjection? Spotlighting the Case of Toronto.” One of the adjudicators mentioned: “I have ranked John Laman at the top largely for the originality of his argument and for the clear grasp and comprehensive engagement with the relevant literature but [also], most importantly, for what he adds to this literature and the compelling argument he makes for ‘a more nuanced evaluation’ of the established works on ‘sanctuary city’ in order to show the limits of the apparent claims to progressivity that is made in the existing literature and policy orientation. The paper shows an impressive depth of understanding of the issues at hand [and] reveals a sophisticated grasp of the subject matter while delivering the argument in a clear and convincing manner.” The second adjudicator commented: “Against the received wisdom that cities with lax implementation of immigration regulations afford undocumented workers better opportunities as citizens, this papers examines the vulnerable position these workers continued to exercise in labour markets under such conditions in a city like Toronto. This is an innovative paper in its approach to the subject and daring in its inquiry into critical ways of understanding social orders. The paper is superbly written and persuasively argued.”

The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each level of prize).  All three of these prize-winning papers are available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.
All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors' respective levels of study and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2015 prize were: Basma Nassif for “Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement” and Tanesha Patrick for “Nation and Identity.” The other graduate-level nominees were: Deepti Kapadia for “The ‘Return’ of the English-speaking Caribbean Second Generation from Canada, USA, and the UK” and Alexander Kokach for “Protecting Indigenous Rights through Corporate Mechanisms: A Case Study of the Xinca People and Tahoe Resources in Guatemala.”

The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective. The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.

If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student's essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:

Congratulations to all of this year's nominees and to the three 2015 Baptista Prize winners!



CERLAC's Youth Summer Program: Young Amautas of the Americas


Youth Summer Program of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)


Theme: Sport, Culture and Education in Latin America and the Caribbean
York University, July 27-31/2015


The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) invites youth from the GTA and beyond to its first student summer program, YOUNG AMAUTAS OF THE AMERICAS. CERLAC is a York University-based hub for inter- and multidisciplinary research on Latin America and the Caribbean, their diasporas, and their relations with Canada and the rest of the world.
YOUNG AMAUTAS OF THE AMERICAS, CERLAC’s Youth Summer Program, will guide thirty (30) students, between 14-18 years of age, through an interdisciplinary educational process. Youth will participate in daily activities including art, dance, creative writing, sports, music, trips, and workshops. The curriculum will help students to collectively evaluate the historical and contemporary development of Latin America and the Caribbean and the influence of the regions on new generations of youth. It seeks to inspire Latin American and Caribbean youth to pursue post-secondary education. Professors and students from CERLAC and York University, as well as teachers, partners, and parents from the community will contribute to this new learning experience. 
The program will run from July 27–31, 2015, from 9.00am - 3.30pm each day.  There is no cost to the 30 youth who will be selected to participate. Meals (breakfast and lunch) as well as transportation (bus tickets) will be provided. This student summer program will be held at CERLAC, Keele Campus (York University). The Application Deadline is Monday, June 15, 2015.

YOUNG AMAUTAS OF THE AMERICAS will organize a variety of activities around the following topics:

  1. Culture, Sports, Arts, Technology and the Environment
  2. Family, Community, Migration, Education and Identities
  3. Histories of Latin America and the Caribbean
  4. Indigenous Culture of the Americas
  5. Colonization and Resistance

But what is an Amauta? During the earliest times of the Incaic society the Amawtakuna was a well-respected student who held the responsibility for keeping their history, culture and traditions alive.  Likewise, our summer program seeks to empower Latin America and Caribbean youth to contribute, with their knowledge, to the development of our societies.

Application Form

Contact Info: 
Abubacar Fofana León
Summer Programme Director. 
York University, York Lanes, Room 327,
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, Canada, M3J 1P3Tel.





CERLAC invites applications for The Paavo and Aino Lukkari Award & Fellowship


The Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund supports York graduate students engaged in research on human rights and

social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous people and/or people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean


CERLAC announces the call for applications for the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Award(s) and Fellowship.




functions as a cost fund to support a number of graduate students’ research and academic training costs, for complementary activities central to the completion of their research. Award(s) will be granted to one or more graduate students annually, to provide support for discrete, concrete activities such as, for example: fieldwork expenses; specialized equipment  or software; specialized training (language instruction); etc. Multiple awards of varying amounts will be granted annually, drawing from a maximum total of $20,000, with a maximum of $10,000 for one project.



is intended as a general support fund, to cover general research and related costs (fieldwork, equipment, book purchases, specialized training or software, etc.); they may also be used for tuition and general living expenses, to relieve the student from financial pressure in order to focus on his/her project. One award of $10,000 will be granted annually to an eligible MA or PhD student.



York graduate students in good standing who are:

- engaged in research on human rights and social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous people and/or people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean

- citizens or permanent residents of Canada

- registered in the CERLAC Graduate Diploma Program (Fellowship requirement only)



Submit a complete application package, as detailed on the Award and Fellowship Forms, available here:

Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights AWARD APPLICATION FORM

Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION FORM


The deadline for this year's applications is April 1, 2015.


Questions can be directed to:




CERLAC invites applications for The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies


CERLAC (the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University) solicits applications to a scholarship fund intended to support the research of PhD students whose work is of relevance to Caribbean Studies.


The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies

Application deadline: April 1, 2015


The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies is intended to support PhD students at York University whose research is related to Caribbean studies so that they might focus on research during the fieldwork phase of their studies or while writing their thesis. Recipients will be selected based on academic excellence, significance of proposed research, likelihood of completion, and financial need.  Preference will be given to a PhD student whose dissertation proposal has been accepted.

The 2015 award consists of $5,000.

Application Process:
Interested applicants will be required to provide a nomination package to the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC) no later than April 1, 2015 in order to be considered for this scholarship.

Nomination packages should include the following:

  • a statement (no longer than three pages) outlining the areas of research and the importance of this research as it relates to Caribbean studies.  Also please include a clear statement of  your financial needs and a timeline of how you  envision finishing your degree,
  • a sample of your research,
  • a current CV,
  • academic transcripts (can be submitted up to 1 weeks after the application deadline)
  • two letters of reference; and
  • Applicants must also complete the Student Financial Profile (SFP).  You can find that form here:


Send applications to:

8th Floor, Kaneff Tower
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON
M3J 1P3

Preference will be given to a PhD candidate (applications from Master students will not be considered) with an approved dissertation proposal on file with the Office of the Dean, Graduate Studies, for distribution in the Summer term for the year of consideration. By virtue of applying for this scholarship, students agree to share their statements with the donor who has established the scholarship.

Applicants can contact, for further information on this scholarship.




2014 Michael Baptista Essay Prizes Awarded


The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University (CERLAC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.


At the undergraduate level, Jorge Villatoro (LA&PS) won for his paper: "The Emergence of the Regional Cult of El Señor de Esquipulas".  As one adjudicator commented: “This paper offers a very thorough and insightful analysis of the emergence of the cult of El Señor de Esquipulas in the town of Esquipulas (Guatemala). This is a superb research paper with a 1) well-defined topic, 2) precise and cohesive sections, and 3) an elegant organization. There is ample evidence throughout the paper that this student is well on his way of becoming an independent scholar. Indeed, working with ample sources the author goes on to challenge existing explanations of the origin of the cult and to postulate his own interpretation with a clear and theoretically informed rhetorical voice. Moreover, using an interdisciplinary and comparative approach, the author situates himself within current debates about the significance of religious pilgrimage and the rise of Esquipulas as a pilgrimage center. In sum, this paper is a prime example of undergraduate research at its best.”


At the graduate level, the prize was shared between two honorees: Nadia Halum Arauz (Osgoode) for her paper "Atahualpa’s Legacy: Analyzing the Impact of Gold Mining on Peru’s Campesino Community" and Jenna Meguid (Osgoode) for her paper "Colombia’s Peace Talks". About Ms. Halum Arauz’s paper, one adjudicator observed: “This essay is not only very carefully and analytically argued, but it is also based on primary as well as secondary sources. That is, it is particularly well researched. The essay is also original since Ms. Harum Arauz uses the data/evidence that she has gathered to develop proposals for potential legal action that the community under consideration might take in order to defend its interests. In addition this work is very well and clearly written. It develops its arguments with great care and precision. In sum, the paper manifests exceptional research, exceptionally cogent and analytically developed arguments, originality, and an elegant well-organized presentation.” About Ms. Meguid’s essay, an adjudicator expressed the following: “Jenna's paper provides a careful analysis of the current peace negotiations in Colombia. Working with relatively little material on this process, the paper develops a number of important insights into the ongoing challenges and possible outcomes of the peace talks between the FARC and the Government of Colombia.” Another adjudicator remarked: “Ms. Meguid’s work … is very carefully and well argued, analytically cogent, and well-written. I am very impressed … by the critical intelligence with which it systematically dissects a very difficult set of issues.”  


The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each level of prize).  All three of these prize-winning papers will be available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.


All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors' respective levels of study, and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2014 prize were: Collette Murray’s "Global Migration and Diaspora Cultures” ; Maia Foster’s "The Fight for the Forest” ; The other graduate-level nominees were: Julian Gutierrez Castano’s "The Racialization of Forced Displacement in Colombia”; Abigail Henry’s: "Codeswitching in the Church: The Cultural Significance of the Jamaican New Testament”; Kevin Chrisman’s: "Visualizing Los Pobres in Mexico City: Space, Gender and National Identity in Feature Films, 1948-1979”; and Vanesa Tomasino Rodriguez’s:  "Subjectivity and Space: Orchestrating and uncontested perception of Pandilleros in El Salvador”.  


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective. The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.


For the call for nominations for the 2015 prize, see:


If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student's essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:


Congratulations to all this year's nominees, and especially to the prize winners!








New link for blog that focuses on the Security Crisis in Mexico is a blog set up by CERLAC colleague Hepzibah Munoz Martinez (University of New Brunswick) focusing on the security crisis in Mexico.


The blog started in March 2012, to promote a speaking tour that was hosted in Universities across Canada (including at York, under the auspices of CERLAC), entitled No More Blood: Struggles for Peace and Human Rights in Mexico. This tour brought four Mexican human rights defenders to Canada to speak and discuss the worsening of public security and human rights crisis experienced in their country. The goal of the tour was to expand existing mobilization around human rights and social justice issues beyond Mexican borders to raise awareness of the complexity of Mexico's violence in Canada. Since the speaking tour, the organizers are continuing to work as a solidarity network in Canada to fight against the War on Mexico, and drug-related violence.


See also the initiative's facebook page and twitter account. If you want to receive updates directly to your e-mail address, just enter your e-mail address in the space provided by the blog.


Please feel free to send Hepzibah any short opinion piece that you think is relevant for the blog, or any links related to the security crisis in Mexico.





Winner announced: TLN Telelatino Award 2014


CERLAC is pleased to announce the winner of the TLN Telelatino Award 2014 for an outstanding undergraduate work on the Hispanic experience in Canada.

The winner of this year’s prize is Yonita Parkes. The title of her essay is “Salsa on St. Clair: Consumer Consumption and the Construction of Cultural Identity.”

Parkes’ paper explores the relationship of Toronto’s Salsa on St. Clair street festival to the production of Latin American identity in dominant Canadian society.  
It offers a compelling discussion of the implications of the use of ethnic commodification in the gentrification process of Toronto’s St. Clair West, the Hillcrest Village BIA, and Ward 21 for the construction of Latin American identity, particularly of women, in Toronto.
The paper will soon be available online as part of CERLAC's TLN Telelatino Award series.

All of the nominated papers represent high-caliber scholarly work at their authors’ respective levels of study and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize.
The Prize was established in 2009 by a donation made to York University by Telelatino (TLN), a Canadian television channel that broadcasts programs of interest to the Hispanic and Italian communities. This $1000 prize is awarded annually to undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly work of relevance to the Hispanic experience in Canada.

Congratulations to all this year's nominees, and especially to the prizewinner!












CERLAC invites applications for The Paavo and Aino Lukkari Award & Fellowship


The Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund supports York graduate students engaged in research on human rights and

social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous people and/or people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean


CERLAC announces the call for applications for the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Award(s) and Fellowship.




functions as a cost fund to support a number of graduate students’ research and academic training costs, for complementary activities central to the completion of their research. Award(s) will be granted to one or more graduate students annually, to provide support for discrete, concrete activities such as, for example: fieldwork expenses; specialized equipment  or software; specialized training (language instruction); etc. Multiple awards of varying amounts will be granted annually, drawing from a maximum total of $20,000, with a maximum of $10,000 for one project.



is intended as a general support fund, to cover general research and related costs (fieldwork, equipment, book purchases, specialized training or software, etc.); they may also be used for tuition and general living expenses, to relieve the student from financial pressure in order to focus on his/her project. One award of $10,000 will be granted annually to an eligible MA or PhD student.



York graduate students in good standing who are:

- engaged in research on human rights and social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous people and/or people of African descent in Latin America and the Caribbean

- citizens or permanent residents of Canada

- registered in the CERLAC Graduate Diploma Program (Fellowship requirement only)



Submit a complete application package, as detailed on the Award and Fellowship Forms, available here:

Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights AWARD APPLICATION FORM

Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION FORM


The deadline for this year's applications is Monday, March 31, 2014.


Questions can be directed to:








Andrea Davis & Carl James discuss Jamaicans in Canada in online IDRC video


CERLAC Fellows Carl James and Andrea Davis (Interim Director of CERLAC), whose co-edited book, Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence, has been referenced in prior CERLAC News, feature together in an hour-long IDRC (International Development Research Centre) online video.


The video, part of the "IDRC Lectures" series, captures the discussion between the co-editors and the President of IDRC, David Malone, on the subject of the book: the contributions Jamaica and Jamaicans have made to Canadian society. The panel discussion took place on November 29, following the Ottawa-based launch of the book.


The video can be viewed here.


From IDRC's description of the YouTube video:


On August 6, 2012, Jamaica celebrated 50 years of independence from Britain. Since then, Jamaica has had an increasingly powerful influence on global culture. The growth of Jamaican diasporas beyond Britain to the United States, Canada, and West Africa has served to strengthen Jamaica's global reach. Today Jamaica's cultural, economic, and political achievements are felt way beyond its national borders.


Jamaica in the Canadian Experience, edited by Andrea Davis and Carl E. James, commemorates Jamaica's independence by acknowledging the immense and widespread contributions Jamaica and Jamaicans have made to Canadian society. These contributions were discussed by the editors at a panel following the official launch of the anthology.


Panelists: Carl E. James, Director of the York Centre for Education and Community in the Faculty of Education at York University; Andrea Davis, Acting Director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University; IDRC President, David Malone, chaired the panel.


Écoutez la vidéo en français







Jaime Llambías Wolff publishes edited volume on Latin America's future


For CERLAC Fellow Jaime Llambías Wolff, the principal accomplishment of his new edited volume is that it offers us a means "to think about Latin America from a XXI Century perspective on a variety of subjects... I wanted to tackle some of the important challenges confronting the region, knowing at the same time that it is impossible to cover everything."


From the book jacket (translated from the Spanish): The world is getting smaller all the time, and yet more difficult to comprehend... These are embryonic times of profound change, offering opportunities for positive change. How does the global context effect Latin Americans? What is the place of Latin America in the 21st Century? What challenges must it confront? This book critically, and from a plurailty of perspectives, investigates a variety of themes relagted to the region's future. The contributors offer insights into the pressing issues confronting this evemore interdependent region.


Table of Contents:


INTRODUCCIÓN Jaime LLambías Wolff



América Latina: por una economía de equilibrio frente a los mitos del crecimiento - Gunter F.Trapp

Energía, economía y cambio climático: sinergia insustentable - Alejandro Yáñez Arancibia, John W. Day & Charles A. S. Hall

La geopolítica ambiental global: el desafío del cambio climático para América Latina - Fernando Estenssoro Saavedra

Tendencias políticas en América Latina en el contexto mundial del siglo XXI: Hacia una Teoría Política Realista-Sistémica-Estructural sobre América Latina - Luis Dallanegra Pedraza

Desafíos de un neo regionalismo emergente en América Latina y El Caribe - Raúl Allard Neumann



La izquierda en América Latina: tendencias y distinciones - Ernesto Ottone

Ciudadanía, cultura política y reforma del Estado en América Latina - Willem Assies (in memoriam), Marco Antonio Calderón & Ton Salman

Los partidos y la profesionalización de la política en América Latina - Manuel Alcántara Sáez



Movimientos sociales y partidos políticos en América Latina - María Fernanda Somuano

El movimiento feminista en América Latina. Su recorrido y las condiciones de inequidad de género - Clotilde Hernández Garnica & Ma. Elena Camarena Adame

Pluralismo étnico, cultural y jurídico y los derechos indígenas en América Latina - Simone Rodrigues Pinto & Carlos Federico Domínguez Ávila

¿América Latina ya no es católica? El incremento del pluralismo cultural y religioso - Cristián Parker Gumucio

Las dimensiones de la acción colectiva en América Latina - Manuel Antonio Garretón M.



Los desafíos del mañana y la transdisciplina, para pasar del saber al comprender - Manfred Max-Neef

La educación intercultural: entre la igualdad y la diferencia - Martín Hopenhayn

Sociotecnología: un paradigma constructivista radical para América Latina - Carlos Vignolo

Jóvenes de Enseñanza Media Técnico Profesional e inserción laboral: brechas y desafíos - Marcelo Charlín de Groote & Sonia Reyes Herrera

Las políticas públicas para la Sociedad de la Información en América Latina: la importancia de los sistemas regionales de innovación - Susana Finquelievich



Los paradigmas de Estado y el condicionamiento de las prestaciones sociales en la restructuración del bienestar - Amaia Inza Bartolomé

Sistemas de salud en América Latina: la complejidad de las reformas que requiere el siglo XXI - Jorge Ernesto Pérez Lugo

La salud y sus desafíos a futuro: interrogantes teóricas e implicaciones prácticas - Jaime LLambías Wolff








CERLAC hosts new scholarly list on Canadian relations with Latin America & the Caribbean


The list, CANADA-ALC, is intended to be an academic space on which to post information about articles, books, projects, talks, conferences, seminars, videos, etc., on any social science aspect of Canada's relations with countries in the region or with the region as a whole.


It responds to a need expressed by participants in recent panels on the topic of Canada in the Americas, organized by CERLAC for conferences such as the 2012 CALACS Congress and the 2010 Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences. These participants identified the need for more exchange and better communication among those interested in critically analyzing Canada's role in the hemisphere.


Canada's involvement in the Americas is complex and growing. A useful overview is available in a special issue of NACLA (Vol. 43 Issue 3, May/June 2010) entitled Empire's Apprentice: Canada in Latin America. In the overview article, CERLAC Fellows Ricardo Grinspun (Economics, York) and Yasmine Shamsie (Political Science, Wilfred Laurier) trace Canada's contradictory foreign policy commitments: on the one hand, a neoliberal trade strategy, and on the other, a stated policy of respecting the democratic process, favoring multilateralism in diplomatic affairs, and rigorously adhering to human rights and environmental standards. Another useful overview can be found in Peter McKenna's edited volume Canada Looks South: In Search of an Americas Policy (University of Toronto Press, 2012). The chapter by Ricardo Grinspun and CERLAC Research Associate Jennifer Mills surveys Canada's renewed push since 2007 for strengthened ties with countries in the region. This effort is firmly linked to the trade docket, joining up with the region's most conservative governments, and working as part of an effort to resist post-neoliberal hemispheric trends.


If you would like to join the list please write to








From: Official Program CALACS 2012 "Between Indigeneity and the Transnational: Place and Mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean"

Special IDRC Panel: Canada in the Americas

"Canadian Investment Treaties and Environmental Governance in Latin America" Ricardo Grinspun, York University

"Mercados y derechos globales: reflexiones sobre la realidad de pueblos indígenas de Canadá y América Latina" José Aylwin, Observatorio de Temuco

"Canadian foreign policy toward Latin America: Stealth policy or Good Business Sense" Pablo Heidrich, North-South Institute

"Canada's Policy in the Americas – What Role for Civil Society?" Rachel Warden, KAIROS/APG

"Generating Rights for Communities Harmed by Mining: Legal and Other Action" Liisa L. North, with Laura Young, FES, York/CERLAC

Discussant: Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas, CALACS/Brock University

Organizers: Eduardo Canel, Ricardo Grinspun, Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas

Chair: Eduardo Canel











Andrea Davis & Carl James meet with Jamaican PM


On 25 October 2012, CERLAC Fellow Carl James and Director Andrea Davis attended a reception at the Jamaican Canadian Centre in Toronto to mark 50 years of bilateral relations between Canada and Jamaica. At that reception, the Prime Ministers of both Jamaica and Canada were presented with copies of James' and Davis' co-edited book, Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence. The reception was one of several events planned as part of a week-long official visit to Canada by Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller at the invitation of Canadian PM Stephen Harper. This was the first state visit by the Jamaican PM since her re-election in December 2012. The visit was cut short by PM Simpson Miller's early return to Jamaica to oversee the island's response to Hurricane Sandy.


At the reception Harper acknowledged the contributions of close to 300,000 Jamaican immigrants in Canada, and both PMs confirmed their commitment to continue to build political and economic relationships between the two countries. Andrea Davis said of the occasion: "The visit of Jamaican Prime Minister Simpson Miller in a year that marks both 50 years of Independence from Britain and 50 years of bilateral relations between Canada and Jamaica was timely and symbolic. For thousands of Jamaicans who have made Canada home, it was a symbolic moment registering their pride in their dual national connections and long contributions to Canadian society. The fact that Prime Minister Simpson Miller was first invited on an official visit to Canada and not England or the United States in this groundbreaking year would have been particularly meaningful for these immigrants, since Jamaican diasporic communities in Canada are often overshadowed in research and the global media by larger communities in New York, Florida and London, England. It is my hope that the meaning of this visit, and indeed this year, will move beyond the symbolic to realize more tangible results, such as a positive revaluation of Jamaican youth identities in Toronto."


Regarding their co-edited book, Prof. James stated: "The book is our attempt to intervene into, or interrupt/disrupt, the seemingly prevailing uncomplimentary discourse of Jamaican Canadians. The contributors, representing the diversity of Canadians of Jamaican heritage (including many second generation), signify the many voices, expertise and perspectives of individuals who, in fundamental ways and for centuries, have helped to shape Canada as we know it today. We hope that the essays provide new understandings of us as Canadians who are fully engaged in the economic, cultural, educational and social existence of the country rather than marginal to it. That Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Portia Simpson Miller now have copies means for us that they too will be similarly informed like the rest of Canadians and Jamaicans."

Andrea Davis interviewed on Radio Canada International about Canada-Jamaica relations and the reality of Jamaican Canadians:


From Radio Canada International, 25 october 2012 - Jamaican Canadian realities and PM Simpson Miller's visit to Canada Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's first official visit to Canada was supposed to last five days, and end on Friday. It ended early because of Hurricane Sandy, and the Prime Minister's return to Jamaica. However, in her few days here, she met with Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian officials, as well as members of the Jamaican Diaspora. RCI's Wojtek Gwiazda spoke to Professor Andrea Davis about Canada-Jamaica relations and the reality of Jamaican Canadians. Davis is the Director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) at Toronto's York University and co-editor of the book "Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence"


Click on the "Listen" button here to listen to the interview with Prof. Davis.


See also the related Y-File story










New Blog on the Security Crisis in Mexico is a new blog set up by CERLAC colleague Hepzibah Munoz Martinez (University of New Brunswick) focusing on the security crisis in Mexico.


The blog was begun in March 2012, to promote a speaking tour that was hosted in Universities across Canada (including at York, under the auspices of CERLAC), entitled No More Blood: Struggles for Peace and Human Rights in Mexico. This tour brought four Mexican human rights defenders to Canada to speak and discuss the worsening of public security and human rights crisis experienced in their country. The goal of the tour was to expand existing mobilization around human rights and social justice issues beyond Mexican borders to raise awareness of the complexity of Mexico's violence in Canada. Since the speaking tour, the organizers are continuing to work as a solidarity network in Canada to fight against the War on Mexico, and drug-related violence.


See also the initiative's facebook page and twitter account. If you want to receive updates directly to your e-mail address, just enter your e-mail address in the space provided by the blog.


Please feel free to send Hepzibah any short opinion piece that you think is relevant for the blog, or any links related to the security crisis in Mexico.








Winner announced: 2012 Michael Baptista Essay Prize


CERLAC is pleased to announce the winner of the 2012 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.


At the graduate level, Lisane Thirsk (Socio-Legal Studies) won for her paper: "Law and the Discursive Construction of Street Harassment as Violence in Mexico City."


At the undergraduate-level, no prize was awarded this year but two papers received honorable mention: Katia Hoyos Saleme's "The Pawns in the Globalization Game" and Allan Jacobson Spessoto's "Recuperated Workplaces."


The competing essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each of the two prizes).


