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Current Projects

Caficultores de las ZRC, Colombia | Photo courtesy of Kyla Sankey

Current CERLAC based projects:

Emancipatory Horizons for Self-determination of Indigenous and Afro-descendant Peoples in Central America

Project Type: PDG - $199,850
PI: Miguel Gonzalez
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2024
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2026

Funder: SSHRC

About the project

The project will gain insights into the struggles and strategies of these peoples to protect their land, rights and way of life. It will promote the political and legal efforts of civil society organizations to advocate for autonomous self-governance and will involve a dozen Indigenous and Afro-descendant groups in Costa Rica, Panama and the San Andrés archipelago.

Construyendo estrategias de respuesta de emergencia equitativa y resilientes en las zonas rurales de Guatemala

Project Type: PEG - $
PI: Jeannie Samuels
Start Date:  Month: Feb  Year: 2023
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2026

Funder: SSHRC / NFRF

About the project

This project is done in collaboration with the Centro de Estudios para la Equidad y Gobernanza en Salud (CEGSS), a participatory action research organization in Guatemala. We are working alongside a network of rural Indigenous community health defenders, RED-C Salud who seek to address inequities in health and promote health justice. The project uses community-based research methods to explore the health defenders’ partnership with Guatemala’s National Human Rights Institution.

Lima's highland associations and state formation in Peru, 1919-1939

Project Type: Insight Grant - $95,829
PI: Alan Durston
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2021
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2025

Funder: SSHRC

About the project

“Lima’s highland associations and state formation in Peru, 1919-1939” is a four-year project that will examine the relationship between the state and associations formed in Peru’s capital city by internal migrants from the Andean highlands. Peru’s central and southern highlands in particular were characterized by strong Indigenous lifeways, in growing contrast to the rapidly developing Pacific coast, where Lima is located. Highland associations reached the peak of their activity and influence in the 1920s and 1930s, a period of rapid political transformation that saw a major expansion of the Peruvian state and its functions. The purpose of the project is to examine how the state and highland associations mutually shaped each other, and its working hypothesis is that the state began to address the country’s regional diversity—developing policies, programs, and agencies that targeted the highlands—due in large measure to the influence of the associations.

The main audience for this project are historians of modern Peru and Latin America, and social scientists interested in the roles of civil society in state formation. Non-academics audiences include policy makers in Peru and the members of current migrant associations in Lima. Peru is undergoing a process of decentralization that has been fraught with difficulties. This project’s findings, particularly in the form of web articles and public talks, will enhance public discourse and policy in Peru by throwing new light on the nature of centralism and highlighting the historical roles played by civil society organizations in relations between the central state and the highlands.

To access the database click here:

Ecological Devastation in Extractive Zone: Resistance, Recuperation and Regeneration

Project Type: New Frontiers - $250,000
PI: Cristina Delgado
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2021
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2024

Funder: SSHRC / NFRF

About the project

The project considers the urgent nature of ecological and environmental challenges posed by the devastation of blasted landscapes (Mountaintop removal mining, open-pit mining, strip mining). Women and children who are targets of annihilation through capitalism and colonialism, specifically, Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC), understand the value of non-hegemonic knowledges/practices to heal ruined places. The challenge is in recognizing their unconventional ways of knowing and doing as legitimate healing alternatives to the technological “fixes” that damaged blasted landscapes.

This research will congregate a diverse team of scholars, students, Indigenous activists, Elders, knowledge keepers and healers to lead an interdisciplinary project that draws from and contributes to education, anthropology, biology and the arts. The researchers’ approach is to codesign recuperative practices in “blasted landscapes” in Canada and Ecuador in an urgent effort to address the damage of extractive capitalism and exploitative investments. The sites— built on the dispossession and enslavement of BIPOC—are connected through capitalist, extractive industries that have left the environments forever changed.

The ecological devastation of these sites is the point of departure for this project. The researchers will ask: How are women and children who identify as BIPOC staging unconventional relations with the land to regenerate “blasted landscapes”? And how are they activating alternative modes of belonging in the process? How can we approach blasted landscapes as sites for imagining other futures?

Past CERLAC based projects:

Project Director: Cristina Delgado

Project Director: Jeannie Samuels

This project explores if and how experiences with human rights-based initiatives have changed the consciousness, opportunities and capacities for civic engagement of a cohort of rural Indigenous community activists who have volunteered as reproductive health rights advocates over a 25-year period. These activists have been involved in a series of initiatives to promote reproductive health in Puno, Peru, a southern Andean region of the country. The project is being done in collaboration with a team of Peruvian academic and civil society partners using community-based research methods.

Project Director: Luin Goldring

Changes in immigration policy have increased the number of people with precarious legal status (PLS) who live and work in Canada. This population includes authorized temporary migrants, refugee claimants and international students, as well as unauthorized migrants such as denied refugee claimants and visa over-stayers. Temporary workers and other PLS migrants often work in low-wage, dead-end, unhealthy jobs with poorly enforced employment standards. Unlike precarious status workers, permanent residents hold selected rights, including the right to work without being confined to a single employer or sector and the right to access social services. Some people with precarious status follow a clear track to permanent residency, others transition from one type of precarious legal status to another, or lose authorized migratory status altogether. Rising levels of precarious work along with narrowing opportunities for migrants to become permanent residents raise the possibility of persistent employment and legal status precarity leading to increased social inequality.

Project Director: Alan Durston

“Andeans in the metropolis: highland migrant discourse and organization in Lima, Peru (1900-1960)” examines how internal migrants from Peru’s highland (sierra) regions living in the country’s capital, the coastal city of Lima, interpreted their migratory experiences and constructed new identities, discourses, and forms of social and political organization during the early and mid-20th century. The main issues of interest are:

  1. The development of highland migrant identities and discourses about migration: what does it mean to be a highlander in Lima? who is a migrant? is the most relevant ascription for highlanders in Lima local (village or town) or regional?
  2. The development of migrant associations (clubs or centres for migrants from a specific geographical area), their organizational structures, social composition, and activities.
  3. The degree to which the socioracial hierarchies of the highlands were reproduced in Lima and the new ways in which peasants (generally categorized as Indians) interacted with people of middle and upper extraction from the same locale or region.
  4. The degree to which migrant milieus (understood both in the institutional sense and as spaces of discursive and symbolic circulation) shaped and supported intellectual and political leaders of highland origin.
  5. The effects of migrant milieus on the development of regional and national identities and cultures, and of new forms of knowledge about the highlands (especially archaeology, ethnography, geography, history, and medicine).
  6. The effects of migrant milieus on Peruvian state formation (migrant associations helped shape government institutions both by lobbying them and serving as their instruments).

