Current Projects

Ackee, Jamaica, CERLAC

Ripe ackee, Jamaica | Photo courtesy of Alyssa James


Current CERLAC based projects:

Developing a Partnership on Extractive Industry Governance and Related Knowledge Mobilization

The overall goal of the project is to promote collaborative and comparative research efforts across regions, disciplines, and sectors in order to address important knowledge gaps in the field of Extractive Industries (oil, mining, and gas projects) and to mobilize this knowledge among researchers, public officials, business leaders, and civil society organizations to inform public debates leading to improved policy frameworks in relation to EIs. The project will advance these research and knowledge mobilization goals through the establishment of an interdisciplinary and cross-regional Extractive Industries Partnership Network based in six institutions in five countries.

Our specific objectives are to:

  1. Build the collective capacities of the Partners in the areas of collaborative research, governance, and knowledge mobilization.
  2. Advance knowledge on a global and regional basis in relation to two key thematic areas by preparing: a) two groups of inter-linked regional/country-based “state of the art” reports; and b) two “synthetic” reports based on the “state of the art” reports to identify emerging patterns, knowledge gaps, and areas for future research.
  3. Produce policy briefs based on the “state of the art” works and disseminate them electronically, in printed form, and in public forums deemed appropriate by each institution.
  4. Develop a public web presence and internal connectivity within our Network through the use of a specialized web-based platform.
  5. Expand the reach of the Network both within the present regions/countries of operation and into new regions/countries.
  6. Train a new generation of scholars by incorporating graduate students into all aspects of the project, by developing a teaching curriculum for a graduate seminar on EI, and creating field work opportunities through exchanges among the partners.

Project Type: Partnership Development Grant / Funded - $198,000
PI: David Szablowski
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2012
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2017

Funder: SSHRC

Strengthening Knowledge Exchange between Canada and the Latin American and Caribbean Region. CALACS-CERLAC Partnership

The objectives of this project is to further strengthen mutually beneficial ties between researchers and practitioners in Canada and in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) regions.  This will be done by strengthening CALACS' capacity to facilitate the exchange and mobilization of LAC research among diverse constituencies by strengthening the association's presence in the regions and developing virtual and specialized networks linking producers and users of knowledge.

Our specific objectives are to:

  1. Increase LAC region membership in CALACS and LAC region scholars' participation in CALACS programming by partnering with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencia Sociales (FLACSO) on academic exchange activities;
  2. Enhance CALACS's relevance to development practitioners and theorists, and to a diverse community of non-academic researchers, policy makers, and civil society groups by mobilizing knowledge through both traditional and virtual channels;
  3. Strengthen the research and professional capacities of graduate students in both Canada and the LAC region by structuring opportunities for networking and research exchange by students involved with CALACS and FLACSO and further incorporating students in the governance of the association;
  4. Promote the renewal of university teaching on development issues and area studies as there relate to LAC by increasing access to the outcome of CALACS members' research through the annual Congress and associated outputs;
  5.  Ensuring the long-term sustainability of Canada's premier Association dedicated to the promotion of Latin American and Caribbean Studies by increasing membership, applying for external funding such as SSHRC grants, and developing a long-term endowment fundraising plan.

Project Type: IDRC / Funded - $120,000
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2015
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2018

Funder: IDRC

Vernacular Enclosures: Violence and Property-Making in a Dam conflict in Chilean Patagonia

In February 2012, the residents of Aysén, a remote, mountainous, and sparsely populated region of Chilean Patagonia, staged a three-week blockade of all the region's roads and ports, a move to which the Chilean government responded with fierce repression. This project uses archival and ethnographic methods to trace the emergence of vernaculars of private property in Aysén and show where and how they they diverge from the practices for legitimating dispossession that have been deployed by HidroAysen, a proposed project for building five hydroelectric megadams on two of Aysén’s powerful wild rivers. By showing how Ayseninos were formed as agents of the "last frontier" (Nouzeilles 1999), I explore how challenges to the global expansion of extractive capitalism may also emerge from fractures within its own logics. In so doing, I seek to open intellectual space for imagining a broader range of both cultural and ecological alternatives to capitalism and political alliances to bring them about.

