Autumn 2017-Winter 2018

October 12 (Thursday, 4 pm)

The Brazilian Amazon, its People and the Circulation of Knowledge

Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Mark Harris (St Andrews)

Knowledge about the Brazilian Amazon for a global academic community is often associated with indigenous societies and their anthropologists and advocates. In this presentation I will consider other kinds of knowledge practices that complement this headline Amazon. In particular I will examine the construction of the past of the Amazon and the character of materials used to build a regional historiography. This intellectual tradition reveals another Amazon, for sure, and one where collaborative efforts between native and outsider are as significant and profound as they are in more popular contemporary versions. They are, however, hidden from view, buried in an archive that takes various forms.


October 25 (Wednesday, 5:30 pm)

Controlling the Body: Decency in Argentina, 1850-1945

Room 243, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Camila Gatica Mizala (ILAS)

This paper explores what was understood by ‘decency’ and the physical expressions that were expected based on those understandings. The presentation will examine behavioural manuals and censorship regulations as means to probe the ways in which control and order was exerted over behaviours deemed unwanted and improper. I will suggest that this control of the body was tightly connected to ideas of social hygiene and the moral health of society.


November 8 (Cancelled)

Shelf Marks and Subject Classifications in the Jesuit Libraries of Colonial Spanish America

Room 234, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Desiree Arbo (Warwick)

Since their arrival in Spanish America in the sixteenth century, the Jesuits sought to acquire and print books to be used in their colleges, residences and missions. By the eighteenth century Jesuit libraries had grown considerably, but after the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, their libraries were confiscated and subsequently dispersed. This presentation will address ways in which we can research these lost Jesuit libraries and gain further insights into how books supported Jesuit educational and missionary projects in Spanish America. Thus far, the primary aim of existing studies has been to reconstruct Jesuit library holdings, with little attempt at comparative work. Drawing primarily from library inventories, I will discuss the arrangement of books in the Jesuit libraries of Asunción and Córdoba. Overall, this presentation aims to shed light on the formation and organisation of books in early modern Jesuit libraries, which must be considered along with local contexts, the Atlantic book trade, and the global nature of the Jesuit network.


March 7 (Wednesday, 5:30pm)*

Science and the Arts in Contemporary Latin America

Joanna Page (Cambridge)

Literature and the arts became crucial sites in twentieth-century Latin America for the political and philosophical critique of Darwinism and Comtean positivism. In more recent years, however, we have begun to witness significant new convergences between science and the arts in contemporary Latin America, in which an aesthetic engagement with research in astrophysics, evolutionary biology, genetics and neuroscience yields shared visions of the origins and the future of human culture and society. This seminar will explore two fields of convergence and collaboration. The first of these is to be found in literary and critical texts by Jorge Volpi, Marcelo Cohen, and Pola Oloixarac, who experiment with post-Darwinian approaches to evolution in which symbiosis and forms of social cooperation become more important than the competitive forces of natural selection. Many of the concepts they explore have developed from the pioneering work of Chilean biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana on autopoiesis, structural coupling and the neurobiology of cognition.  Secondly, I will discuss the projects of a number of Latin American artists – such as Tomás Saraceno, Paúl Rosero Contreras, and Joaquín Fargas – who are working at the intersections of art, engineering, architecture and environmental science, creating speculative technologies and habitats for future societies that promote new affective and conceptual frameworks for understanding relationships between the human and the non-human. What unites these very different literary and artistic projects is the aim to generate novel ways of thinking about life in common, and I will draw here on the dialogue (often explicit) that these artists establish with philosophers such as Sloterdijk and Latour. Their vision is not based on a cosmopolitanism that suffers from a “malady of tolerance” (Isabelle Stengers), as if life in common could simply be wrought by reconciling different human perspectives on the same world. Instead, it responds to Stengers’ call for a cosmopolitics that explores the conditions of possibility in which multiple, divergent worlds might be articulated together.


March 21 (Wednesday, 10am-5pm)*

Global Latin American Studies: Past, Present and Future

This one-day international symposium will address the global dimensions of Latin American Studies, past, present and future.  Contrary to common and official knowledge, the field cannot be properly understood merely as a product of national security responses to the Cold War. Consequently, the notion that the end of the Cold War and the most recent wave of globalization spells the end of area studies or, in this specific case, of Latin American studies, is at best myopic.  In fact, globalizations of knowledge are very old and repeating phenomena and of course wars come and go.  Indeed, Latin American Studies has never been so vibrant as it is today.  This vibrancy suggests a long global past and future for the field.  Serious and voluminous scholarly research on the region began in earnest in the sixteenth century, and it peeked again in the eighteenth century, when thousands of books and hundreds of thousands of manuscripts were produced about all aspects of the region.  Scholarly production continued apace in the nineteenth century, and was finally institutionalized in many locales in the Americas and Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  More recently, Latin American Studies centres proper begin to emerge in the 1920s and 1930s, followed by a strong and concerted push to fund and establish centres in the 1960s. ILAS was created during this last, Cold-War wave in 1964 but its library collection documents a much longer and wider history of area studies research.  The symposium will feature papers examining the long and winding history of Latin American research in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.


CFP_WSMarch (click here)

* Rooms and abstracts will be added soon. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on the seminar series.