History seminars at the IHR

Latin American History

Convenors: Professor Nicola Miller (UCL), Dr Alejandra Irigoin (LSE), Paulo Drinot (UCL), Dr Natalia Sobrevilla (Kent), Dr Thomas Rath (UCL), Professor James Dunkerley (QMU)

Venue: IHR, rooms as stated in the programme, below

Time: Tuesdays, 5:30pm

Some podcasts from this seminar are available online

Autumn Term 2014
DateSeminar details
7 October Mexico's Middle Classes after 1968: History of Economic and Political Crisis

Louise Walker (Northeastern)

Abstract: In the late twentieth century, Mexico’s middle classes were plunged into increasing turmoil. When the postwar boom began to dissipate in the late 1960s, doctors, shopkeepers and the denizens of café society awoke to a new, economically terrifying world. And following massacres of students at peaceful protests in 1968 and 1971, one-party control of Mexican politics dissipated as well. In this talk, Louise Walker examines how the middle classes experienced increased inflation and navigated an emerging consumer credit economy. Using recently declassified secret police reports alongside government institutional records, economic data, and cultural production, Walker argues that the middle classes acquired a new political and fiscal identity: they became consumer-citizens. One of the first historians to study the 1970s, Walker speaks to the challenges and opportunities of doing recent history, such as the availability of archive sources, the historiographical polemics between political, cultural and economic methods, and the politics of studying a period of history at a time many of its protagonists are still alive.
Bio: Louise E. Walker is a historian of Mexico and Latin America, and Associate Professor of History at Northeastern University. She is author of Waking from the Dream: Mexico’s Middle Classes after 1968 (Stanford University Press, 2013), which won prizes and honors from the Latin American Studies Association and the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies. She is co-editor of Latin America’s Middle Class: Unsettled Debates and New Histories (Lexington Books, 2013), and the special journal dossier “Spy Reports: Content, Methodology, and Historiography in Mexico’s Secret Police Archive,” (Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research, 2013). Professor Walker’s current projects include the history of bankruptcy and the history of conspiracy theories. Her research is supported by the Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, and a Visiting Fellowship from the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge.

Venue:  Peter Marshall Room, 204, on the second floor

21 October 60 Years of Research in Latin American History in the UK

Chris Abel (UCL)

Abstract: This paper examines the evolution of the practice of Latin American history in the UK since its tentative beginnings in the 1930s. It looks at the forces within the discipline and the personalities that shaped its early development between the 1930s and mid 1960s. The paper investigates the impact of the Parry Report, and, in particular, the ways in which the stimulus to inter-disciplinarity from the Latin American area studies centres between the late 1960s and the 1980s gave its practitioners a new purposefulness. The speaker seeks to  place these changes within the broader frameworks of the intellectual and institutional development of history as a discipline nationally and internationally, as well as of public interest in Latin America in academia, the media, diplomacy, business and publishing. The paper goes on to consider how far clear trends in teaching and research in the subject can be detected between the late 1980s and the present, given the fragmentation of the discipline globally. Throughout, the paper examines how far, if at all, it is possible to identify a specific UK approach to Latin American history. Some‚Äč tentative conclusions will be drawn regarding the ways in which finite resources have promoted and inhibited the development of the subject. 

Bio: In 2012 Chris Abel retired as Reader in Latin American History from UCL, where he taught from 1974. His research interests lie in nineteenth and especially twentieth century history of the region. He has specialised principally in Colombia and, secondly, the Caribbean islands, co-founding the Caribbean Societies seminar that remains an integral part of the ISA programme. His comparative interests have included political parties, religion, and, in more recent decades, social policy, and health care, upon which he has authored monographs and research articles and co-edited several volumes.

Venue:  Peter Marshall Room, 204, on the second floor

11 November War and independence in Spanish America, 1810-26

Anthony MacFarlane (Warwick)

Abstract: This talk will take up themes raised in Professor MacFarlane’s recent book on this subject. It will consider the context, character and conduct of the wars that occurred in the major theatres of Mexico and South America, examining the variants of warfare, their main lines of development, and their relation to international politics.

Bio: Anthony McFarlane is Professor Emeritus of Latin American History, University of Warwick, and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Institute of the Americas, UCL. He is the author of Colombia before Independence; The British in the Americas; and War and Independence in Spanish America.

