Asia and the Americas

A Section of the Latin American Studies Association

Section Annual Report 2019

Asia & the Americas Latin American Studies Association (LASA)

2019 Annual Report June 2019

On Sunday, May 26, Asia & the Americas co-chair Monica DeHart convened the section business meeting as part of the LASA 2019 Congress in Boston, MA. The meeting was attended by 20 section members, including three standing members of the section’s executive committee in addition to the section co-chair. During that meeting, DeHart informed participants of section activities of the last year, solicited proposals for possible activities for the 2019-20 LASA cycle.

Section Membership

LASA reports the section membership to be 103 as of November 2018; however, there was general agreement that a large number of section members did not attend LASA 2019 and, thus, may not have renewed membership for this cycle. This membership number enables the section to propose two section panels for LASA 2020 in Guadalajara.

2019 Congress Participation and Activities


As in previous years, the section capitalized on local connections to collaborate with the Global Development Policy Initiative at Boston University to host a half-day pre-congress roundtable on “Shifting Environmental Politics in Nuestra Transpacific America.” Originally scheduled to include five panelists, travel and personal circumstances prevented two of the originally-announced participants from attending; however, Nicole Fabricant (anthropologist, Towson University), Rebecca Ray (economist, Global Development Policy Initiative/GEGI), and Jason Chang (historian, University of Connecticut), along with moderator Gonzalo Paz produced a stimulating conversation. Approximately 25 section members were able to attend and participate in the event. Following the roundtable, the section hosted a dinner reception for all attendees.

Congress Panels and Events:

In keeping with the trend of the last several years, the number and range of panels related to Asia and the Americas has continued to grow at LASA, with increasing representation of humanistic scholarship and pan- Asian foci. This year’s Congress program featured 20 panels devoted specifically to Asia-Americas dynamics/themes, and an additional 27 papers on other panels also focused on this trans-Pacific relations. The section sponsored two invited panels, "Asia and Latin America: Cultural Studies Perspectives" (which was Part I of a two-part panel, the second of which, “Asia and Latin America: Transpacific Imaginaries” took place on a separate day) and "China, América Latina, y el Caribe: Retos y oportunidades para un orden internacional cambiante." All of these panels generated large audiences and considerable cross-fertilization during the conference. Especially promising was the presence of a larger number of graduate students on and at these section panels, indicating a growing new generation of Asia and the Americas scholarship.

Section Business

This year the section conducted its board nominations and election process through e-mail so as to elicit a larger number of candidates for office as well as electoral participants. The group has sought to maintain a co-chair system that spans representatives from North and South America, as well as the humanities and social sciences, 2 ideally serving in 3-year rotations with alternating schedules so as to ensure continuity in the leadership with the advent of each new chair. This year marks the end of DeHart’s four-year term as co-chair, and the retirement of committee members Sue Gronewold, María Montt Straubcchi, Junyoung Verónica Kim, and Zelideth Rivas. The election process thus included (a) one new co-chair, (with Rouvinski continuing until 2020); and (b) three new executive committee members, including one dedicated to communication and media relations.

DeHart reported that elections, administered by Rouvinski through e-mail to all section members, had generated 30 votes and announced the results: (a) new co-chair, Andrés Serbin of the Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones económicas y sociales; (b) new communications officer, María Mercedes Vázquez Vázquez (U Hong Kong), and (c) two new executive committee members at large, Victor Kheifets (St. Petersburg) and María Montt Strabucchi (Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Chile). These officers will serve a three-year term alongside the four ongoing members of the executive committee.

Current Executive Committee Roster


  • Vladimir Rouvinski, co-chair 2016-2020, Icesi U
  • Andrés Serbin, co-chair 2019-2022, CRIES
  • María Montt Strabucchi, Secretary-Treasurer 2019-2022, Pontificia U Católica, Chile
  • María Mercedes Vázquez, communications 2019-2022, U Hong Kong
  • Victor Kheifets, officer 2019-2022, St. Petersburg State Univ
  • Gonzálo Paz, officer 2016-2020, Georgetown U
  • Benjamin Creutzfeldt, officer 2017-2020, Wilson Center
  • Allison White, officer 2018-2021, Tulane U
  • Sebastián Naranjo R, officer 2018-2021, Renmin U

Finally, DeHart shared an update on section finance with the group.

Public Relations and Communications

During the business meeting, we discussed section strategies to increase visibility, including:

  • Section newsletter. Members at the business meeting expressed their sense of the value of the newsletter and encouraged its continuation, approving the section subsidy for production costs.
  • Section Awards. The group recommended identifying one book and/or article per year for section awards. Members did not feel that the recognition necessarily needed to be connected with a monetary award (although it could), but felt these awards would provide important recognition to both the section and also to scholars/students who receive the recognition. Members expressed willingness to convene committees to review the nominated materials.

2020 Congress Planning

Pre-Congress Event Looking forward to the next LASA congress in Guadalajara, members expressed their strong desire to continue the tradition of holding a pre-congress event, given how successful these were in creating community among section members, providing a chance for a “workshop” on different issues that might be outside of one’s own individual expertise, and connecting with the local institutions/communities with which 3 the section collaborates. No consensus emerged on a particular proposal for next year’s precongress, but members articulated the following possibilities:

  • A full-day event that holds 2-3 different panels, each specialized in a distinct disciplinary (or social science v. humanistic) focus on a given theme, thus allowing for depth and breadth.
  • A full-day event that convenes panels of mixed disciplinary background on distinct themes.

Regarding a theme for the pre-congress, members recommended eliciting information from the sponsoring university in Guadalajara about the issues they’re currently working on and building on those. They also recommended themes that lent themselves to cross-disciplinary focus—i.e., transoceanic slave trade—that could be engaged in both historical and contemporary ways, focusing on domains on economics, politics, culture, etc. Another suggestion was to produce a special edition out of the event.

Following the section’s business meeting in Boston, Andres Serbin has established a working contact with the Department of Ibero-Latin American Studies at the University of Guadalajara that expressed its interest to cohost pre-conference LASA 2020 event.

Tracks. Members expressed concern about the disappearance of the “Asia and the Americas” track, noting that only a “Latin America and the Pacific Rim” track remained. People were interested in establishing a more expansive track that allowed section panels to be more visible in the program.

Panels. DeHart reminded members about the need to generate proposals for section panels for next year. She said that the co-chairs would establish a deadline for those proposals and that members could use the Asia & the Americas listserve or the Facebook page as a way to generate CFP for proposed panels.

Other Initiatives

Ignacio Lopez Calvo reminded the group of the Asia and the Americas series he edits through Palgrave Macmillan and Anthem Press. Manuscript proposals from the group are welcome. He also noted the ongoing East-West Cross-cultural relations conference (with distinct titles) that he organizes each May and invited section members to consider participating. More info on those opportunities will be circulated in the newsletter.