In one evaluators' words, Lisane Thirsk's contribution provides a "finely nuanced understanding of why law is both a necessary and yet unreliable resource in mobilizing for social change in Mexico… The essay demonstrates thorough knowledge of the Mexican legal system's current realities and practices and places these insights squarely in the service of its line of argument. Its nuances and intelligent discussion of the topic informs and critically engages with the subject. Overall, an excellent essay, a valuable contribution to the topic." Another evaluator noted: "The author did an excellent job of contextualizing the role of the new anti-harassment law within the contemporary realities of Mexico. What placed this essay above the others was its specific focus on a group, Atrévete D.F., and its interaction with the new law. It is the real experience of real activists that gives the spark to this paper."


The other graduate-level nominees were: Aaron Cain's "Extractives versus Indigenous Peoples: Is Welcoming Mining a Path to Decolonization?"; Angele Charette's "The Structural Dimensions of Canadian Mining Practices Abroad: The Case of El Salvador vs. PacRim Cayman"; and Janice Flavien's "Carnival As Translation: A Case Study."


All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors' respective levels of study and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize.


The prize-winning paper is available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective. The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.


For more information on the essay prize, see:


For the call for nominations for the 2013 prize, see:


If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student's essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:


Congratulations to all this year's nominees, and especially to the prize winner!


See this story in YFile













After 5 years as CERLAC Director, Eduardo Canel moves on


Prof. Eduardo Canel completed his term as Director of CERLAC on June 30, 2012. He served one year as Interim Director before taking on the full role in 2008. In those five years, he built well on the foundations inherited from his predecesors, very capably guiding the Centre through another challenging era of change.


During Eduardo's tenure, there were major transformations at York in terms of administrative leadership, research prioritization, finanical prospects and ORU (Organized Research Unit) policy. Eduardo deftly navigated these changes, representing CERLAC with great political skill and aplomb.


He earned the respect and appreciation of his colleagues as he took on a leadership role upholding the shared interests of York's research centres in a process of negotiated change to the University's ORU policies.


In the words of CERLAC's Founding Director, Prof. Emeritus Louis Lefeber: "Of the various ways Eduardo contributed to CERLAC's benefit, I believe his determined fight for academic independence is among the most important. He became CERLAC director at a time when changes in the University Administration brought about new and increasingly complex problems for ORU administrations. In lengthy discussions with other ORUs and difficult negotiations with the Administration, Eduardo, with his admirably civilized and collegial ways, fought against some of the most onerous demands against the academic independence of CERLAC and ORUs in general, such as fixed term limits for the functioning of ORUs. ... Eduardo can be proud of what he accomplished, and we can be grateful for what he contributed as our Director."


He also diversified and strengthened CERLAC's instutional friendships within York, developing strong collaborative ties with other research centres (such as the Cenre for Refugee Studies, with which CERLAC is working jointly on a major initiative) and reinforcing its connection with the office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI). CERLAC's relocation into the newly constructed York Research Tower (into a suite whose layout was largely designed by Eduardo and then-Coordinator Shana Shubbs) also took place during his term. Doubtlessly the open, shared-space configuration of the new building has contributed to the spirit of comraderie and collaboration that has flourished among the Centres on the 8th floor, but just as certainly Eduardo's personality and communication style have been instrumental.


"I have had the good fortune to work collaboratively with Eduardo on a major initiative that crosses the research interests of both CERLAC and CRS - forced displacement in Colombia," says outgoing Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) Director, Prof. Susan McGrath. "We have worked with colleagues in Colombia to develop the Latin America Network on Forced Migration ... Eduardo is skilled at engaging people from all sectors and in working towards agreement and shared commitment. CERLAC and CRS now have strong ties. I have much enjoyed working with him as have other CRS members."


Eduardo also built or reinforced strong partnerships outside the University, maintaining CERLAC's profile with key granting agencies, undertaking joint projects with partners such as CEBEM (Centro Boliviano de Estudios Multidisciplinarios) and CALACS (the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies), and continuing to work with an array of academic and civil society partners – some of them long-term friends of CERLAC, some of them new - in Canada and throughout the region on various project initiatives.


Former CALACS President Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas: "Building on a long history of collaboration between the two organizations, Eduardo helped consolidate a strong CALACS/CERLAC institutional partnership that is mutually beneficial. His commitment to expanding and diversifying member networks that benefit from strong programs, multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary networks, and expansive and diverse opportunities for the interchange of research findings relevant to development and area studies in Canada and of interest to researchers, policy makers and Canadian society is truly inspiring. As colleague, Eduardo is incredibly supportive and generous, a real pleasure to work with."


"Always supportive and kind... CERLAC had in Eduardo an organized and visionary director"

Delores Figueroa (PhD, Political Science)


"Thanks to Eduardo for his unflagging support for advancing a great variety of projects and events proposed by Fellows!"

Liisa North (CERLAC Fellow, Professor emeritus, Political Science)


"For me, particularly important were the wonderful ways in which Eduardo was able listen to all of us, as diverse as we (thankfully) are in our beliefs, ideas and opinions. And, when necessary, to distill these tensions into a common position for the sake of moving our Centre forward ..."

Harry Smaller (CERLAC Fellow, Professor emeritus, Education)


"Eduardo Canel is respected by his ORU colleagues not only for his leadership of CERLAC but for his active participation and contributions to the Council of Research Directors. He thoughtfully and respectfully raises what could be contentious issues in a way that encourages dialogue and reduces defensiveness."

Susan McGrath (Outgoing Director, Centre for Refugee Studies)

Externally, the funding environment also underwent significant changes during Eduardo's term, as CIDA (the Canadian International Development Agency) radically changed its granting structures, priority areas and political orientation, to CERLAC's detriment. SSHRC (the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), meanwhile, introduced a new funding architecture very much in sync with the Centre's research interests and with its traditional approach to community-engaged, equitable project partnerships based in the South. Eduardo effectively mobilized research teams and supportive resources to capitalize on these new opportunities, and in so doing has helped to realize a priority identified by CERLAC in its 2009 six-year strategic plan: the goal of strengthening and diversifying research in the Centre.


One manifestation of this greater emphasis on research is CERLAC's success with grants, its having received since 2010 two significant multi-year Partnership Development grants from SSHRC, with various other initiatives in gestation. This signifies a marked shift from the older paradigm at CERLAC in which it dedicated its main institutional energies to major capacity-building projects (with a secondary research dimension) in the South, generally funded by CIDA.


This success with grants stems, in turn, from Eduardo's having nurtured strong research teams on different topics, and his building greater research support capacity within CERLAC. Most impressively, he has put CERLAC on the map as a leading research institution on the topic of global extractive industry: from the establishment of a York-based research group, to the organization in 2009 of a major international conference on the topic, to the subsequent formation of a project team of international experts, the organization of various special conference sessions in venues such as CALACS and LASA, and leading ultimately to one of the aforementioned SSHRC grants, with CERLAC Fellow David Szablowski as principal investigator.


On behalf of the Extractive Industries Research Group, David comments: "Eduardo's support has been quite simply indispensable to the EI work that has been coming out of CERLAC over these past years. In CERLAC, Eduardo has provided a grounded and supportive space for nurturing collaborative research. While researchers are all too often pulled in different directions with competing responsibilities, Eduardo could be counted on to retain focus, ask the essential questions, and to provide critical institutional resources and know-how. I am enormously grateful to Eduardo for his support as director of CERLAC. His efforts in promoting research at the Centre have been truly invaluable."


The greater emphaisis on research is but one of the internal changes within CERLAC overseen by Eduardo; others include: The strengthening of the Centre's Caribbean dimension, greatly advanced under the co-leadership of Deputy Director Andrea Davis, recruited for the role largely to pursue this goal (see more about Andrea's contributions here). The diversification of membership and reinforcement of the Centre's multidisciplinary character, drawing in new Fellows from across all faculties at York. An updating of CERLAC's governance structures, to render the Execuive Committee more lithe and transparent and to formally incorporate student representation. Again with Andrea, the expansion of space for student involvement in CERLAC more generally, with a significant product of this effort being the establishment of a bi-annual graduate student research conference, organized by students and highlighting an international array of diverse work on regional topics.


Michelle Switzer (PhD Candidate, Social Anthropology) offers the following observation, from a student perspective: "During his time as director, Eduardo proved an excellent source of advice, information and encouragement for students, creating a welcoming environment at CERLAC. Even with his busy schedule he made time to meet with students (such as myself) personally to provide guidance through the research process, and supported useful initiatives, such as the Latin American Politics Research Group."


Summing up, incoming Director Prof. Andrea Davis affirms that "Eduardo has provided invaluable leadership in his role as Director and has successfully guided CERLAC during a critical period, helping us to expand regional activities and promote interdisciplinary research."


Eduardo will be much missed by his friends and colleagues during his well-deserved year of sabbatical in 2012-13. We look forward to his ongoing presence in CERLAC upon his return, and thank him profoundly for his 5 years of making us proud as the Centre's very capable Director.








Andrea Davis, in-coming Director of CERLAC: a teaching award, project profiled in "Research Matters"


CERLAC'S new Director: As of July 1 2012, CERLAC has a new Director – the first Caribbeanist scholar to assume the role in the Centre's 34-year history. Prof. Andrea Davis was confirmed by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) and the Dean of LA&PS as incoming interim director in March 2012. The decision is warmly welcomed by the members of the Centre's Executive Committee, who unanimously supported her recommendation to the role. Andrea's appointment is for an interim period of one year; full Director hirings have been postponed, pending the outcome of a VPRI-driven process of reform to the structure of research units at York.


Prof. Davis has served as Deputy Director of the Centre since 2008. She worked closely with outgoing Director Prof. Eduardo Canel in the realization of the Centre's achievements during his term (2007-2012), assuming primary responsibility for the strengthening of Caribbean research and student programming (including the CERLAC Graduate Diploma Program, of which she was coordinator).


She delivered with great effect on all of her commitments: establishing a new Caribbean lecture series; increasing Caribbeanist membership and involvement in the Centre; drawing a sizable contingent of Caribbeanist students into active association; and launching and leading a major SSHRC-funded research project with a Caribbean focus (described further below) that, although underway only a year to date, has already very deservedly received significant attention and acclaim. She also oversaw the introduction of a new model of student engagement at the Centre, culminating in the creation of a committee of very dedicated and energetic students under whom student-led intiatives and activities flourished. As a Humanities-based scholar in a Centre in which the social sciences have traditionally been more strongly represented, especially at the level of leadership, Andrea has also helped to reinforce the interdisciplinary character of the Centre.


Prof. Davis' research focuses on the literary productions of black women in the Americas. She is interested in the intersections of the literatures of the Caribbean, the United States and Canada and her work encourages an intertextual cross-cultural dialogue about black women's experiences in diaspora. She is currently working on a comparative study that theorizes the complex ways in which gender, place and voice intersect in black women's discursive practices. She is also co-editing, with Carl James, an anthology that charts the political, economic, historical and cultural connections between Canada and Jamaica. Book title: Jamaica in Canada: A Multiculturalizing Presence. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishing. 320 pages in typescript (in press, expected publication fall 2012).


"I am confident that she will make a wonderful Director and cannot think of a better colleague to direct the Centre in the upcoming period as we continue to intensify and diversify our research activities", said Prof. Canel.


Project profiled in provincial campaign extolling the value of university research: On the research front, Prof. Davis' ongoing major SSHRC-funded project, Youth and Community Development in Canada and Jamaica: A Transnational Approach to Youth Violence, is featured by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) in its recently-launched (May 2012) "Research Matters" campaign - a campaign showcasing the importance and relevance of research at Ontario universities. The campaign, which will run through 2013, entails a website and blog, as well as province-wide public events.


As described in the Y-File article highlighting this recognition of her project: "The campaign profiles the work Davis is doing to alleviate the causes of youth violence. Through her research, Davis is working with community partners to help black youth in Canada and Jamaica challenge physical and systemic violence and find new paths toward social and civic engagement. Her work helps young people form new social identities through participation in the arts, social history and literature". See the campaign profile of Prof. Davis' project here.


Prof. Davis' project brings together three community organizations and 18 researchers from six universities in Canada and Jamaica, organized in three research clusters. It seeks to realize critical social improvements in the lives of youth, ages 16 to 29, by exploring new approaches to research in youth violence. The partnership situates its team of Canadian and Jamaican researchers and community workers within an emerging body of research that confirms the success of culturally based programs in encouraging youth and broad civic engagement. The partnership expands this existing research in two important ways. First, it includes a transnational approach between the two countries. The goal is to examine whether positive youth engagement through the arts might be further enhanced for black youth in Canada and Jamaica by bringing these youth into conversations across their intersecting national and cultural borders. Second, by using an approach that combines art-based programs with social history and literature, the partnership expands the research field by seeking to determine whether a greater understanding of Jamaican society might help black Toronto youth achieve the positive identity formation needed to challenge unhealthy behaviour, including violence.


"It is quite an honour to have been selected for this campaign by York and by the COU," observes outgoing CERLAC Director Prof. Eduardo Canel. "The project integrates research, knowledge co-production and knowledge mobilization effectively, demonstrating how collaborative partnerships involving academics and civil society groups can make a significant difference in the lives of marginalized and racialized people in Canada and Jamaica."


Teaching award: These accomplishments notwithstanding, Prof. Davis' competance as a project manager and administrator cannot outshine her standing as a teacher. Anyone who has ever spoken about her with them will know that Prof. Davis is very much loved by her students; indeed, not long ago York's student newspaper Excalibur (4 Feb 2011) featured an article that celebrated her as a great source of inspiration in the classroom.


So it is little surprise that Prof. Davis was the 2011 Professor recipient of the Ian Greene Award for Teaching Excellence. The award "formally recognizes professors and teaching assistants (TAs) within LA&PS [York's Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies] who, like Professor Ian Greene, have contributed to student life so immeasurably by being great teachers and leaders." Recipients are nominated by students. In Prof. Davis' case, the adjudication committee informed her, "both the number of nominations [she] received as well as the strength of the comments concerning [her] creative and innovative teaching methodology secured [her] victory. ...The committee was blown away by the fact that while this professor received the highest nominations, she also received double the number of comments of any professor."


The tone and content of students' comments tell the rest of the story. They speak of the democratic, respectful and inclusive atmosphere she cultivates, encouraging mutal support among her students; of her willingness to engage difficult subjects and, with warmth and compassion, to help the students to relate them to their own experiences - and then to take this learning outside the classroom into extracurricular activism and research pursuits. In their own words:


"It is evident that the Professor is passionate about her work ... She displays great enthusiam for her course and posesses an understanding, open and approachable personality. She has challenged me (as well as others) to think critically and has been a true inspiration. She embodies what I believe it truly means to be a great educator."


"This professor is one of the few that really loves what she is doing and truly believes that the material she teaches matters, not only for students to receive good grades, but on a higher level. She is kind, intelligent and inspirational."


"This professor is one of the most professional, passionate, influential, and positive professors I have encountered during my academic career. York is very fortunate to have such a committed educator and representative of the university."


"As a researcher and educator, teaching has always been one of my passions," says Prof. Davis in her own teaching statement. "The research I do has little meaning if it cannot engage meaningful dialogues about who we are and who we hope to become. For many students coming to African Diaspora Studies, their learning is a personal journey. They are seeking answers to questions that have historically been silenced or ignored within North American high school systems—questions that are difficult and painful to articulate. For many of these students my courses are the first chances they have to critically engage discussions about black history and cultures in the African diaspora. ... Teaching is a difficult task, if only because in my own learning I often have to face 'truths' I would rather not acknowledge. Teaching is also enormously rewarding. I believe, like bell hooks, in the efficacy of an 'engaged pedagogy.' The research, the texts, the discussions in the classroom, all have meaning way beyond the context of the university and the academic requirements of an undergraduate degree. The expectations and needs are multiple and varied, and I have to accept that they cannot all be met. I do not have many answers, but I can facilitate the processes of interchange; I can open up the dialogue and help students push the boundaries and break down some of the barriers."


Her CERLAC collagues congratulate Prof. Davis on receiving this well-deserved formal recognition of her outstanding qualities as a pedagogue, already so clearly apparent in the oft-expressed sentiments of her alumni.










CERLAC's new Deputy Director: Carlota McAllister


As former Director Eduardo Canel steps aside and Andrea Davis takes his place, slipping into Andrea's former shoes as Deputy Director is CERLAC Fellow Prof. Carlota McAllister (Anthropology). Carlota has already distinguished herself as a very active member of the Executive and Fundraising committees of CERLAC.


Prof. Canel opines: "Carlota McAllister will be excellent as CERLAC's next Deputy Director. She has shown herself to have the necessary knowledge and experience to work effectively alongside Andrea to lead CERLAC in the year ahead. She knows the Latin American region well and has research experience in Central America and the Southern Cone of South America. I am confident that she will continue to build CERLAC's work in Latin America and that she will help foster new and exciting collaborative research and knowledge mobilization projects."


"I'm extremely pleased to be working alongside Carlota," adds Prof. Davis. "She brings extensive knowledge of and research expertise in Latin America that will help CERLAC duplicate the balanced regional and interdisciplinary approach of the last four years."


Carlota is freshly returned from a sabbatical year in which she advanced her research on community responses to hydro projects in the Aisen region of Chile.










CERLAC & CRS foster initiative on trade, investment & forced migration in Latin America


In October 2011, the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) at York University hosted a two-day workshop on trade and investment and forced migration in Latin America, the second in a series of joint Canada-Latin America research capacity building initiatives under the auspices of the Latin American Network on Forced Migration (LANFM) to address the impact of forced migration on regional development.


The event, Trade and Investment-Induced Migration in Latin America, successfully brought together more than 30 academics, researchers, NGO practitioners and graduate students from Colombia and Canada to systematize and critically engage with current knowledge on the ways in which trade and investment are connected to forcible migration in the region.


Millions of Latin Americans continue to be forced to flee from their own homes. Colombia, for instance, has the second largest number of internally displaced people in the world while recent research suggests that forced migration is a growing problem in Mexico, Central America and throughout the hemisphere. Some seek refuge within their own countries while others look for asylum across borders both within the region and beyond. Understanding and addressing the relevant drivers of forced migration flows is critical to developing new research and policy responses that will improve human rights implementation and human development. In this regard the workshop offered innovative perspectives on the problem.


The main immediate outcomes of the workshop were two-fold: First, it resulted in a clarification and refinement of focus among participants, in terms of the research questions that they wish to collectively address going forward. From a more general concern with forced migration and its motivating factors, out of the workshop emerged a clear interest in investigating more specifically the relationship between development (especially when based on resource extraction) and displacement. Second, it lead to the preparation and submission of a Partnership Grant proposal to SSHRC, outlining a 4-year research program on this topic. Unfortunatley, the grant application was not approved, but the working team is revising the project plan and will seek support elsewhere.


A comprehensive report on the workshop (from which the first three paragraphs above were taken) was prepared by York doctoral students William Payne and Paulo Ravecca, and is available here as a CERLAC Colloquia Paper.









CERLAC & partners awarded SSHRC grant for project on extractive industry governance


York University, through CERLAC, is the lead partner in a 2.5-year Partnership Development Grant project that was awarded $200,000 in the November 2011 Social Sciences and Humanties Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) competition - part of the over $3 million granted to York-led projects in that round. The project, entitled "Developing a partnership on extractive industry governance and related knowledge mobilization", is global in scope and involves 5 additional institutional partners as well as a supporting network of leading academic experts and NGO practitioners. The principal investigator is CERLAC Fellow Prof. David Szablowski (Law & Society, York).


As outlined in the grant proposal, the rapid worldwide expansion of extractive industries (EI) has produced controversy and debate about how these industries contribute to or impede progress toward equitable development, respect of human rights, environmental sustainability, respect for indigenous rights, and democratic governance. The knowledge base for these debates, however, is partial and fragmented, drawing on an extensive but relatively narrow body of academic and non-academic literature that focuses primarily on specific cases in individual countries.


The overall goal of the partnership project is to promote collaborative and comparative research across regions, disciplines, and sectors to address important knowledge gaps about EI and to mobilize knowledge among researchers, public officials, business leaders, and civil society organizations to inform public debates that may lead to improved policy frameworks. The Partners propose to achieve the project's aims through a series of coordinated research, training, and networking activities aimed toward the eventual establishment of an interdisciplinary, cross-regional, and cross-sectoral EI Research Network.


The project will produce 12 critical reviews of the state of knowledge -"state of the art" reports - to systematize existing knowledge and identify emerging patterns, globally and regionally, on two priority themes: "Constructing and Contesting EI Governance" and "EI Corporate Strategies and Social Responsibility." The partners will also produce two Synthetic Reports on overall findings to develop new theoretical frameworks and research questions for future collaboration. The project will circulate knowledge in different formats to make it accessible to different groups of actors involved in policy debates and practical experiences relating to EI governance.


The partnership builds upon established cooperative relationships among institutions and researchers that came together through two previous SSHRC-funded activities: an EI Conference in March 2009 and a Workshop in November 2010. The project will be carried out by scholars from six partner institutions located on four continents: in addition to York/CERLAC, the partners are Université du Québec à Montréal, Clark University (USA), Universidad del Pacifico (Peru), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain), and Niger Delta Environment and Relief Foundation (Nigeria). It will also benefit from the collaboration of colleagues in the Asia Pacific region. For the full list of co-applicants and collaborators, see page 7 of the SSHRC awards announcement here. See also the prior CERLAC news item on an earlier phase of this initiative (and a prior SSHRC grant application) here.


As well as the mentioned state of the art and synthetic summary reports, the project's principal activities and outputs include: an interactive website; a workshop; policy briefs; and the development and delivery of teaching curricula for a graduate seminar on EIs to prepare the next generation of scholars for major responsibilities in the further development of the Network. CERLAC and its partners share a profound enthusiasm about jointly realizing the goals of this project, considered by all participants to be the beginning of a longer-term collaborative endeavour on this vital topic.









CERLAC & CALACS collaborate on new 3-year IDRC project


In 2011, CERLAC completed one IDRC-funded partnership project undertaken jointly with the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), and commenced a second.



The completed Networking and Research Project (2010-2011) partnership project was initiated in May 2010, when CALACS celebrated its 40th anniversary, as past of a longer-term process of renewal that built on the association's decades-old relationship with CERLAC.


The project sucessfully achieved its goal to support CALACS through a period of self-reflection and renewal. Through the partnership, CALACS managed to:

• establish a new administrative home within CERLAC's office space, providing an appropriate intellectual context and solid infrastructural resources;

• support research by sponsoring special panels at the CALACS Congress "Mapping the New Area Studies" in Montreal in June, 2010;

• promote talent by facilitating the participation of graduate students in the Congress;

• award the CALACS dissertation prize for an outstanding dissertation completed at a Canadian University;

• initiate the expansion and diversification of the CALACS member network, using its own and CERLAC's knowledge and capacities to recruit more researchers;

• establish the CALACS archive at York University's Scott Library, complementing the existing collection of CERLAC archival material; and

• engage in various joint activities with CERLAC, including two special workshops.


Upon the completion of the 2010-11 project, CERLAC and CALACS secured an additional three years of IDRC funding to further the accomplishments of their partnership. The new 2011-14 project is entitled "Mapping Out the New Area Studies for Development." The project aims to further strengthen CALACS's capacity, ensuring that it engages with a broader spectrum of constituencies, disseminates knowledge about the LAC regions effectively and contributes to building capacity. Specifically, it aims to:

• increase CALACS membership significantly through fostering closer links and collaboration with a variety of constituencies and potential partners;

• enhance CALACS's relevance to development practitioners and theorists, and to a diverse community of researchers, policy makers, and civil society groups;

• promote research activities and publications (scholarly publications, policy papers, special session and workshop reports) that engage and mobilize knowledge about issues relevant to area and development studies;

• promote renewal of university teaching on development issues as these relate to LAC with the outcomes of members' research (case studies, teaching methods and tools, contributions to theory) using annual conferences to do this;

• encourage research excellence by youth, with youth participation in its activities;

• and strengthen mutually beneficial ties between researchers in Canada and in the LAC regions, building relationships that supersede traditional North-South knowledge transfer and capacity building approaches.


The partners will undertake various activities to achieve these goals, including:

• CALACS Congresses every 18 months (the most recent was held in May, 2012 in Kelowna, British Columbia, with the theme: "Between Indigeneity and the Transnational: Place and Mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean");

• Special sessions at each Congress (see the special session program for the 2012 Congress)

• Various specialized workshops;

• Further development of a database of Canadian researchers in LAC;

• Various scholarly outputs (including two special journal issues, as well as Congress session and workshop reports); and

• Further development of the CALACS website.


Both project initiatives emerged from the unflagging efforts of the now former-President of CALACS, Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas, with the strong support of now former-Director of CERLAC, Eduardo Canel. The new CALACS President and new CERLAC Director will continue to advance the partnership as planned through the remaining project years and beyond. Both CALACS and CERLAC look forward to this ongoing collaboration and the mutual benefits it offers.










