Fernando Blanco

Fernando Blanco

Literature; Bucknell University, United States


I feel honored to be a candidate for vice president and president-elect of LASA. I have been familiar with the association since I was a graduate student in my home country of Chile. At that time, living under a dictatorship as an undergraduate and shortly thereafter as a graduate student in a pseudo-democracy, the word LASA lingered in my mind as a utopian horizon full of scholars and researchers whom I never thought I would be able to reach. I never imagined that I would one day be working as a foreign national working at a prestigious liberal arts institution with a Ph.D. from an American public research university. I believe my profile resonates with a significant number of LASA members who have followed a similar path: scholars deeply engaged with research who are deeply committed to their students and the profession.

The challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the positive results of our last hybrid congress paved the way for a better use of technology as a powerful tool that can help to bridge the distance and material disparities among LASA members. This fact is also valid for thinking about other geographical areas where there are many scholars devoted to the study and dissemination of knowledge about Latin America.

Great improvements have been made during the past presidencies regarding the role played by different social actors and non-academic researchers. I would like to add the voices of even more colleagues to the discussion. Throughout my work as a member of the Red de Literatura y Derechos Humanos (University of Milan), my collaboration with the Latin American Research Center (Granada, Spain), as well as with the Red the Derechos Humanos (Chile), I have had the opportunity to discuss with my colleagues ways to increase collaboration and expand their involvement with LASA. In this vein, I propose formalizing and implementing a network of collaborations between LASA-USA, LASA-Europe, and LASA-Latin America by creating a consortium of global universities and research centers that will promote academic exchange and mobility for LASA members. My goal would be to create sustained engagement and exchange outside of the traditional annual conference schedule.

Another element connected to this is the need to broaden the impact of LASA conferences when they are hosted abroad. I will advocate for the implementation of a local communication network, including media coverage of the congress’ topic, keynotes, and experts, so as to make LASA a relevant actor in the host city.

The role of the different sections is a key element in the cogovernance system of LASA. I would like to propose the inclusion of chairs and other section representatives using criteria that recognizes their diversity in a more equitable way, assuring their participation in different instances (organization of congresses, designation of track chairs, representation on the executive council). I envision a model that allows for an intersectional approach to the selection of representatives. I believe it is crucial to move forward with the ongoing democratization of LASA and increase the transparency of decision-making processes.

I propose the establishment of at least two annual open forums to strengthen the dialogue and synergies among members, sections, the Executive Council, as well as the vice president and president.

Finally, as I have always been a believer in interdisciplinarity—my research over the past decades has dialogued with history, psychoanalysis, literature, and the visual arts—I will expand LASA by inviting dialogue with the arts, grassroots activism, and alternative epistemologies. I will diversify agendas to include pressing issues such as climate change and economic sustainability, while integrating the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic into a new intellectual horizons.