ACTION ALERT: Please forward Aldo Lauria Santiago’s email that he recently sent to the Latino Studies Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) far and wide. Without consulting the section’s leadership or membership, LASA has eliminated our section.
It is profoundly disappointing that the section leadership was not consulted. As Aldo notes below, to collapse “Latinos” under the rubric of “migrations” and/or “diasporas” evacuates the very history that Latino studies in the U.S has so struggled to instantiate as a field and as a practice of democratic enfranchisement.
Please contact LASA and let them know how you feel about their regrettable decision (emails will have the most immediate impact):
Latin American Studies Association
416 Bellefield Hall
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
FROM ALDO LAURIA SANTIAGO:
I’m writing from Rio. Yesterday the new Call for Papers for LASA 2011 was distributed and it excludes the Latino Studies track. We have learned that it was a decision made by the new incoming Program Chair as part of some process of revision and consolidation of tracks. We have since discussed the issue with incoming Executive Director Milagros Pereyra who explained the origin of the decision and suggested we work within the new track designations (Transnationalism & Globalization; Migration and Latin American Diasporas; Migration and Borders). We also talked with LASA president John Coatsworth who promised to look into the question. We are looking to have a meeting with the new program chair and other LASA officers while still here to express our strong disagreement with the elimination of the track that is so closely linked to our section’s work and that we believe has a significant coherence and justification (fought over in the past in order to get into LASA) and that resembles the sort of intellectual dismissal that so often recurs within the US academy with Latino Studies content, program and departments. The current and past co-chairs of the section and others who signed on at last night’s reception are sending a formal note to LASA administrators requesting the re-inclusion of the track. We will post the note to this list as soon as it is completed.
Whatever the origin of the decision, we consider it a highly troubling step, especially considering the lack of consultation with members and Section leaders.
This is not the first time this question is posed by LASA leaders. Last year I was contacted by Evelyne Huber, Program Chair for LASA 2009, about reorganizing the track into “Latin American Diasporas or Migration.” I successfully convinced her that it was not appropriate to collapse the study of Latinos in the US into this sort of supposedly encompassing umbrella. As a result, this year we had a Latinos in North America designation and a Latin American Diasporas theme. I’ll post the memo I wrote to her later.
In the meantime you might want to write to the LASA leadership questioning this decision, although I suspect the matter will require a more concerted effort on behalf and with the participation of you, the nearly 300 members of this Section.
Aldo Lauria Santiago