Project update: Understanding Women's Struggles for Justice, Healing & Redress


"… [I am] old, without suffering, without fear and without shame. Today I am capable of doing all that I can. I am like a bird. I can fly with large wings."

-Chuj Maya woman, July 2011


Over the past year, as part of the on-going SSHRC- and IDRC-funded project "Understanding Women's Struggles for Justice, Healing and Redress: A study of gender and reparation in postwar Guatemala", the following activities were realized:


Principal investigator Alison Crosby and research collaborator M. Brinton Lykes published an article in the International Journal of Transitional Justice, "Mayan women survivors speak: The gendered relations of truth-telling in postwar Guatemala" (Vol. 5, pp.456-476), which has been translated into Spanish for dissemination in Guatemala and Latin America more generally.


They also contributed a chapter entitled "Feminist Practice of Action and Community Research," in the research handbook Feminist Research Practice: A Primer (Second Edition), edited by Sharlene Hesse-Biber (Thousand Oaks: SAGE publications, in press) and a chapter entitled "Creative methodologies as a resource for Mayan women's protagonism" in the upcoming book Trauma, Development and Peacebuilding: Towards an integrated psychosocial approach edited by Brandon Hamber (in press) (and which will also be available soon in Spanish).


Research partner the National Union of Guatemala Women (UNAMG) produced a series of popular education materials based on the Tribunal of Conscience for Women Survivors of Sexual Violence held in March 2010.


Professor Crosby received an additional two-year grant from IDRC for the project.


As the project enters its final year, the research team continues to facilitate workshops using creative techniques such as art, dramatization and storytelling with groups of Mayan women survivors of sexual violence during the armed conflict to understand their conception of reparation, as well as to conduct ongoing interviews and discussion groups with key stakeholders. (Professor Crosby presented a seminar on this work for CERLAC in March 2012.)


A series of research dissemination and evaluation activities are planned for 2013, including a 'radionovela' on Mayan women's access to alternative mechanisms of justice which is being produced in several Mayan languages, and will be ready for broadcast on community radio stations in Guatemala in 2013.









Viviana Patroni leads initiative on precarious employment


Prof. Viviana Patroni, CERLAC Fellow and former Director, is spearheading a collaborative CERLAC research initiative tentatively titled "Poverty, Inequality and Economic Insecurity in Latin America: Deciphering the Political Economy of Precarious Employment". The initiative's lead partners are based in York, Clark and Concordia Universities, but it engages a broader community of interested scholars throughout the Americas. It is driven by the same motivating concerns that defined the RedLEIDH project on human rights in the Americas; a research thread on labour was originally envisioned for that previous project, but was left unrealized as the scope of the project was narrowed down to more practicable range of issues.


This new initiative focuses attention on the structure of labor markets and labor organizations at a moment of important transition in Latin America, and will engage in particular the pervasive and persistent problems of precarious employment, inequality and poverty. The research considers the proposition that economic insecurity and deprivation originate not from workers' lack of access to liberalized markets but rather from the very structure of these markets. The analytic approach of the initiative is threefold: (1) to examine the structure of labor markets, (2) to assess the extent and form of labour organization, and (3) to evaluate the relative power and influence of business and labour organizations in the policy-making process.


The results of the collaborators' preliminary enquiries on the political economy of precarious labour in the region were presented in a seminar at York University in May 2012. The activity, funded by IDRC, the Ford Foundation, and York's Office of the Vice President, Research and Innovation, provided a venue for the participation of various experts on the topic and an audience from the academic and activist community.


Project participants who presented at the seminar included: Paul Posner (Clark University, USA); Ruth Felder (University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and York University, Canada); César Giraldo (Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia); Jean Francois Mayer (Concordia University, Canada); Maria Elena Valenzuela (Organización Internacional del Trabajo [OIT], Chile); Froilan Barrios Nieves (Andres Bello University, Venezuela); and Enrique de la Garza Toledo (Metropolitan Autonomous University-Ixtapalapa [UAM-I], Mexico).


Other seminar participants and future project collaborators included: Albert Berry (University of Toronto); Thomas Chiasson-LeBel (Political Science, York University; Bryan Evans (Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University); Sam Gindin (Political Science, York University); Jorge Garcia-Orgales (United Steelworkers); Pablo Idahosa (International Development Studies, Department of Social Science, York University); Wayne Lewchuk (Labour Studies, McMaster University); Julia Mais (Department of Geography, York University); Stephanie Ross (Centre for Research on Work & Society and Work and Labour Studies, Department of Social Science, York University); Mark Thomas (Centre for Research on Work & Society CRWS and Department of Sociology, York University); Steven Tufts (Department of Geography, York University); and Anna Zalik (Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University).


The meeting made possible an in-depth discussion of research findings; the identification of common themes and important differences; and the development of the policy-relevant theoretical, conceptual and empirical elements of this work. The day following the seminar, a closed workshop was held with the main project collaborators, serving as a platform for planning the next two stages in the initiative: to disseminate the results of the workshop electronically and through the compilation of the presentations in an edited volume; and the creation of a transregional network for knowledge sharing and the development of new research initiatives. A longer term objective foresees the creation of an institute for for the Study of Labor in the Americas, or ISLAS.






"Knowledge Management for North-South Partnerships" project concludes


In June 2011, Phase II of the IDRC-funded project "Knowledge Management for North-South Partnerships: Promoting the Canada-Latin America Connection", was formally concluded. The project phase commenced in November 2008, and was carried out as a partnership harnessing the capacities of a number of Canadian university centres (including CERLAC), a Canadian NGO network, and a Bolivian research and training centre – the Bolivian Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies (CEBEM).


The central objective of the project was to test a 'structuring model' for collaborative knowledge management, one that would contribute to bridging the North-South knowledge divide. Leveraging the opportunities offered by the revolution in ITCs, the project explored ways of meeting the potential demand for knowledge updating in varied topics, coming from professionals and practitioners who work on development issues in local governments, NGOs, grass-root organizations, and development projects. The experience engaged the communities of knowledge and practice constituted by academics, graduate students and, in particular, front-line development personnel.


Outputs and results included the development of a web Portal offering a range of relevant resources, a series of online courses that benefited numerous professionals, the training of Canadian graduate students as producers of online courses, and the expansion of audiences by a massive use of newsletters.


CERLAC's contributions to the project included the compilation, by graduate student researchers, of a database of some 600 Canadian specialists in LAC development issues across all disciplines - one of the resources offered on the Portal created by the project ( As a further CERLAC contribution, Prof. Alan Simmons and York PhD candidate Pedro Marcelino developed and delivered an online course for professional development entitled "'Best Practices' in Migration, Remittances and Development Projects". CERLAC associates Paulo Ravecca and Miguel Gonzalez delivered the online courses "Thinking Contemporary Latin American: 'Neo-liberalism', 'Shift to the Left', 'Populism' and other continental dilemmas" and "Self-determination and Indigenous Autonomy in Latin America and Canada", respectively. Finally, CERLAC co-organized a panel ("E-Platforms for North-South Knowledge Partnerships") at the 2012 CALACS Congress in which two papers were delivered sharing the findings of the project, and published a report on the project, authored by project leader Mario Torres of CEBEM, in the form of a CERLAC Report, available here.


The report concludes that, as an experiment, the project was successful. A model of collaboration supported by a Portal and organizational arrangements was set up and provided opportunity, space, tools, and resources for the activities of communities of knowledge and practice. There were positive results in course production and delivery; several online courses proved effective ways to improve graduate training in development issues while at the same time updating professionals in lower-income countries. Canadian and LAC graduate students, professors, and practitioners were provided short-term work and learning opportunities. The project was also successful in bringing together academics and practitioners, and bridging the North-South divide: mass communication made it possible to approach communities of knowledge and communities of practice which are informal and scattered across countries, disciplines and professional areas of practice.


CERLAC continues to collaborate with the lead partner of the project, CEBEM, and, in partnership with CALACS, is committed to participate in the maintenance and further development of the database of Canadian researchers that it contributed to the project's web Portal, mentioned above.









New CERLAC-administered Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund to promote graduate research


A generous endowment - the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund - that will benefit graduate students working in Latin America and the Caribbean was recently established at York through a private donation and matching University funds.


The endowment will fund two annual student grant programs: the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Fellowship (one per year, up to $12,500), and the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Award (up to 5 per year, worth anywhere from $2000 to $10,000). These will be awarded to graduate students engaged in research on human rights and social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous people and/or people of African descent in Latin America and the Carribbean. The awards will be administered by CERLAC.


CERLAC Fellow Professor Emerita Liisa North established the Paavo & Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund in memory of her parents.


"My family fled Finland after World War II ... These experiences explain why I have devoted much of my career to researching the causes of displacement and lost opportunities. They're also why I created the Paavo and Aino Lukkari Human Rights Fund... it honours my parents' memory while supporting the work of students who share my passion for human rights and social justice in Latin America and the Caribbean."


Read more about Prof. North's motivation for creating the Fund in the article below, from the "YorkU Legacies Newsletter" (Fall/Winter 2009). The inaugural round of awards will be announced by CERLAC in the near future.










William Found Collection of Caribbean Maps now available to all in York Library


"Maps have a fascination that brings people together in a common admiration for their technical and artistic quality, and for the information that can be revealed from them through careful analysis", observes CERLAC Fellow and FES/Geography Professor Emeritus William C. Found, who recently (2011) donated a valuable collection of 141 historical maps and prints to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections of York University.


"I've introduced copies of the maps to hundreds of York undergraduates and graduates over many years, and it's been exciting to see them gradually learn how to interpret what they see, and to reach new understandings about the history and development of different Caribbean locations. Their interests have included the natural environment and its management, slavery during the colonial period, resource extraction, early developments in tourism, and the technical aspects of map creation. The maps present new kinds of evidence for these and many other research problems, and it's very satisfying to see students combine this evidence with other sources (e.g. written accounts) to better understand the region and its people."


The collection includes facsimiles, photographic copies and photocopies of original maps and prints. Accompanying the collection are detailed descriptions of each map or print, a thumbnail image, and sources where researchers can obtain their own personal copies. The original maps and prints date as far back as the sixteenth-century.


"I first became aware of the potential importance of historical Caribbean maps when, as a young Ph.D. student, I lived and conducted research in Jamaica ..." notes Prof. Found, regarding the origin of his collection: "[I was] investigating land-reform projects; and I'd often see old property maps in the Ministry office, maps dating back to the 18th century. My interest was really piqued in 1980 when Professor Jane Couchman (York) gave me my first personal copy of an historical map – a map of Jamaica dating from about 1700. I was amazed at the variety and detail of the items depicted on the map, and realized that this and similar documents could be research tools of great importance. I've been collecting such maps (usually the best copies of originals that I can find) ever since."


Collecting the maps has taken Prof. Found to dozens of libraries and research centres all over the world, some in different Caribbean islands, and many in Europe and North America. "My predominant memory of collecting maps in all of these locations is the helpful enthusiasm of local experts and interested amateurs who can recognize the immense value of the documents they care for."


The geographical and linguistic coverage of the collection is remarkable; it contains information on the British, Danish, Dutch, French, Spanish and Swedish Caribbean colonies. The collection largely comprises single maps and charts of one island - for example, Antigua, Cuba, or Martinique - but also includes several surveys undertaken in the slavery period such as "A Plan of Redberry Plantation" (1803) located in the parish of Clarendon in the island of Jamaica. Several maps and prints depict more than one island. For example, "Hispaniolae, Cubae, Aliarumque Insularum Circumiacientium, Delineatio" (1598) is considered to be one of the earliest maps depicting the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico). The collection also boasts excellent engravings that capture marine life, port towns, and the unique topography of the Caribbean world. This historical collection is an invaluable resource for the York University community and visiting researchers.


Most rewarding for Prof. Found, in his cartographic life, has been watching students of Caribbean background make new discoveries about their homelands through exposure to maps. He cites as an example his recent experience with a guest scholar at York, a young doctor from Belize of Garifuna ancestry (of native Carib and African background, perhaps the only remaining descendents of the original inhabitants of islands in the Eastern Caribbean). The Garifuna were banished to Central America by the British in the 1790s, but some Garifuna have remembered aspects of their original culture, including their language. Prof. Found recounts: "The woman visiting York found out about the collection of historical Caribbean maps, and I introduced her to a detailed map of St. Vincent (homeland of the Garifuna), made in the 1775. She almost burst into tears as she saw on the map place names – Anglicized versions of names from the original Carib language. These were names immortalized in Garifuna songs and poems, still popular in Belize. Imagine how she felt seeing, for the first time, direct evidence of the places that her ancestors were forced to leave over two centuries ago!"


It has also been very rewarding for Prof. Found to take copies of the historical maps to the Caribbean to show them to local people unfamiliar with them, and to see if one can still find features depicted on early maps. "I remember taking an early map to Antigua, and asking a local taxi driver to see if we could find the remnants of a particular plantation complex. We spent hours travelling back roads that are seldom used, left the car to walk through scrub land, and eventually came over a hill to find the crumbling remains of what used to be a major sugar-cane plantation – complete with several buildings, two ruined windmills, and a huge underground cistern for storing rainwater. The driver had never seen the site, and was so inspired that he subsequently started a 'heritage tour' for people who wanted to see remnants of early life in Antigua."


Prof. Found is particularly grateful for the enthusiasm and professionalism of York's Map Librarians (particularly Trudy Bodak and Dana Craig) who helped him to put together and document the collection. "I feel that I've just revealed the tip of an iceberg, as collecting and studying the maps has been such a highly rewarding effort – for research, for teaching, and for collaborative work with Caribbean communities. I still have many more maps to add in a second part of the York Library collection, but that must await further documentation".


More information on the collection can be found here.


See also Prof. Found's October 2011 report on "A Research Collection of Historical Maps and Prints of the Caribbean Islands", available onYork University's digital library of research outputs, YorkSpace.








Donation in honor of late CERLAC Fellow John Buttrick


The SSHRC-funded CERLAC project, Youth and Community Development in Canada and Jamaica: A Transnational Approach to Youth Violence, led by Prof. Andrea Davis, already the subject of recognition in various forms, has been graced by the additional honour of a spontaneous private donation. Ann Buttrick, the widow of the late CERLAC Fellow John Buttrick, has made a donation to support the project, doing so as tribute to her deceased husband.


When Ann heard of the project, she felt it resonated harmoniously with the issues to which her husband was dedicated. She explains:

"My father adored Jamaica", said his son Peter, in his 2007 eulogy to his father, John Buttrick.

In providing a bursary in memory of my husband I feel certain he would have wished to support Dr. Andrea Davis' Project Groundings.

John taught economics in Jamaica at University of West Indies in Kingston and at University of Technology. His researches on education in Jamaica are relevant to Dr. Davis' Project, "Youth and Community Development in Canada and Jamaica".

My experience of teaching sculpture and drawing at Edna Manley School of Fine Arts introduced me to the remarkable directness and strength of expression of the students. Film documents I assembled on Caribbean and foreign visual artists, offered them a mirror of their own and a wider view of other cultures. In the rural community where we lived, music performance and art programs helped to "interrupt complex patterns of aggression" (Share July 1, 2012), and in the creation of art, offer some confidence that makes a difference.

I 'm certain Dr. Davis' research from Project Groundings will be able to demonstrate the effects of such an important program.


Ann previously made a donation to York, administered by CERLAC, also in her late husband's honour. The John Buttrick Memorial Bursary offered financial support to an international student in need, whose work related to Latin America and the Caribbean.


Prof. Davis very gratefully acknowledges Ann's generosity: "I appreciate very much her acknowledgement of the importance of the project both within its social context and in its value as research. I am pleased that such a project will honour her late husband's memory and legacy".










News of Fellows

Updates on recent activities and accomplishments of CERLAC Fellows


Mane Arratia completed a collaborative project with the University of Tarapaca, in Arica, to incorporate an intercultural perspective in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Tanya Basok is Principal Applicant on a 2012 SSHRC grant "Mobility in transnational zones of precarity: A view from the Guatemala-Mexico border"


Juanita de Barros received a SSHRC Standard Research Grant in 2011 for a project titled "Urban Reform in the British Caribbean, 1900-1940", and was named the History Department's Messecar Professor for 2011/12 (McMaster University)


Alison Crosby is in the initial stages of a new research project on transnational feminist approaches to memory and memorialization in Latin America and South Asia with Dr. Malathi de Alwis from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka


Kalowatie Deonandan received the University of Saskatchewan's 2012 Provost Award for Excellence in International Teaching


Margarita Feliciano is organizing the 21st Annual Festival de la Palabra y de la Imagen/Festival of Images and Words and in 2011 was named "A prominent Torontonian" by the Government of Ontario and included in the 5th Edition of the book "Toronto's Many Faces"


Gavin Fridell was appointed Canada Research Chair in International Development Studies (Tier II; 2012-2017) at St. Mary's University


Simon Granovsky-Larsen served as member of the international advisory council to an external review of the World Bank's Land Administration Project in Peten, Guatemala


Luin Goldring has been appointed 2012-13 York Director of CERIS – The Ontario Metropolis Centre


Judy Hellman was Visiting Scholar at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, CLACS, at New York University (2011-12) 


Laura McDonald was the Faculty of Public Affairs Research Award winner 2011 (Carleton University) and is Principal Investigator for a SSHRC Insight Grant awarded 2012": "From Minor Player to Major Actor: Canada's Role in Latin America"


Jim Rochlin received a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, "Human Security and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement" (2012-2015)


Veronica Schild was honored as Alumna of the Year, Department of Philosophy, George Mason University, in 2011; and joined a German-based, interdisciplinary project which seeks alternative approaches to the perennial question of inequality in Latin America (


Anna Zalik is Principal Investigator for a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant awarded 2011: "Building Substantive Transparency: electoral process, oil revenue and democratic governance in the Niger Delta of Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea"








Paulo Ravecca: an award, a fellowship & "the most exciting event of the year"


At a March 9, 2012, ceremony, CERLAC Research Associate Paulo Ravecca was awarded the 50th Anniversary Award for Academic Excellence, PhD level, by York's Department of Political Science, a one-time award recognizing the fact that Paulo had the highest Cumulative Grade Point Average upon completion of coursework among PhD students in the department, and that his dissertation proposal and project represent an original contribution to knowledge. Reflecting on this recognition, Prof. Elizabeth Dauphinee says of Paulo: "[he] is the very best we have to offer", and "one of the most illuminated minds I have ever encountered". His PhD supervisor, Prof. David McNally, describes Paulo's work as "strikingly original, enormously sophisticated theoretically, and inspired by a deep and abiding sense of social justice." On the occasion of the award, CERLAC Director Eduardo Canel opined: "This is an important recognition of academic excellence and we are proud to have Paulo associated with CERLAC."


In 2011 Paulo was the recipient of The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) Research Abroad award granted by the Tokyo Foundation. The Sylff program aims to identify and nurture leaders who will overcome differences such as nationality, language, ethnicity, religion, and political systems to tackle global issues, and whose high integrity and drive to address issues unique to their respective countries can make a real difference. The award will support Paulo's dissertation research.


Paulo's dissertation, entitled Political Science and the politics of science: a reflection from the Latin American experience, focuses on the trajectory of political science as a discipline in Uruguay and Chile, and will attempt a “problematizing redescription” of this process. Through interviews with colleagues and visits to several academic departments in these two countries (but also in Argentina and Brazil), Paulo intends to show that the changes in political science in the region are a product of power relations at different levels. In his words: "Drawing on a tense dialogue between Marxian, 'postructuralist', post-colonial and queer perspectives, along with my own interpretations, I unpack the politics of political science and its political economy of conceptual violence, showing that 'science' is a component of the social and political relations that it tries to understand."


In 2011-2012, Paulo also served as one of two student representatives on the Executive Committee of CERLAC, in which capacity he took the lead in organizing the highly acclaimed workshop entitled "Problematizing Fieldwork". The event drew a standing-room only crowd, and prompted a very enthusiastic response; Paulo continues to receive emails from participants including numerous requests for a sequel. CERLAC Director Eduardo Canel described the workshop as "the most exciting event of the year, with a very high level of intellectually rich discussion. It also surmounted regional specificities and engaged people doing very different work in different regions."








Recent visiting scholars in CERLAC: Wiebke Beushausen & Yadira Castillo Meneses


In 2011, CERLAC hosted two longer-term stays by visiting scholars.


Wiebke Beushausen is a PhD candidate in Transcultural Studies at the University of Heidelberg (Germany). Her PhD project, "Narratives of the Body: Coming-of-Age in Caribbean Women's Writing in the Diaspora", discusses novels by Caribbean-Canadian and Caribbean-U.S. American authors, adopting a diasporic, gendered perspective in its analysis of migration and socialization patterns and female corporeality. In February and March 2011, Weibke conducted research at CERLAC funded by the Transcultural Studies Program of the University of Heidelberg and the German Foundation of Canadian Studies.


"The Centre provided me with a work space and access to library and online resources which was immensely helpful. Some of the material I found, especially recently published texts, was new to me, because German libraries are usually not as well equipped with books related to Caribbean Studies. The best part of my stay were the interviews with the writers Ramabai Espinet and Makeda Silvera. The inspiring discussions on their work were really motivating and opened up new perspectives. Thanks to CERLAC, and especially Andrea Davis and Marshall Beck, the research stay has been a great success for my work."


Yadira Castillo Meneses is a PhD candidate in Law at Los Andes University (Colombia) whose research investigates the lack of an international legal regime to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations. She undertook a research stay with CERLAC from August through December of 2011.


"I had the opportunity to talk with professors at York whose work relates to my topic of interest: Gus Van Harten, Ricardo Grinspun, Liisa North and Eduardo Canel among them. My stay in CERLAC also allowed me to establish connections with other universities and researchers - like historian Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas at Brock University, with whom I discussed the Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations prepared by United Nations-Commission on Transnational Corporations in 1970-80. I was also happy to have the opportunity to participate in the workshop organized by CERLAC in October 2011 on the topic of Forced Displacement in Latin America."









New book by CERLAC Fellow David Murray explores what it is to be gay or a queen in Barbados


In his new book, David A.B. Murray (CERLAC Fellow, associate professor of Anthropology, and member of the Sexuality Studies Program at York University) explores public discourses focusing on homosexuality and the everyday lives of gay men and ‘queens’ in contemporary Barbados. His study unravels the complex historical, social, political, and economic forces through which same-sex desire, identity, and prejudice are produced and valued in this Caribbean nation-state. Illustrating the influence of both Euro-American and regional gender and sexual politics on sexual diversity in Barbados, Flaming Souls: Homosexuality, Homophobia, and Social Change in Barbados (University of Toronto Press, 2012) makes an important contribution to queer studies and the anthropology of sexualities.


"I enjoyed every last bit of Flaming Souls – it is smart, thought provoking, theoretically sophisticated, and it excellently frames and critiques the Western biases in LGBTQ discussions. As one of the leading ethnographers of men who love men, David A.B. Murray has captured the essence of what it is to be gay or a queen in Barbados – an especially important endeavour given how little there is out there that uses an anthropological perspective to address the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, and age within gay communities of colour. Murray succeeds in avoiding the jargon found in so much cultural anthropology literature, thereby allowing this book to be enjoyed by a general readership and by undergraduate students."

- A. Lynn Bolles, Department of Women's Studies, University of Maryland


"Flaming Souls is a timely and compelling ethnography that will be very important to queer studies. It is full of memorable stories that productively illuminate and advance the major arguments."

- Scott Morgensen, Department of Gender Studies, Queen's University


"David A.B. Murray has produced a deliciously refined work of transdisciplinary scholarship, a marvellous yet challenging articulation of LGBT and queer issues within Barbados that is quite relevant beyond the Caribbean island's shores. Murray, who is beautifully fluent in Barbadian culture, achieves a finely crafted and unique scholarly text without reproducing Eurocentric notions of gay or queer."

- Chris Shelley, Centre for Women's and Gender Studies, University of British Columbia


See a brief interview with Prof. Murray










Barbados Canadian Friendship Scholarships awarded


The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) is proud to announce the 2012 winners of the Barbados Canadian Friendship Scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to full-time graduate students at York University whose area of research is related to Barbados or the Barbadian-Canadian community.


The two PhD-level students to be selected for this recognition are Jill Andrew (PhD candidate, Education) and Jason Mikelakos (PhD candidate, History).


Jill Andrew holds a B.Ed. in Social Sciences and Dramatic Arts (York), an MA in Women and Gender Studies (University of Toronto) and is currently pursuing her PhD in Education at York, where her research focuses on women's body images and self esteem, media representation and visual literacies (particularly for marginalized female populations). Jill is particularly concerned with the historical and contemporary links between the harmful practice of skin-bleaching and socio-cultural, economic identity among racialized women, Barbadian or Black Canadian women of Bajan heritage in Toronto. Jill is also an award-winning journalist and currently pens the lifestyle column Last Word for T.O. Night Newspaper. She is the producer of Curvy Catwalk Fashion Fundraiser, BITE ME! Toronto Int'l Body Image Film & Arts Festival, Dining with Dames Girls Leadership, Self-Esteem & Mentorship Program and other creative projects. She has been recognized with the Michele Landsberg Media Activism Award and the Endless Possibilities African-Canadian Women's Award, among others. In 2010 Jill was one of 120 Canadian women hand-picked by then-Governor General Michaëlle Jean to participate in the first Governor General's Conference on Women's Security at Rideau Hall.