To access the database click here:

Project Director: Antonio Torres-Ruiz

Our project focuses on strengthening the capabilities of people of African descent in Cuba, both to actively participate in planning and monitoring strategies that incorporate their own understandings of well-being or a good life (“buen vivir”), and to address their related demands for the eradication of poverty, inequality, and social justice. This project assumes that defining ideals of community well-being and materializing them must be the result of a more open and democratic process, and it cannot be merely a prerogative of governments, normative international frames, academic analyses, or multilateral organizations. Based on a people-centered development approach, it sees Cuban people of African descent’s knowledge as central in the edification of their well-being. Thus, we assume that these communities would gain from specialized training and capacity building that allows them to; a) more effectively articulate their understandings of needed public policies, or what we more broadly define as ‘public deficits’ and b) learn how to navigate institutional channels and normative frames, to be effectively heard and to exercise their citizenship rights so that they become policy proponents rather than merely policy targets. Thus, trainers will be familiarized with the field and methodologies of community-based research, which entails the understanding of those communities as producers as well as recipients of knowledge. A partnership between higher education institutions and members of the communities will effectively expand the collective and institutional research capacities of the latter, providing them with effective tools to amplify their voices and engage in policy dialogue and implementation with all relevant stakeholders.

Project Director: Carlota McAllister

In February 2012, the residents of Aysén, a remote, mountainous, and sparsely populated region of Chilean Patagonia, staged a three-week blockade of all the region's roads and ports, a move to which the Chilean government responded with fierce repression. This project uses archival and ethnographic methods to trace the emergence of vernaculars of private property in Aysén and show where and how they they diverge from the practices for legitimating dispossession that have been deployed by HidroAysen, a proposed project for building five hydroelectric megadams on two of Aysén’s powerful wild rivers. By showing how Ayseninos were formed as agents of the "last frontier" (Nouzeilles 1999), I explore how challenges to the global expansion of extractive capitalism may also emerge from fractures within its own logics. In so doing, I seek to open intellectual space for imagining a broader range of both cultural and ecological alternatives to capitalism and political alliances to bring them about.

Project Director: CALACS

The objectives of this project is to further strengthen mutually beneficial ties between researchers and practitioners in Canada and in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) regions.  This will be done by strengthening CALACS' capacity to facilitate the exchange and mobilization of LAC research among diverse constituencies by strengthening the association's presence in the regions and developing virtual and specialized networks linking producers and users of knowledge.

Our specific objectives are to:

  1. Increase LAC region membership in CALACS and LAC region scholars' participation in CALACS programming by partnering with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencia Sociales (FLACSO) on academic exchange activities;
  2. Enhance CALACS's relevance to development practitioners and theorists, and to a diverse community of non-academic researchers, policy makers, and civil society groups by mobilizing knowledge through both traditional and virtual channels;
  3. Strengthen the research and professional capacities of graduate students in both Canada and the LAC region by structuring opportunities for networking and research exchange by students involved with CALACS and FLACSO and further incorporating students in the governance of the association;
  4. Promote the renewal of university teaching on development issues and area studies as there relate to LAC by increasing access to the outcome of CALACS members' research through the annual Congress and associated outputs;
  5.  Ensuring the long-term sustainability of Canada's premier Association dedicated to the promotion of Latin American and Caribbean Studies by increasing membership, applying for external funding such as SSHRC grants, and developing a long-term endowment fundraising plan.

Project Director: David Szablowski

The overall goal of the project is to promote collaborative and comparative research efforts across regions, disciplines, and sectors in order to address important knowledge gaps in the field of Extractive Industries (oil, mining, and gas projects) and to mobilize this knowledge among researchers, public officials, business leaders, and civil society organizations to inform public debates leading to improved policy frameworks in relation to EIs. The project will advance these research and knowledge mobilization goals through the establishment of an interdisciplinary and cross-regional Extractive Industries Partnership Network based in six institutions in five countries.

Our specific objectives are to:

  1. Build the collective capacities of the Partners in the areas of collaborative research, governance, and knowledge mobilization.
  2. Advance knowledge on a global and regional basis in relation to two key thematic areas by preparing: a) two groups of inter-linked regional/country-based “state of the art” reports; and b) two “synthetic” reports based on the “state of the art” reports to identify emerging patterns, knowledge gaps, and areas for future research.
  3. Produce policy briefs based on the “state of the art” works and disseminate them electronically, in printed form, and in public forums deemed appropriate by each institution.
  4. Develop a public web presence and internal connectivity within our Network through the use of a specialized web-based platform.
  5. Expand the reach of the Network both within the present regions/countries of operation and into new regions/countries.
  6. Train a new generation of scholars by incorporating graduate students into all aspects of the project, by developing a teaching curriculum for a graduate seminar on EI, and creating field work opportunities through exchanges among the partners.

Project Director: Harry Smaller, Education, York University

This five-year institutional development project is intended to strengthen the University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua's (URACCAN) capacity to educate and train local residents, so that they may work to promote the cultural, economic, and social development of the regions. The project enhances URACCAN's capacity to develop the human resources of the Caribbean Coast, making the University better equipped to meet the region's needs in the areas of poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and community development.

The five areas of concentration are faculty development; programme and curriculum development; community outreach, education and leadership development; increased research capacity; and information and communications development.

This Linkage Project between CERLAC and URACCAN is funded by the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development Program (UPCD), an initiative of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and the Canadian Partnership Branch of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Project Director: Liisa North, Political Science, York University.

This project was designed to provide graduate level training to qualified young researchers (chosen by the four participating Andean institutions) in planning and policy-making for domestic market development. After a two-year project of courses at FLACSO, research at their home institutions, and the presentation of major papers based on field research, the trainees from the four countries received graduate level diplomas jointly granted by York University and FLACSO. The program also provided opportunities for exchanges among the five participating institutions.

Sponsored by FLACSO- Ecuador and CERLAC, the project was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented in cooperation with the Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Económica y Social (CERES), La Paz and Cochabamba, Bolivia; the Centro de Investigacion y Educacion Popular (CINEP), Bogotà, Colombia; and the Centro de Estudios y Promoción del Desarrollo (DESCO), Lima, Perù.

Among the resulting publications were:

Fernando Calderon and Roberto Laserna (Eds.), El Poder de las Regiones (La Paz: CERES) 1983.

Roberto Laserna, Espacio y Sociedad Regional: constitución y desarrollo del mercado interno en Cochabamba. (La Paz: CERES) 1984.

Luciano Martinez V., "Articulación mercantil de las comunidades indìgenas en la Sierra ecuatoriana", Louis Lefeber (Ed.), Economìa Politìca del Ecuador: Campo, Region, Nación. FLACSO-CERLAC Project. Volume I. 1995. Available from Corporación Editora Nacional, Roca 230 y Tamayo, Apartado Postal 17-12-00886, Quito, Ecuador.

Project Director: Alejandro Rojas, Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University

This project was a study of local experiences of ecological and social sustainability in Chile and their relationships to the environmental movement, the Chilean state and the scientific community in the country.

Project Director: Benjamin Cornejo, SG-SICA, El Salvador
Project Coordinator: Carlos Alvarenga, SG-SICA, El Salvador
Canadian Partner: Ricardo Grinspun, Director CERLAC, York University

CERLAC was the Canadian partner in this $800,000 project funded by the Regional Initiatives Programme of CIDA in Central America. The Central American coordinator of the project was the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA).

The objective of this three-year project was to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations to participate in the regional integration process, by enhancing their communication and networking capacities. There were more than 20 regional civil society organizations participating in SICA's consultative council and three main objectives of the project:

to increase the capacity of targetted organization to communicate effectively with other organizations and institution through the provision of computer equipment, technical training, and the establishment of a website; to disseminate information about regional integration through rural radio networks; and to advance the discussion on the context of participation of civil society in regional integration.

