CALACS 2015: Critical Pan-Americanisms — Solidarities, Resistances, Territories

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    Douglas Kristopher Smith

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    CALACS 2015: Critical Pan-Americanisms — Solidarities, Resistances, Territories

    To be held at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica from July 8 to 10, 2015.

    The 2015 Congress will be organized collaboratively between FLACSO, represented by the General Secretariat and its headquarters in Costa Rica, by the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Costa Rica represented by Francisco Enríquez Solona, and by CALACS represented by Jessica Stites Mor.

    CALACS spreads and promotes knowledge from and about Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as their diasporas through networks and partnerships in Canada. The Association brings together academics, graduate and post-doctoral students, social organizations, and activists by offering them space for reflection and discussion, principally through its Congress and through the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (

    The University of Costa Rica (Universidad de Costa Rica or UCR), an autonomous institution of higher learning, consists of a community of professors, students, and administrative personnel dedicated to teaching, research, social action, study, reflection, artistic creation, and the dissemination of knowledge (

    FLACSO (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales) is an international organization dedicated to graduate and post-doctoral education and research in Latin American societies. It is comprised of 18 Member States that currently conduct academic activities in 13 Latin American and Caribbean countries (

    The theme of the 34th CALACS Congress is Critical Pan-Americanisms: Solidarities, Resistances, Territories.

    Pan-Americanism has a long and complicated history. As concepts, ideas, discourses, possibilities, and dreams, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism appear and vanish, are defined and re-defined, and are accepted and rejected by different actors in different historical moments. South of the Río Grande, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism formed part of Símon Bolívar’s thought. Later, between 1880 and 1890, the terms Pan-America and Pan-Americanism appeared in the United States, extending the territory northwards. Henceforth, Pan-Americanism became part of common sense, implying common interests, similarities, complementary histories, and shared geography.

    Over time, Pan-America was naturalized and institutionalized. The idea that the countries of America have something in common is the basis of political entities such as the Organization of American States, which Canada joined in 1990; of health entities such as the Pan American Health Organization; of sporting events such as the Pan American Games; and of economic institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank. While comprehensive, Pan-Americanism is also a vague term because differences are present in America within distinct histories, different cultures, multiple languages, and in the wealth of a few and the poverty of many. Thus, Pan-America and Pan-Americanism has been and can be invoked or forgotten, accepted or rejected, or interpreted and reinterpreted.

    Throughout the twentieth century, economic relations in the Americas promoted a selective removal of borders for goods and capital, cultural hybridization, reinforced social differences, a virtuous conception of the individual, and competition as natural law. However, since the end of the twentieth century, Pan-Americanism acquired a new dynamic: a dynamic of resistance to neoliberalism and to the dictatorships that had restructured institutions, ideologies, and lifestyles since the 1960s. The new discourse of Pan-Americanism has connotations of solidarity represented, for example, by CELAC or by the formation of UNASUR as counterparts to the Organization of American States. Moreover, millions of migrants have moved in search of work, panamericanizing their identities, and at times encountering solidarity along the way. But this solidarity is minimal in the face of threats to migrants, the militarization of borderlands, imprisonment, and persecution.

    The Congress in San José, to be held on the indigenous territory of the Huetar people, invites researchers, academics, artists, writers, and social organizations to analyze the realities of true Pan-Americanism, to dream of more socially, economically, and politically inclusive Pan-Americanism, to reflect on relations between Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean and their diverse populations, to spread proposals on food sovereignty, protection of the environment, community work, social economy, and protection of bio-diversity and local knowledge, among other things. The deadline for reception of panel proposals, individual presentations, round table discussions, or posters is February 27, 2015. Proposals may be submitted in Spanish, English, French, or Portuguese.

    Participants are encouraged to select from the following tracks for their individual or panel proposals:


    1. International Studies: critical Pan-Americanisms, security, peace and conflict, migration, diasporas, cooperation, and citizenship.
    2. History, Processes, and the Construction of Memory: including literature, cinema, daily life, and mass media.
    3. Construction of Identities and Diversity: gender and sexuality, ethnicity, indigeneity, religiosity, class, and nationalism
    4. Society, Economy, and Development: social movements and civil society, environment, politics, economy and society.

    Although membership in CALACS in not necessary for submitting proposals, all accepted participants must be members of the organization in order to attend the Congress ( All presenters must 1) purchase a CALACS membership and 2) register for the Congress by May 1 in order to be included in the conference program. CALACS offers a discount for early registration.

    For more information about CALACS, the Congress, and for instructions on how to contact CALACS, please visit


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