In support of her nomination for this award, York faculty member Prof. Aparna Mishra Tarc noted that "Jill is so very dedicated to the lives of others and gives all her energy towards working for women in the communities in which she teaches and works. .. She is truly an unforgettable thinker, speaker, educator and writer… Jill's project contributes new knowledge and representations of the lives and experiences of Black Canadian women from Barbados and other Caribbean nations. [It] significantly addresses an aspect of Black women's subject formation in relation to dominant society images of women's bodies… [and] aims to bring new knowledge of body issues faced by Black women to scholarly audiences and the general multicultural public." A member of the evaluation committee commented: "it is the creativity, passion, commitment and insight that Andrew brings to her project that will ensure its originality and its impact. Her grasp of the area in theoretical, empirical and personal terms is very impressive. "


Jason Michelakos completed his B.A. (Hons.) in Philosophy and Political Studies at Trent University in 2004, winning the Bagnani Award. He is also a graduate of the Master's degree program in Political Science at Western University, where in 2005 he received the Special University Scholarship. Jason is currently a Doctoral Candidate in the Social and Political Thought program at York University; his dissertation examines how disciplinary and governmental power shaped plantation slavery in Barbados and South Carolina. In 2009 he was awarded the Division of Humanities Excellence in Teaching Award at York University.


In a letter of support for Jason's nomination for this award, York faculty member Prof. Marie-Christine Leps stated: "[Jason] is a truly exceptional scholar, writer and award-winning teacher… His expertise in critical and cultural theory, philosophy and political science, combined with his vast knowledge of slave plantation history, allow him to break new ground in scholarship… he will become an important voice in Canadian scholarship in the not-too-distant future… [The] scholarly and political importance [of his work] cannot be overemphasized." A member of the evaluation committee observed: "He has an excellent grasp of Barbadian history and is expected to make an original contribution to understanding the genesis of modernity through his study of the disciplinary formation of the plantation system in Barbados and South Carolina."


CERLAC congratulates the worthy beneficiaries of this award.


The Barbados Canadian Friendship Graduate Scholarships were created through the contribution of an anonymous donor, and are administered by CERLAC.


See the Y-File article






2011 Baptista Essay Prizes awarded


The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University (CERLAC) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

At the undergraduate level, Rolando Aguilera (Osgoode) won for his paper: "Impunity on Trial: The Case for Repealing El Salvador's Amnesty Law".


At the graduate level, the prize was shared between two honorees: Caren Weisbart (Socio-Legal Studies), for her paper "Beyond Recogniton: Alternative Rights-Realizing Strategies in the Northern Quiche Region of Guatemala", and Charis Kamphuis (Osgoode) for hers: "Foreign Investment and the Privatization of Coercion: A Case Study of the Forza Security Company in Peru."


The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each level of prize). The awards recipients were fêted at an awards luncheon on 30 March 2012 attended also by Sharon Baptista, widow of the prize's namesake, and representatives of CERLAC.


Rolando Aguilera's contribution provides a "excellent and up-to-date overview of the debates around amnesty within the transitional justice literature and then situates the issue within one particular context, El Salvador." In the words of one evaluator: "This is an example of excellent research strongly rooted within the ethical consideration of struggles for peace and justice... [The author] is to be congratulated!"


At the graduate-level, co-awardee Caren Weisbart's "thoughtful, well-written and sophisticated piece of work... displays a particularly insightful analysis of contemporary political economy and cultural politics in Guatemala ... [developing] a convincing and theoretically-grounded analysis of alternative forms of indigenous mobilization and their relationships to contemporary neoliberal projects of domination and exclusion." The evaluators found it to be "a superb essay, imaginatively written and a joy to read", and "most commendable [in] its attempt to situate the study both historically, as well as within broader theoretical debates on rights and freedom..."


"Thoroughly researched [and] meticulously developed," the paper by the second graduate-level winner, Charis Kamphuis, "convincingly demonstrates the troubled entanglements of local and international law regimes, the Peruvian state and multinational corporations." The paper "very succesfully and lucidly weaves together an analysis of three complex actors (security firms, mining corporations and the state) and three fields of law/regulation (public international human rights law, private international investment law, and voluntary corporate social responsibility arrangements)", and carries this "challenging intellectual project to a cogent conclusion."


There is also a certain elegance at the thematic level in the sharing of the prize between the two graduate-level winners, notes one evaluator: "Kamphuis and Weisbart's papers almost read as complimentary texts, with Weisbart turning to consider alternative strategies in the face of the kinds of obstacles that Kamphuis so eloquently sets out."


All three of these prize-winning papers are available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.


All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors' respective levels of study, and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2011 prize were: Meganne Cameron's "Searching for Measures of Corporate Accountability and Social Responsibility: Goldcorp's Activities in Guatemala and the Use of Shareholder Proposals to Influence Corporate Behaviour"; Galiatzo Flores Montoya's "Los poemas-sones de Nicolas Guillen Lo revolucionario músico-poético en Motivos de son"; and Ajit Singh's "American Convention on Human Rights Articles 46(1)(A) and 46(2)(C): Achilles Heel or Trojan Horse?" The other graduate-level nominees were: Priscila B. Becker's "Indigenous Land Rights in Brazil: A Comparison Between the Letter of the Law and Its Application"; Maria Alejandrina Coates' "Violence and Virtuality; Representing the Colonial Wound in Video/ Media Art"; Natalie McDonald's "Brain Drain and Brain Circulation in the Caribbean"; and Latoya Lazarus' "This is a Christian Nation: Religion, Gender and Sexuality in the Jamaican Constitutional Process."


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective. The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.


For the call for nominations for the 2012 prize, see:


If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student's essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:


Congratulations to all this year's nominees, and especially to the prize winners!


See the Y-File article







Jan Anderson receives inaugural John Buttrick Memorial Bursary


In late 2009, Ann G. Buttrick established the John Buttrick Memorial Bursary in memory of her late husband, John Buttrick. This bursary awards an international student at York majoring in African and Caribbean Studies who demonstrates financial need.


In explaining her motivation for creating the bursary, Ann states: "John used his economics training to equalize the playing field. His experience of the 1929 depression and his Conscientious Objection to war forged his lifelong activism on the issues of education, unemployment, racism, poverty and peace. ... John insisted on empirical analysis for investigation of social problems, large and small. The desire for rigorous examination of fact and myth seldom stopped him from working with and supporting those in search of social change. His researches for activist groups were trusted, carried weight, made a difference. ... This is why I hoped a bursary created in his name at York would be a useful celebration of his life work."


The 2010 recipient of the bursary is Jan Anderson, a double major in International Development Studies and African Studies with a concentration in Politics, Policy, and Governance as these pertain to human security issues. Says Jan: "My interest was engendered by my years in the Caribbean and Southern Africa where I operated a fair trade art gallery. The deteriorating political situations in these countries and the devastating consequences for their citizens fostered an urgent need in me to better understand how democracy, rule of law, and good governance could be better executed. This led me to Canada's leading social science university, York."


Jan has persevered with her studies despite being recently visited with family tragedy and other hardships; she notes with gratitude that this "assistance came at a tumultuous time personally and by extension academically". She will be graduating from York in May 2011 and intends to further her studies at the University of Edinburgh.


CERLAC is honoured to have been entrusted by Ann with the administration of this bursary and pleased to memorialize in this way a much missed colleague.


Our thanks to Ann, and congratulations to this year's winner.


More information about the bursary and John Buttrick.







Alumnus' documentary on mining in Ecuador wins prizes in Bilbao, London


"Under Rich Earth", a film by York alumnus and CERLAC Diploma receipient Malcolm Rogge, recently won FIRST PRIZE at the International Festival of the Unseen in Bilbao, Spain. Last month, it picked up the award for BEST ENVIRONMENTAL FILM at the We the Peoples Film Festival in London, U.K.. Over the last year, the film has screened at festivals from Bucharest to Sao Paulo.


Under Rich Earth is a feature length documentary that follows family farmers in Ecuador’s Intag valley who resist what they consider to be the invasion of their land by foreign prospectors. Víctor, Rosario, Robinson, Marcia and Carlos are among hundreds of people who join together to stop outsiders from transforming their beloved valley into what a Canadian mining company says will inevitably become a ‘world class’ copper mine. Facing the prospect of losing their precious land and forests, the farmers are ready to give up their lives. But is their conviction matched by the tenacity of those who want to undermine them?
















Under Rich Earth was produced and directed by Toronto-based filmmaker Rogge. Dr. Liisa North, a CERLAC fellow, also helped produce the film. Rogge traveled to Ecuador for the first time in 1996 to work on his Master’s thesis project. His thesis supervisor, Dr. Liisa North—now a close friend and mentor of the filmmaker—had introduced him to a group of Ecuadorian women who had founded Acción Ecológica (Ecological Action). Their job was to bring information to remote villages where people were eager to learn about the environmental impact of oil development and their legal rights.

For the latest updates on Under Rich Earth, visit: WWW.UNDERRICHEARTH.COM







Winners announced: 2010 Michael Baptista Essay Prizes


CERLAC is pleased to announce the winners of the 2010 Michael Baptista Essay Prizes for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.


At the undergraduate level, Margaret Bancerz (International Studies) won for her essay: “Counter-Hegemony and ALBA: The Answer to the FTAA”.


At the graduate level, Priscila Becker (Osgoode) won for hers: "The Convention on Biological Diversity, Indigenous Peoples and Conservation of Biodiversity".


Margaret's paper, said one evaluator, "is an excellent example of counter-hegemony based on Gramsci / Cox / Polanyi framework. The scholarly work is very good with extensive documentation from a wide variety of sources." Another noted: "This paper, comparing two economic trade pacts existent in the Americas today, involves both an in-depth description (substance, activities, and historical narrative) involving the two treaties, drawing on empirical data taken from official sources, as well as a significant critique, based on what seems like a very extensive reading of a wide variety of secondary sources (historical, economic, social and political)." The nominating faculty member called it "an outstanding piece", listing among its merits "the synthesis of complex material, the fact that the student has captured the essence of each regionalist project, the utilization of primary sources and theoretical analysis..."


Evaluators considered Priscila's paper, in turn, to be a "very well argued, very well researched, and very thoughtful work on an important issue", and an "excellent paper", prize-worthy in terms of "quality of writing, level of sophistication of the analysis and coherence". The faculty member who nominated the essay considered it a "highly accomplished paper" to which the author "brought ... a considerable understanding of local laws and policies", and in which she "demonstrated a very good breadth of understanding of the interaction between environmental law and environmental management in practice [and ] made some innovative suggestions to improve conservation of biodiversity in ways that [would benefit] indigenous communities."


The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by a two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each of the two prizes).


Both of these prize-winning papers are available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.


All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors’ respective levels of study, and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2010 prize were: Jan Anderson, “Searching for Black Canadians: Contestations over Citizenship”; Laura Liberatori, “Handling Venezuela: The Rise and Success of the Hands off Venezuela Campaign"; Nadine Ramharack, “Overcoming Adversity: The Life of Jaffroon Ali, 84 Years and Counting”; and Adrian Reyes, "Corporate Social Responsibility and Due Diligence: The Case for Ex Ante Human Rights Impact Assessments". The other graduate-level nominee was: Paulo Ravecca, "Political science and the politics of science in Latin America".


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective.


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning. For more information on the essay prize, see: If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student’s essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:


Congratulations to all this year's nominees, and especially to the prize winners!


















New project addresses youth violence in Jamaica and Canada


CERLAC Deputy Director Andrea Davis leads new project initiative


In recent months, CERLAC Deputy Director Andrea Davis has been leading an effort to develop a new project initiative on youth violence in Canada and Jamaica. Her effort has thus far resulted in the submission of a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant proposal requesting $174,053 for a 24-month initial phase of the project. A summary of the proposal follows.


Youth and Community Development in Canada and Jamaica: A Transnational Approach to Youth Violence


The strength of this initiative resides in the diverse range of participants and the commitment of its partnerships. The project brings together six university and community organizations in a new and exciting coalition. It also assembles an impressive multidisciplinary team of researchers as co-applicants and collaborators. The partnership situates this select group of researchers and community workers within an emerging body of research that confirms the success of culturally based programs in reducing violence among youth. The partnership expands this research in two critical ways. It adds a transnational perspective and uses an approach that combines arts-based programs with social history and literature.


The partnership, thus, brings into dialogue youth, researchers, community activists, and students in Canada and Jamaica to explore how arts-based programs and the use of the humanities may help black youth address the social and cultural challenges they face. The partnership employs a holistic approach to youth development to engage youth who because of poverty, racism and the effects of violence are often assumed to be most "at risk." Rather than assuming that some youth are always-already at risk, the initiative seeks to examine how physical and systemic violence intervene in the lives of young people and disrupt their desires to function as engaged citizens. Since violent crimes in Toronto have been linked consistently with performances of Jamaican masculinity, this partnership allows us to determine whether a greater understanding of Jamaican society might help black youth in Toronto achieve the positive identity formation needed to challenge unhealthy behavior, including violence. This partnership responds directly to SSHRC's connection program in its facilitation of the multidirectional flow of research knowledge across disciplines, institutions and national borders. It also corresponds to SSHRC's insight program in its commitment to building knowledge and understanding between the two countries and encouraging engaged citizenship.


Activities over the two years are designed to create four strategic outcomes: change the behavior and action of youth; inform ongoing research; change public policy; and increase public awareness. Key audience groups include youth, researchers and community practitioners, local decision makers and policy makers, media, and the general public. By allowing youth to participate in constructing new pathways to social and civic engagement, the partnership seeks first to empower these youth. For researchers and community practitioners, the objective is to determine whether transnational arts-based programs can, indeed, help youth develop more holistic approaches to development. Will these programs be more successful in reducing youth violence and creating engaged citizens? What are the benefits and the challenges involved in engaging questions of youth violence across national, cultural and disciplinary borders? Local decision makers and policy makers will be interested in the answers to these questions and will be encouraged to use research findings to shape public policy. The media and general public will benefit from increased awareness.


The partnership encourages youth to shape and disseminate research through the use of youth forums, qualitative interviews, six-minute short documentaries, artist collective residencies and public arts performances. Community and university partners will combine knowledge, techniques and experience to produce, translate and disseminate research through conference papers, refereed journal articles, reports, policy papers, and a book. At a pedagogical level the partnership will also train students in community-based research, problem formulation, research design, data collection and analysis. The partnership will evaluate outputs and short-term outcomes through a number of indicators, including the success of performances, interviews, testimonies and statements, and website activity.


Participating CERLAC Fellows and other partners: CERLAC: Vermonja Alston, Honor Ford-Smith, Carl James, Michele Johnson, Alan Simmons and Patrick Taylor. The partnership also includes three other researchers from York (Humanities and Fine Arts) and researchers from University of Guelph, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, Goddard College in the United States, and the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. The two institutional partners are CERLAC and Institute of Caribbean Studies at UWI. Community partners include Jamaica Youth Theatre in Kingston, Jamaica; the Woodside Development Action Group in St. Mary, Jamaica; and Nia Centre for the Arts in Toronto.








Proposal seeks to Break Barriers for Latin American and Caribbean Migrants in Canada


CERLAC Fellow Michelle Johnson develops project proposal offering innovative educational programs to address challenges faced by migrant communities

Michele Johnson is awaiting word from Citizenship and Immigration Canada regarding an application she submitted to CIC's program "INTER-ACTION: CANADA'S NEW MULTICULTURALISM GRANTS."
A summary of her proposal follows.


"Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges": Latin Americans and Caribbean Migrants in Canada will address the challenges facing these communities, with an emphasis on youth and youth-at-risk. Between July 1st 2011 and July 1st 2012, the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) in collaboration with Doorsteps Neighbourhood Services (DNS) will offer innovative educational programs focused on the integration of persons from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) into multicultural Canada.

These programs, facilitated by CERLAC and DNS, will include: three educational series for youth and youth-at-risk: the histories/heritages of LAC, the relationships between LAC and Canada and immigrants from LAC living in Canada; an informational workshop series specifically geared to LAC immigrants, youth and youth-at-risk; support for and expansion of language programs; and an annual international conference focused on youth and youth-at-risk experiences of immigration, integration and multiculturalism.

The project will be located at the three DNS sites in North York, Toronto and open to the public; it will bring together LAC groups to break the barriers among them and with the wider community and build bridges to full integration and citizenship.


"Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges": Latin Americans and Caribbean Migrants in Canada aims to create a model by which to create links between the youth and youth-at-risk in the many different national and cultural groups under the umbrellas of "Latin America" and "the Caribbean", which are quite separate and distinct. Additionally, the project aims to construct bridges between the Latin American and Caribbean communities, particularly the youth and youth-at-risk, and the wider Canadian community.


As one first step to building an integrated, socially cohesive society, the project intends to bring together groups of youth and youth-at-risk from the many communities associated with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and by using a number of innovative educational programs indicating how much they share.

"Latin American and Caribbean Histories and Heritages" will provide opportunities for an appreciation of the complex and often similar historical processes shared in LAC including the seismic historical shifts wrought by colonialism, enslavement, decolonization and often the resulting lags in economic development and socio-political upheaval. The module will also focus on the lessons that can be learned from the LAC regions based on the often innovative responses to difficult circumstances, heroic actions of famous and ordinary citizens and alternative perspectives of the world.

"Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada: Connections and Contributions" will encourage youth and youth-at-risk to explore the long-standing relationships between the regions and Canada as well as the contributions that each has made to the other. This module should result in more nuanced perception of the contributions of the LAC regions to the Canadian economy and society and will allow an engagement with the wider Canadian community, from a position of strength and confidence that comes with that knowledge. This will, in turn, foster civic pride and adding vibrant threads to the tapestry of civic memory that defines the ideal of multiculturalism.

"Latin American and Caribbean Migrants Living in Canada" will trace the migrations of persons from the LAC regions from the nineteenth but especially during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It will discuss their settlement patterns, socio-economic contributions, civic and political activities and cultural impact, among other topics. This module will focus on the activities led by LAC migrants that encouraged collaborations across cultural/racial/ethnic and other barriers, engendered civic pride and encouraged engaged citizenship often through community service, cultural activities and sports.


These modules will be facilitated by faculty and graduate students associated with CERLAC and by the staff and volunteers at Doorstep Neighbourhood Services (DNS). They will be delivered through a combination of talks, virtual trips, films, art projects, "celebrity" appearances, social network sites, etc. and will be assessed by creative evaluation tools including art and literary projects, re-enactments and performances as well as a challenge to social action - "And, Now, What?" - to address one issue emerging from the modules and identified by the youth and youth-at risk. The social action will be designed by the youth and their facilitators and supported by the project.


The impetus for these educational modules grew out of an immensely successful one-week summer program in July 2010 which was targeted at youth 14-18 years old from the North York area. That program, of which the applicant was the Director, brought together youth and youth-at-risk who were primarily from Latin America and the Caribbean; it was the youth who expressed an interest in a more fully developed and systematic educational program where they could learn about each other and "break down barriers". This proposed project is a response to that desire.











Doris Grinspun named one of "10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians"


3rd CERLAC Fellow to receive this honour


CERLAC Associate Fellow Doris Grinspun was one of ten individuals recognized in 2010 as being among the "most influential Hispanic Canadians". CERLAC Fellows Margarita Feliciano (2008) and Eduardo Canel (2009) were previous honorees.


Below follows the description of Doris from the press release about this award.


Dr. Doris Grinspun (Chile – ON), Nursing and community

Chilean-born Doris Grinspun has been the Executive Director of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) since 1996. The association represents registered nurses in the province of Ontario with a mandate to advocate for healthy public policy. Prior to that appointment, she was director of nursing at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Grinspun has an RN diploma from Hadassah School of Nursing in Israel; a baccalaureate degree from Tel Aviv University, Israel; a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Michigan; and a PhD in sociology from York University. She has published and spoken extensively both in Canada and abroad. A forceful advocate of the Canadian healthcare system, she is regularly interviewed by Canada's media. From 1996 to 1999, Grinspun was the Chair of the Acquired Brain Injury Network of Metropolitan Toronto, a network representing all publicly funded agencies. For the past two decades Grinspun has worked extensively on many international projects in Latin and Central America, China and most recently India. Grinspun is an adjunct professor in Nursing at the University of Toronto and at York University; an associate member of the Centre for Health Promotion at the University of Toronto; an affiliate member of the Centre for Health Studies at York University; and an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CERLAC) at York University. Grinspun has received numerous professional and scholarly awards. In 2003, Grinspun received the Order of Ontario, the highest level of individual excellence and achievement in any field.










































Extractive Industries Workshop lays ground for International Network


On November 6-7, 2010, a distinguished cohort of international researchers convened in Toronto for a two-day SSHRC-sponsored workshop hosted by CERLAC, to discuss future collaboration, and the possiblility of establishing a global research agenda and network on the subject of extractive industries.


The primary objectives of the workshop were to: (1) map out the currently partial and fragmented body of knowledge on Extractive Industry/EI (mining and petroleum) in order to formulate pertinent research questions to encourage a new generation of international collaborative studies; (2) initiate a discussion to set up an International Extractive Industry Research Network that links individual researchers and organized research units in Canada and abroad that share a commitment to study EI from a diversity of perspectives, and (3) lay the groundwork for collaborative research initiative(s) to advance knowledge in relation to critical questions identified in EI studies.


Scenes from the workshop


Participants made solid progress on all fronts: various potential joint research projects were identified for further discussion; the possible parameters and goals of an international network were sketched out; those gathered pledged their ongoing commitment to the network's creation; and a York-based team was delegated to prepare a Partnership Development Grant proposal for submission to SSHRC, to seek two-year funding for the further development of the network and most particularly one of its central porposed components: the creation of an Internet hub to mobilize knowledge on extractive industries among researchers, preactitioners, affected communities and other interested parties.


Workshop participants included:

Anthony Bebbington - Professor and Director, Graduate School of Geography, Clark University

Bonnie Campbell - Professor, Political Science, University of Quebec in Montreal; Director, Groupe de recherche sur les activités minières en Afrique

Eduardo Canel - Director, CERLAC

Catherine Coumans - Research Coordinator and responsible for the Asia-Pacific Program at MiningWatch Canada

Gail Fraser - Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Ricardo Grinspun - Professor of Economics, York University

Uwafiokun Idemudia - Assistant Professor, Division of Social Science, York University

Stuart Kirsch - Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt - Instructor, Economics and Governance, Australian National University

Marieme Lo - Assistant Professor, Women and Gender Studies and African Studies, University of Toronto

Joan Martínez Alier - Professor of Economics and Economic History, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

Carlota McAllister - Assistant Professor, Anthropology, York University

Ben Naanen - Professor, History and Diplomatic Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Liisa North - Professor Emerita, Political Science, York University

Cynthia Sanborn - Director of the Research Center, Universidad del Pacífico, Lima, Peru

Myrna Santiago - Associate Professor of History, St. Mary's College of California

David Szablowski - Assistant Professor, Law & Society program, York University

Anna Zalik - Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Graduate student participants: Rebecca Granovsky-Larsen, Sara Jackson, Charis Kamphuis, Sonja Killoran-McKibbin, Jennifer Mills, Ewa Modlinska, Francisco Nomez, Isaac Osuoka, Catalina Ponce de Leon, Leah Temper, Caren Weisbart


The workshop was organized in response to positive feedback on the spring 2009 Extractive Industries conference held at York University and a desire to build on the conference’s momentum. The possibility of ‘housing’ the network at York was suggested because of the commitment of CERLAC and the high number of faculty and graduate students working on extractive industries throughout the university.










Initiative to promote Research and Knowledge Mobilization on the Extractive Industries


CERLAC Fellow David Szabloski leads project initiative


As an outcome of the November 2010 international workshop on extractives, CERLAC Fellow David Szablowski spearheaded the preparation and submission of a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant proposal requesting $167,838 for a 24-month initiative aiming to build the foundations of an international network on extractive industries. A summary of the proposal follows.


Research and Knowledge Mobilization on the Extractive Industries: Institutionalizing a Cross-Regional Network

This project will develop and institutionalize an interdisciplinary and cross-regional research and knowledge mobilization network on extractive industries/EI (oil, mining, and gas) during 2011-2013. It builds upon the cooperative relationships established among a group of institutions and researchers that came together through two recent activities. The first of these was an international academic conference held at York University in March 2009 where participants recommended the creation of a permanent forum for research collaboration and information exchange. The second was an international expert workshop on networking and collaborative research (referred to as The Workshop below), held in November 2010, which prepared the general guidelines for this proposal.