CERLAC's main contribution to the project focused on the context of regional integration. CERLAC and the Central American partners commissioned discussion papers and held workshops in Central America on the challenges that regional integration present to civil organizations in key areas such as economic participation; poverty; the environment and sustainable development; human rights and democracy; gender; ethnicity; and the use of electronic networks as a tool of civil society.

Project Director: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University

The objective of the two-year Salvadoreans and Guatemalans in Toronto (SAGIT) research project is to expand the resources which may be used for reflection and capacity building by Salvadoreans and Guatemalans living in Toronto, their organizations, and others supportive of their concern. The project reveals the strategies which these individuals have developed to improve their well-being.

In the project, migrant strategies are explored from a historical perspective on two different levels: with respect to the changing international, Canadian and local (Toronto) circumstances which affect contemporary migration trends and immigrant well-being; and through the life histories of migrants from different migration "waves."

This project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, gives rise to a number of reports and workshops.

Project Directors: Liisa North, Political Science, York University, George Wright, Researcher with FOCAL (Canadian Foundation for the Americas), and Yasmine Shamsie, PhD Candidate, Political Science, York University.

Canada became a full member of the OAS in 1989 and in 1991 sponsored a special unit responsible for fostering democratic development. This project examined the daunting challenge of democratic development in Latin America through the reform of the OAS and its mechanisms. The study revolved around four interrelated themes: (a) the need to improve the OAS election monitoring practices in order to promote authentically representative and participatory democracy; (b) Charter changes and General Assembley resolutions intended to broaden the conception of democracy and to empower the OAS to take action and promote it; (c) the democratization of the organization itself through granting of consultative status for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and (d) new conceptions of hemispheric security involving the transformation of the role of Latin America military and of civil-military relations.

Through consultations with various institutions, inter-American forums and individuals, recommendations have been offered on reformative strategies to promote democracy, human rights and peace in the region.
This project was funded by the Human Resources and Labour Portfolio (formerely the Secretary of State).


A Report On Reforming The Organization of American States To Support Democratization In The Hemisphere: A Canadian Perspective. CERLAC. 1996.

Project Director: Epsy Campbell, Foro de Mujeres, Costa Rica.
Canadian Partner: Ricardo Grinspun, Director, CERLAC, York University

CERLAC was partnered with the Women's Forum in a project funded through CIDA's Regional Initiatives Program in Central America. The Women's Forum for Central American Integration was established in July 1996 in El Salvador at a meeting of women's groups and individual women from various sectors of society throughout the Central American region. The Women's Forum was made up of national coordination spaces in each of the seven member countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Belize) and the coordinator was Epsy Campbell, from Costa Rica. The mission of the Forum was to promote the participation and political influence of women in the Central American integration process. It aimed to make women protagonists and work in consensus with civil society sectors to construct an alternative model of development in the region.

Project Director: Edgar Dosman, Political Science, York University.

This research project (funded by SSHRC) involved a systematic analysis of Canada's diplomatic and commercial relations with Latin America. The six topics covered in the study are: (1) Canada's diplomatic history with Latin America and the Caribbean; (2) Canada's stake in the Latin American debt crisis and Canadian contributions toward resolution of the crisis; (3) the interests underlying Canadian participation in conflict resolution in Central America; (4) Canada's shared interests with Latin American countries in strong multilateral institutions; (5) an exploration of Canada's bilateral relations with 'middle powers' of Latin America; (6) the question of Canada's future role in the hemisphere against the backdrop of the free trade agreement with the United States, of challenges to U.S. hegemony, and shifts in the regional balance of power. A cooperative research program examining the implications of North American integration was also created.


Discovering The Americas: The Evolution of Canadian Foreign Policy Towards Latin America. James Prochlin (Ed). Vancouver: UBC Press.

Project Director: Juan Maiguashca, History, York University.

In 1981, CERLAC and the Quito, Ecuador campus of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) organized a continuing major research and publication program on patterns of economic development, the evolution of rural social structures, the emergence of populist political movements, and the contemporary history of Ecuador, with special reference to regional variations.

Participants in the program have included CERLAC Fellows, graduate students from York University and the University of Toronto, FLACSO faculty members, and researchers from a number of Ecuadorean institutions. The program has included the organization of conferences and international workshops for the discussion of research results. Major funding for initial projects was received from the Donner Foundation (which provided the grant that established CERLAC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC). The Institute des Etudes Andines (Lima, Peru), FLACSO-Quito, and CEPLAES have also contributed financially to this long-term program.

Four major volumes of publications were produced as a result of this project:

Louis Lefeber (Ed) Economia Politica del Ecuador: Campo, Region, Nacion. (Quito: Corporacion Editora Nacional with FLACSO and CERLAC) 1985. This work won the prize of one of the major Quito newspapers, Hoy, as the best book of the year published in the social sciences in Ecuador.

Miguel Murmis (Ed) Clase y Region en el Agro Ecuadoriano. (Quito: Corporacion Editora Nacional with FLACSO and CERLAC) 1986.

Rafael Quintero (Ed) La Cuestion Regional y el Poder. (Quito: Corporacion Editora Nacional with FLACSO and CERLAC) 1991.

Juan Maiguashca (Ed) Historia y Region en el Ecuador: 1830-1930. (Quito: Corporacion Editora Nacional with FLACSO and CERLAC) 1994.

In addition, four articles emerging from this project were published in English in a special issue on Ecuador of North-South: Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. (Vol. VII, No. 14) 1994.
Currently, several CERLAC Fellows and PhD students are engaged in research in Ecuador, affliated to FLACSO-Ecuador.

Project Directors: John Foster, United Church of Canada; Tim Draimin, CERLAC Fellow at Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice; Liisa North, Political Science, York University

CERLAC Fellows and graduate students were active in every aspect of this series of five meetings organized by Canada-Caribbean-Central America Policy Alternatives (CAPA) of the Toronto Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice. The Roundtables dealt with Canada's actual and potential contributions to the promotion of peace in Central America. Fellows and students wrote and published a book on the same subject.

Major funding was received from the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (CIIPS). The Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada, the International Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA) together with several Canadian NGOs, and various offices of York University provided additional resources.

Some major publications of the project are:

Liisa North, Negotiations for Peace in Central America, Report No. 1, Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (Ottawa, 1986)

Liisa North, Measures for Peace in Central America, Report No. 5, Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (Ottawa, 1987)

Tim Draimin and Liisa North, "The Central American Peace Process and Canadian Foreign Policy: An Overview", Working Paper (Toronto: Canada-Caribbean-Central America Policy Alternatives (CAPA), February 1988.

Liisa North (editor and co-author of 3 chapters) Between War and Peace in Central America: The Choices for Canada (Toronto: Between the Lines, 1990).

Project Director: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University

With the support of Employment and Immigration Canada, CERLAC initiated a research project in 1991 to evaluate the role of Canadian policy in the size and origin of refugee claimant flows to Canada. The study took into account conditions in sending countries, policies in other receiving countries and Canadian policies. Particular attention was given to the analysis of refugee and claimant flows from Central America.


