2015 Michael Baptista Essay Prizes Awarded

The Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC) at York University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for outstanding scholarly papers on topics of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

At the undergraduate level, the prize was shared between two honorees: Jahkeil Goldson (LA&PS) with the paper “The Project of Modernity: Epistemic Violence and its Relationship with Essentialism and Hegemony” and Fred Daou (LA&PS) with the paper “Hybridity: A High Breed of Antiimperialism Politics.” As one adjudicator describes, Jakhil Goldson’s essay “offers a nuanced discussion of the relationship of modernity, global reconfigurations of power and the complex disciplining order being established through globalization. I personally like to way in which the author weaves the initial argument around epistemic violence and, as the paper progresses, [illustrates] the implications of this concept in terms of control and subordination of marginalized communities.” Another adjudicator commented “Jakhil Goldson demonstrates a grasp of some rather complex theoretical concepts and an ability to draw on a number of sources, from across disciplinary perspectives, to develop an articulate and coherent argument. I was impressed by her ability to draw on relevant and significant examples to support and demonstrate her argument.”
According to one adjudicator of Fred Daou’s paper, the work “is theoretically ambitious,” while another adjudicator commented that the paper is “an excellent and very well written essay that demonstrates a grasp of complex theoretical concepts and an impressive ability to develop a logical, coherent, and compelling argument. Fred Daou’s approach to the topic of the essay is original, focused, and obviously informed by a considerable depth of knowledge.”

At the graduate level, the prize was awarded to John Laman (LA&PS) for the paper “Revisiting the Sanctuary City: Citizenship or Abjection? Spotlighting the Case of Toronto.” One of the adjudicators mentioned: “I have ranked John Laman at the top largely for the originality of his argument and for the clear grasp and comprehensive engagement with the relevant literature but [also], most importantly, for what he adds to this literature and the compelling argument he makes for ‘a more nuanced evaluation’ of the established works on ‘sanctuary city’ in order to show the limits of the apparent claims to progressivity that is made in the existing literature and policy orientation. The paper shows an impressive depth of understanding of the issues at hand [and] reveals a sophisticated grasp of the subject matter while delivering the argument in a clear and convincing manner.” The second adjudicator commented: “Against the received wisdom that cities with lax implementation of immigration regulations afford undocumented workers better opportunities as citizens, this papers examines the vulnerable position these workers continued to exercise in labour markets under such conditions in a city like Toronto. This is an innovative paper in its approach to the subject and daring in its inquiry into critical ways of understanding social orders. The paper is superbly written and persuasively argued.”

The essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by two committees of CERLAC Fellows (a separate committee for each level of prize).  All three of these prize-winning papers are available online as part of CERLAC's Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.

All of the nominated papers represent high-calibre scholarly work at their authors' respective levels of study and merit recognition as worthy of candidacy for this prize. The other undergraduate papers nominated for the 2015 prize were: Basma Nassif for “Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement” and Tanesha Patrick for “Nation and Identity.” The other graduate-level nominees were: Deepti Kapadia for “The ‘Return’ of the English-speaking Caribbean Second Generation from Canada, USA, and the UK” and Alexander Kokach for “Protecting Indigenous Rights through Corporate Mechanisms: A Case Study of the Xinca People and Tahoe Resources in Guatemala.”

The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective. The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese / Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.

If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student's essay for this prize, please contact CERLAC: cerlac@yorku.ca

Congratulations to all of this year's nominees and to the three 2015 Baptista Prize winners!