The scholars who participated in the Workshop agree that extractive industries constitute a critical area for engaged and networked research. In regions around the world, EI are at the center of concerns about economic and social development, environmental degradation, respect for human rights, conflicts over land, water, and territory, and global governance. Systemic global studies of experiences that document the contribution of EI to social and economic development, of public policies and regulatory regimes, of issues surrounding corporate social responsibility, types of conflicts, conflict resolution patterns, and the like are missing. Comparative, interdisciplinary, and cross-regional research is needed to move beyond isolated case studies and towards more systemic analyses that can advance broader learning objectives and lead to better informed public policies. The project aims to develop and disseminate research that is accessible to different groups of actors involved in policy debates and practical experiences relating to EI development. Different actor groups (e.g. journalists, policy-makers, indigenous peoples, industry consultants, and social movement activists) have different knowledge needs, different capabilities, and face different barriers that can impede access to valuable research. The project will also develop practical knowledge about knowledge mobilization in the extractive industry field through critical engagement with actor groups and to make that knowledge accessible.


Our proposal will be carried out by groups of scholars from five partner institutions -- located in Toronto and Montréal in Canada, Barcelona in Spain, Port Harcourt in Nigeria, and Lima Peru. It aims, first of all, to support the preparation of two critical reviews of the state of knowledge?what some call "state of the art" reports at each of the five institutions, on two priority themes that were identified at The Workshop: "Investment Regimes, Regulatory Frameworks and State-Building Processes" and "Corporate Strategies, Governance and Social Responsibility." Those studies will be disseminated locally and internationally. Second, a web site will be set up to facilitate collaboration within the group and to serve the information needs of different actor groups. It will also be used to expand the Network of collaboration to other countries, researchers, and regions. Third, another workshop will be held at the end of the project's second year, with the participation of the November 2009 group and at least 2 or 3 other institutions engaged in research on EI to review the "state of the art" reports that have been prepared and to decide on the next steps for the institutionalization of a global Network on EI. Graduate students and young scholars will assist in all aspects of the project at all five partner institutions in order to train the next generation of scholars and to prepare them for major responsibilities in the further development of the Network.


Participating CERLAC Fellows and other partners: CERLAC: Anna Zalik, Ricardo Grinspun, Liisa North, Eduardo Canel, Shin Imai, Carlota McAllister. York non-CERLAC: Gail Fraser (FES); Uwa Idemudia (IDS/Social Science); Non-York: Tony Bebbington (Clark University); Joan Martinez Alier (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt (Australian National University); Bonnie Campbell (Université du Québec à Montréal); Ben Naanen (University of Port Harcourt); Cynthia Sanborn (Universidad del Pacífico); Coumans, Catherine (MiningWatch Canada); Kirsch, Stuart (University of Michigan); Lo, Marieme (University of Toronto); Osuoka, Isaac (Director of Social Action, Nigeria); Santiago, Myrna (St. Mary's College of California). Partner organizations: Ecological Economics and Integrated Assessment Unit (Eco2BCN), Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ITCA), University of Barcelona, Spain; El Centro de Investigación de la Universidad del Pacífico-CIUP (Research Center at the University of the Pacific), Peru; Le Groupe de recherche sur les activités minières en Afrique-GRAMA (Research Group on Mining in Africa), University of Quebec at Montreal; Niger Delta Environmental and Relief Foundation (NIDEREF), Nigeria.












CERLAC associate Miguel Gonzalez co-edits new book on indigenous self-government



“Contemporary debates on autonomy not only influence the relations between the nation state and indigenous peoples, but they also involve other groups such as Afro-descendant peoples and the rural population. Therefore, as a whole, it is the idea of the state that is discussed in this important volume, which provides both continental assessments and case studies from national and regional experiences from the vast majority of Latin American countries.”

- Gunther Dietz, Universidad Veracruzana, México


“The contributions to this volume excel in their respective fields by their analytical quality and the geographical range of case studies, which also include elements of periodization and diachronic reflections on the historical development of autonomous regimes and self-government processes in Latin America."

- Georg Grunberg, Department de Anthropology, University of Vienna, Austria


View the table of contents.


The entire book is available online (for free).


Miguel Gonzalez holds a PhD in Political Science (York University, 2008). His research focuses on indigenous social movements, territorial autonomy regimes, and sub-national governance. He co-authored (with Pierre Frühling and Hans Peter-Buvollen) Etnicidad y Nación. El Desarrollo de la Autonomía de la Costa Atlántica de Nicaragua. 1987-2007Guatemala: F&G Editores, 2007), and is co-editor of The Rama: Struggling for Land and Culture, Nicaragua: URACCAN & University of Tromso-Norway, 2006. Currently, he teaches in the International Development Studies Program at York University in Toronto, Canada.










CBC Radio features CERLAC Visiting Speakers, Patwa Bible


Patwa Bible translators featured on CBC's Sunday Edition


On 21 October 2010, CERLAC hosted a book launch / presentation on "Di Patwa Baibl: Translating the Bible in Jamaican Creole", which caught the interest of a producer of CBC's Sunday Edition.


On Sunday December 19, 2010, hour two of the Sunday Edition featured the following documentary: Which Will Come....To All The People: It's the Christmas story - the gospel of Luke - like you've never heard it before. Some of the sounds, some of the words are familiar. The lilt is captivating, beautiful, alive. This the Gospel of Luke in Jamaican Creole - patwa - the mother tongue of 85 percent of the people in Jamaica. It's the first completed book in a massive New Testament translation project. When the Bible Society of the West Indies released its pathbreaking work, there was recognition, gratitude and a storm of controversy on the island. Patwa - a language? Written down? Now its creators are spreading the story behind the translation - and the Good News - to the diaspora. Which is why it's General Secretary, Reverend Courtney Stewart, and young linguist Jodianne Scott landed up at York University in Toronto recently. This documentary was produced by the CBC's Frank Faulk and it's called, Which Will Come....To All The People.


Listen to the broadcast.


Additional coverage of the event appeared in: Jamaica Information Service; Jamaica Observer; Go Jamaica; and The Gleaner.







CERLAC invites York grad students to apply for membership under revised category of Research Associate




Previously, CERLAC’s membership category by which graduate students could formally affiliate themselves with the Centre was quite narrowly defined: Research Associates were advanced PhD students ready to go into the field to conduct research.


Due to the narrowness of this definition, CERLAC generally had, at any given moment, few students who were formally members of CERLAC. Yet the number of students actively involved with CERLAC is much higher, and we feel it would be good both for CERLAC and for these students to provide formal recognition of their relationship with us.


It would be good for CERLAC because it would allow us to better reflect the actual level of student engagement with the Centre in our official communications and reporting. It would be good for students to be able to claim in their CVs a formal membership status with us, to be profiled on the website as affiliated researchers, and to have this added incentive to join a community of like-minded scholars.


Thus, on 8 September 2010 the Executive Committee of CERLAC approved changing the current "Research Associate" category of membership to be more inclusive.


Any graduate student at York is now eligible for status as a Research Associate of CERLAC if they meet all of the following requirements:


1) The student's research interests must be relevant to the mandate of the Centre (LACS);


2) The student must be a graduate of, or be registered in and actively pursuing fulfillment of the requirements of, the Graduate Diploma Program in LACS;


3) The student must demonstrate an on-going interest in the activities of the Centre (e.g., by attending events, participating in consultations, responding to evaluation requests, etc.)




4) At least one of the following must apply to the student, to indicate more in-depth involvement with the Centre: He/she must
• Work/have worked as a Graduate Assistant for CERLAC
• Serve/have served on a CERLAC committee
• Present/have presented on his/her research in a CERLAC forum
• Volunteer/have volunteered with CERLAC (e.g., in the organization of an event or activity)
• Be/have been involved in a project or a research/study group of CERLAC or of one of its Fellows
• Author/have authored a Bulletin, Report, Colloquia or Working Paper in the CERLAC publication series.

Privileges of membership: will include use of the title of formal affiliation; being profiled on the CERLAC website; having one's accomplishments highlighted in CERLAC communications; eligibility to apply for access to a workspace in the CERLAC suite; a 30% discount on registration fees associated with any CERLAC event.


Term: The student will retain this status so long as he/she continues to meet the requirements; eligibility will be re-assessed every two years, based on the student's response to an annual questionnaire / request for an update on his/her activities (which will also be used to update the individual's on-line profile).


Students who consider themselves eligible under the terms above are invited to submit a request to become a CERLAC Research Associate to Each applicant should please include a CV and a statement outlining how he/she has fulfilled the requirements.












CERLAC Fellow-supported iniatiative to protect Amazon from oil drill signed by UNDP, Ecuador


On 3 August 2010, an initiative to keep the "oil in the soil" of the Ecuadorean Amazon - described in a previous CERLAC Update - received the formal sanction of the UNDP and the government of Ecuador.


CERLAC Fellow Carlos Larrea is the chief technical advisor for the Ecuadorean government team that is negotiating international compensation for “keeping oil in the soil” in the Yasuni-ITT national reserve in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador. Carlos considers this "an important step toward implementing the initiative."


Under the unprecedented agreement, known as the Yasuni-ITT Initiative, the government of Ecuador will refrain from exploiting the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini oil field within the Amazon rainforest park, which scientists have determined to be the most biodiverse area in all of South America.



The agreement between Ecuador and the United Nations Development Programme creating a trust fund to receive donations to the Yasuni-ITT Initiative was nearly signed in December at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, but at the last minute, President Correa instructed his negotiators to hold back until several sticking points were resolved.


Read the UNDP announcement, and reports from The Environmental News Service, The Huffington Post, and Visit the Yasuni-ITT blog.


Dolores “Lola” Figueroa helps create diploma program to strengthen indigenous women’s leadership

Fondo Indigena secretary general Mateo Martinez and representatives of Spanish, Belgian and German sponsors hand out diplomas

CERLAC Associate and PhD candidate in Sociology Dolores “Lola” Figueroa, who originates from the pluri-ethnic autonomous Atlantic region of Nicaragua, recently participated in the development and inauguration of a new postgraduate diploma program geared toward empowering indigenous women leaders in Latin America. The program is entitled “Diplomado para el fortalecimiento del liderazgo de la mujeres indígenas” (Diploma for strengthening leadership among indigenous women).


Offered by the Fondo Indigena and the Universidad Indigena Intercultural (UII), the first instance of the seven-month program commenced 2 August 2010 but preparations began more than a year before, when the Management Team of the Fondo decided to prioritize the political participation of indigenous women. In 2009, the German technical cooperation agency, GTZ, recruited Lola to undertake consultations with the leaders of various organizations throughout the hemisphere toward developing a curriculum for the Diploma. The curriculum was since approved and the program launched thanks to an academic agreement between the UII and Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS) in Mexico. The academic coordinator for the Diploma program is Dr. Araceli Burguete, who is based in CIESAS.

Students from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador in a study group, including Carmen Rosa Sahuan (CONCAMI), Norma Mayo (CONAIE), Leonida Zurita (las Bartolinas), and Yamila Gutierrez (CONAMAQ)

The initial intake for the program consisted of 30 students from Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, Chile and Peru. Twenty-five scholarships were provided. Course methodology combines in-person instruction with distance education and emphasizes collaborative learning. The formal objective of the course is to “strengthen leadership, develop research skills and strengthen the participation of indigenous women in organizational, public and institutional spaces at the national and international level. To achieve this goal, the course will encourage critical, collective and constructive reflection on the particular condition of indigenous women and their participation in different spaces”.































Marcelo Vieta edits "The New Cooperativism" journal issue

We are pleased to announce the publication of "The New Cooperativism", an issue of the journal Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action, edited by CERLAC Research Associate Marcelo Vieta.


Issue description: Cooperative practices and values that challenge the status quo while, at the same time, creating alternative modes of economic, cultural, social, and political life have emerged with dynamism in recent years. The 15 articles in this issue--written by activists, coop practitioners, theorists, historians, and researchers--begin to make visible some of the myriad modes of cooperation existing today around the world that both directly respond to new enclosures and crises and show pathways beyond them. Prefiguring other possibilities for organizing life and provisioning for our needs and desires, we call these cooperative experiments the new cooperativism.



The issue includes articles on Venezuela and Argentina.

Volume 4, Issue 1, 2010

Table of Contents

(all articles can be read online or downloaded in PDF)


Paulo Ravecca delivers online course on Neoliberalism and the turn to the left in Latin America

CERLAC Research Associate Paulo Ravecca recently delivered a seven-week online course, which commenced August 2, 2010, through CEBEM (Centro Boliviano de Estudios Multidisciplinarios). CERLAC is currently collaborating with CEBEM on the IDRC-funded project “North-South Knowledge Partnerships: Promoting the Canada-Latin America Connection”.

Ravecca’s course - entitled "Pensando la actualidad latinoamericana: “Neoliberalismo”, “giro a la izquierda”, “populismo” y otros dilemas continentales" - addressed the questions: What is neoliberalism? How is it expressed in Latin America? It also investigated “el giro a la izquierda”, or the “turn to the left”, in Latin America, asking whether the manifestations of this trend are socialist or populist, authoritarian or democratic in nature, and interrogating the role of the social sciences, and political science in particular, in these contexts.

Paulo Ravecca (PhD candidate, Political Science, York University) received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the Faculty of Social Sciences of la Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay, and his Masters in Political Science at York University (Toronto, Canada). His interests includ; political theory and critical thinking, political economy and international relations, the state, public politics and development, critical epistemology, sexuality and gender. He is one of the lead organizers of the Latin American Politics study group at York.

Steven Schnoor wins case against Canadian ambassador over Guatemalan mining video

In January 2007, CERLAC Research Associate Steven Schnoor (PhD Candidate, Communication & Culture, joint program offered by York and Ryerson Universities) shot a short documentary depicting the Canadian mining company Skye Resources violently evicting Mayan Q'eqchi' communities from their lands near El Estor, Guatemala.

Steven was in Central America at the time on an academic grant - Students For Development, administered by the AUCC and funded by CIDA - investigating the relationships between Canadian mining companies operating in the region and the communities affected by their activities. The week prior to the evictions, he was in Honduras' Siria Valley investigating Goldcorp's open-pit gold/silver mine (the San Martín mine; see Steven's online hour-long documentary on the Siria Valley). While there, he heard that the evictions would be happening in El Estor, so he headed to the region to document whatever might transpire.

After his video of the evictions began circulating on YouTube, Canada's ambassador to Guatemala, Kenneth Cook, spread misinformation about the video, suggesting that it was fabricated. Steven subsequently sued him for defamation.

The trial took place in the second week of June 2010 in Toronto, and the verdict came down on June 17. The judge ruled in Steven's favour, finding that the Ambassador’s statements “were defamatory” and were “not true”, that they “raised questions about [Steven’s] credibility”.

The judge observed that, based on the Ambassador’s comments, “any reasonable person would conclude that . . . [Steven] was a maker of fraudulent videos”. She further stated that “the Ambassador was reckless. He should have known better”, and that the defamation “was serious”: the comments “could have done great and long lasting damage”. Finally, she said that she considered “the dead silence” from the Canadian government in response to Steven’s attempts to get a reasonable response from government to be “spiteful and oppressive”, and awarded Steven neary $10,000 in damages and legal costs.

Steven testified at trial that the Ambassador’s comments served to undermine the credibility of the people in the video.

“I am glad that there has finally been some accountability for the Ambassador’s actions. As the judge said, this defamation was serious,” Steven said.

“To me, this is a very big problem – it’s not just about me and one particular video. I am concerned that this is an example of how the Government of Canada is quick to discount the voices of people who are harmed by Canadian mining companies. I hope that more Canadians will lend their voice to the growing numbers who are already saying that this is not what they expect from their government.”

Steven Schnoor screens his on-line video to members of a community affected by the evictions he documented

(after they had returned to the lands from which the had been removed.)


Steven further notes: "Cook's actions also had the effect of endangering an academic doing research abroad; if rumour were to spread that I had fabricated a document ostensibly to make a mining company look bad, I could have easily become targeted by those in Guatemala who wished for the mining project to advance. Indeed, people with whom I'd been working in the area had received death threats because their work was perceived to endanger the operation of Canadian mining companies in the region. This a point which didn't really get much media coverage, but which the CAUT [Canadian Association of University Teachers] immediately picked up on as soon as I went public with having been slandered. CAUT's president and executive director (Greg Allain and James Turk) co-wrote a letter to Peter MacKay (then Minister of Foreign Affairs) about this."

Asked if this experience might impact his current academic work, Steven replied:

It certainly will, in that one of the things that interests me is means by which certain voices are deemed to be illegitimate, and others deemed to be legitimate ('stakeholders,' as we're told). There's a whole literature on power and communication (Habermas and his many critics, Bourdieu on language and symbolic violence, etc.) that this case engages with in interesting ways. It also engages with political-economic analyses of commercial media as 'purveyors of hegemony,' for lack of a better term, given that there is seldom any commercial media interest in these issues (and indeed there was nothing about the evictions when they first happened).

That said, the fact that I could get the video out in public circulation fairly easily via YouTube, and then was able to sue a powerful official for an act that served to jettison certain voices as illegitimate (both mine and the voices depicted in the video), as well as the fact that the ordeal did manage to get a little bit of media coverage - both commercial and public, all serve to demonstrate that these are terrains of contestation - that we can indeed carve out spaces in which we can struggle within/against the dominant forces that shape our understandings of these issues... and spaces/strategies of resistance will be one area of focus in my dissertation.

Steven's dissertation focuses on "how discourses of democracy have been used to advance anti-democratic projects and how discourses of development have been used to advance projects that are fundamentally destructive and exploitative."

See the YouTube video on the eviction.

For details about the case, as well as background information and multimedia resources on the community eviction documented by Schnoor, and on the broader issue of Canadian involvement in Guatemala, click here.

See MiningWatch Canada's and Rights Action's pages on the case and related issues.

Media coverage:

CBC Radio's "As it Happens"

Toronto Star

Digital Journal

New York's Pacifica Radio WBAI

"Latin Radical": Australian radio show/podcast

CBC Radio's "As it Happens" (transcript from 2007, about the case more generally) and audio

The Dominion (on the case, from 2007)


A recommendation from Steven: If people are concerned about the abuses perpetrated by Canadian mining companies operating abroad and a Canadian government which not only resists regulation and accountability mechanisms but actually actively supports these endeavours, they might wish to get involved in initiatives to use government as an effective regulator of corporate activity, and not just cheerleader and facilitator of these activities.

The only initiative currently before Parliament in this regard is Bill C-300. It is a very modest bill, but a good first step in addressing the problem. Industry, however, has been lobbying against it so intensely that the only way that it will pass when it comes to its third vote in October 2010 is if Canadians en masse get behind it: if they call and write MPs expressing their support for the bill, if they educate themselves and others on these issues, etc. [Steven himself testified before the Parliamentary committee considering the bill, urging them to pass it.]

For more information on C-300, as well sample letters, click here.

Alison Crosby organizes LASA panel on women confronting impunity in Guatemala

CERLAC Fellow Alison Crosby has organized the following panel in the 2010 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) which is taking place in Toronto, October 6-9, 2010.

Follow these links for information on Alison's related project, and on LASA panels organized by other CERLAC Fellows.

Confronting Impunity: Women’s Struggles of Justice, Historical Memory, and Reparation in Guatemala

GEN 6459 Thursday October 7th, 10:30-12:15

This panel brings together psychologists, lawyers, sociologists, and feminist activist researchers who are engaged in struggles for justice and reparation in postwar Guatemala alongside women survivors of sexual violence. Panelists will analyze initiatives to combat gendered impunity and create historical memory, including a three-year study of women’s oral histories of experiences of sexual violence in the war, a precedent-setting court case, and a Tribunal of Conscience, within a transnational feminist agenda for reparation and gender justice.

Panel Presenters/Papers:

Brisna Caxaj, Union Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)
La lucha del movimiento de mujeres por la justicia y el rescate de la memoria histórica: Por el derecho a una vida sin violencia para las mujeres

Lucia Morán, Mujeres Transformando el Mundo
El uso estratégico de la acción legal para romper impunidades históricas que vulneran a las mujeres en Guatemala

Olga Alicia Paz Bailey, Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial - ECAP
Mujeres Rompiendo el Silencio: el camino hacia la justicia

Alison Crosby, York University and M. Brinton Lykes, Boston College
Claiming Subjectivity: An agenda for reparation for survivors of sexual violence

Discussant: Karen Hammink, Impunity Watch

Chair: Professor Brinton Lykes, Boston College

Rudy Grant remembered

CERLAC associate and York Professor Emeritus Rudy Grant (1931 - 2010) passed away on Monday, June 14, 2010 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. CERLAC deeply regrets his passing.

Read the Y-File article

Dr. Rudy Grant’s career was dedicated to teaching

From "Share" newspaper on-line edition, June 23rd, 2010


Dr. Rudy Grant's entire professional career was dedicated to teaching and improving the lives and minds of young people and adults.The lifelong educator and political scientist, who taught at York University for 31 years before retiring in December 1998, died last Monday in Toronto after a lengthy illness. He was 79.

York University has been central to the academic development of many Caribbean immigrants and Grant left his mark as one of the key educators who played a leading role in providing educational and social advancement.He and fellow Guyanese-born Professor Emeritus Dr. Wolseley "Percy" Anderson pioneered Inter-Disciplinary Studies at the university and co-researched studies for the Ontario Ministry of Education in 1975 on the challenges that Caribbean immigrants faced in adjusting in the school system in a new country.The resulting report, The New Newcomers, was used as resource material by teachers and researchers across Canada.

Justice of the Peace Dr. Odida Quamina said Grant was his teacher, mentor, friend and guide."He was the first university professor I met when I came to Canada from Guyana in 1972," said Quamina. "At the time, I was a young revolutionary who came here to get my Bachelor of Arts degree and return home. It was Rudy who encouraged me to move from a B.A. to a Masters and then on to a doctorate. He was the 'go-to' professor when you wanted something done and he steered me and a lot of bright and enthusiastic young newcomers from the Caribbean in the 1970s in the right direction."

Lawyer Aston Hall said Grant encouraged him to pursue law and engage in community service."Rudy taught us how to be critical and he was an inspiration to me," said Hall. "Because of him, I understood that I could do things and there was no limit to what I wanted to achieve. He was a major force in my academic development."

Grant taught in Guyana before pursuing history studies and a Graduate Teaching Diploma in Education at the University of the West Indies from 1957-1961. Two years later, he secured a Graduate Academic Diploma in Education from the University of London through external study.

He received his Masters in 1966 and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1970.Grant joined York University as a part-time instructor in the summer of 1967 and received full-time appointment two years later.In the early 1970s, he was at the forefront of a movement trying to raise Black consciousness in Toronto. He supervised youth at St. Christopher House and attended United Negro Improvement Association meetings after classes. He also helped organize the Black Heritage Education project that provided assistance to students in need and co-founded the Thorncliffe Park Black Heritage Association.

Grant is survived by his wife and two children, younger brother Dr. Joe Grant, a former Toronto Catholic District School board principal and owner of the defunct Cutty's Hideaway restaurant, and sister Ornette Willis.

A younger brother, Cedric, passed away five years ago on June 15. He was an assistant professor in the department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and a former Guyana ambassador to the United States and High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

The funeral service took place last Saturday [June 19].

The York-URACCAN partnership lives on! Another graduate from Nicaragua's autonomous regions is hosted by York

URACCAN UPDATE by Harry Smaller

In 1995 CERLAC and York University began a long-standing partnership with URACCAN (the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua), at the time newly established as the first post-secondary institution in the region. URACCAN was, and remains, an exciting new model for educational institutions everywhere. It was established with a democratic governance structure designed to represent the multi-racial, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity of a region which has long suffered from both economic exploitation and social neglect for much of its history. Its founding mandate has remained clear: enhancing the economic, social, health, educational and cultural development of the region.

The last 15 years has seen a number of exciting and productive engagements between York and URACCAN. Of major importance was CERLAC’s Tier 2 UPCD project, which ran from 1997 to 2003. Funded by CIDA, the overall aim of the project was two-fold: first, to strengthen URACCAN's capacity to meet the region's needs in the areas of poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and community development; and second, to strengthen the knowledge-base and research capacities of York University and CERLAC with regard to the developmental and socio-cultural issues of the region. The project involved five main theme activities: faculty development, program/curriculum development, community outreach, enhancing research capacity and provision of information and communications equipment and materials. By all accounts it was highly successful (among other criteria, it won honourable mention at a CIDA awards ceremony for international projects), and among its many outcomes, 20 URACCAN “docentes” completed all academic requirements and received York Masters’ degrees.