Alan Simmons, "Canada and migration in the Western Hemisphere", in Jerry Haar and Edgar Dosman (Eds.) Dynamic Partnership: Canada's Changing Role in the Americas. Miami: University of Miami, 1993, pp. 45-60.

Alan Simmons and T. Basok, "Refugees in Canada: a review of the politics of refugee selection", in Vaughn Robinson (Ed.) The Global Refugee Crisis: British and Canadian Responses. Oxford University Press, 1990, pp. 94-114.

Jointly with the Centre for International and Strategic Studies (1989-1995)

Project Director: Edgar Dosman, Political Science, York University

This research project has dealt with Canadian and Cuban reactions to regional conflicts and orientations toward conflict resolution in Central America and Southern Africa. Funding was received from the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security (CIIPS), as well as from York International, and the offices of the President and of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts at York University. The project was organized by CERLAC and the York Centre for International and Strategic Studies (YCISS) together with the Centro de Estudios sobre America (CEA) and the Centro de Estudios sobre Africa y el Medio Oriente (CEAMO) in Havana, Cuba.


The Politics of Regional Conflict: Central America, Southern Africa and the Middle East. Edited by W. Thom Workman. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press. 1995.

Project Co-Directors: Liisa North, Political Science, York University and Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University

Guatemala's civil war was the most devastating of Central America's bloody conflicts of the late 20th century. During the period of intense violence in the late 1970s and early 1980s, thousands of Guatemalans fled from war and massacre to find refuge in neighboring countries. Some went to the United States and others went further to Canada. In addition, more than a million people were forced from their home communities and scattered throughout Guatemala. As the peace process evolved, Guatemalan refugees gradually began to return to their communities.

This project is a result of the study of the refugee return in Guatemala at the same time that political and human rights practices were undergoing a process of transformation in the country. This project aimed to give attention to new research on the return of refugees to Guatemala and on the prospects for the ongoing fragile transition toward peace and democracy. Collaboration on and support for the project involved several institutions, namely CERLAC, the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS), the Guatemalan branch of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Guatemala) and the Association for the Advancement of Social Sciences in Guatemala (AVANCSO). Grants were also supplied by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) (through the CRS), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) and York University (Small Grants Program).


Liisa North and Alan Simmons, editors. Refugee Return and National Transformation: Perspectives on Guatemala in the 1990s, McGill-Queens University Press (forthcoming).

Alan Simmons and B. Egan, "Refugees and the Prospects for Peace and Development in Central America",Refuge. 13:10:1994.pp. 4-10.

The Latin American Human Rights Education and Research Network brings together York University’s Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC) and Osgoode Hall Law School in a new network of Latin American universities and civil society organizations to promote human rights education, applied research and capacity-building in the region.

The Latin American founding partners are the Association of Jesuit Universities of Latin America, based in Venezuela; the Latin American Institute for Alternative Legal Services, based in Colombia; the Center for Legal and Social Studies, based in Argentina; and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has awarded $3 million to the RedLEIDH project. The CIDA funding, plus $2 million contributed by the project partners will support the network for an initial six years, in programs to strengthen democratic governance and human rights protection, foster a culture of respect for the humanistic rule of law and support the struggle against poverty in Latin America. The experience and knowledge of women and indigenous peoples will be a central focus of program activities.

RedLEIDH is founded on the premise that economic, social and cultural rights are integral to the full realization of human rights. York’s Osgoode Hall Law School contributes research and teaching capacity related to human rights, with strengths in international and transnational law, the interaction of law and globalization, law and indigenous peoples, law and poverty, and feminist approaches to legal analysis.

Beatriz Munarriz is the coordinator of this project. For more information you can contact her at .

Please click here for the Y-File article on this project.

Project Director: Ricardo Grinspun

As a five-year AUCC/CIDA Tier 2 linkage project between CERLAC and Catholic University of Temuco (CUT), with the Center for Education and Technology, a Chilean NGO, also participating, the project aims to strengthen the Center as a teaching and research institution in a region of Chile. This region has largest concentration of indigenous people, one of the highest incidences of poverty, and severe environmental problems.

The main components of the project include: 1) enhance a distance education graduate diploma program in sustainable rural development; 2) evaluate and implement an innovative international master’s program in rural development and sustainable agriculture as a tutorial course over the internet; 3) upgrade curriculum at the Catholic University in the area of sustainable rural development in programs such as Agronomy, Biology, Social Work, and Anthropology; and 4) implement a program to build capacity and networks between researchers, scholars and students (both Chilean and Canadian) through academic exchanges, research projects, seminars and short courses.

For more information on this project, see Project Updates in CERLAC's Newsletters.

Project Director: Luin Goldring, Sociology, York University

Funding by the National Science Foundation, U.S.A. this project has initiated research on social, economic and political change associated with the 1991-92 reform of Mexico's Agrarian Codes. The reform allows ejido land, a form of corporate usufruct tenure under which it is illegal to sell or rent land, to be individually titled and eventually privatized, and it permits ejidos to engage in joint ventures with domestic or foreign companies. Ejido reform also ends the government's land redistribution, which signifies a dramatic break from the government's post-revolutionary agrarian policies. In addition to the potential restructuring of property rights and access to land, ejido reform may be associated with a fundamental reshaping of social and political relations between the state and Mexico's rural population.

This project seeks to collect quantitative and qualitative data that will permit an analysis of its effects over time. Zamora,Michoacan, an area of export agriculture with a growing urban centre, lends itself well to a comparison with other regions currently under study.


Luin Goldring, "Having One's Cake and Eating It Too: Selective Appropriation of Ejido Reform in an Urbanizing Ejido in Michoacn", in David Myhre and Wayne Cornelius (Eds.) The Transformation of Rural Mexico. La Jolla: Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 1998, pp. 145-172.

Project Directors: CERLAC fellows, Liisa North, Political Science, York University, and Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University

This cooperative venture involved collaboration between CERLAC, York's Centre for Refugee Studies, the Association for the Advancement of the Social Sciences (AVANCSO) and Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO-Guatemala) . It focused on various aspects of the peace and refugee return processes in Guatemala, including: the collective returns of Maya refugees from Mexico to Guatemala; the role of various international institutions in peace promotion and refugee return; development patterns and constraints with reference to environmental considerations, and access to land, credit and infrastructure for small farmers; the changing roles of women and the emergence of women's organizations.

AVANCSO served as a host for several CERLAC associated M.A. students during the field research for the theses and contributions to the volume that was being prepared. A project workshop was organized at CERLAC in the fall of 1995 where drafts of research completed by York-based students, as well as students and scholars of other institutions were presented. AVANCSO's Director, Gonzalo de Villa (who completed his M.A. in Social and Political Thought at York University) also attended the workshop.

FLACSO-Guatemala also hosted graduate students and researchers associated with this project. CERLAC Fellows participated in conferences held by FLACSO-Guatemala. FLACSO director Dr. Rene Poitevin presented papers at both the project workshops held (in the fall of 1994 and fall of 1995) at York University. Some 20 scholars, graduate students, and representatives from non-governmental organizations participated in the first and more than 30 in the second which also benefitted from the contribution of an official of External Affairs - Canada.

