Gisela Zaremberg

Gisela Zaremberg

Sociology; Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, FLACSO, Mexico


Latin America is facing a scenario of profound transformations. The COVID pandemic is deepening persistent inequalities, while deterioration of democracy undermines human rights paradigms in the region. At the same time, innovative resistances have arisen. Youth movements have placed new issues on agendas; feminists and pro LGBTTTQ+ rights activisms have permeated politics and the streets; new organizations are fighting for changing work conditions; and indigenous people are challenging neo-extractive projects. This complex context clearly requires a well-considered response. In terms of the role of LASA, this implies strengthening a critical and well-informed debate, drawing on both interdisciplinary and collaborative work. This debate has to articulate rigorous knowledge with progressive policy making and innovative social activisms. LASA has a responsibility to enable a plural, critical and constructive dialogue to aid the transfer of knowledge from universities to decision makers, social leaders and communities. The current Latin American socio-political reality is highly polarized. Precisely for this reason, more nuanced intellectual discussions and research are required from academic settings. We urgently need to expand plural spaces to creatively understand and face the challenges that our current contexts demand. My experience, both in classical and innovative disciplinary approaches, can serve as a bridge between the various fields and scholarly traditions present in LASA, generating a greater synergy between them.

Inspired by this vision, I seek to contribute to LASA in the following three ways. First, I am deeply committed to LASA’s objective of broadening the diversity of its members in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, and class, among others. This entails a concerted effort to better involve sub-national academic institutions, which are often overlooked. It also implies the need to engage with a wider spectrum of international associations focused on Latin American studies. Young student inclusion deserves a special mention. A proactive relationship between the LASA Student Section and the Executive Council has to be boosted. Models of mentoring, already successful within feminist and other academic fields, and innovative schemes of knowledge diffusion should be examined and implemented. We should also explore participative mechanisms to encourage more comprehensive feedback from the LASA membership to the Executive Council. This participation would go beyond virtual surveys to include more membership committees or councils that could advise about key issues. These proposals represent both a challenge and an opportunity. My knowledge on democratic innovation and participative engineering will contribute to achieving more inclusive mechanisms. Well-designed virtual technologies could help to boost these participative schemes.

Second, I am also deeply committed to ensuring that LASA Congress continues to be a space for thoughtful exchange. A plural academic community has to guarantee nurturing exchanges between scholars. In the long term, excessive activities, that may not always fulfil standards of quality, could compromise the inherent richness of academic work. To achieve these standards, I propose working more closely with the Program Track Coordinators, to discuss basic selection criteria parameters and to establish a substantive sense of awareness to achieve an equilibrium between plurality and quality.

Third, due to my research work on conservatisms, I am well aware of the threat posed by the anti-rights backlash to scientific work in Latin American, and around the world. I am committed to building a space that can defend democratic and progressive approaches to academic work. It implies revising internal procedures to guarantee respectful dissent. It also means extending fund-raising to further reward academic and activist trajectories related to progressive and democratic goals in the region.

In sum, Latin America is facing historical upheavals, and LASA needs to continue to be a prestigious space for social debate built upon multiple approaches and perspectives.