Since that time, our partnership, albeit with much more limited funding, has remained strong. Two of the docentes who completed Masters’ degrees through the UPCD project subsequently received doctoral scholarships to York. Miguel Gonzalez has now completed his PhD in Political Science; Dolores Figueroa is hoping to defend her dissertation (based on comparative research on indigenenous women's participation in Nicaragua and Ecuador) in the near future. In addition, for several years now York undergrad and grad students have undertaken three-month summer internships at URACCAN, through auspices of York’s International Internship Program. This year, six student teachers from York’s Faculty of Education undertook a month of practice teaching in elementary and secondary schools on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, with the logistical support of URACCAN. And during the fall of 2009, URACCAN head librarian Mercedes Tinoco from the Bilwi Campus spent five months at York, undertaking research for her doctoral studies at the Universidad de Costa Rica, related to the experiences and successes of Aboriginal students registered at URACCAN.

Most recently, York and CERLAC have had the opportunity to host Glénis Escobar, a docente at the Bilwi Campus. Glénis also spent five months at York, researching and completing her Masters’ thesis, aided by the financial support of a Canadian ELAP scholarship (“Emerging Leaders in Latin America Program”). In addition to teaching at URACCAN, Glénis is a longtime social activist in her region, including work in relation to community health issues. Her thesis research and writing was based on a series of in-depth interviews she undertook with 10 Miskitu women living with HIV/Aids in the Bilwi area, and the ways in which their indigenous “cosmovision” informed their life experience and intersected with their capacity to deal effectively with their situations. A major part of her analysis involved the development of a number of recommendations for ways in which institutions and agencies on the Coast could work to alleviate the stigma and discrimination which many of these women suffered as a result of their particular medical conditions, and their particular social/cultural placement within their larger community. Although her degree will be awarded through URACCAN, the university gave permission for her to defend her thesis at York, involving a committee of York faculty members. Congratulations to Glénis for a very successful defence, and many thanks to Professors Debbie Brock and Kamala Kempadoo for willingly taking on this responsibility.

The York-URACCAN partnership lives on! At the present time, we await the arrival of Johanna Lopez from the Bluefields campus, who was recently awarded a similar ELAP scholarship. Hopefully, we can look forward to many more years of continuing close relationship with URACCAN!

Article from URACCAN Al Día (Digital) 11 June, 2010 (translation follows); photo shows Prof. Harry Smaller and Glénis Escobar during her defence:

URACCAN instructor defends thesis in York

Committee ranks Glénis Escobar's research as "excellent"

By Gretta Páiz

"Social discrimination against women living with HIV and AIDS: A Miskitu indigenous perspective" is the title of the thesis by Glénis Escobar - sociologist, translator and URACCAN instructor - that was awarded the rank of "excellent" by her defence committee at York University.

According to Escobar's findings, "women with HIV-AIDS have been subjected to discrimination mainly from their families, friends and neighbours, and they consider their condition to be the result of a curse, bad spirits, or punishment from God." They also admit that, although "they take anti-retroviral drug treatments, they continue also to administer their own herbal cures."

Her research observes that, although these women know something about Law 238 (the "Law to Promote and Protect the Human Rights of People with AIDS"), information about this and other, related laws must be better disseminated to combat discrimination against those with HIV and AIDS.

Glénis spent 5 months in Canada, during which time she completed her MA in HIV-AIDS Management and Prevention, with the support of URACCAN, York University and the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP), to all of whom she expresses her thanks.



Shin Imai honored for excellence in teaching

CERLAC Fellow Shin Imai is recipient of an annual President’s University-Wide Teaching Awards (UWTA) in the senior full time category for faculty with 10 or more years of teaching experience. His nominator, the associate dean at Osgoode Hall Law School, notes: "Shin is renowned as one of the most talented and admired teachers in the Osgoode community... He has inspired not only his students but also many of his colleagues".


Deborah Barndt receives new Dean’s Teaching Award

In recognition of her skill and dedication as an instructor and supervisor, CERLAC Fellow Deb Barndt has received a new Dean’s Teaching Award in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES), created to highlight extraordinary teaching at York University.





CERLAC Fellows contribute to latest NACLA issue on "Canada in the Americas"

CERLAC Fellows Ricardo Grinspun, Yasmine Shamsie, and Max Cameron are all contributors to the latest issue of NACLA, entitled "Empire's Apprentice: Canada in Latin America" (May/June 2010).

Description: Behind Canada's do-gooder facade in the Americas is a country torn in contradictory directions, not all of which are particularly benevolent. Under the government of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, three factors have exerted a powerful influence on Canadian involvement in Latin America: (1) corporate interests, particularly extractive industries, (2) politicians’ commitment to free market fundamentalism, and (3), above all, the government’s frankly slavish alignment with U.S. foreign policy. This disposition has increasingly undermined Canada’s traditional reputation and has sent an unfortunate message to the region: Tory Canada is the Empire’s apprentice.

Canadian Re-engagement in Latin America: Missing the Mark Again
Ricardo Grinspun and Yasmine Shamsie
Both Conservative and Liberal governments in Ottawa have expounded their faith in neoliberalism. With its new policy of re-engaging Latin America, the Harper government remains undaunted.

A Diplomatic Theater of the Absurd: Canada, the OAS, and the Honduran Coup
Maxwell A. Cameron and Jason Tockman
Throughout the Honduran crisis, Canada moved in lockstep with the United States. Doing so clashed with Canada’s frequently stated commitment to multilateralism and democracy.









CERLAC organizes two sessions on "Canada in the Americas" for 2010 Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences


Two consecutive sessions on "Canada in the Americas" organized by the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) at York University and jointly hosted by the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) and the Canadian Political Science Association (CPSA) will be held at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences starting in Montreal later this month.


The workshop will be on Wednesday, June 2, 8:45-12:00 AM, room FG C080 at Concordia University in Montreal.



From the Program: In this two-part panel, nine leading thinkers consider essential networks, tensions, rifts and opportunities in Canada’s increasingly intense relationship with the Americas. Participants examine the relationship between Latin American and Canadian academic, labour and policy centres. Panel Presentation


Canada in the Americas Part 1

8:45-10:15 Wednesday, 2 June
Room: FG C080

Organizer: Ricardo Grinspun, York University
Chair: Stephen Baranyi, Université d`Ottawa

María Teresa Aya Smitmans, Universidad Externado de Colombia
Colombia- Canada: Obstacles and Challenges in the Relationship

Lesley Burns, Canadian Foundation for the Americas
Canada-Venezuela: An Analysis of the Multifaceted Relationship

Ricardo Grinspun, York University
Jennifer Mills, York University
Canada’s Trade Engagement with the Americas: Sailing With or Against the Tide?

John Kirk, Dalhousie University
Canada-Cuba Relations: From Bad to Worse under the Harper Government


Canada in the Americas Part 2

10:30-12:00 Wednesday, 2 June
Room: FG C080

Chair and organizer: Ricardo Grinspun, York University

Liisa North, York University
Bad Neighbors: Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America

John Foster, Carleton University
Canada and Central America: Citizen Action and International Policy 30 Years On

Pablo Policzer, University of Calgary
Canada and the International Promotion of Democracy

Jason Tockman, University of British Columbia
The Coup in Honduras and Canada's Response









CERLAC Fellows and Associates well represented in CALACS 2010


CALACS - the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies - is holding its 40th Anniversary Congress in Montréal in conjunction with the general meeting of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Many CERLAC Fellows and Associates will be presenting papers and playing different roles in the Congress, as illustrated by the following list (taken from the program, in order of appearance):

Panel: Reforms of Judicial Systems in Latin America

Chair: Albert Berry, CERLAC Fellow

Amaya Paulina Alvez Marín, CERLAC Research Associate
Aiming for Sameness Through Judicial Balancing? Problematizing Comparative Constitutional Law in Latin America

Panel: Race, Development, and the Nation: Bermuda, Dominica, and the French Caribbean

Chair: Juanita de Barros, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Natural Resource Exploitation and Environmental Concerns

Tanya Chung Tiam Fook, CERLAC Research Associate
A Win-Win Strategy for All? Exploring the Implication of Guyana´s Climate Change Strategies for Indigenous Communities


Panel: Migraciones y exilios latinoamericanos en Europa y Canadá

Chair: Daniel Schugurensky, CERLAC Fellow
Discussant: Judith Hellman, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Neoliberalism in Latin America: Continuity and Change

Chair: Eduardo Canel, CERLAC Fellow

Ruth Felder, CERLAC Research Associate
Argentina en la crisis del neoliberalismo. Cambios y continuidades (1990s-2000s)


Roundtable: Four Decades of Latin American and Caribbean Research Institutions in Canada

Chair: Albert Berry, CERLAC Fellow

Participant: Liisa North, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Canadian connections: Commerce, and Carnival in the Caribbean and the Diaspora

Nadine Hunt, CERLAC Research Associate
Scotland, Jamaica and the Role of Trust in the Expansion of Caribbean Trade, 1750-1800


Panel: Navigating Colombia's Civil War: A New Direction?

Jasmin Hristov, CERLAC Research Associate
“Señores de la guerra”, Auto-Defensas, or BACRIM? Towards a New Conceptualization of Paramilitarism in Colombia


Panel: Water Treatment and Environmental Risks

Chair & Discussant: Harry Polo Diaz, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Palimpsest, Deconstruction and New Imaginaries

Tanita Muneshwar, CERLAC Research Associate
Deconstructing ‘tropicality’ and Racial Miscegenation in Nancy Leys Stepan’s Picturing Tropical Nature


Panel: Agriculture, Human Rights and Environmental Risks

Chair: Lynne Phillips, CERLAC Fellow

Simon Granovsky-Larsen, CERLAC Research Associate
Land Access Programs Available to Guatemalan Campesinos, 1962-2009: Predecessors to Agrarian Reform?

Panel: Canada in the Americas Part 1

Ricardo Grinspun, CERLAC Fellow, and Jennifer Mills, York University
Canada’s Trade Engagement with the Americas: Sailing With or Against the Tide?

John Kirk, CERLAC Fellow
Canada-Cuba Relations: From Bad to Worse under the Harper Government


Panel: Indentured labour, diaspora and identity: The Chinese and the Indian diaspora

Discussant: Juanita de Barros, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Redefinition of Female Roles in Public Life

Chair: Lynne Phillips, CERLAC Fellow

Panel: Canada in the Americas Part 2

Chair: Ricardo Grinspun, CERLAC Fellow


Liisa North, CERLAC Fellow

Bad Neighbors: Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America


Panel: Challenges of Industrialization in a Global Economy

Chair: Eduardo Canel, CERLAC Fellow

Albert Berry, CERLAC Fellow
The Challenge of Lowering Inequality: What Latin America Can Learn from the History of Industrial Countries


Keynote Speaker II: Inaugural Kurt Levy Lecture

Maxwell A. Cameron, CERLAC Fellow
Texts, Media, and Constituent Power: Latin America from Ancient to Modern Times


Panel: Latin American Women's Citizenship: Current Trends in Policies and Politics

Lucy Luccisano, CERLAC Fellow
Mexico’s Centre-Right Government, Public Policies and Women’s Citizenship


Panel: Understanding Diasporic Latinidad in Canada: New Approaches to the Study of Latinas/os in Canada

Daniel Schugurensky, CERLAC Fellow
Examining two educational paradoxes of Latin Americans in Canada


Panel: Women in Search of Political and Working Spaces

Chair: Kalowatie Deonandan, CERLAC Fellow

Lynne Phillips, CERLAC Fellow, and Sally Cole, University of Windsor
Feminisms and Publics: Working Spaces of Democracy in Brazil and Ecuador

Panel: Women, Intra-Regional Migration and the Issues of Rights

Chair: Tanya Basok, CERLAC Fellow


Roundtable: Area Studies and the Role of Study Abroad Programs in Latin American Studies

Chair: Laura Macdonald, CERLAC Fellow

Laura Macdonald, CERLAC Fellow
10 years of North American Studies exchanges at Carleton

Lucy Luccisano, CERLAC Fellow
North American Studies and Mobility Programs: Reflections on Student Learning


Panel: Migrant Women and Rights Activism: the Role of Nongovernmental, Regional, and International Organizations

Nicola Piper, University of Windsor, and Tanya Basok, CERLAC Fellow
Engendering Migration Governance: International Organizations and the Promotion of Norms in Latin America


Panel: Reimagining America and the Cuban Nation

John Kirk, CERLAC Fellow
Exploring the Rationale for Cuban Medical Internationalism


Panel: Re-examining the Governance of Resource Extractive Sectors in Latin America

Sonja Killoran-McKibbin, CERLAC Research Associate
Unnatural Resources: International Development Aid and Hydrocarbon Exploitation in Bolivia

Kalowatie Deonandan, CERLAC Fellow
State Response to Community Resistance in Guatemala’s Extractive Sector


Panel: Armed Conflicts in Latin America

Chair: Liisa North, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Bilingualism and Hybridity

Chair: Daniel Schugurensky, CERLAC Fellow


Panel: Emigration and Migration within Latin America

Brigitte Cairus, CERLAC Research Associate
Gypsy Brazil: Identity, Migration and Ethnic Politics among Brazilian Romanies, 1936-2007


Panel: Media in Latin America: Alternative Views

Marta Silva, CERLAC Research Associate
“The Indigenous View”: Ethnic Activism and Audiovisual Production in Mato Grosso do Sul


Panel: Building the Canadian empire in Latin America and the Caribbean

Chair: Jasmin Hristov, CERLAC Research Associate


Panel: Negotiating the Globalization Process in the Caribbean

Chair: Kalowatie Deonandan, CERLAC Fellow



Academics, activists gather in Colombia for closing conference of human rights project

RedLEIDH project partners reflect on five years of collaboration and accomplishment


By William Payne


They flew in from every corner of Latin America: human rights academics with solid activist credentials. Coming from universities and research centres throughout the hemisphere, they joined with Canadian scholars and Colombian social justice leaders at Colombia’s National University in Bogota, Colombia, in February 2010, to break open some of the key questions that the region faces.


The two-day conference for which they all convened, entitled “University and Civil Society in Defence of Human Rights, the Challenge in Latin America,” was also the final event of the RedLEIDH project. RedLEIDH (an acronym from the Spanish for “the Latin American Human Rights Education & Research Network”) was a five-year, CIDA-funded project led by Prof. Viviana Patroni of York University’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and Prof. Shin Imai of Osgoode Hall Law School. The conference provided a rich overview of the project’s accomplishments and served as a launching point for ongoing collaboration among the project’s partners.

Representatives from RedLEIDH’s principal partner institutions - including the Inter-American Human Rights Institute (IIDH) based in Costa Rica, Argentina’s Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), the Latin American Association of Jesuit Universities (AUSJAL) and the Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services (ILSA), based in Colombia – were all present for the occasion, as were representatives from the universities and social organizations which have been involved with the project over the past five years.


The site for the event was not chosen by accident: Colombia, a vibrant, diverse society in the throws of a civil war which has raged for more than five decades, has been referred to as the “open wound” of the region, a place unable to staunch the blood-letting associated with the gross social inequalities of the hemisphere. What better place in which to continue the work of unpacking this structural violence (not lacking in connections to Canada), and to once again imagine ways forward?

RedLEIDH project co-directors Shin Imai and Viviana Patroni


At the event, speakers with a wealth of experience shared their stories, analysis and recommendations, providing along the way a retrospective overview of the RedLEIDH project's many accomplishments.


In the opening panel, Diana Avila, a noted Colombian feminist human rights leader, deplored the ongoing criminalization of difference and called on those working for social justice to draw the connections between different struggles, while Sofia Tiscornia of Argentina’s CELS stressed that researchers and activists must work together in the ongoing development of multipronged efforts using litigation, policy work and social activism to construct a world more inclined towards the respect of human rights.


In a spirited discussion concerning the role of education for and about human rights, Ana Maria Rodino of IIDH highlighted their work with civil servants, and stressed the role of education in taking human rights into the practical realm. Fabián Salvioli, director of Argentina’s La Plata National University Human Rights Institute and member of the UN’s Human Rights Committee, lamented that too often the university sector sees itself outside of the real world struggle for human rights. He called for the explicit integration of a human rights framework into the university sector and across the curriculum, and underlined the “revolutionary role” of the university in terms of participating in the transformation of society where human rights are assured. Amanda Romero spoke of her own experience facilitating human rights education for indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent communities and family members of victims. Outlining the long history of popular education addressing structural causes of violence in the hemisphere, she emphasized the need to recognize the agency of those who have been victimized in questioning hegemonic models for societal organization, and highlighted the importance of the new social movements and critical feminist theory in advancing towards a world where all are not only “able to live” but also to “live well.”


The successes and challenges of RedLEIDH-supported human rights education programs were debated in the third panel: Lamenting that too often educational systems merely copy the verticalism of social systems, Randall Brenes discussed research conducted by IIDH under the auspices of RedLEIDH which examined the advances and challenges faced by human rights education in 19 countries of the region. Noting that human rights education cannot be separated from the right to education, Brenes spoke of the online teacher training programs they have developed with the project’s assistance. Carlos Valdés, a professor from Universidad Santo Tomás (Colombia), spoke of an epidemic of extrajudicial killings that are not investigated, and then outlined the way their Masters program is training practitioners to make better use of forensic tools to expose grave human rights violations and reduce impunity. The Santo Tomás Masters program is one of five such programs which have been supported through the RedLEIDH project.


Regional representatives of COMOSOC


Mariella Saetonne outlined the development - in conjunction with IIDH and with assistance from RedLEIDH - of AUSJAL’s human rights education diploma program for mid-career professionals. Using a distance education model based on a horizontal relationship between students and instructors, diploma programs now exist in Uruguay, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Students focus on one of three areas: ‘access to justice’, ‘citizenship participation’ or ‘human rights education’. A lively debate explored related themes, including state responsibility for serious human rights violations despite the adoption of human rights rhetoric, as well as the limits of the role of the university in the protest/proposal continuum.


The public interest legal clinics sector has made significant advances in recent years and the RedLEIDH project has contributed to this important development by supporting the work of ILSA, CELS, the Latin American Network of Public Interest Legal Clinics and some of the universities associated with the project. Beatriz Londono, head of the Public Action Group, a university-based legal clinic associated with Universidad del Rosario, which is a member of the Latin American network, outlined some of the successes and challenges they have faced while addressing such issues as environmental protection, public security and disaster prevention. Luz María Gil, coordinator of a legal clinic at the Jesuit University Andrés Bello in Venezuela, emphasized the role their clinic has played in developing students’ sense of social commitment. Francisco Cox, a lawyer associated with Chile’s Diego Portales University legal clinic, also part of the regional network, emphasized the role of legal clinics in developing strategic litigation with social impact.


Ana María Maya, coordinator of a network of legal clinics supported by ILSA that serves forcibly displaced persons, outlined how they have made use of legislation requiring all law students to be involved in legal clinics serving marginalized persons, in order to address practical needs of thousands of people adversely affected by ongoing violent social transformation in Colombia. Maya noted that, despite the absence of state protection for the rights of displaced persons, this RedLEIDH-supported initiative is benefiting displaced persons, and also provides opportunities to law students and their universities to understand the social role of law as a profession.


"The Struggle for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights" panel


RedLEIDH has consistently sought to underline the importance of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) as part of the full complement of rights which need to be protected in a just society. This was the topic of a lively panel on the second day of the conference. In a presentation based on recent research, ILSA’s Libardo Herreno opened the ESCR panel by outlining the broad struggles which are taking place across the region, highlighting the link to economic development processes . Ana Lucía Casallas of the Coalition of Colombian Social Movements and Organizations (COMOSOC), a network supported by RedLEIDH, related respect for civil and political rights to the struggle for social and economic justice and outlined some of the proposals of COMOSOC’s campaign “The right to express ourselves without losing our lives.” Eliud Alvear, a community leader, provided a case study of a local struggle for ESC rights in face of state repression, corporate manipulation and paramilitary violence, and stressed the conviction of his community that nonviolent struggle will be successful.


The closing panel focused on Canada’s role in human rights protection in Latin America. York University’s Ricardo Grinspun reviewed the historical development of an international system of protection of commercial interests which is often at odds with the national and international human rights protection system, outlining the progression of Canadian free trade agreements relying on asymmetrical bilateral negotiations with weaker partners in order to provide benefits to Canadian business. Etienne Roy Gregoire of Université du Quebec a Montreal explored the specific case of governance of the global mining sector, noting that mining companies’ use of private security is expanding, as is the Canadian government’s promotion of mining code reform in countries where Canadian mining companies have interests. He lamented that the recent focus on ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) does not address the fundamental issues, and noted that CSR cannot replace the state’s fundamental right and responsibility to decide where mining should or shouldn’t occur, based on the public good.


Louise Casselman of the Public Service Alliance of Canada represented the Americas Policy Group, a working group that includes forty Canadian organizations concerned with human rights in the hemisphere. Emphasizing the need for new tools to address emerging realities, she called for a moratorium on free trade agreements and for the removal of chapter 11 provisions which take away the state’s right to protect its own citizens. She underlined that there is a fundamental need to examine the prevailing global economic model. COMOSOC’s Omar Fernandez discussed their work in conjunction with Canadian civil society organizations to raise issues related to the protection of human rights. Noting how this transnational work has already served to slow the implementation of a free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia, he invited Canadian civil society to maintain an ongoing relationship with their coalition.


The conference concluded with a lively discussion in which it was observed that, while we are no longer in the historical moment when Canadian ambassadors physically accompany refugees in Latin America, there is still great value to be derived from south-north collaboration through university and civil society networks committed to human rights. It was a fitting closure to the final major activity of the RedLEIDH project.


In addition to the various programs referenced in the conference, other key activities supported by the RedLEIDH project include advocacy work in the area of public policy and in promotion of an independent judiciary, and the publication of important human rights research by many of the partner organizations. With regard to advocacy work, of particular note has been the work of CELS to incline the Argentine government towards greater respect for human rights in its immigration law and its prison system, as well as ILSA’s concerted programming with Colombian judges to develop capacity for a judiciary which better promotes universal respect for human rights. In terms of publications, over two dozen, covering a range of issues related to human rights, were produced by ILSA, CELS, AUSJAL, IIDH, COMOSOC and Landavar University with assistance from RedLEIDH.


Project participants from CERLAC and Osgoode are happy to have made a contribution to the improvement of human rights in the hemisphere by supporting the work of their partner organizations. Each of these partners boasts its own long and committed history of working for human rights and social justice in the region. The York-based participants are pleased to have contributed to their ongoing struggle, and are eager to acknowledge that this project involved a truly collaborative process of mutual learning. In Latin America, as everywhere, the battle for the universal protection of human rights is long and often fraught with difficulty. The participants in the RedLEIDH project are glad to have had the opportunity to join with their partners during this particular chapter in the history of the struggle for human rights in the region. They are also confident that, although the formal programming of the RedLEIDH project has finished, the work completed and the relationships forged over the past five years will continue to bear fruit.












Carlota McAllister researches dam conflict in Chilean Patagonia

"Alterity within capitalism: making property and appropriating nature in a dam conflict in Chilean Patagonia"

CERLAC Fellow Carlota McAllister's SSHRC-supported research project will take her to the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia, which lies fifteen hundred kilometres south of Santiago, a vast, rugged land of mountains, glaciers, and powerful rivers, surrounded by imposing natural obstacles, and accessible by road only since the 1980s.



Despite Aysén's remoteness, Cochrane, a small town in its far south, has become the epicentre of a battle between multinational energy consortium HidroAysén and a well-funded alliance of conservationists over a proposed $3 billion plan to build a series of hydroelectric dams on two of Aysén's major rivers. Caught in the middle are Cochrane's longstanding residents, members of Chile's small community of cattle- and sheep-herding gauchos.


Carlota's research project will investigate how gauchos and other participants in the dam conflict, despite their shared sense that property and property rights are what is at stake, nonetheless ground their rights claims in fundamentally incommensurable relationships among humans and non-humans. Examining this incommensurability in action in the dam conflict, Carlota's proposal asserts, will provide a window onto the contradictions and instabilities internal to capitalism's relationship with nature. By investigating how gaucho vernacular capitalism engages the vernaculars of dam developers and conservationists, Carlota thus aims to expand anthropological understandings of alterity.



From Carlota's research proposal:

HidroAysén, with tacit backing from the government, argues that Chile's current energy woes make this project indispensable to the future of the nation, while promising gauchos work and infrastructure to make up for their historical marginalization. Anti-dam conservationists counter that the dam project will irrevocably alter Aysén's extraordinarily pristine nature, destroying the quality of life that is a gaucho's true wealth. Both positions in the dam controversy may bode ill for gauchos, whose livelihoods are equally incompatible with HidroAysén's "progress" and the conservationists' "wilderness."


Gauchos have no indigenous ties to Aysén: their ancestors arrived in the early 20th century from further north in Chile, fleeing dispossession in search of land of their own to enclose and make productive. In the context of the dam conflict, the gaucho defense of the private property rights bequeathed by these pioneers makes their case an ethnographic challenge to current anthropological models of environmental struggle in the global South. These tend to privilege "difference," treated as cultural or even ontological exteriority to capitalism, as the key to understanding struggles over capitalist "nature."


This research will provide material for a single-authored book as well as several conference papers and journal articles. Its interest outside the academic community will be greatest for people in Aysén, says Carlota: "Gauchos are very proud to have their history as pioneers recognized: after consultation with community leaders in Cochrane, I agreed to produce a popular history of local properties to be used in developing a museum of Cochrane's history and gaucho life in southern Aysén."