Financial support for the project was obtained from the Development and Repatriation Unit and the Gender Unit of the Centre for Refugee Studies, as well as from the York-SSHRCC small grants programme. The SSHRCC programme of assistance to international seminars provided funding for the workshop held at York.

The resulting publication is:

Liisa L. North and Alan Simmons (eds.) Refugee Return and National Transformation: Perspectives on Guatemala in the 1990s. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, forthcoming.

Project Director: Bill Found, Environmental Studies, York University and Mark Hostetler, Ph.D. candidate, York University (1999- 2002)

In a joint IDRC-funded initiative with the Coastal Areas Monitoring Project and Laboratory (CAMP-Lab III), CERLAC is helping to implement a project that focuses on participatory natural resource management for the Pearl Lagoon Basin, located on the southern Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. Project activities were develped by the surrounding local communities during earlier phases of CAMP-Lab.

For more information on this project, see Project Updates in CERLAC's 1999/2000 Newsletter.

Project Director: Fred Zemans, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University

Together with the Centro De Investigacion Y Education (CINEP), Bogota, Colombia, faculty from Osgoode Hall completed a research Project (funded by International Development Research Centre) on the impact of locally generated legal service institutions in Colombia and Canada. In addition, two community-based clinics were opened in Colombia (they functioned until the current circumstances forced their closure) and young lawyers were trained to work with rural community groups to develop participatory mechanisms in Colombia's legal system.

The Colombian data analysis was completed by Fernando Rojas (CINEP) during his sabbatical in Amsterdam (fall 1989) and Toronto (spring 1990) Canadian data was jointly analyzed by Fernando Rojas and Fred Zeemans. Findings were discussed at international conferences in 1990-1991 for subsequent publication.

Project Director: Ricardo Grinspun, Director CERLAC, York University

This internship was designed to deepen the understanding of Canadian youth of multilateral issues affecting the Western Hemisphere by offering a six month internship at the Organization of American States (OAS). Targeted at recent university graduates of proven academic merit and personal suitability, internships were provided on a competitive basis. The program was administered by CERLAC in conjunction with OAS and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

The program was open to young Canadians and landed immigrants who had completed or were about to complete a degree in a Canadian university in the fields of engineering, law, women's studies, and the social sciences generally. It was a requirement that applicants be bilingual in two of the official working languages of the OAS (English, French, Spanish and Portuguese). Following two weeks of per-internship training at CERLAC, the interns spent five months working for one of the OAS agencies and divisions. Interns worked alongside OAS staff, learning about the Organization and the issues of hemispheric importance. Interns also had the opportunity to make specific contributions in the areas to which they are assigned by conducting research, attending meetings of interest, interacting with counterparts, and providing support to senior specialists. The internship ended in February 1999 with one week of post-internship training at York University.

While this program through CERLAC has been completed, other internship opportunities through DFAIT are available.


Alejandra Roncallo (compilationist), "The Organization of American States Youth Internship Program Report: Pre-Internship Workshop, August 24 - September 2, 1998", CERLAC Report: November 1998.
See the report in CERLAC's 1998/1999 Newsletter.

Project Directors: Ricardo Grinspun, Economics, York University and Maxwell Cameron, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University

The workshop, entitled "Critical Perspectives on North American Integration" and held December 6-8, 1991, brought together distinguished academics and researchers from Canada, Mexico and the United States. The goal was to begin a dialogue about economic integration and how it affects the social, political, economic and ecological future of the three countries.

Between 1991 and 1996, a series of seminars were conducted at CERLAC with several visitors from Mexico to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas regarding the re-formation of NAFTA.


The Political Economy of North American Free Trade. (New York: St. Martin's Press, May 1993). Editors; Ricardo Grinspun and Maxwell Cameron.

Project Director: Daniel Drache, Director, Robarts Centre

This initiative seeks to strengthen North American integration through greater cooperation among universities in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Through the program, York hopes to foster a cadre of specially trained people with a comparative perspective who can address the implications of North American integration and globalization in a variety of policy fields.

In the project, York University participates in a student exchange program in conjunction with the Université de Montréal in Canada, Duke University and Northwestern University in the USA, and Centro de Investigacíon y Docencia Económica (CIDE) and Universidad de Las Américas in Mexico. This will result in the exchange of a total of 96 students over a period of two years. In addition, the program will lay the basis for long-term collaboration in North American Studies among the six institutions.

Project Director: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University.

This project analysed the relationship of international migration to national development patterns in the Caribbean between 1950 and 1984 in order to formulate new proposals for population, social welfare, and health policies. The study examined the social, economic and political factors associated with migration patterns among the Caribbean Islands as well as from the Caribbean to Canada and the United States. The project was funded by IDRC, and was a cooperative venture between CERLAC and the Office de la Recherche scientifique et Technique Outre-mer (OSTROM), Guadeloupe.


"Caribbean Exodus in the World System" (with J. P. Guengant) in M. Kritz, L. Lim and H. Zlotnik (Eds.) International Migration Systems: A Global Approach. Oxford University Press. 1992. Pg 94-114.

"Globalisation et nouveaux regimes demographiques dans la Caraibe: bilan et perspectives" (with J. P. Guengant). Fecondite et Insularite, Vol 1. St. Denis de la Reunion: Conseil General de la Reunion. 1993. Pg 283-301.

"Recent Migration within the Caribbean region: migrant destination and economic roles", (with J. P. Guengant). The Peopling of the Americas. Veracruz, Mexico: IUSSP. 1992. Vol 2. Pg 419-441.

"Les migrations caraibeenes, pour une lecture historico-structurelle" (with J. P. Guengant) in A. Quesnel and P. Vimard (Eds.) Migration, changements sociaux at developpement. Paris: ORSTOM, Institut Francais de Recherche Scientifique Pour le Developpement en Cooperation. 1991. Pg 127-144.

Project Director: Luin Goldring, Sociology, York University

Cross-border migration challenges the traditional equation between a territorialy defined nation-state and membership in a national "imagined" community. How should we conceptualize citizenship, participation, membership amd rights when people do not live their lives in only one nation-state, but instead organize them around more than one nation? And how should we understand a nation that makes claims on emigrants who spend significant portions of their lives abroad, in other nation-states?

This project proposes to investigate issues of membership, political practice, claims, and rights, through research on Mexico-U.S. transnationalism. The project is informed by the recent work on transnationalism. The Mexican government's Program for Mexican Communities Abroad will provide a focus for the research. Examining the Program's activities in Los Angeles will contribute to an analysis of the Mexican state's efforts to make claims on Mexican's abroad. Studying selected community and state-level associations that work with the PACME, some of which existed before the program was created, should contribute to theories of immigrant incorporation and shed light on the membership practices of transmigrants. Data will be gathered through semi-contructed interviews, and from documents and other secondary sources. Funding for this project was provided by the Social Science Research Council, located in the United States.

Project Directors: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University; Duberlis Ramos, Hispanic Development Council (Toronto); George Bielmeier, School of Social Work, Ryerson Polytechnic University.

