Modern Languages and Cultures was host to the 52nd Society for Latin American Studies (SLAS) conference. This is an annual conference that brings together Latin Americanists from across the world to present on and discuss their research. Founded in 1964 SLAS is one of the leading Latin American studies organizations in Europe. It is made up of a membership of 400 experts from a broad spectrum of disciplines including politics, anthropology, international relations, ethnography, cultural studies and history.
As can be seen from the schedule, there was a rich array of material presented. The two keynote speakers provided insightful analysis on diverse topics: Professor Hugo Cancino (Aalborg University, Denmark) on Latin American Studies in Scandinavia, and Professor John D French (Duke University) on how the term ‘cunning’ fits the former Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The packed schedule saw 40 panels over two days under the theme, ‘Building Bridges’. Postgraduate students, junior and senior academics from the UK, other European countries, Latin America, the US, Canada and elsewhere covered a wide range of topics in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, including anthropology, cultural studies, history, film, digital culture, literature, politics and socio-linguistics.
Amongst these luminaries, Modern Languages & Cultures scholars presented on digital culture (Claire Taylor), film and social media (Niamh Thornton), detective fiction (Ailsa Peate), politics and governance (Marieke Riethof), and history (Pablo Bradbury and Jack Webb).
In addition, Lucia Brandi presented the trilingual book Tsikan Chu Nipxi / La Viejita y la Calabaza / Buri and the Marrow, which has emerged from her post-graduate research.
As well as the stimulating intellectual exchange, there were plenty of opportunities to meet and chat over breaks and lunch served with great efficiency and friendliness by the University caterers, a tasty reception by the local tapas restaurant, Roja Pinchos, and the delicious conference dinner held in the impressive setting of the Anglican Cathedral followed by Céilí dancing.
At the AGM, we were delighted to hear the president of SLAS announced that Modern Languages & Cultures postgraduate student, Ailsa Peate has been awarded the prestigious Harold Blackmore essay prize, which she will write about soon on this site.
The event went smoothly thanks to the sterling work by Marieke Riethof supported by her organising team: John Fisher, Chris Harris, Natalia Priego, Niamh Thornton, and Katinka Weber; our post-graduates were ever-smiling, organised, and provided amazing practical help in advance and during the two-day conference: Pablo Bradbury, Sheneez Amara, Lucia Brandi, Juliette Doman, Erika Drummond, David Harrison, Ailsa Peate, and Jack Webb.
In 2016 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Liverpool’s Centre for Latin American Studies (later re-named the ‘Institute of Latin American Studies’). The Institute was one of the six Parry centres for Latin American Area Studies founded in the UK in 1966. The conference marks the re-launch of Latin American Studies in Liverpool as the North West Americas Studies Network (NWASN). This will be a Liverpool-based multidisciplinary network whose aim is to bring together experts in Latin American and North American studies to support research in the field, exchange ideas, and to provide opportunities for collaborations amongst the members.