Venue:  John S Cohen Room, 203, on the second floor

25 November Anarchism in Republican Cuba: The Spanish Momentum

Amparo Sánchez Cobos (Universitat Jaume I)

Abstract: In 1898, Cuba’s independence offered an interesting opportunity for anarchism. Many Spanish anarchists who were being persecuted and repressed by the authorities in Spain in the last decades of the nineteenth century, and others who were interested in organizing the workers, saw the newly emancipated island as a perfect place in which to settle and continue the spread of the libertarian ideal. Furthermore, the atmosphere of openness and modernization that the Cuban Republic inaugurated in 1902 and the economic growth that accompanied it opened the doors to immigration, and more so to those from Spain. This meant not only that the Spanish anarchists had easy access to the former colony, thanks to advances in communications, but also that they could carry out their activities among workers. These men, helped by Cuban anarchists, organized groups and other associations and launched various activities whose main objectives were to spread the libertarian ideal, and also to form and integrate the emerging working class in its own organizing process and ideological training which they considered prior to the "social revolution", and, at the same time, they did not forget to strive for better living conditions. As a result of all this work, during the first three decades of the twentieth century, the anarchist community in the island grew and consolidated, becoming a majority among the organized labour sectors and the main promoter for working-class organization. The development of anarchism in Cuba during the first three decades of the twentieth century, in particular the role played by the Spanish anarchists, is the subject of this talk.

Bio: Amparo Sánchez Cobos is assistant professor at Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain. She is author of Sembrando ideales. Anarquistas españoles en Cuba (CSIC, Sevilla, 2008) and editor with Steven Palmer and José Antonio Piqueras of State of Ambiguity. Civic Life and Culture in Cuba’s First Republic (Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2014). She has published several articles on the history of anarchism in Spain and Cuba in refereed books and international journals, including “Moralidad y estado-nación en el discurso anarquista cubano (1902-1915) (Ayer. Revista de historia contemporánea, 2014); “La reorganización del trabajo libre. Los anarquistas españoles y la difusión del ideal libertario en Cuba” (Millars, 2010); y “Extranjeros perniciosos. El orden público y la expulsion de anarquistas españoles de Cuba” (Historia Social, 2007).

Venue:  Room 304, on the third floor

9 December A Tale of Country and City: Normalistas and the Struggle for Rural Education in Twentieth-Century Mexico

Tanalís Padilla (Dartmouth)

Abstract: This paper examines the activism of rural normalistas, students who studied in Mexico's teacher training schools in post revolutionary Mexico. Established in the two decades following the 1910-1920 revolution these institutions were steeped in the popular radicalism that characterized the 1910 uprising, democratized education, promoted agricultural development projects, and formed community leaders. A renovation of the countryside constituted the normales rurales' raison d'être and it was this principle that framed normalistas' conception of themselves and their schools. However, by mid-century, these schools began to suffer official neglect and, shortly after, outright attacks. How their pupils organized in defense of the normales and the nature of their political consciousness will be this paper's guiding questions. Straddling three different worlds, normalista identity was rooted in a campesino origin, took shape in the realm of student activism and endured in the ranks of teacher's unions. This fluidity shaped a unique form of consciousness bookended by an origin story that began in the countryside but inevitably ended in the city. The fate of the normales rurales and their students bespeaks of a world in which urban and rural development take place on profoundly unequal terms.
Bio: Tanalís Padilla is Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth College. She is author of Rural Resistance in the Land of Zapata: The Jaramillista Movement and the Myth of the Pax-Priísta, 1940-1962 (Duke University Press, 2008) and editor of El campesinado y su persistencia en la actualidad mexicana (Conaculta and Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2013). Her current book project is entitled "The Unintended Lessons of Revolution: Schoolteachers in the Mexican Countryside, 1940-1980". She has an essay on this topic in Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico 1938-1968, edited by Paul Gillingham and Benjamin T. Smith (Duke University Press, 2014). She is co-editor with Louise Walker of the special issue dossier “Spy Reports: Content, Methodology and Historiography in Mexico’s recently-opened Secret Police Archives” published in the Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research in the summer of 2013.

Venue:  Room 304, on the third floor