One objective of this project is to understand the issues faced by Latin American youth in Toronto. A second aim is to inform the youths and community groups working with them of these issues and future steps to address their concerns in order to benefit them and their community.

Interviews and discussions are conducted with the youth on various topics that include language and identity issues, group formation, gangs, prejudice, discrimination, heritage values and pride, gender roles, future goals, views on risks and safe practices with respect to violence, substance use, and sexuality. All participation in the study is voluntary.

Participants can decide not to answer questions or withdraw their participation at any time during an interview or discussion.

The names and identities of the youths who participate in the study will not be revealed to anyone outside the project. Their names will not be recorded on questionnaires or in notes from discussions. Questionnaires and notes will not be given to anyone outside the project. Final reports from the study will summarize views and report findings without naming the individuals who provided the information. A few of the topics to be dealt with in the interviews and discussion might remind some participants of very difficult moments. Interviewers and discussion leaders will respond favourably to any desire to change topics or to terminate the discussion. They will also be prepared to provide information and links to individuals competent to address any personal questions or concerns.

The project is funded for the period July 1998 to July 1999 by the Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigrant Settlement (CERIS),Toronto. Phone: 946-3113. Our approach to ethical issues, including confidentiality, informed-consent, and protecting participants has been reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Committee at York University. Contact Mr. Greg Jacobs, York University, 736-5055.

This project is being carried out jointly by the following three organizations. For more information, contact the individuals in each organization who direct the project.

Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University. Contact: Alan Simmons, 416 736-2100 X.66925.

Hispanic Development Council (Toronto). Contact: Duberlis Ramos, 416 516-0851.
School of Social Work, Ryerson Polytechnic University. Contact: George Bielmeier, 416 979-5000 X. 6220.

For more information on this project, see Project Updates in CERLAC's 1999/2000 Newsletter.

Project Director: Marie Arratia, Anthropologist

Funded by SSHRC, this project is an epistemological exploration with the Aymara of Chile, in order to make a contribution in the field of intercultural education in general and to Aymara education in Chile in particular. The project seeks to elicit Aymara ways of knowing and learning as they relate to social identity. The goal is to contribute to make the school system more suitable to the cultural composition of this one region of Chile which may lead to a systematic revalution of Aymara cultural background.

The educational system in Chile has sustained the reproduction of social inequalities while advocating to produce a "competitive" Chilean youth. The process has disregarded all regional disparities and, above all, ethnic diversity. This three-year project entails a collection of data on the Chilean-Aymaran case and culminates into a comparison of the data for native and minority education in other settings, such as in Canada and the United States.

Project Director: Peter Landstreet, Sociology, York University.

The primary goal of Phase I (funded by CIDA) was to assist FLACSO-Chile (the Chile campus of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences) to strengthen its capacity for applied social research, particularly in the area of sample surveys and statistical analysis. The York Institute for Social Research played a key role in this assistance. The project also expanded FLACSO's publications activities and helped support the training of young Chilean researchers. In addition, it permitted the exchange of researchers between CERLAC and FLACSO on an annual basis. Phase II (also funded by CIDA) was oriented toward contributing to urban poverty alleviation and development in Chile, particularly at the local and regional levels in order to help promote the stability of Chile's new democratic government which took power in March 1990.

These objectives were achieved by: (1) collecting and generating information relevant to poverty and development issues and disseminating it, as well as (2) training influential persons in the utilization and generation of such information, by survey, at the local and regional level. Results from the surveys were analyzed and published, receiving extensive media coverage, often on the front pages of the country's principal dailies. As a result, an enhanced capacity for local planning, use of local resources, and needs articulation among the poor was emphasized. The project also created a data bank with local and regional level poverty- and development- related information. It is accessible through a national computer communications network, established by the project, as well as more conventional means. Training workshops were held with around three hundred and sixty people from diverse backgrounds attending.

Project Directors: Meyer Brownstone, Political Science, York University, and Nibaldo Galleguillos, Political Science, McMaster University

In conjunction with the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, CERLAC undertook this project with the purpose of studying the quality of democracy in Mexico within the context of the electoral process as well as major economic and social developments. In particular, the various elements constituting civil society in the electoral and broader political process were evaluated.
The project produced documentary research and reports on the Mexican and relevant external context, with particular emphasis on electoral and democratic quality, based on material collected during a series of interviews with governmental and non-governmental institutions and organizations.

Project Director: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University

This project was part of a collaborative study between the Mexican Academy for Human Rights, the hemispheric Migration project at Georgetown University, and York (CERLAC with the Centre for Refugee Studies). It involved the organization of workshops and publications to generate knowledge on the implications of economic integration and the North Free Trade Agreement for international population movements and refugee flows in the Americas. Coordination of the York participation was provided by Alan Simmons.

Alan Simmons (Ed.) International Migration, Refugee Flows and Human Rights in North America: the Impact of Trade and Restructuring. Staten Island, CMS: 1996.

Alan Simmons, "NAFTA and international migration: a review of hypotheses and research with particular relevance to Canada." Discussion paper prepared for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, March, 1996.

Alan Simmons, "Economic integration and designer-immigrants: Canadian Policy in the 1990s." Paper presented at the conference, Transnational Realties and nation States: Trends in Migration and Immigration Policy in the Americas. North-South Centre, University of Miami, May 19-20, 1995.


This IDRC-supported project is a collaborative endeavour by CERLAC; the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College, United States; and the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG).

The project will analyze forms of reparation for women survivors of massive human rights violations during the 36 year armed conflict in Guatemala, as a potential contribution to the broader struggles of women survivors as political actors for justice, historical memory and redress. The project includes field work in Alta Verapaz, Huehuetenango, Chimaltenango and other areas of Guatemala.

Anticipated outputs include:

  • a literature review of gender and reparation in Guatemala and interrnationally
    workshops with groups of women survivors
  • monitoring of the work of the National Reparation Program
  • publication of a book, articles and of recommendations for public policies on reparations for women survivors
  • multi-media materials for raising public awareness

Project participants are CERLAC Fellow Professor Alison Crosby of York University, Canada; Professor M. Brinton Lykes of Boston College, United States; and the National Union of Guatemalan Women represented by Walda Barrios Klee, president of the UNAMG Board of Directors.

Project Directors: CERLAC Fellows, Jorge Nef, Political Studies, University of Guelph and Liisa North, Political Science, York University.

This five-year CIDA funded project provided resources for institutional development at FLACSO-Ecuador so that it can better contribute to the training of a new generation of Ecuadorean and Andean social scientists capable of addressing the increasingly complex issues of development and to provide opportunities for established professionals in both the public and private sectors to remain up-to-date in their fields.

Canadian scholars taught at FLACSO while a number of FLACSO faculty and students came to Canada for advanced training. Five new M.A. programs have been created at FLACSO-Ecuador, where almost 200 students (45 % of whom are female) will have completed these degrees by 1994, and an additional 67 will have obtained diplomas or certificates in specialized courses. The members of the project have also assisted in obtaining new materials for the FLACSO library and documentation centre, in reorganizing and computerizing those facilities, and in enhancing its applied research capacity in support of national and regional development programs.

