LATIN AMERICAN ISSUES Lecture Series


Professors and graduate students from the University of Calgary’s Latin American Research Centre (LARC) explore various aspects of Latin American history and current issues in this series of monthly lectures co-sponsored by CALL and LARC. Each one-hour lecture is followed by a half hour for questions and discussion.

Monthly, September to April, 1:30 - 3:00 p.m., 
New Location: 
cSPACE King Edward, Room 310, 1721-29th Avenue SW

Fall 2017/Winter-spring 2018: Tuesdays, September 12, October 10, November 14; January 9, February 13, March 13, April 10.

All are welcome. (CALL membership is not required.) No fee and no registration.

Facilitated by Ona Stonkus. For more information, please contact onascall@shaw.ca.

September 12, 2017

Victoria Simmons

The Politics of Mobility in Southern Mexico

Victoria Simmons is a Ph.D. Candidate in Sociology at Carleton University in Ottawa. She is currently working on her doctoral dissertation, which offers an historical account of migration on the railways of southern Mexico. Victoria has authored and co-authored publications on gender and migration in Latin America. She holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (U.N.A.M.) and a B.A. in Development Studies from the University of Calgary.


Past Presentations

April 18, 2017

Dr. Pablo Policzer

The State of Democracy in Latin America: Lessons for the North

LARC Director Dr. Pablo Policzer is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Calgary. A specialist in comparative politics, his research focuses on the evolution of violent conflict—especially among armed actors such as militaries, police forces, and non-state armed groups—in authoritarian and democratic regimes. He held the Canada Research Chair in Latin American Politics (2005-2015) and is a Fellow at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies. He was also an active Fellow at the Latin American Research Centre before being appointed Director in 2015. His book The Rise and Fall of Repression in Chile (Notre Dame University Press, 2009) was named a Choice Magazine "Outstanding Academic Title" and won the 2010 award for best book in Comparative Politics from the Canadian Political Science Association. He obtained his PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his BA (Honours, First Class) in political science from the University of British Columbia.

March 21, 2017

Dr. Rita Giacalone

An Overview of Latin American Regional Integration in the 21st Century

Regional integration is one of the key characteristics of regions in the 21st century. In Latin America over the last two decades a new regional architecture has been developed comprising old economic integration efforts (Andean Community, MERCOSUR) and new, more general fora (UNASUR, ALBA, CALC) that point out in divergent directions. The present overview of Latin American regional integration aims at exploring the implications of this situation. We will explore first the historical bases of integration and, second, the organizations that appear in the 21st century in order to discuss how changes in objectives and regional and global contexts are affecting the region’s insertion in the international system.

Dr. Rita Giacalone, a Visiting Fellow at the Latin American Research Centre at the University of Calgary, is Professor of Economic History, Department of Economics, Universidad de Los Andes (Venezuela), and Coordinator of GRUDIR (Regional Integration Research Group). She was Director of the School of Political Science, Coordinator of REDINRE (an ALFA Program network of European and Latin American universities), and Editor of Revista Venezolana de Ciencia Política and of Revista Agroalimentaria. She has been a Visiting Professor at University of Pennsylvania, Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Universidad Autónoma de México, Universidad de La Plata (Argentina), and Stockholm University. She holds a Ph.D. in History from Indiana University, and has been beneficiary of a Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship. Her latest publications include “Anti-Americanism and Trade Policy in Brazil and France” (co-author: Gerry Alons) Revista Iberoamericana (Stockholm) 43 (1-2) (2013), “Latin American Answers to Mega-Regional Projects: Options and Limits” in J. Roy (ed.) A New Atlantic Community. The European Union, the US and Latin America. Miami: Jean Monnet Chair-University of Miami, 2015, and Geopolítica y Geo-economía en el proceso globalizador. Bogotá: Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, 2016.


February 21, 2017

Dr. Mariana Hipólito Ramos Mota
Democracy in Brazil: Why Does It Seem That Corruption Is Getting Worse?

Since the late 1980s, when it transitioned to democracy, Brazil has had its share of highly publicized corruption scandals. Then in 2014, it saw a massive corruption scheme make headlines all over the media: Petrobrás, the state-run oil company lost over US$2 billion just in bribes in a money-laundering scheme involving executives and politicians. Most large parties have been linked to the so-called “Petrolão” scandal, which has been considered the biggest scheme in Brazil since the late 1980s. Does that actually mean that corruption has increased in the last decades? This presentation will examine past and current events of Brazilian politics to address why corruption seems to be getting worse – and why, ironically, that is actually a reason to be optimistic about democracy in Brazil.

Dr. Mariana Hipólito R. Mota recently received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Calgary. In Brazil, she obtained a B.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Political Science at Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (UFPE). In November 2016, Mariana defended her Ph.D. dissertation, which is titled “From Delegation to Limits on Presidential Power: Brazil in Comparative Perspective” and examines the creation of limits to presidential power in weakly institutionalized democracies through the case of Brazil. In 2014, she was at Universidade de Brasília (UnB) for a four-month research stay to do archival research for her dissertation and conduct interviews with policy makers, NGO leaders, and bureaucrats. She is especially interested in comparative politics, processes of democratization, Latin American politics (with an emphasis on Brazilian politics), and topics concerning the relationship between democracy and corruption.

January 17, 2017

Dr. Hendrik Kraay

“Barbarous Games” and “Civilized Celebrations”:
The Early History of Carnival in Brazil

Among other things, Brazil is known today for its elaborate carnival celebrations, but this was not always the case. Dr. Hendrik Kraay will discuss his research on the nineteenth-century history of pre-Lenten celebrations in Brazil. His main focus will be the criticisms of entrudo, the old Portuguese custom of water fights and other practical jokes, and their gradual substitution by what was known as carnaval (parading and masked balls). He will show how these cultural conflicts were very serious business to Brazilians, for they reflected the larger issues of the day.