Project Type: Insight Grant / Funded - $122,508
PI: Carlota McAllister
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2013
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2017

Funder: SSHRC

Andeans in the Metropolis: Highland Migrant Discourse and Organization in Lima, Peru, 1900-1960

“Andeans in the metropolis: highland migrant discourse and organization in Lima, Peru (1900-1960)” examines how internal migrants from Peru’s highland (sierra) regions living in the country’s capital, the coastal city of Lima, interpreted their migratory experiences and constructed new identities, discourses, and forms of social and political organization during the early and mid-20th century. The main issues of interest are:

  1. The development of highland migrant identities and discourses about migration: what does it mean to be a highlander in Lima? who is a migrant? is the most relevant ascription for highlanders in Lima local (village or town) or regional?
  2. The development of migrant associations (clubs or centres for migrants from a specific geographical area), their organizational structures, social composition, and activities.
  3. The degree to which the socioracial hierarchies of the highlands were reproduced in Lima and the new ways in which peasants (generally categorized as Indians) interacted with people of middle and upper extraction from the same locale or region.
  4. The degree to which migrant milieus (understood both in the institutional sense and as spaces of discursive and symbolic circulation) shaped and supported intellectual and political leaders of highland origin.
  5. The effects of migrant milieus on the development of regional and national identities and cultures, and of new forms of knowledge about the highlands (especially archaeology, ethnography, geography, history, and medicine).
  6. The effects of migrant milieus on Peruvian state formation (migrant associations helped shape government institutions both by lobbying them and serving as their instruments).

Project Type: Insight Grant / Funded - $144,907
PI: Alan Durston
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2015
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2020

Funder: SSHRC

New and Old Fault Lines in the Canadial Labour Market. The Temporal and Institutional Dynamics of Citizenship, Legal Status and Work

Changes in immigration policy have increased the number of people with precarious legal status (PLS) who live and work in Canada. This population includes authorized temporary migrants, refugee claimants and international students, as well as unauthorized migrants such as denied refugee claimants and visa over-stayers. Temporary workers and other PLS migrants often work in low-wage, dead-end, unhealthy jobs with poorly enforced employment standards. Unlike precarious status workers, permanent residents hold selected rights, including the right to work without being confined to a single employer or sector and the right to access social services. Some people with precarious status follow a clear track to permanent residency, others transition from one type of precarious legal status to another, or lose authorized migratory status altogether. Rising levels of precarious work along with narrowing opportunities for migrants to become permanent residents raise the possibility of persistent employment and legal status precarity leading to increased social inequality.

We will conduct a large-scale survey of naturalized citizens, permanent residents and precarious legal status workers to analyze the relationship between changes in migratory legal status and employment outcomes. We will also carry out a smaller sub-set of in-depth interviews to gather personal stories to showcase the role of institutional actors and worker strategies in shaping labour market experiences and legal status trajectories.

Potential Outcomes

  • The collection of empirical evidence and personal stories to analyze the intersections of precarious work and precarious legal status in the GTA
  • Increased awareness of the strategies used by migrants to secure employment and navigate legal status changes
  • Increased knowledge of the role of settlement, employment and social service agencies in helping precarious legal status migrants gain secure status and decent work
  • Enhanced resources for advocacy groups and service providers to make a case for government agencies to fund services for all city residents, regardless of legal status
  • Clear language materials and easy-to-use advocacy tools for front-line workers, advocates and policy makers

Project Type: Partnership Development Grant / Funded - $320,000
PI: Luin Goldring
Start Date:  Month: Apr  Year: 2016
End Date:  Month: Mar  Year: 2019

Funder: SSHRC

Engaging Communities of Afican Descent in Cuba: Addressing Inequalities, Marginalizing, and Poverty through Participatory Research

Our project focuses on strengthening the capabilities of people of African descent in Cuba, both to actively participate in planning and monitoring strategies that incorporate their own understandings of well-being or a good life (“buen vivir”), and to address their related demands for the eradication of poverty, inequality, and social justice. This project assumes that defining ideals of community well-being and materializing them must be the result of a more open and democratic process, and it cannot be merely a prerogative of governments, normative international frames, academic analyses, or multilateral organizations. Based on a people-centered development approach, it sees Cuban people of African descent’s knowledge as central in the edification of their well-being. Thus, we assume that these communities would gain from specialized training and capacity building that allows them to; a) more effectively articulate their understandings of needed public policies, or what we more broadly define as ‘public deficits’ and b) learn how to navigate institutional channels and normative frames, to be effectively heard and to exercise their citizenship rights so that they become policy proponents rather than merely policy targets. Thus, trainers will be familiarized with the field and methodologies of community-based research, which entails the understanding of those communities as producers as well as recipients of knowledge. A partnership between higher education institutions and members of the communities will effectively expand the collective and institutional research capacities of the latter, providing them with effective tools to amplify their voices and engage in policy dialogue and implementation with all relevant stakeholders.

Project Type:  / Funded - $100,000
PI: Antonio Torres Ruiz
Start Date:  Month: Nov Year: 2017
End Date:  Month: Oct  Year: 2019

Funder: Ford Foundation