Publications completed by CERLAC Fellows based at several Canadian Universities and associated with this project in Ecuador included:

Tanya Korovkin (Coordinator and CERLAC Fellow at the University of Waterloo), Indians, Peasants, and the State: The Growth of a Community Movement in the Ecuadorean Andes (CERLAC Occasional Papers in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, 1993). Also published in Spanish by FLACSO.

Tanya Korovkin, Nuestras Comunidades: Ayer y Hoy. (Quito: Abya-Yala, 1993)

Blanca Muratorio (Ed.) (CERLAC Fellow, Anthropology, University of British Columbia), Imagenes e Imagineros (Quito: FLACSO, 1994) and The Life and Times of Grandfather Alosnso: Culture and History in the Upper Amazon (New Brunswich, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1991) which was also published in Spanish by Abya-Yala in Quito.

Jorge Nef and Ximena Nunez, Las relaciones interamericanas frente al Siglo XXI (Quito: FLACSO, 1994).

Project Director: Michael Kaufman,SSHRCC Canada Research Fellow, CERLAC and the Department of Political Science, York University

This cooperative research project on community-based organizations (centred around participation and empowerment) in six Central American and Caribbean countries has included large-scale field work in sample communities and has focused on a variety of experiments in popular participation. Studies also focused on several themes, such as the role of women and the economic impact of participation.

The project was funded mostly by IDRC, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation. It was co-sponsored with the Centro de Estudios sobre America (CEA), Havana, Cuba; Centre de Recherche Sociale et Difusion Populaire (CRSDP), Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Centro de Estudios para la Accion Social (CEPAS), San Jose, Costa Rica; Centro de Investigacion para la Accion Femenina (CIPAF), and Equipo de Investigacion Social, Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo (EQUIS), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Institute for Development Studies (IDS), Georgetown, Guyana; Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales (CRIES), and Instituto de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales (INIES), Managua, Nicaragua.

In addition to numerous publications in Spanish, the principle publication in English is:

Michael Kaufman and Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, editors, Community Power and Grassroots Democracy: The Transformation of Social Life, London: Zed Books and Ottawa: IDRC, 1997

Project Directors: Liisa North, Political Science, York University and Louis Lefeber, Professor Emeritus, Economics, York University.

This project involves research on the viability of community-based and small-scale enterprises in the context of macro-economic structural adjustment policies (SAPs) in Ecuador. The questions addressed are: to what extent can the success or failure of these enterprises be attributed to the impact of changes in the over-all economic and political context induced by SAPs adopted since the early 1980s? To what extent is failure or success a consequence of the internal characteristics of the enterprises themselves? Specific questions that are being addressed relate to the macro-economic policy environment, political power relations, and the institutional strengths and/or weaknesses of the community-based or small-scale enterprises themselves.

While SAPs and their overall impact in Ecuador have been analyzed by various scholars, this research examines their impact on specific enterprises in different market and spatial locations. The question is: do the old grass-roots programs sustain themselves and new ones prosper in the political-economic context of SAPs? Or, to put it another way, do the SAPs, on which IFIs and donors continue to insist, undercut the sustainability of the grass-roots based initiatives that the same external agencies are supporting?
Field work for this project was carried out by Liisa North, as a Visiting Researcher, at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Quito (FLACSO-Ecuador), during January-April 1997 and January-May 1998. Louis Lebeber joined her during March 1998. Several academic lectures, conference presentations, panels, and presentations to NGOs have already resulted from the research.

The following academic publications already came out of this project:

Liisa North, "Qué Pasó en Taiwan? Un relato de la reforma agraria y de la industrialización rural (con unas observaciones comparativas en relación a América Latina)", Luciano Martínez, ed. El Desarrollo Sostenible en el Medio Rural. Quito: FLACSO-Ecuador, 1997, pp. 89-113.

Carlos Larrea and Liisa North, "Ecuador: Adjustment Policy Impacts on Truncated Development and Democratization", Third World Quarterly vo. 18, no. 5, Fall 1997, pp. 913-934.

Louis Lefeber, "Politicas Agricolas y Desarrollo Rural en el Ecuador: Con Referencia a Morris De. Whitaker (Evaluación de las Reformas de las Politicas Agricolas en el Ecuador, Vo. I and II, IDEA, 1996)", Ecuador Debate (Quito, No. 43, April 1998), pp. 151-168, double columns. To be reprinted in Luciano Martínez (ed.), Antologia de Estudios sobre el Desarrollo Rural (Quito: FLACSO, forthcoming).

See also: Liisa North, "Austerity and Disorder in the Andes", NACLA Report on the Americas Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, July/August 1999.
For more information on this project, see Project Updates in CERLAC's 1999/2000 Newsletter.

Project Directors: Peter Landstreet, Sociology, York University and Harry Díaz, CERLAC Fellow, Sociology, University of Regina.

Two projects were carried out with GIA - Grupo de Investigaciones Agrarias (Agrarian Research Group). The first funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), was focused on labour in the Chilean forestry sector (1973-1982). Peter Landstreet (the project coordinator) and Harry Díaz (the principal researcher) prepared a report: Employment and Migration in Peasant Villages of the Chilean Forestry Sector (submitted to the IDRC in 1983). The same project also formed the base of Harry Díaz's doctoral dissertation: Forestry Labour, Neo-Liberalism and the Authoritarian State: Chile, 1974-1981 (Graduate Program in Sociology, 1983). Prof. Díaz is now the Chairman of the Sociology Department at the University of Regina.

The second project , also funded by IDRC, enjoyed the participation of Programa de Economia del Trabajo (PET). Research involved study, over 37 months, of community-based self-help organizations among the poor in Chile, as a response to the country's continuing unemployment crisis. These organizations have functioned as informal cooperatives oriented toward the partial resolution of their members' subsistence needs.

The publications resulting from this project included:

Rigoberto Rivera and Harry Díaz, Pobreza y Organizaciones de Autoayuda en el Campo Chileno. (Santiago: GIA).

Clarissa Hardy, Organizarse para Vivir: Pobreza Urbana y Organización Popular. (Santiago: PET, 1987).

Harry Díaz, "Proletarianization and Marginality: The Modernization of Chilean Agriculture", David Hojman (Ed.), Neo-Liberal Agriculture in Chile. (London: MacMillan) 1990.

Project Director: Patrick Taylor, Humanities and Social & Political Thought, York University (1995-2006)

Funded by SSHRC, this interdisciplinary, collaborative research project aims at identifying, describing and analysing Caribbean religious phenomena from a Caribbean perspective. The world religions have come into dynamic contact with each other in the Caribbean in a way that has generated unique and creative approaches to spirituality which interweave Indigenous, African, Indian, European and other religious traditions.

Taking as its starting point the Caribbean experience in its geographical, historical and cultural breath, the Caribbean Religions Project addresses the plurality of religious discourses and practices in the region (African religions, Hinduism,Islam, Christianity) and their transformation or creolization in relation to each other. The project is attentive to the ways in which Caribbean religious experiences have taken shape in relation to the processes of colonialism and the challenges of the postcolonial world. Though contributors to the project include international experts in the field, contributions from researchers who are based in the Caribbean region constitute a significant component of the project.

