Seminars and Symposia

May 14, 2004 - 10:00 am

Bildner Faculty Development Workshop on Latin America and the Caribbean: Research Agenda and Policy

As part of the Faculty Development Seminar on Latin America, the Bildner Center will host research workshops in the areas of Economic Globalization, Migration and Transnational Communities, and Policing, Crime, and Human Rights, and the Culture of Politics in the Americas. These meetings will provide an open forum to discuss ongoing research agendas of scholars in and around New York. Over the next year we hope these groups will meet to advance their research agenda through the presentations, discussions and the development of a working paper series. On May 14th we will have initial meetings as part of the Faculty Research Workshop at which participants set an agenda for group meetings next year. Those interested in participating should RSVP to Cristina Bordin at Please note, due to space constraints these meetings will be taking place at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at 59th St. and 10th Ave. The topics of each group are described below. You should choose 2 workshops from the list below.

Workshop 1:
10:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.
Economic Globalization, Reform Processes, Democratization and New Approaches to Development

Perhaps the largest issue on the agenda of Latin American states since the transition of democracy in the 1980s has been the reform efforts needed to fully achieve a high level of economic and political stability. After advancing the liberalizing reforms known as the “Washington Consensus” (privatizing state owned enterprises, reducing government spending, and eliminating business regulations) throughout the 1990s, many Latin American countries face economic difficulties and political turbulence. With little growth to show for years of austerity, “reform fatigue”—the reticence to deepen structural reform—has set in throughout the Andean region, Argentina, Venezuela, and possibly in Brazil and Mexico. Today, the “Washington Consensus” has been largely discredited as unresolved social tensions and persistent poverty have led to political upheavals that have put in place governments with different political objectives. While many policymakers in the region accept the need for new economic approaches, many Latin American societies now appear perplexed as to how to advance social, political, and economic development. This group will examine broadly the question of reform in Latin America today and the future of reform efforts.

Workshop 2:
10:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.
Migration and Transnational Communities

Whether as a result of civil war or the search for an improved standard of living, nearly every country in the America’s has been affected by significant movements of people. In some cases these movements represent large scale disruptions as civil conflicts or natural disaster refugees flood cities that do not have the necessary resources to take them in. In other cases the movements of people represent a difficult but necessary response to the economic exigencies of a rapidly globalizing marketplace characterized by intense geographically linked wealth inequalities. As people move so do ideas, institutions, conflicts, and resources. Many countries in Central America and the Caribbean today receive a large portion of their GDP from remittances from nationals living abroad. At the same time these countries political situations have also suffered as a result of citizens who have returned with criminal ties to the U.S. This group will focus on these general themes broadly looking at the ways that migration and diasporal patterns are changing today, the impact that they are having on political and social systems, and the conceptual and cultural changes that come as a result of these movements.

Lunch: 12:00 – 1:30 P.M.

Workshop 3:
1:30 P.M.-3:00 P.M.
Crime, Human Rights, Civil Society, and Rule of Law

Despite a transition to civilian rule, over the last decade violence and human rights abuse has increased in some parts of Latin America. Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, and Bolivia all face rising violence perpetrated by non-state actors and rouge police. In many cases these conditions have only been exacerbated by sensationalistic and politically motivated media outlets that have worsened public fears driving some city residents to move into walled communities and call for more repressive police responses. In recent years a number of public security reform efforts have begun in Argentina, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico. This workshop seeks to examine innovative ways to understand the political and social impacts of crime on Latin American countries as well as to discuss strategies to improve the operation of the police and courts.

Workshop 4:
1:30 P.M.-3:00 P.M.
The Politics of Culture/Cultural Politics in Latin America

As is true in numerous areas of the world, culture in Latin America has become enormously politicized at the beginning of the new millennium. Whether in museums, world heritage sites, national and regional folkloric institutions, shopping malls, media empires or religious traditions, culture as both a reified object and a set of everyday practices has come to be used politically in a number of ways by a multitude of actors. Contemporary stresses on the nation-state that in turn present a series of challenges to national imaginaries, to longstanding ways of configuring racial politics and community identities, and to defining property relations and humanity itself are among the many causes for the increased politicization of culture. In this faculty seminar working group we will draw on our diverse disciplinary perspectives to analyze some of the ways that culture has been conceptualized, packaged, and used in Latin America since the end of World War II. Especially important are issues of commodification, resistance and appropriation, irony and polysemy.