Mario Pecheny

Mario Pecheny

Political Science; Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina


In other times, that is, last year, I would have written another statement. Now my statement is determined by the coordinates of our current lives, relative to the COVID 19 pandemic and the measures with which states, societies and academic institutions try to protect the health of its people. Likewise, the current environment is not the best for intellectual activity, particularly research and higher education institutions in the social sciences and humanities are in crisis: due to funding deficits, questions about their legitimacy, generalized uncertainty and the indolence of many governments.

That is why I would like to make a few comments. The first is that we are living in dark times, in which we are confronted almost daily with ethical dilemmas: what to do, what is fair in this context, what is going to bring better consequences - or at least not worse ones. The second is that despite everything, we - who dedicate ourselves to academic life - count with public spaces, like this one, like LASA, in which we can share our experiences, reflections, and in some way protect ourselves. Defending these public spaces, which also transcend national borders, is key. It is key intellectually and academically, but it is also key from the point of view of democratic citizenship and of our own survival as human beings. The third is that institutions today more than ever have the responsibility of either complicating the lives of their members or taking care of them. A policy of care, in the broadest sense that can be assumed, is then the currency that should guide any institutional strategy today. The fourth and last comment is that the COVID 19 pandemic showed once again that the consequences of the crisis impact differentially according to the structural inequalities of each place, country and region. The COVID 19 experience is intersectional. And the answers should be intersectional too.

In this context, of pandemic and post-pandemic, when it arrives, the challenge for LASA is to maintain its institutional life mediated by the difficulties or impossibilities of face-to-face meetings - what makes the difference with this organization: each conference is a meeting of friends, a ritual, a party, a sharing that goes beyond scientific and intellectual exchanges. The challenge is to achieve a congress, and the various congresses and associated or sub-regional events that there are related to LASA, that are both lively (meaningful, sentidos, festive) and efficient. This then implies combining human warmth, technical efficiency and availability of resources: human, technological and economic.

To get through these challenging times, we need to be efficient and use our available resources cost-effectively, we need technological resources, we need time, and we need to take into account the extreme diversity of access to technology and connectivity in order to avoid reproducing already existing gaps within academia. This includes the management of time, that is unbalanced according mainly to gender division of both public/scholar and domestic work.

The challenge for LASA today is to take care of ourselves: across generations, countries & regions, disciplines, languages, institutions, and in diversity. Solidarity makes the difference. Many of us have researched, studied and advocated for the policies of care. As they say in my country, en la cancha se ven los pingos. In other words, the stakes are high because the moment is tough and because there is much to lose, and much to gain. LASA today has to be an association that articulates solidarity, care and intellectual life in these dark times. If elected to LASA’s executive board, I am committed to contribute to this mission.