Hendrik Kraay is professor of history at the University of Calgary. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin (1995) and subsequently held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. Since 1997, he has taught at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Race, State, and Armed Forces in Independence-Era Brazil: Bahia, 1790s-1840s (Stanford University Press, 2001) and Days of National Festivity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1823-1889 (Stanford University Press, 2013); the latter won the Conference on Latin American History’s 2014 Warren Dean Memorial Prize for the best book on Brazilian history. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters published in both English and Portuguese, Dr. Kraay has edited or coedited the following books: Afro-Brazilian Culture and Politics: Bahia, 1790s-1990s (M.E. Sharpe, 1998); Nova História Militar Brasileira (with Celso Castro and Vitor Izecksohn, Editora da Fundação Getúlio Vargas, 2004); I Die with My Country: Perspectives on the Paraguayan War, 1864-1870 (with Thomas L. Whigham, University of Nebraska Press, 2004); and Negotiating Identities in Modern Latin America (University of Calgary Press, 2007). In 2004, Dr. Kraay was visiting professor at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. His research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s Standard Research Grant and Insight Grant programs. In 2014-15, Dr. Kraay served as acting director of the Latin American Research Centre. His current research projects are focused on the Dois de Julho festival in Bahia and the change in pre-Lenten celebrations from entrudo to carnaval.

November 29, 2016

Dr. José Miguel Gordillo
Ethnicity and the Politics of Identity—Upper Peru and Bolivia

Latin America is a region populated by multiethnic societies. Indigenous and European peoples have interacted in a multitude of ways during more than five centuries, forging a rich and diverse cultural environment. This presentation is focused on the conflictive evolving process that links ethnicity with power in Bolivia during the colonial and postcolonial periods. The presentation takes a historical and anthropological perspective of culture to explore the role of ethnicity and identity in the process of imagining a modern and postmodern Latin American nation.

Professor Gordillo has a Ph.D. and an M.A. in the field of Latin American History granted by the State University of New York at Stony Brook (USA) and a B.A. in Economics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) and the Universidad Mayor de San Simon (Bolivia). Since 2009, he has been teaching Latin American History and Culture courses at Mount Royal University, Saint Mary’s University and the University of Calgary.

November 1st, 2016

Dr. Alejandra Alonso: Day of the death: how the Maya people celebrated the death in the past and through the present.

Alejandra Alonso is a Mexican archaeologist and object conservator. She got her Masters Degree in Anthropology at the National University of Mexico in 2004 and her PhD in Archaeology at the University of Calgary in 2013. She teaches anthropology, archaeology and Latin American courses at the University of Calgary since 2011. She is also appointed associate researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico since 1993.

She has conducted research projects in the Maya area and coordinates the conservation program of Ek Balam Archaeological Site since 2001. Her research interests include ancient crafts and art technology, gender roles in craft production, social interaction in production settings, cultural heritage management and sustainability, and community outreach programs for the conservation of cultural heritage.

October 4th, 2016

Dr. Amelia Kiddle, Associate Professor of Spanish American history and the Coordinator of the Latin American Studies Program: The Mexican Oil Expropriation of 1938.

Following a protracted labour conflict between Mexico’s petroleum workers and U.S. and Anglo-Dutch oil companies operating in Mexico, President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) decreed the expropriation of these companies’ interests on March 18, 1938, creating the national oil company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). This presentation will examine the history of the Mexican expropriation, which represents a landmark in Mexican and international energy history. Beginning in 1938, Mexico was at the forefront of state-led energy development in Latin America, but in the context of the declining oil production, rampant corruption, and inefficiency plaguing the Mexican oil industry in recent decades, the government has now decided to end its oil monopoly, abandoning the country’s long history of sovereign control over in the extraction of this national asset. Ironically, the Mexican government is now inviting the successors of the very companies that were expropriated in 1938 to cooperate in the development of Mexico’s natural resources.

Dr. Kiddle is Associate Professor of History and Coordinator of the Latin American Studies Program at the University of Calgary. She received her Ph.D. in Latin American history from the University of Arizona in 2010, and was awarded the Premio Genaro Estrada from the Mexican Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores for the best doctoral thesis on the topic of Mexico’s foreign relations. She held an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Latin American Studies at Wesleyan University’s Centre for the Americas from 2010-2012. She is the co-editor of Populism in Twentieth Century Mexico: The Presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas and Luis Echeverría (Arizona, 2010). Dr. Kiddle recently co-edited a document collection entitled La expropiación petrolera mexicana en la prensa de Latinoamérica: Antología documental (Pemex, 2014), and she is currently editing the proceedings of the 2014 conference she organized at the University of Calgary entitled “Energy in the Americas: Critical Reflections on Energy and History.” On the topic of gender and diplomacy, she has published “Cabaretistas and Indias Bonitas: Gender and Representations of Mexico in the Americas during the Cárdenas Era” (Journal of Latin American Studies, 2010) and “In Mexico’s Defense: Dueling, Diplomacy, Gender and Honor, 1876-1940 (Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, 2015). Her first monograph, Mexican Relations with Latin America during the Cárdenas Era was published by the University of New Mexico Press in September 2016.


*Photo “Presencia de América Latina”, ubicado en la Casa del Arte, Universidad de Concepción, Fotografía tomada por Farisori; Autor del mural: Jorge González Camarena, mexicano; Propiedad de la Universidad de Concepción, Chile

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Latin American Issues
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The Politics of Mobility in Southern Mexico

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