Project objectives are:

  • to contribute to the development of a theoretical framework for the study of comparative religion in the Caribbean,
  • to advance knowledge of the variety, complexity and interrelatedness of religious phenomena in the Caribbean,
  • to fill the gap in the comparative study of world religions where the Caribbean, in particular, and the colonial and postcolonial experiences, in general, are neglected.

The first workshop of the Caribbean Religions Project, Afro-Cuban Religions in a Caribbean Perspective, was held at Casa del Caribe in July 1995 and included participants and presenters from Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica as well as Cuba. The second project workshop was held in August 1996 in cooperation with the Institute for Caribbean Studies, University of the west Indies, Saint Augustine Campus. Project investigators presented papers at the CALACS Annual Meeting in Toronto in October 1995 and at the Conference on Caribbean Culture (in honour of Rex Nettleford) in Jamaica in March 1996.

Several graduate students (and one undergraduate LACS student) were funded as Assistants and Researchers by the Project.

The results of the project will be published in the form of an Encyclopaedia of Caribbean Religions.

The following academic publications have already come out of this project:

Patrick Taylor, editor, NATION DANCE: Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean, Indiana University Press, 2001.

Juanita De Barros, "Congregationalism and Afro-Guianese Autonomy", CERLAC Working Paper: July, 1998.

Sean Lokaisingh-Meighoo, "The Diasporic Mo(ve)ment: Indentureship and Indo-Caribbean Identity", CERLAC Working Paper: September, 1998.

Frank F. Scherer, "Sanfancón: Orientalism, Confuscianism and the Construction of Chineseness in Cuba, 1847-1997", CERLAC Working Papers: July, 1998.

For more information on this project, see Project Updates in CERLAC's Newsletters and visit the Caribbean Religions Project Website.

Project Director: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University

The purpose of this project (funded by CIDA) has been to strengthen the linkages between Canadian experts and institutions and their Latin American and Caribbean counterparts, and to assist countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to plan and implement policies and programs directed towards economic recovery and sustained and equitable development using population data. The project has led to a significant strengthening of Canadian involvement in research and training in areas related to population and development in Latin America and the Caribbean, through the provision of long-term and short-term consultants. CERLAC and the CPI Secretariat have assisted CELADE in contracting technical assistance experts, in organizing research and training exchanges between Canadian and Latin American/Caribbean universities, and in developing long-term relationships and projects with these institutions.

Co-Chairpersons: Ricardo Grinspun, Director, CERLAC, Economics, York University, and Patrick Taylor, Deputy Director, CERLAC, Humanities, York University

The 27th Annual Congress of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) was held at York University from October 31 to November 3, 1996. Entitled "Latin American and the Caribbean in a Changing World: Patterns, Problems and Prospects," the Congress featured 70 panel discussions which were attended by 300 presenters and more than 1000 participants.

The themes of the panels included the environment; agriculture and indigenous issues; regional integration; social and economic policy; gender; education and history; transmigration; civil-military relations and political processes; religion, media and communication; and arts and literature.

H.E. Dr. Cheddi Jagan, President of the Republic of Guyana, opened the conference with a keynote address about sustainable development in the Americas. The conference was made in honour of Herbert "Betinho" de Souza, a dedicated activist for social justice in Brazil. CERLAC was honoured to have had Herbert de Souza study at York University during his years in exile and was proud to present him with an honourary degree.

Participants included scholars from across Latin America and the Caribbean, Canada, the United States, and Europe. Other participants included African-Caribbean spiritual leaders, Latin American and Caribbean diplomats in Canada, informed people of the community, and graduate students. The successful congress was a testament to the commitment of York University and the wider Canadian scholarly community to the study of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the fostering of sustainable links with the region.

Coordinator: Liisa North, Political Science, York University

Entitled "Forging Identities and Patterns of Development in Latin American and the Caribbean," the 1990 Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS) was held at York University from October 11 to 14. Founded at York University in 1969, the purposes of CALACS are: 1) to facilitate networking and the exchange of information among those engaged in teaching and research on Latin America and the Caribbean in Canada and abroad; 2) to foster throughout Canada, especially within the universities, colleges and other centres of higher education, the expansion of information on and interest in Latin America and the Caribbean; and 3) to represent the academic and professional interest of Canadian Latin Americanists.

The 1990 CALACS Congress featured 53 presentations and a plenary discussion on "Forging Identities and Patterns of Development in the Caribbean." The issues covered included social and economic policy; political processes; education; agricultural development; gender; anthropology; regional integration; literature; religion; computer application; and the environment.

There were also special events, such as the performance of a Caribbean play, Caribbean cultural event, a Caribbean Art Exhibition, the launching of Indigo Magazine, and a Mexican film show.

Led by International Development Research Centre 1985-1989

Project Director: David Morley, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Together with FLACSO-Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Faculty of Environmental Studies (funded by International Development Research Centre) undertook research on processes of planning for new settlements in Latin America from the perspectives of both community members and local government officials. The objective was to determine the forms of participation and kinds of government inputs that enhance the probability of successful settlement programs.

Principal Investigator: Frances Henry, Anthropology, York University Co-investigators: Alan Simmons, Sociology, York University, and Anthony H. Richmond

Funded by SSHRC, this purpose of this project was to carry out research on the Caribbean community in Canada. It involved ethnographic research and special tabulations of census and other statistical sources.


Frances Henry, The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.
Alan Simmons and Dwaine Plaza, "International Migration and Schooling in the Eastern Caribbean", La Educacón: Revista Interamericana de Desarrollo Educativo. 107:1990, pp. 187-213.

Alan Simmons and J. Turner, "L'immigration antillaise au Canada, 1967-1987: constraintes structurelles et experiences vécues" in D. Cordell, D. Gauvreau, R. Gervais et C. Le Bourdais (Eds.) Population, Reproduction, Sociétés: Perspectives et enjeux de démographie sociale. Montréal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1993, pp. 395-418.

Alan Simmons and Dwaine Plaza, "Breaking through the glass-ceiling: university training among Afro-Caribbean migrants and their children in Toronto". Paper presented at meetings of the Canadian Population Society, Université de Québec at Montréal, 7-9 June 1995.

A group of researchers and activists from Canada, the US and Latin America first got together in 2001 to discuss and analyze women’s police stations (WPS) in the region. Since then the network has grown and we have shared studies regarding violence against women and the work and impact of the women’s police stations.

The general objective of the current two-year research project is to carry out a comparative study on the WPS regarding how they contribute to women survivors’ access to justice and exercise of their rights. It is being conducted in countries with the most experience in this area: Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Peru.

CERLAC has been actively involved in the project since the beginning. The other current institutional partners are: the Centre for Social Planning and Studies (CEPLAES, Ecuador), InterCambios/PATH (Nicaragua), the Gender Studies Department of the State University of Campinas, (PAGU-UNICAMP, Brazil), the Flora Tristan Women’s Centre and the Manuela Ramos Movement (Peru). The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is the main funder.

The research addresses the services provided by the WPS and their links with the judicial system, the women’s movement, and other service providers from the perspective of women in situations of violence. The research findings will be used to improve public policy by making proposals and engaging national and regional stakeholders.