CERLAC & CALACS collaborate on new 3-year IDRC project

CALACS-logoIn 2011, CERLAC completed one IDRC-funded partnership project undertaken jointly with the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), and commenced a second.

The completed Networking and Research Project (2010-2011) partnership project was initiated in May 2010, when CALACS celebrated its 40th anniversary, as past of a longer-term process of renewal that built on the association's decades-old relationship with CERLAC.

The project sucessfully achieved its goal to support CALACS through a period of self-reflection and renewal. Through the partnership, CALACS managed to:

• establish a new administrative home within CERLAC's office space, providing an appropriate intellectual context and solid infrastructural resources;

• support research by sponsoring special panels at the CALACS Congress "Mapping the New Area Studies" in Montreal in June, 2010;

• promote talent by facilitating the participation of graduate students in the Congress;

• award the CALACS dissertation prize for an outstanding dissertation completed at a Canadian University;

• initiate the expansion and diversification of the CALACS member network, using its own and CERLAC's knowledge and capacities to recruit more researchers;

• establish the CALACS archive at York University's Scott Library, complementing the existing collection of CERLAC archival material; and

• engage in various joint activities with CERLAC, including two special workshops.

Upon the completion of the 2010-11 project, CERLAC and CALACS secured an additional three years of IDRC funding to further the accomplishments of their partnership. The new 2011-14 project is entitled "Mapping Out the New Area Studies for Development." The project aims to further strengthen CALACS's capacity, ensuring that it engages with a broader spectrum of constituencies, disseminates knowledge about the LAC regions effectively and contributes to building capacity. Specifically, it aims to:

• increase CALACS membership significantly through fostering closer links and collaboration with a variety of constituencies and potential partners;

• enhance CALACS's relevance to development practitioners and theorists, and to a diverse community of researchers, policy makers, and civil society groups;

• promote research activities and publications (scholarly publications, policy papers, special session and workshop reports) that engage and mobilize knowledge about issues relevant to area and development studies;

• promote renewal of university teaching on development issues as these relate to LAC with the outcomes of members' research (case studies, teaching methods and tools, contributions to theory) using annual conferences to do this;

• encourage research excellence by youth, with youth participation in its activities;

• and strengthen mutually beneficial ties between researchers in Canada and in the LAC regions, building relationships that supersede traditional North-South knowledge transfer and capacity building approaches.

The partners will undertake various activities to achieve these goals, including:

• CALACS Congresses every 18 months (the most recent was held in May, 2012 in Kelowna, British Columbia, with the theme: "Between Indigeneity and the Transnational: Place and Mobility in Latin America and the Caribbean");

• Special sessions at each Congress (see the special session program for the 2012 Congress)

• Various specialized workshops;

• Further development of a database of Canadian researchers in LAC;

• Various scholarly outputs (including two special journal issues, as well as Congress session and workshop reports); and

• Further development of the CALACS website.

Both project initiatives emerged from the unflagging efforts of the now former-President of CALACS, Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas, with the strong support of now former-Director of CERLAC, Eduardo Canel. The new CALACS President and new CERLAC Director will continue to advance the partnership as planned through the remaining project years and beyond. Both CALACS and CERLAC look forward to this ongoing collaboration and the mutual benefits it offers.