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Centre of Latin American Studies


50th Anniversary Symposium, Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge

1 October 2016

A one-day symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Centre of Latin American Studies will bring together leading scholars in Cambridge and beyond to consider how the study of Latin America has challenged the theories and practices that define academic disciplines.

In a famous essay, W. J. T. Mitchell extols visual culture as an ‘indiscipline’ that creates forms of ‘turbulence or incoherence’ at the boundaries of disciplines. If, as he claims, ‘interdisciplinarity’ has in many ways become consecrated and safely institutionalized, ‘indiscipline’ is a moment of rupture that brings the continuity and practice of a discipline into question. This symposium will consider the extent to which Latin American Studies is characterized by such moments of ‘indiscipline’, asking questions such as:

  • To what extent has the work of Latin Americanists disrupted or revised the theories or practices that have shaped our disciplines? What new research agendas are emerging from the region that might further challenge disciplinary conventions or boundaries?
  • To what extent does research on Latin America destabilize the totalizing claims of paradigms such as modernity, postcoloniality, globalization, capitalism, democracy or development, suggest alternatives to these, or change the way they are conceptualized?
  • To what extent does research on Latin America deconstruct dominant concepts such as ‘race’, ‘class’, ‘nationality’ or ‘popular culture’? What rough, makeshift tools have been fashioned to account for phenomena that resist incorporation into the favoured metalanguages of the moment?
  • What new axes of mobility or exchange have come to transect or bypass the metropolitan-periphery relationship that past studies of the region have insistently traced between Europe/US and Latin America?
  • What do such moments of ‘indiscipline’ contribute to our understanding of the role of Latin American Studies today?

Keynote speakers:

  • Julio Ortega is a former holder of the Simón Bolívar Visiting Professorship at Cambridge, a writer, a literary critic, and a pioneer of transatlantic studies. Originally from Peru, he has been based at Brown University since 1989, where he has directed the Department of Hispanic Studies and the Centre of Latin American Studies, and more recently, the Trans-Atlantic Project. Among many other books, he is the author of Transatlantic Translations. Dialogue in Latin American Literature (2006), El sujeto dialógico: Negociaciones de la modernidad conflictiva (2010) and the editor of Nuevos hispanismos: Para una crítica del lenguaje dominante (2012).
  • Adrián Gorelik, also a former Simón Bolívar Chair here at Cambridge, is a leading architect and urban historian. He is a CONICET researcher and teaches at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Buenos Aires. Some of his most-cited books include La grilla y el parque: Espacio público y cultura urbana en Buenos Aires, 1887-1936 (1998), Miradas sobre Buenos Aires (2004) and Das vanguardas a Brasília: Cultura urbana e arquitetura na América Latina (2005).
  • Mara Viveros Vigoya is a highly regarded anthropologist from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Her research focuses on the intersections between gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity. Among her publications are De quebradores cumplidores: Sobre hombres, masculinidades y relaciones de género en Colombia (2002), Saberes, culturas y derechos sexuales en Colombia (ed., 2006) and Raza, etnicidad y sexualidades: Ciudadanía y multiculturalismo en América Latina (ed., 2008, with Peter Wade and Fernando Urrea). 

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