May 23rd to May 26th


Latin American studies today is experiencing a surprising and welcome dynamism. The expansion of this field defies the pessimistic projections of the 1990s about the fate of area studies in general and offers new opportunities for collaboration among scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists around the world. This can be seen in the expansion of LASA itself, which since the beginning of this century has grown from 5,000 members living primarily in the United States to nearly 12,000 members in 2016, 45 percent of whom reside outside of the United States (36 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean). And while the majority of us reside in the Americas, there are also an increasing number of Latin American studies associations and programs in Europe and Asia, most of which have their own publications and annual seminars and congresses. Several factors explain this dynamism. Perhaps the most important is the very maturity of our field. Various generations of Latin Americanists have produced an enormous, diverse, and sophisticated body of research, with a strong commitment to interdisciplinarity and to teaching about this important part of the world. Latin American studies have produced concepts and comparative knowledge that have helped people around the world to understand processes and problematics that go well beyond this region. For example, Latin Americanists have been at the forefront of debates about the difficult relationship between democracy, development, and dependence on natural resource exports—challenges faced around the globe. Migration, immigration, and the displacement of people due to political violence, war, and economic need are also deeply rooted phenomena in our region, and pioneering work from Latin America can shed light on comparable experiences in other regions today. Needless to say, Latin American studies also has much to contribute to discussions about populism and authoritarianism in their various forms in Europe and even the United States today. With these contributions in mind, we propose that the overarching theme of the Barcelona LASA Congress be “Latin American Studies in a Globalized World”, and that we examine both how people in other regions study and perceive Latin America and how Latin American studies contribute to the understanding of comparable processes and issues around the globe.

Program Track: Mass Media and Popular Culture

Media and Democratization in Latin America (Numero especial de LAP)

Javier Campo (CONICET) y Tomas Crowder-Taraborrelli (SUA)

In the last decades, the governments of Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Argentina have sought, through media reform, more participation in the production and distribution of media in principle to assure a plurality of voices. This political undertaking, which supporters of these elected governments see as an instrumental part of the process of re-democratization, is at the center of a controversial endeavor to overcome inequality in Latin America. Our focus is on analyzing how different types of media (corporate, state/public, party, community, social, etc.) play a role in current struggles and on how particular types of media restructuring reshape power relations at all levels. This panel will focus on the critical intersections of media, democratization, and social struggles in recent Latin American political experience. It seeks to analyze the media as key political-economic institutions, as the public sphere or contested political-cultural arenas within which political and social struggles are waged. We are particularly interested in the theoretical and empirical questions about media raised by attempts to theorize and construct new political, economic, social and cultural systems that are more participatory and egalitarian and by the centrality of the need to communicate for the development of movements for social change. In other parts of Latin America governed by center and right wing governments, such sweeping media democratization projects are not underway, however, the wide range of social struggles in progress have generated innovative media forms and communication strategies, such as those linking the Zapatistas to international solidarity networks.

Kathryn Lehman
Beyond Pluralism and Media Rights: Indigenous Communication for Transformation in Latin America and Abya Yala. 

In resisting genocidal projects of modernity since the Conquest and the most recent phase, neoliberalism, indigenous peoples have provided leadership in maintaining pluralist societies and protecting the rights of all living beings. This role is little known, including by many on the left, because of the history of the nation-state and current communications and research practices (Paillán, Smith, Schiwy). This article provides examples of the role of indigenous media in twenty-first century Latin American participatory democracy and plurinational socialism, focusing on their defence of autonomy of thought, and of communication as a basic human right. Drawing on community-based autonomous alternatives to neoliberalism, these media evoke a long history of indigenous placed-based narratives whose values are encoded in language, and their epistemologies are strengthened by transnational indigenous communication networks and practices. Moving beyond pluralism and media rights, indigenous communication transforms media practices in order to decolonize relations among humans, living beings, and the environment that sustains life.

Keywords: Indigenous media, participatory democracy, plurinationalism, UNDRIP, NWICO, CLACPI, decolonization, Mapuche

João Feres Júnior
A lua de mel que não houve: o terceiro turno de Dilma Rousseff

In this paper, we test the hypothesis of the occurrence of a Honeymoon period after Dilma Rousseff’s victory in the 2014 elections, first in the realm of politics and then in the news media. The hypothesis is doubly rejected. The main opposition party, PSDB, assumed an aggressive stance in favor of Dilma’s deposition even before her term has started. Meanwhile, the proportion of negative articles about Dilma rose abruptly right after the second round of the elections, November 2014, and continued to rise to unprecedented levels until her impeachment. We conclude the article reflecting on the importance of these events for the future of democracy in Brazil.

Keywords: democracy, media, Brazil, Dilma, Honeymoon

Maria Concepcion Castillo Gonzalez
Nos faltan 43. Storytelling digital y la disputa por la representación del caso de Ayotzinapa

El artículo busca comprender las dinámicas de poder articuladas a través del storytelling como práctica social sobre el caso de la desaparición de los 43 estudiantes en Ayotzinapa, México. Se analizaron las narrativas de la sociedad civil y del gobierno federal en YouTube y Twitter durante tres meses para someterlas a una comparación, lo que permitió identificar los códigos de representación en disputa sobre el emblemático caso de violación a derechos fundamentales. Constatamos que el storytelling digital que se propaga de forma viral y transmedia ofrece posibilidades para organizar la protesta en el mundo offline. Sus atributos reflexivos favorecen la visibilización de la injusticia, la permanencia en la agenda local y global y en algunos casos ejercen presión ante los diversos actores sociales y las autoridades para establecer mecanismos de solución a los conflictos.
Keywords: Transmedia Storytelling, Ayotzinapa, YouTube, Twitter, Representations

Naomi Schiller
Changing the Channel: Class Conflict, Everyday State Formation, and Television in Venezuela

The formation of new state television outlets in Venezuela over the past decade has been a process of dismantling and remaking hierarchies among social classes and between the fields of state and community media production. I analyze the involvement of community media producers in creating a new state television outlet in Caracas and the ongoing collaboration between community and state producers. Drawing on ethnographic data, I argue that a view of the state as a multifaceted and contested process permits us to analyze the intertwined practices of state formation and popular organizing, the role of international activists in this process, and the class tensions that underlie everyday state craft.
Keywords: State television, Community television, The state, Social class, Venezuela