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XL International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association
President of LASA
Polarización socioambiental y rivalidad entre grandes potencias
Among the enormous challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean in the 21st century, three that are intimately linked stand out for the LASA Congress in 2022: environmental destruction and climate change, socioeconomic polarization, and rivalry between the great powers that in one way or another affect the region. Environmental destruction and climate change have been accelerating since the mid-twentieth century, but took on a new impetus with the turn of the twenty- first century. In our region, these phenomena have been closely linked to the new commodity boom and deepening extractivism, both in mining and agriculture. Although this new boom facilitated the emergence of self-proclaimed leftist governments, their social programs were focused on alleviating poverty, but rarely tried to modify the productive structures that generate it and deepen inequality. Ideally, in our congress we should make contributions that account for both environmental destruction and for the new models and practices which might allow its transcendence.
Socioeconomic polarization, unfortunately, is one of the most distinctive features of the region, something that has worsened in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we are referring to economic and social inequality, which is expressed in forms of discrimination based on social class, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. In many cases, polarization has accelerated migration processes, now including climate migration, exacerbating conflict caused by struggles over land, water and by racism as new groups come into contact with each other.
Finally, the growing trade competition and rivalry between the United States and China puts Latin America in a complicated situation. On the one hand, its traditional trading partner, the United States, has always been a dominant power that seeks to get the most out of the region and has no qualms about intervening in its political processes. On the other hand, China is now emerging with a significant presence in all imaginable spheres. How should Latin American countries deal with this rivalry in a way that minimizes conflict and maximizes the advantages for their populations? Politicians and scholars in the region could play a mediating role to promote cooperation between the powers. But, successfully confronting the climate challenge requires that Latin America increases its industrial autonomy based on the sustainable use of resources.
To address the issues outlined above, we propose five special tracks where the latest research on these core issues can be raised and discussed.
This call plans for a hybrid congress that enables both face-to-face participation in the city of San Francisco, if the evolution of the global health situation allows it, and virtual participation.
The deadline to submit proposals is September 9, 2021, 5 p.m. EDT.