Clifford Welch

Clifford Welch

History; Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil


It is an honor to be nominated as a candidate to LASA’s Executive Council. If elected, I will faithfully and responsibly carry out the tasks assigned to me in collaboration with fellow EC members and officers, and in accord with the wishes of the membership. Thank you for your participation in the democratic processes of this essential association.

My contributions to LASA began in the 1980s when I joined a group of scholars who formed the labor and class relations section. I also participated in founding the Brasil and the Historia reciente y memoria sections. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve participated most actively in the rural studies section, which I chaired for two terms, including a period of its transformation into the Food, Agriculture and Rural Studies section. I have had the privilege of serving twice as a track co-chair and I’ve joined others in composing and campaigning for LASA resolutions. At a more minute level, I’ve organized many panels and field trips over more than three decades of dedication to LASA.

My vision for LASA is one that seeks to strengthen the association at the grassroots. I applaud on-going initiatives to make dues and conference fees reflect more closely the diverse levels of income of actual and potential members. By moving my career to Brazil in 2003, my income fell by two-thirds and support for attending conferences vanished. LASA has increasingly sought to attract Latin American researchers, a drive I fully support, along with efforts establish more flexible dues and fees to accommodate vastly different capacities to pay and attend congresses, which are too often held at hotels so glamorous they offend the values of the organization. To the extent possible, LASA should seek partnerships with public institutions and facilitate open attendance by students and activists wherever the congresses are held. Congresses held in Rio de Janeiro and Lima partially modelled these ideas.

The theme of the 2022 congress is exemplary in emphasizing the critical need to study the current crisis of Latin America’s fateful journey back to dependency on agro-extractivist models of primary sector exploitation. My vision for LASA is that such hard, materialist themes, examined from diverse ideological, class, gender and culturally alert perspectives, continue to be considered and developed for future congresses and research investments. In this vein, I support the closer relationship being formed between LASA and the Consejo Latinamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLASCO), to which I have belonged for over 15 years.

Finally, as a member of the Executive Council, I would seek to enhance the integration of historical perspectives. In diverse collaborations with the social scientists who predominate in LASA and CLACSO, the historical depths of the region’s problems are often included superficially, with little knowledge or appreciation for past struggles or humility in the face of past efforts at problem-solving gone horribly wrong. Through the encouragement of more participation by historians, collaboration with their regional organizations and the formation of new sections, we can deepen the project initiated by the Recent History and Memory section.