Gender & Reparations in Guatemala: Year 2

IDRC renews support for second year of Alison Crosby's project


IDRC has approved a grant to support the second year of Prof. Alison Crosby's CERLAC-based research project "Understanding women’s struggles for justice, healing and redress: A study of gender and reparation in postwar Guatemala".


The project is examining forms of reparation for women survivors of human rights violations during the 36-year long armed conflict in Guatemala, as a potential contribution to their broader struggles as political actors for justice, healing and redress.


More information here.














CERLAC Fellow Carlos Larrea helps "keep oil in the soil" in Ecuadorean Amazon

CERLAC Fellow Update



By Liisa L. North


CERLAC Fellow Carlos Larrea is now the chief technical advisor for the Ecuadorean government team that is negotiating international compensation for “keeping oil in the soil” in the Yasuni-ITT national reserve in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador.


His interest in the developmental benefits and costs of petroleum exports dates back to his PhD thesis in the Social and Political Thought Program (SPT), completed under the supervision of CERLAC Fellow Louis Lefeber (Economics) in 1992. The title of that work was “The Mirage of Development: Oil, employment, and poverty in Ecuador, 1972-1990.” It tried to explain why the country’s petroleum export boom had done little to lay the bases for sustainable development and poverty reduction.




The Ecuadorian government’s proposal to keep oil in the soil, according to Carlos, represents a “paradigm shift for dealing with climate change, the conservation of biodiversity in tropical zones, and international equity” (see The rich countries and institutions of the world are being asked to compensate one of the poorest countries of South America for its willingness to preserve an area whose biodiversity is unmatched in the world: the Yasuni-ITT area contains more species per square mile than all of North America (Canada and the USA) taken together. Instead of buying carbon credits, rich countries can support the Yasuni-ITT project for keeping greenhouse gases from being produced in the first place.


The idea of keeping oil in the soil came from the work of Acción Ecológica, an environmental NGO that has hosted several CERLAC associated graduate students in the past, Malcolm Rogge among them. He is director of the award winning documentary “Under Rich Earth” which chronicles a conflict between rural farming communities and a Canadian mining company in the Intag valley to the north of Ecuador’s capital city.

Acción Ecológica’s proposal for preserving Yasuni-ITT from petroleum extraction was accepted by President Rafael Correa who, in turn, presented it to the United Nations in September 2007. Since then, an agreement has been signed with the United Nations and Carlos, to his own surprise, has become a globe trotting advocate and negotiator for the project, visiting just about every European country, many of them on several occasions. The proposal has received the unanimous support of all parties in the German Parliament, and the Ecuadorian team has been favorably received in Belgium, Denmark, France, England, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey, as well as by the European Union and OPEC. The names of supportive civil society organizations, and even Hollywood stars, are too many to list.

When not preparing documents for negotiations and traveling as a member of the Ecuadorean negotiating team, Carlos teaches courses on theories of development and on climate change at a graduate school set up by the Andean Group of Nations, the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, which has campuses in both Bolivia and Ecuador. He has also written numerous books and published dozens of refereed articles that arise for the most part from a 15-year long dedication to work on developing social information systems for Ecuador that can be used by governments as well as academics. His latest books include Pueblos indigenas, desarrollo humano y discriminación en el Ecuador and Hacia una Historia Ecológica del Ecuador.

In addition to his academic research, Carlos has written numerous reports for public policy formulation for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), and Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), among many other international organizations. He also spent some time at Harvard University as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and at the University of Toronto as a Visiting Researcher at the Centre for International Studies.


Carlos, of course, continues to participate in CERLAC-organized events. Most recently, he presented a paper at the conference on extractive industry organized by CERLAC and the Extractive Industries Research Group (EIRG) in March 2009. He also continues to collaborate with the Latin American Faculty of Social Science (FLACSO-Ecuador), a principal CERLAC partner in various past projects and ongoing faculty and student exchanges.







CERLAC Grad Pablo Andrade directs MA program in Ecuador

CERLAC Grad Update


By Liisa L. North


While completing research on, and the writing of, his PhD dissertation in Social and Political Thought (SPT, 2007), Pablo Andrade started to work at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (UASB) in Quito, Ecuador, where he has been the director of its Latin American Masters Program since 2002. It is a program that offers MA degrees in three areas – International Relations, Politics and Culture, and Agrarian Studies. It also provides dormitory and other facilities for students from abroad, not just from the Andean region countries that form part of the Community of Andean Nations (CAN) that set up this public university in 1994.


Pablo wants Canadian students to know that their applications will be welcomed in the University’s MA program. And he wants students and professors to know that UASB has a publishing arm that has been very active, with many titles in the social sciences.

Pablo has dedicated considerable energy to building international support and an international profile for the program that he directs. The University of Bergen, Norway, has been particularly generous in providing funding for research on poverty and that University’s Geography Department has been involved in providing academic support for a diploma program a on Cambio Climático (Clilmate Change) that was set up at the UASB in 2008. This is the first program of its kind in the Andean region if not in the hemisphere, and Pablo’s colleague and Fellow York PhD Carlos Larrea teaches in it.


Pablo has also maintained his Canadian and CERLAC linkages. He has worked on ensuring cooperation between the UASB and Trent University’s undergraduate “Year Abroad in Ecuador Program” to which he has contributed on a regular basis. Meanwhile, he has encouraged his former CERLAC/York student colleagues – Tom Legler (now at the Universidad Metropolitana in Mexico City) and John Cameron (now chair of International Development Studies at Dalhousie in Halifax) -- to provide lectures in USASB programs. Pablo also hosted former CERLAC Director Viviana Patroni at the Andina while CERLAC Fellow Liisa North taught a course in the Agrarian Studies specialization of the Latin American Studies Program during February-March 2010.

In addition to his administrative duties, Pablo maintains an active teaching schedule and research program. His courses include an Introduction to International Political Economy, Politics and Society in Latin America, and Philosophy and Political Analysis. His La reinvención del Estado: La era neolibreal y el proyecto republicano (1992-2006) was published in 2009. A year earlier, he published Democracia y cambio político en el Ecuador: Liberalismo, política de la cultura y reforma institucional. Both works, as well as his many articles and chapters in books, benefited from research time made available to Pablo as Senior Associate Member of St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University (in 2008) and as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at the University of California in Los Angeles (2005-2006). As well, he had an opportunity to spend some tine at the University of Bergen in Norway in the spring of 2007 where he delivered a lecture on “Neoliberalism: the Public Philosophy of Inequality”.


2010 Mundo Canuck essay prize-winners selected - & celebrated on TLN

On 18 May 2010, the inaugural winners of the "Mundo Canuck" essay prize were publicly celebrated in a ceremony that took place in the York Research Tower. CERLAC Deputy Director Prof. Andrea Davis and long-time CERLAC Fellow Prof. Marguerita Feliciano, who was also one of the judges for this year's competition, presented the two prize-winners with their recognition certificates.

L to R: Marguerita Feliciano, Iván Wadgymar, Natassha Feo, Andrea Davis


Also present were Sharon Mejia, production coordinator with the Telelatino television network, and cameraman Julian Popa, to film a segment on the prize and this year's winners for broadcast on the TLN network.


The segment was broadcast on June 1 2010 and can be viewed here.

Sharon Mejia and Julian Popa of TLN

CERLAC is pleased to announce and congratulate again the 2010 prize-winners:

1st place:

"Olga Patricia Jabbaz: Un empeño ejemplar en Canadá"

by Iván A. Wadgymar

Evaluators' comments:

"... solid, in terms of socio-cultural content and sustained literary effort".

"The story is original. More original is the analysis contrasting the story with findings from select studies. This is done smoothly and creates both an analytic framework and interest."

"Very clearly written. Persuasive..."

2nd place:


by Natassha Feo

Evaluators' comments:

"A nice very short story. Almost poetic in parts..."

"Clear, interesting writing. Very authentic in tone."

Both essays can be downloaded here.

About the prize: The Telelatino Network "Mundo Canuck" Essay Prize is awarded annually to two York undergraduate students demonstrating exceptional writing on the experiences of Hispanic people in Canada. The first prize is worth $800, the second $450. The competition has been established through a donation by Telelatino (TLN), a Canadian television channel that broadcasts programs of interest to the Hispanic and Italian communities.

The winning essays provide critical reflection on the experiences of Hispanic people in Canada, highlighting their past, present and future contributions to Canadian society and/or addressing the challenges they have successfully overcome as members of a minority group in the Canadian context.

CERLAC invites York students to submit their entries for the 2011 prizes before 18 February 2011. More information.

CERLAC Fellows on organizing committee, heading two panels for LASA 2010

2010 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA): "Crisis, Response, and Recovery"

CERLAC Fellows Eduardo Canel, Judy Hellman, Liisa North and Viviana Patroni are all serving on the organizing committee for the 2010 Congress of LASA, which is taking place in Toronto, October 6-9, 2010. In addition, CERLAC Fellows have organized two panels for the Congress, detailed below: “Managed Migration”: A Comparison of Agricultural Contract Work in Canada, the United States, and Spain, organized and chaired by Judith Adler Hellman; and Canada in the Americas: Regulating Canadian Extractive Industries in the Hemisphere, co-sponsored by CERLAC and CALACS, organized by members of the Extractive Industries Research Group (EIRG) and chaired by Eduardo Canel.

Canada in the Americas: Regulating Canadian Extractive Industries in the Hemisphere

Chair, Eduardo Canel, Director of CERLAC; Associate Professor, Department of Social Science

Honourable John McKay (Member of Parliament, Scarborough-Guildwood, Canada)
"Regulating Canadian Extractive Industries Abroad. Private Member's Bill C-300 on Responsible Canadian Mining."

David Szablowski (Assistant Professor, Law and Society program, York University)
"Competing visions of human rights in the transnational regulation of Canadian mining investment in Latin America."

Anna Zalik (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University)
"Contesting NAFTA's Marine Zones: Regulating the Petroleum Offshore."

Shin Imai (Associate Professor, Osgood Law School, York University)
"Breaching Indigenous Law: Goldcorp and Hudbay in Guatemala."

“Managed Migration”: A Comparison of Agricultural Contract Work in Canada, the United States, and Spain

Organizer and Chair: Judith Adler Hellman, CERLAC Fellow, York University, Toronto

Leigh Binford, City University of New York, College of Staten Island,
“Can Managed Migration really be Managed? : Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programs in North America"

David Griffith, East Carolina University, "Para Mis Hijos: Hyperproletarianization, Family, and Managed Migration between Sinaloa and North Carolina."

Janet McLaughlin, Wilfrid Laurier University, “Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program: A Model or Amiss?”

Kerry Preibisch, University of Guelph, “Mismanaging migration? Changes to Canada’s Agriculture Guestworker Programs and Impacts for Workplace Regimes”

Alicia Reigada Olaizola, Universidad de Sevilla, “‘Trabajadoras invitadas’ en los campos
freseros: Políticas de contratación y gestión de la inmigración en el Sur de España”

Discussant: Judith Adler Hellman, York University, Toronto

LASA is the largest professional Association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. Its international Congress is the world's premier forum for expert discussion on Latin America and the Caribbean, and typically features over 900 sessions, including plenary sessions and informal meetings.

The conference will explore - with insights from multiple disciplines - the effects of, and responses to, the 2008 US financial crisis in Latin America, as these have varied from country to country, community to community, even neighborhood to neighborhood.

CERLAC recruiting volunteers for LASA 2010

Volunteers are needed for the 2010 Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).


The theme of the Congress is "Crisis, Response, and Recovery", and it will be taking place in Toronto October 6-9, 2010.



LASA is the largest professional Association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America. Its international Congress is the world's premier forum for expert discussion on Latin America and the Caribbean, and typically features over 900 sessions, including plenary sessions and informal meetings.


The conference will explore - with insights from multiple disciplines - the effects of, and responses to, the 2008 US financial crisis in Latin America, as these have varied from country to country, community to community, even neighborhood to neighborhood.


The program is ambitious, participants are coming from across the globe, and we need your help to make it all happen.

We need volunteers who can help us with:
- interpretation (English to Spanish)
- guiding conference participants to venues and through registration lines
- running errands
- preparation of congress materials
- billeting out-of-town visitors


Volunteers will be expected to work in half-day (6 ½ hour shifts). Please let us know if you can work more than one shift over the duration of the Congress.


Volunteers will enjoy being part of a world-class international academic Event. Their names will be listed in our system and they will receive a program book and a certificate noting their participation in the Congress as well as their name badge which is required for access to the congress and a t-shirt noting their volunteer status. Volunteers also receive full access to all of the Congress' sessions and events (a $55 value for students) provided at least one shift is worked and will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Latin Americanist scholars from around the world. Access to the events will require the proper name badge to be displayed.


A manual detailing the information for the congress and volunteer duties will be sent with your schedule. These duties may require extensive walking or standing and some light lifting.


For more information on the conference, see:


Please contact:
Subject line: Volunteer
And please include in the message in what capacity you would like to volunteer, contact info.


Thank you - we look forward to hearing from you.

The Organizing Committee
LASA 2010 Congress Organizing Committee

CERLAC seeking Graduate Assistants for 2010-2011

Every year, the smooth running of CERLAC's programs depends upon the critical support of various Graduate Assistants (GAs). It is thanks to their contributions that we are able to hold as many events and activities as we manage to do each year. GAs help us to organize conferences, lectures, and seminars; to maintain our website and the databases of information that it contains; to ensure the flow of information on our listservs is continuous and content-rich; to run our publication series, our Graduate Diploma program, our Documentation Centre, and so on.

We also seek to ensure that the GAs who work with us acquire new knowledge, skills and experiences. They are exposed to new ideas and to the research of our Fellows and visitors and are encouraged to attend and participate in our events as part of their GA assignments.

We invite graduate students, at the MA and PhD level, who have been guaranteed GA funding from their Graduate Program, to consider pursuing their GA-ship with CERLAC during the 2010-2011 academic year.

A list of GA positions at CERLAC for 2010-2011 can be downloaded here.

If you are interested in one of these positions, please speak to your Graduate Program Director (GDP) about your interest. If your GDP says you are eligible to apply and supports your doing so, please send a brief statement of interest and a CV to

Nominations sought for Latin American Environmental History book prize named after late CERLAC Fellow Elinor Melville


The Elinor Melville Prize for Latin American Environmental History


Nominations sought for prize that memorializes the late Elinor Melville, former CERLAC Fellow and professor of History at York University.


Deadline for receipt of nominations: June 30, 2010


$500 is awarded annually for the best book on Latin American Envirnonmental History published in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese.


The Melville prize was established in 2007 through a bequest from Elinor Kerr Melville. It carries a stipend of $500. The Melville prize is awarded for the best book in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese on Latin American Environmental History that is published anywhere during the imprint year previous to the year of the award. Melville defined environmental history as “the study of the mutual influences of social and natural processes.” The prize will go to the book that best fits that definition, while also considering sound scholarship, grace of style, and importance of the scholarly contribution as criteria for the award.
Normally not considered for the award are reprints or re-editions of works published previously, and works not primarily historical in aim or content. More general works of environmental history with significant Latin American content may also be considered.

1. To be considered for the Melville Prize, a book must bear the imprint of the year prior to the year for which the award is made. Hence, for the 2010 Melville Prize, to be awarded in January of 2011, the Melville Prize Committee will review and judge books with imprint year 2009.

2. The CLAH Secretariat will invite publishers to nominate books for prize consideration. CLAH members, including members of the selection committee, may also nominate books, and authors who are not CLAH members may nominate their own books. For a book to be considered, each of the three committee members must receive a copy, either from the publisher or from another
source. Books received after June 1 of the award year will not be considered. The Secretariat should be informed of the committee’s decision no later than October 15, 2010.

3. Authors are advised to consult their publishers to be certain their books have been nominated and a copy sent to each member of the Review Committee.

Conference on Latin American History
Department of History and Program in Latin American Studies
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd.
Charlotte, North Carolina 28223-0001

Tel.: 704-687-2027
Fax: 704-687-3218

CERLAC co-organizing an IDRC-sponsored conference in Argentina on “Deepening Democracy”


CERLAC and the Transformative Learning Centre (TLC - OISE, University of Toronto) have been awarded a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), to support an international conference in Rosario, Argentina, from May 13 to 16, 2010. The conference is organized by the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations at the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, in collaboration with TLC and CERLAC.


The four-day conference - “Deepening Democracy as a Way of Life: Challenges for Participatory Democracy and Citizenship Learning in the 21sth Century” – has been conceived of as a space to combine academic reflection and debate with an exchange of experiences in participatory democracy and citizenship education. The conference will be organized around thematic tracks on deepening democracy in: Civil Society; State Sponsored Spaces (municipal, Provincial, National); Workplace; Education (Primary/Secondary, Post-secondary, Informal); Mass Media; and Transnational Communities.


In response to the Call for Papers, the organizers have received over 400 proposals from individuals around the world. The keynote speakers and special guests in special panels include: Erik Olin Wright (USA), Yves Cabannes (France), Juan Carlos Tedesco (Argentina), Daniel Schugurensky (Canadá), Ximena Soruco Sologuren (Ecuador), Chiqui González (Argentina), Tor Iorapuu (Nigeria), Manjula Bharathy (India), Gabriela Ippolito-O'Donnell (Argentina), Alicia Cabezudo (Argentina), Danilo Streck (Brazil), Eduardo Canel (Canada).


CALACS coming to CERLAC, with IDRC support


Beginning in 2010, CERLAC will provide an administrative home to the premier Canadian network of Latin American and Caribbean researchers: the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), for a three-year period.

As CALACS celebrates its 40th anniversary, it is pursuing a plan for renewal and growth that involves the temporary re-location of its operations to CERLAC and a new partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The IDRC recently awarded a grant to CALACS to support this process.


CALACS will benefit from the knowledge, capacities and networks of CERLAC as the two organizations collaborate to:

• expand and diversify the membership of CALACS;
• sponsor opportunities for the interchange of research findings;
• develop position papers on the changing relationship of area studies to development studies, and of Latin American and Caribbean development to trends in other area studies fields;
• hold a conference, “Mapping the New Area Studies”, in Montreal;
• enhance knowledge about the mandate and actions of IDRC among Canadian and international researchers of Latin America and the Caribbean;
• enhance opportunities for graduate student training;
• help visiting scholars and actors from Latin America and the Caribbean to plug into a larger network of Canadian research venues and audiences; and
• consolidate the CALACS archive in the archives of York University.



CALACS was founded in 1969 to promote academic excellence in all fields of Latin American and Caribbean Studies in Canada, while facilitating contact and exchange of information among those engaged in related fields of Latin American and Caribbean teaching and research in Canada and abroad. The association turned 40 in 2009, and in June 2010 will celebrate its 40th anniversary congress in Montreal. A centrepiece of CALACS’ activities is the publication of a journal, the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CJLACS), founded in 1977.


CERLAC has a long and close history with CALACS, with which it shares - uniquely among Canadian research centres - a focus on both Latin America and the Caribbean. Among past instances of collaboration, they co-organized two conferences, in 1990 and 1996. In addition, between 2001 and 2004, the journal of CALACS (CJLACS) was housed at CERLAC, under the editorship of CERLAC Fellow Judy Hellman.





CERLAC receives grant for global extractive industries workshop

CERLAC is happy to announce its having been awarded a grant from SSHRC’s International Opportunities Fund to organize a workshop with leading international researchers in the field of extractive industries.


The workshop proposal, submitted in September 2009, was approved by SSHRC in late 2009 but no funds were then available to support it. In late March 2010, SSHRC followed up with the good news that sufficient funds had since been found.


The primary objectives of the proposed international workshop are to: (1) map out the currently partial and fragmented body of knowledge on Extractive Industry/EI (mining and petroleum) in order to formulate pertinent research questions to encourage a new generation of international collaborative studies; (2) initiate a discussion to set up an International Extractive Industry Research Network that links individual researchers and organized research units in Canada and abroad that share a commitment to study EI from a diversity of perspectives, and (3) lay the groundwork for a large-scale collaborative research initiative to advance knowledge in relation to critical questions identified in EI studies.


These objectives emerge from suggestions made by scholars who participated in a highly successful international Conference, “Rethinking Extractive Industry: Regulation, Dispossession, and Emerging Claims,” organized in March 2009 by York University’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) and the Extractive Industries Research Group (EIRG). They repeatedly pointed out that the wealth of knowledge produced on EI seemed fragmented and dispersed, and that the Conference constituted a first step to identify gaps and to develop common research agendas, as well as much needed international collaborative research projects. Therefore, the workshop aims to generate a series of research questions for future comparative studies of EI and to explore ways to facilitate international collaborative research and communication among EI scholars in universities in Canada and abroad.



The team members for the proposed research activity are: applicant David Szablowski (Law & Society program, York University); co-applicants Uwafiokun Idemudia (Division of Social Science, York University) and Anna Zalik (Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University); and collaborators Anthony Bebbington (School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester) and Bonnie Campbell (Groupe de recherche sur les activités minières en Afrique, University of Quebec in Montreal).


Invitees to the workshop include: Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt (Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University); Joan Martínez Alier (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain); Ben Naanen (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria); Ciaran O'Faircheallaigh (Politics and Public Policy, Griffith University, Australia); Cynthia Sanborn (Universidad del Pacífico, Peru); and Myrna Santiago (St. Mary's College of California).


CERLAC hopes to organize the workshop for late Summer or Fall 2010.






CERLAC / EIRG-edited CJDS issue on Extractive Industries available now


A special double-issue of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies (CJDS), stemming from the CERLAC-organized March 2009 conference “Re-thinking Extractive Industries”, is now availble.


It was guest edited by a team of colleagues in CERLAC and the CERLAC-hosted Extractive Industries Research Group (EIRG) at York University.


See the Table of Contents & abstracts.


For more information on the conference (including access to various other papers presented, and to streaming video of some of the panel sessions), click here.


Copies can be ordered directly from CJDS.


Visit the CJDS website.









CERLAC-CEBEM project update: On-line distance education course on Migration & Development launched


CERLAC is pleased to announce the launch of a new on-line distance education course on Migration and Development, designed by CERLAC Fellow Alan Simmons and researcher Pedro Marcelino.


The course was created for the Centro Boliviano para Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEBEM) in Bolivia, as part of a CERLAC-CEBEM project funded by the International Development Research Centre.



“Best practices” in Projects on Migration, Remittances and Development


CERLAC and the Centro Boliviano de Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEBEM) have just announced the first installment of an online course on Migration, Remittances and Development. It is aimed at professionals and anyone interested in knowing, deepening, analyzing and exchanging criteria about the role of migration and remittances in developmental processes.

For more than a decade the relationships between migration, remittances, and development have been the object of attention of researchers, institutions and governments, gradually earning its place in local and regional planning and becoming a crucial element in the search for transformative practices to possibly affect socio-economic structures in Latin American and Caribbean countries, particularly in the rural sector.



Week 1. Introduction
Week 2. Remittance Flows
Week 3. Impacts of Remittances
Week 4. Remittances and bancarización (‘banking’ the poor)
Week 5. Case Study Variations
Week 6. Beyond Remittances



Alan Simmons: Researcher of processes of migration and development. Ph.D. in sociology and demography from Cornell University. He is currently a professor emeritus at York University and a CERLAC fellow.

Pedro F. Marcelino: Researcher of migratory dynamics in West Africa, diasporas, and processes of inclusion and exclusion. He is currently a research associate at CERLAC.



7 weeks, including an introductory week for familiarization with the online campus.



Spanish. Some alternative course materials in English and Portuguese.

A limited number of scholarships are available.


See CEBEM's formal announcement about the course, with detailed information (in Spanish only), here.


The research process: Although remittances have been on the research and governance agendas for well over a decade, there are still substantial gaps in knowledge. Much of the work currently being done follows the policies and ideologies of the World Bank, IMF, IFAD and, in Latin America and the Caribbean, IADB. At the academic level, significant research has been published on limited case studies (El Salvador, Mexico), and on a few dimensions of the phenomenon, notably at the macro-economic level.


Remittances are, however, intrinsically fluid, by definition influenced by external factors (such as unemployment rates and currency fluctuations in host countries), and interconnect transnational practices with inherently local practices. It is at the ground level that the largest gaps in knowledge can be found. Remittances received in migrants’ countries of origin are often not channeled to achieve the best possible outcomes and maximize the effects on local economies.


During the research requested by CEBEM, Alan Simmons and Pedro Marcelino identified the most relevant and up-to-date work done on the subject across Latin America and the world. Although results were scarce at first, within a couple of months a list of over two hundred titles had been compiled, revealing considerable gaps in knowledge on processes “beyond remittances,” as they are known in the field.

Bearing in mind the amount of compiled material and the contacts established during the research process, it is possible that this course will be followed by a second installment and a second, advanced level course.









