XXVII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association
Charles R. Hale
University of Texas
New Mexico State University
María Socorro Tabuenca Córdoba
El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
While the phrase “Washington Consensus” was coined in reference to the neoliberal economic reforms championed by northern development experts, it came to represent, more broadly, a U.S.-centric perspective and style of governance. In the past decade these policies and their associated worldview have been subject to deepening dissent and outright refusal: in the ballot box and in the collective re-visioning of economic and political futures for the region. Latin American Studies, though generally distanced from the policies of the Washington Consensus, have nonetheless developed under the shadow of US-centric perspectives and premises. Building on the thematic focus of LASA2006, we continue to encourage “de-centering” our study of the region, emphasizing the enrichment that results when suppressed or marginalized voices come forcefully into dialogue with those who have commanded the center stage. This principle applies both to north-south relations of knowledge production, and to parallel inequities along the lines of race, class, gender and region within specific countries and locales. For LASA2007, we make a special call for methodological innovation and scrutiny: what happens when our approaches to the study of history, society, politics and culture in Latin America explicitly incorporate the horizontal, collaborative, and egalitarian principles that might be contra-posed to the perspective of the Washington Consensus? How does this transform our scholarship, and how does the resulting knowledge relate to the new (or perhaps renewed) visions of Nuestra América that political actors throughout the hemisphere are hard at work to put into practice?