York-Haiti Solidarity Committee supports IBBY Haiti's literacy project


After Haiti suffered an “apocalyptic” earthquake on January 12th, CERLAC participated in an effort to mobilize the York community to contribute to emergency relief efforts in Haiti.


These efforts led to the formation of a York-Haiti Solidarity Committee, the setting-up of a York-Haiti Disaster Appeal Fund, the circulation of an appeal for support, and two fundraising auctions of Haitian art.

The Committee is pleased to announce that it has now made a donation to IBBY Haiti in the amount of $4075.00 CAD. These funds came from a generous donation by the York University Faculty Association, several generous donations by anonymous individuals, and from the funds raised by two auctions of Haitian art at the March 2010 lectures on Haiti by Prof. Patrick Bellegarde-Smith. Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the fund and to the fundraising efforts.


The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organization which represents an international network of people from all over the world who are committed to bringing books and children together. Information about IBBY Haiti's literacy project with children displaced by the January 12 earthquake can be found here.


CERLAC also supported a student-led fundraising initiative that raised $2500 (in a Bingo event on January 27) for the work of the International Red Cross in Haiti.












CERLAC contributes to White Paper response


A number of York’s organized research units (ORUs), with CERLAC among them, have submitted a response to the chapter on research of the draft Provostial White Paper (produced by the Office of the Vice-President Academic & Provost).


The Provostial White Paper (Canada's Engaged University: Strategic Directions for York University 2010-2020) is intended to reflect York University’s strategic priorities for the next decade.


A response to chapter 3 (research) of the White Paper, signed by 19 ORU directors, was submitted on 27 March to the Provost. The response is the result of a collegial discussion that took place over several weeks and it offers a consensual response from the majority of ORU directors. Download the response here.








Celebrating Alan Simmons' retirement… and on-going involvement


On 28 January 2010, a crowd assembled in the common space of the 8th floor of the York Research Tower to celebrate Alan Simmons, in recognition of his formal retirement almost two years before. The delay in holding such a celebration is no doubt attributable, to some degree, to the fact that many of Alan’s colleagues have not been closely affected by his retirement because – and this is especially true in terms of CERLAC’s experience - his presence and contributions have not noticeably diminished.


Nonetheless, the occasion offered opportunity for many of the people Alan has touched, professionally and personally, to pay heartfelt tribute to him as a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend.

The following tribute was written by CERLAC Graduate Assistant Larissa Rozdzilski (with photos by Jacqueline Siebert):

[Alan was recently in Bogota, Colombia, exploring possible opportunities for collaboration with Colombian and Latin American researchers in the area of international migration, remittances and development. His latest book - Immigration and Canada: Global and Transnational Perspectives – was just published (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, January 2010). Alan is presently working with graduate student Pedro Ferreira Marcelino to design an on-line distance education course on Migration and Development for the Centro Boliviano para Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEBEM) in Bolivia, as part of a CERLAC-CEBEM project funded by the International Development Research Centre.]









The return of LACYORK News


LACYORK News – the weekly compilation of news and analysis on Latin American and Caribbean regional affairs, circulated via CERLAC’s “LACYORK” listserv - is back by popular demand.


After a two-year absence, this electronic resource has been resurrected, bringing a wealth of topical information to LACYORK subscribers.


See a recent LACYORK News installment HERE

To subscribe to LACYORK, send your full name and email with a request for subscription to LACYORK to:







New Latin American Politics Study Group formed


A new thematic study group on contemporary Latin American politics has been created at York University, with CERLAC’s support.


The stated aim of its organizers is to create an interdisciplinary space in which to share research and political concerns related to:

• neoliberal hegemony in the region,
• the turn to the left,
• the relationships between left and center-left governments and social movements,
• key public policy areas, and
• the recent re-emergence of the right

among other topics.


The first meeting of the group was held March 31 2010.


For more information:


Or contact:
Ruth Felder, Political Science -
Paulo Ravecca , Political Science -










New Guatemala Study Group formed


CERLAC recently helped to create a Guatemala Research Group for York graduate students working on Guatemala, to facilitate a sense of community among such scholars, and to encourage debate, exchange and a pooling of resources on topics of shared interest, including conducting fieldwork in Guatemala.


Professor Alison Crosby has agreed to act as a faculty resource person for this group, and other faculty members are also be invited to participate, either on a regular or periodical basis.


If you are interested in joining this group-in-formation, please send to a request to be subscribed to the Guatemala Group listserv; please include in that email your name, affiliation and a brief description of your research interests as these relate to Guatemala. We plan to create a webpage for the Guatemala Group with brief profiles of each member and his/her research.











Winners announced: 2009 Michael Baptista Essay Prize


See the Y-File article here.


CERLAC is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.


At the undergraduate level, Emmanuelle Fick (English) won for her paper: “The Body, the Stage, and the Theory: Unpacking the Body in Aime Cesaire's ‘The Tragedy of King Christophe’”. At the graduate level, Laurence Robitaille (Communication and Culture) won for her essay: “Understanding Capoeira through Cultural Theories of the Body.”


The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by a two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each of the two prizes).


Baptista esaay prizewinners Emmanuelle Fick (undergraduate 2009), Laurence Robitaille (graduate 2009) and Nicholas Balaisis (graduate 2008) flanking Sharon Baptista


Emmanuelle Fick’s outstanding paper provides a “multilayered analysis [demonstrating] a keen understanding of the relationship between performance and memory of the body, as well as of the relationship between performance and social memory,” in its discussion of Césaire’s play - one of the great, overlooked historical plays of the Haitian Revolution.


In the words of one evaluator, “[Emmanuelle] did not simplistically tack theory onto the play, but rather infused a deeper meaning into the play that gave this reader the sense that she understood the play from its author's perspective--a very difficult task, indeed. The argument was clear and carefully constructed, original, and surprisingly easy to grasp given the level of complexity of the theory in its original format. A particular strength was the essay's link between culture/arts and power in all of its colonial/post-colonial, racial, and gendered guises.”


Laurence Robitaille’s essay, in turn, “provides an excellent and in-depth overview of the scholarly work on the body as a text… Complementing such frameworks with an ethnographic and situated frame of reference, Laurence then performs her own empirically based analysis of Capoeira, the Brazilian dance/martial arts.”


“This paper… provides a quite virtuosic romp through some of the main texts of cultural studies at large,” noted one evaluator. Another found her paper “highly academically sophisticated” and further observed: “It is supported by a strong, compelling argument that makes a significant contribution to the fields of Brazilian Studies, Dance Studies, and Cultural Studies. To my knowledge, no one else has used cultural theories in these ways to examine capoeira or any other movement practice. Her writing is clear, elegant, professional and complex.”


Both of these prize-winning papers are available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.


All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors’ respective levels of study, and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2009 prize were: “The Maroon Wars” by Rob Connell; “La novela de la crueldad: una aproximación a Máscaras de Leonardo Padura desde El teatro y su doble de Antonin Artaud” by Mélissa Gélinas; and “Make it Legal: the attempt to legitimize the push for social change through constitutional reform in Bolivia” by Sharon Ilavsky.


The other graduate-level nominee was: “From Latin America to Toronto: Cultural Factors that Transform Performing Artists and Their Art” by Mayahuel Tecozautla.


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective.


The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.


For more information on the essay prize, see:


If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student’s essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:


Congratulations to all this year's nominees, and especially to the prize winners!









CERLAC regrets the passing of Fellow Howard Daugherty; on-line tributes


We at CERLAC were very saddened by the unexpected and sudden passing of our colleague Prof. Howard Daugherty on 12 February 2010.


Howard was a professor of environmental studies and a researcher in neo-tropical ecosystems. He was also the Principal Investigator of the Las Nubes Research and Conservation Project in Costa Rica, and was the much-respected and appreciated supervisor of many graduate students doing field research on that project. Howard was the recipient of the 2009 Faculty Member Award for Outstanding Contribution to Internationalization.


On-line tributes to Howard Daugherty:

Professor Howard Daugherty was an advocate for fair trade and the environment

Howard Daugherty leaves behind a living legacy

A Salute to Howard Daugherty

In Loving Memory of Professor Howard Daugherty

Celebrating Howard











Winners announced: 2008 Michael Baptista Essay Prize

CERLAC is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

At the undergraduate level, Laura Landertinger (Sociology and Philosophy) won for her paper: “Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST)”. At the graduate level, Nicholas Balaisis (Communication and Culture) won for his essay: “The Publicness of Melodrama in the Cuban Special Period.”

The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by a committee of CERLAC Fellows.

Laura Landertinger’s outstanding paper “examines the establishment of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil in 1984, analyzes its growth, development and influence and assesses whether or not it has been successful in its bid to improve the lives of its supporters.”  One reviewer described Laura’s work as “a very good piece, well researched, argued and presented and certainly deserving of consideration for the Baptista Prize.”

Nicholas Balaisis’ essay, affirmed one evaluator, is “a superbly argued and original analysis” that “makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the two-way links between a particular cultural form (film) and the political, cultural and social economic transformation of the case studied (Cuba)”, using “an insightful and qualified… framework (Habermas re public spaces)”.  While the adjudicators noted that all the graduate-level nominated papers “add to knowledge and all have other strengths, the Balaisis paper is most original, theoretically sophisticated and coherently argued.”

Both of these prize-winning papers are available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.

All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors’ respective levels of study, and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2008 prize were: “Subjects or Citizens: Caribbean Communities in Britain” by Heather Williams; “An Afternoon with Mrs. Winter: The Life Story of a Saint Lucian Woman” by Richard Lanns-Allain; and “East Indian in the West Indies” by Alyssa Sewlal.

The other graduate-level nominees were: “Contemplating Environmental History and Socio-Ecological Relationships within the Conservation Contact Zone in North Rupununi, Guyana” by Tanya Chung Tiam Fook; “Indigenous Property Rights and Privatization: State Responsibility under the American Convention in the Negritos Case” by Charis Kamphuis; “Changing Social Relations of Production in Urabá: Social Forces and the Colombian Form of State” by Olivier Plamondon; and “Yuh Nah Sih Mih Fuh True/You Don’t See Who I Really Am:  The Hybrid Politics Of Guyanese Racial Identity” by Rosanne Purnwasie.

The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective.

The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.

For more information on the essay prize, see: projects.htm#baptista

If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student’s essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC:

Congratulations to this year's winners!



Toronto Star Interviews Laurentino Gomes, Brazilian author & recent CERLAC guest speaker

The defining year for Brazil

March 18, 2009.

Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Cordeiro de Andrade Pinto and Consul-General Americo Dyott Fontenelle will be special guests at the York University seminar today by bestselling author Laurentino Gomes on his book 1808: How a mad queen, a fearful prince and a corrupt court deceived Portugal and Brazil forever. Gomes, whose book has won the Brazilian equivalent of the Giller Prize, will speak from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in Room 280 York Lanes.


Q: How did you get the idea for 1808?

A: 1808 was born in the newsroom of Veja, the leading weekly news magazine in Brazil, where I worked for more than 15 years as a reporter and editor. In 1997, I was the executive editor of the magazine and my director asked me to prepare a series of specials on Brazilian history. After some months of working, the plan was cancelled, but I decided to go ahead by myself. I published the book in 2007, on the eve of the royal family's arrival for 200th anniversary celebrations.

Q: Why do you think it has been so popular in Brazil and Portugal?

A: For me, this stands as a powerful indication that people in Brazil, as well in Portugal, are looking into the past in search for some explanations to the present. This is very good news. Our virtues as well as our problems have deep roots in the past.

I would risk saying that the year 1808 worked as our national DNA. Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese in 1500, but was invented, or created, as a country only in 1808 with the Portuguese royal family's arrival in Rio de Janeiro. This was our nation-building event, much as 1867 was for Canada.

Q: What do those 13 years you write about, when Brazil became a country very rapidly, mean to you as a piece of history?

A: With the Portuguese Royal Court's arrival, in 1808, Brazil paved the way for its independence ... In little more than one decade, Brazil was decisively transformed, from an isolated, ignorant and forbidden colony to a country ready for its autonomy. This is also an event without parallel in human history. For the first time, a European monarch crossed an ocean in order to live and rule on the other side of the world.

Q: What do you think might have happened if the royal family hadn't come to Brazil?

A: Without the arrival of the Portuguese court, the social and regional conflicts would have gone deeper, to such point that the separation between the provinces would be almost inevitable.


Just Visiting profiles people invited to appear at events in the GTA.



CERLAC Fellow Judith Rudakoff's New Play Beautiful Little Lies

Theatre prof's new play is a Cuban cocktail with a twist from Y-File - 11 March 2009

Torontonians yearning to be transported to warmer climes can enjoy the experience vicariously this Sunday through a public workshop performance of York theatre Professor Judith Rudakoff’s current play-in-progress, Beautiful Little Lies.

Set in a land of sand and sun, the play is a far cry from the frost and wind chill of Toronto in March. The staged reading will be presented by Theatre Archipelago, a company dedicated to theatre from and about the Caribbean, and directed by York alumna Rhoma Spencer (MFA '01).

Left: Judith Rudakoff

Rudakoff describes her play as "a Cuban cocktail with a twist". The story unfolds in a small city in Cuba, far from the bustle of Havana, in February of 1998. Originally titled Rum and Cola, the play’s new name derives from the famed “Cuba libre” (free Cuba) cocktail, which local bartenders call “mentirita” (little lie) when no one is listening.

The plot follows the adventures of Juancy, a Cuban transvestite performer; Suzanne, a Canadian tourist whose mother has just died; Moffi, a little white Cuban dog with attitude; Bob, a closeted male homosexual tourist; and Maria, a Cuban mother with a passion for all life has to offer. And like Cuba, the world of Beautiful Little Lies is also populated by the ever-present Orishas, the iconic and earthy spirit guides of the Afro-Cuban belief system.

Rudakoff has been working on Beautiful Little Lies on and off for about a decade. “I was in Cuba in 1998 right after the Pope’s historic visit,” she said. “There was a huge expectation of change that never really materialized. The anticipation and the hope of the people I was in contact with, many of whom were artists of different generations, inspired me to start working on a play about how you can’t begin to seek what you want until you know what you are looking for, and about discovering what ‘home’ means. All of the characters in the play are on a journey, exploring what personal and cultural identity and freedom means to them.”

Right: An image of Cuban nationals photographed by the playwright during her last trip to the island nation

A playwright, dramaturge, critic and author, Rudakoff is a research fellow at CERLAC, York University’s Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean. She has a long-standing interest in Cuba, its history and its artists, with whom she has forged extensive professional and personal connections over the years. Her play Not Having was produced in Spanish translation as Sin Tener by Cuba's Teatro Escambray at their residential theatre colony in La Macagua. It was the first Canadian play to be professionally produced by a Cuban company, and Rudakoff was the first foreigner in the company’s long and distinguished history to be named an honorary member. Another work-in-progress is The Grove, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, set in rural Cuba.

An early draft of Rum and Cola/Beautiful Little Lies was given a reading at York and a staged public showcase in 1998 by Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre, directed by Eda Holmes. It was also read in a Spanish translation by York theatre alumnus Pablo Felices-Luna (MFA ’98) at Teatro Escambray with three generations of Cuban actors.

The 10-year development of the work was necessary, Rudakoff asserts. “I firmly believe you can’t rush these things. On a trip to Cuba in February 2008, I was inspired to shift the focus of the play. It was another extraordinary time to be in Cuba: Fidel Castro resigned while I was there. I returned to Canada on the night of a rare full moon eclipse: doors were closing and other doors were opening and Ellegua, the Orisha who is affiliated with thresholds, among other things, gave me a great big creative shove.”

Rudakoff and Spencer, a Trinidadian theatre artist, met at York eight years ago, when Spencer was pursuing a graduate degree in theatre directing. Spencer’s thesis project was Theatre @ York’s production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s landmark drama, Blood Wedding, which she transposed to Trinidad.

Right: The “Cuba libre” (free Cuba) cocktail, which local bartenders call “mentirita” (little lie)

An actor, director, playwright, comedienne and broadcast journalist, Spencer was voted one of Toronto’s top 10 theatre artists by NOW Magazine in 2005. She served as resident director of the AfriCan Theatre Ensemble before founding Theatre Archipelago in 2004. Productions she has directed for Archipelago include the critically acclaimed Twilight Café by Tony Hall at Toronto’s Theatre Centre. Her performance credits include Mad Miss by Olive Senior and the Edmonton and Toronto tour of the international hit play, Jean and Dinah.

Spencer has been involved with Beautiful Little Lies for some time. Last month, she directed a public workshop of the play with local actors at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, as part of a three-month residency with Arts in Action, a theatre-in-education outreach unit of the school's Centre for Creative & Festival Arts. Rudakoff was invited to attend the event.

“It was a creatively fruitful experience,” said Rudakoff. “The people of Trinidad and Cuba deeply respect the Orishas of the Yoruban pantheon, but of course the diasporic paths of the spirits and the influences of different oppressive colonial beliefs means differences abound. What was particularly gratifying is way the Trini audiences and actors engaged with the Cuban characters and Orishas. I got a new perspective on the play, and spent the five-hour flight home rewriting!”

Spencer’s company, Theatre Archipelago, is workshopping Rudakoff’s play with an eye to mounting a fully staged production in a future season. Beautiful Little Lies will be read by professional actors at the Papermill Theatre, located at the Todmorden Mills heritage site in Toronto, on March 15 at 4pm. Admission is free.



CERLAC Fellow Margarita Feliciano Named one of Canada's Top 10 Hispanic Canadians

Glendon professor named one of 10 top Hispanic Canadians

Y-File - 24 November 2008

Margarita Feliciano, a York professor emerita in Glendon’s Hispanic Studies Department, was named one of 10 Hispanic Canadians who really made a difference, at the second annual 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians awards celebration Nov. 18 at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Feliciano is a poet, critic and literary translator of Italian-Argentinian origin living in Canada where she has supported the Hispanic community since 1969. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications throughout Europe and North America and are the subject of a doctoral thesis soon to be published by McGill University. She is director of Celebración Cultural del Idioma Español (CCIE), an organization which has promoted Spanish language, cinema, arts and culture in Canada since 1992.

“Over the past 40 years, the Spanish-speaking community in Canada has progressively become an important presence in the socio-cultural makeup of this country,” said Feliciano. “This, of course, did not happen on its own. It is the result of the effort of many individuals, who have been contributing to the community over the years in many and meaningful ways. I feel deeply honoured to be counted in this group.”

In 2005, Feliciano founded Antares, Canada's first publishing house dedicated to the publication of literary works in Spanish and located at the Glendon campus. To date, she has translated seven books (six on poetry and one on the Hindu religion). Her research focuses on myths, poetry and translation.

Left: Margarita Feliciano giving her thank you speech at the awards ceremony

Close to 600 people attended the festive award ceremony, hosted by Scotiabank and the Toronto Stock Exchange and supported by many major organizations, including York University.

Journalists and executives from The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Business, CBC, FOCAL, Canadian Hispanic Congress, Hispanic Press Association of Canada and five winners from last year's program selected 20 finalists from a pool of 37 nominees. The 10 winners were chosen by the attendees at the awards ceremony, with two awards reserved for entrepreneurs and the other eight for other role models.

Nominations for this year’s 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians were submitted from across the country with winners representing a highly educated, fast-growing demographic. Canada's 750,000 Hispanics are the country’s third-largest minority group and their influence is on the rise. The 600 people in attendance ranked the finalists. Their votes were combined with those of the judges to determine the winners for 2008.

Those present at the awards gala were also the first to learn the results of the eagerly awaited "Profile of the Hispanic Community in Canada," a report based on the last census conducted by Statistics Canada in 2006 and presented by Rosemary Bender, director general of StatsCan’s social and demographic branch. This study provides a detailed description of the Hispanic community, including aspects such as country of origin, geographic distribution in Canada, educational and income levels, and labour trends.

 Here are the winners of the 10 Most Influential Hispanic Canadians Awards:

Bernardo Berdichewsky, research

Johnny Campuzano, law enforcement

Esmeralda Enrique, dance

Margarita Feliciano, literacy

Mario Guilombo, human rights

Oscar A. Jofre Jr., entrepreneurship

Mario Perez, entrepreneurship

Hon. Guillermo Rishchynski, diplomacy

Guillermo Silva-Marin, opera

Eduardo Urueña, media

More about Margarita Feliciano 

Feliciano studied romance languages and literature at the University of California’s Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses, and at the University of Florence in Italy. She has also specialized in Brazilian literature. Feliciano is the former coordinator of Glendon’s Certificate in Spanish/English Translation.

A tireless volunteer and advocate for the community, her work includes being the coordinator of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program and of the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean at York. She is past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and founding member of INDIGO – a trilingual literary magazine dedicated to promoting Hispanic literary works. Feliciano sits on the Advisory Board of the Mariano A. Elia Chair of Italian-Canadian Studies and is the organizer of the Stong College Heritage Lecture Series at York.














CERLAC Fellow Deborah Barndt Exhibits photos

Photo exhibit shows the cross-pollination of practice and ideas Y-File - 19 November 2008

The name Deborah means “bee” in Hebrew and true to her name, York environmental studies Professor Deborah Barndt has researched and worked in various Latin American countries drawing the nectar out of practices in one place and pollinating projects in another. Her journey was captured in photographs recently featured in an exhibit titled Cross-Pollinations: Photography and Social Change in the Americas.

The exhibit, which ran Oct. 2 to 20 at the Tinto Coffee House in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood in downtown Toronto highlighted the importance of recovering, reframing and rewriting history and of sharing stories across generations. Barndt's photo exhibit will move to the York campus in January and will be displayed on the main floor of the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building in the Faculty of Environmental Studies Zig Zag Gallery.  

Left: Professor Deborah Barndt on the opening night

For Barndt, the photographs signify a journey back in time. “The ironic thing about revisiting history is that you always see things anew, in terms of the present moment and who you are now and that digging into the past can also clarify where you are and where you are going,” says Barndt.

The retrospective exhibit spans three decades and reflects a journey of particular political movements and revolutionary educational practices linked to them. In her travels, Barndt has moved between Toronto and Latin America. She visited Peru in the 1970s, Nicaragua in the ’80s and Mexico in the ’90s. For each trip, she used her camera to conduct participatory research, capturing people's daily lives and documenting their personal realities on film.   

Barndt sees her photographic work as challenging convention, allowing people to represent themselves and tell their own stories. “These photographs and the stories they tell are not only revolutionary because of their substance but also in how those who have historically been voiceless and invisible to us participate in the storytelling and art-making,” says Barndt. She explains how even though most of the images document experiences from over two decades ago, many still emulate the vital issues that society faces today.




Left: Barndt's photograph of a young literacy teacher returning from the National Literacy Campaign in Nicaragua in 1980

Barndt identifies several different themes that resonate from the stories woven together in the photographs. One is the invisibility of women workers in both the north and south. Also evident is the history of social struggles captured in the images, which Barndt says show how some are lost to memory because of social amnesia as well as deliberate obliteration. As well, a radical form of education appears throughout, drawing content from people's daily lives to think critically and collectively and to actively participate in challenging and changing conditions of injustice. Barndt also highlights the use of cameras and photos as tools in these processes, offering people an opportunity to see themselves or represent themselves, to claim the value of their own stories. Finally, the photos reflect the theme of cross-pollinations – the movement back and forth of peoples across borders, compelled by war, repression, poverty and politics.








Right: One of the 400,000 Nicaraguan peasants who learned to read and write during the 1980 National Literacy Campaign

Barndt’s unconventional research techniques bring art and research together, eliminating the gap between the two and challenging conventional notions. Using participatory research, she democratizes the arts, putting photographs and cameras in the hands of her subjects so that they may represent themselves. With her work, Barndt hopes to inspire educators and researchers on how they can bring the arts into the realm of education and research.

The Community Arts Practice (CAP) joint program of the Faculty of Environmental Studies and the Faculty of Fine Arts does just that. This program, created by Barndt, holds true to her vision of linking education, social justice and art in an effort to represent and convey important issues. The opening of the exhibit also doubled as a fundraiser for the CAP program – a book sale and silent auction of Barndt’s photos were held in the front entrance of the coffee house.  





Left: A guest views Barndt's photographs during the exhibit's opening night at the Tinto Coffee House in Roncesvalles

The Roncesvalles location was significant to Barndt as she also lives in the area. The culturally diverse neighbourhood and the dynamic atmosphere created in the coffee house made the location ideal for the exhibit and fundraiser. “The owners of Tinto have created a space in our neighbourhood for people to connect – across many differences,” explains Barndt. Songs sung in both Spanish and English added another dimension to the opening, bringing the photos to life as music filled the room.

Barndt plans to continue working within her community, using art and photography to represent the diversity of people in Roncesvalles and to help people share their own stories of cross-pollinations. An upcoming project will see her working with CAP students and Parkdale community members to create a mural on the front of the coffee house to reflect the diversity in the area. A second exhibit in her series of retrospectives in March will focus on community-engaged murals around the world, to inspire local residents to represent their stories on neighbourhood walls.








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