Thank you very much
See you in Vienna in 2012
Welcome to the participants of the 53rd International Congress of Americanists
On behalf of the Organizing Committee, it is a pleasure to welcome you to the 53rd International Congress of Americanists to take place in Mexico City, with the Universidad Iberoamericana as the academic host. For more than 134 years, a group of researchers has gathered to analyze the dynamics of the peoples of the Americas. Within this context and tradition, the history of the International Congresses of Americanists has been important in the development of our study of the Americas. I am convinced that this meeting will be fruitful and pleasant for all of the participants because it was planned to enrich our academic formation.
In the beginning, the congress started as a European effort that concentrated in archeology, history, ethnology and linguistics; and it has been transforming along time to incorporate researchers from the American continent and from other areas of knowledge in response to the historic events of each time. In 1895, Mexico had the privilege of hosting the eleventh congress, the first to be held in this continent. After, along with the celebrations of one hundred years of the American independences Mexico City and Buenos Aires were elected hosting cities. The meeting of the seventeenth Congress in Mexico preceded the great social commotions of the 20th century. The beginning of the Mexican Revolution and the start of the First World War affected the development of the congresses and had an impact on their thematic areas. In 1939, on the eve of the Second World War, the congress returned to Mexico and it was not until 1947 that the meetings were resumed. In the interwar period, the concerns of the participants were oriented to archeological, ethnological and historical issues, although a firm concern for the protection of historical and archeological heritages began.
In 1962, when the 35th Congress took place in Mexico, the historic context and overall situation were very different to those in previous occasions. To the concern of the defense of historical and archeological heritages, a profound concern of the preservation and study of indigenous languages was added. Applied anthropologists and linguistics were incorporated with full right to the congresses, as well as specialists in urban and demographic issues. Thus, a new stage in the International Congress of Americanists started where a clear inter and multidisciplinary perspective was defined, although this had been gestating from previous meetings, introducing the study of traditional knowledge and incorporating symposia about ethno botanic, a bridge between natural and environmental sciences with social and historical sciences.
Only twelve years later, in 1974, the Congress held again in Mexico posed new problems and new thematic areas to which sociologists and political scientists were incorporated. After the tempestuous years of the seventies, the International Congresses of Americanists continued with a strong inter and multidisciplinary approach to the scientific knowledge of the people of the Americas. In strict terms, the Congresses were defined as a plural and diverse space where the most complicated subjects could be dealt in a rigorous, critic and analytic approach. This made stronger the scientific knowledge providing support to the academic processes in different countries.
The Organizing Committee of the 53rd International Congress of Americanists was consolidated within this perspective. We have worked to innovate in the organization of the Congress, maintaining the best practices and traditions and putting emphasis on the diversity and in the plurality, as defined in 1875, of this community of researchers and academics. The Scientific Committee and Academic Committee were formed assuring their plural and multidisciplinary composition. They evaluated more than four hundred proposals of symposia from which 366 were approved. The coordinators of the symposia where evaluated rigorously and they received academic autonomy over them. We also incorporated poster presentations in order to provide flexibility to the call for papers and to include researchers that, for different reasons, were not in a symposium. The concept of plenary lectures was maintained since they allow for a profound thought on the themes suggested to our guests, with an emphasis on encouraging and highlighting new problems and challenges that could orient further research. The Organizing Committee decided to take up again the edition of the Proceedings in an electronic version; this contributed to strengthening the symposia, as well as the work to be done after the meeting, improving the quality of the presentations and allowing differentiating between the final text and the document for presentation. Finally, we introduced thematic roundtables oriented to the analysis of current issues, as well as sessions to pay tribute.
Numerous researchers, institutions and organizations have cooperated to the success of the Congress and although it is impossible to mention them all here, we would like to acknowledge them and thank them for their support. It is important to highlight the institutional support of the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia that endorsed our proposal in 2006 to the Liaison sub-commission of Permanent Committee. In addition, we are very thankful with the Universidad Iberoamericana ciudad de México for their wide academic, logistic and institutional support as the academic host.
Today, in the mid 2009, we are living in a particular reality: the eve of the celebrations of independences and revolutions in many countries while going through a global economic crisis. In this context, one of the objectives of this meeting is to study the dynamic of the relations in the Americanism, not only within the Americas but with the world. Many of the current challenges that Mexico faces are shared with the rest of the Americas; let this forum be a space to think about them. Therefore, we have decided the motto of this Congress to be “The peoples of the Americas: Change and continuity. The construction of self-identity in a globalized world”.
Again, I welcome this community of researchers and academics committed with the truth and scientific rigor applied to strengthening the social and economic development of human and collective rights of the peoples of the Americas. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Mexico City and very productive days.
Elio Masferrer Kan
President of the Organizing Committee
53rd International Congress of Americanists
Welcome to the participants of the 53rd International Congress of Americanists to the Academic Host
When the first International Congress of Americanists was assembled in 1875, it offered an opportunity to transcend a world divided by boundaries among emergent nation-states. In July of 2009, the 53rd Congress will take place in a globalized world where academic projects and ideas flow easily and regularly across national boundaries.
Today, however, the Congress faces the challenge of another kind of boundary: that which divides the diverse academic disciplines of the social sciences and humanities. In a manner analogous to the transnationalism of the Congresses held at the end of the 19th century, the 53rd edition offers an academic space for transcending disciplinary boundaries and paradigms in hopes of contributing to the development of new approaches to the problems currently faced by the Americas’ diverse populations.
According to the founders of the Société Américaine de France, its objective was “to contribute to the progress of ethnographic, linguistic and historical studies related to the Americas.” This regional vision is perhaps more pertinent today than ever as our continent faces new and critical challenges such as the increasing economic disparity between the “two Americas,” unprecedented levels of poverty and injustice throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and novel forms of violence, which frequently threaten incipient democratic processes.
For the Universidad Iberoamericana, to host the Congress provides an excellent opportunity to place our commitment to academic excellence and social justice at the service of researchers from around the globe who are committed to resolving our society’s most urgent needs.
The Universidad Iberoamericana extends a warm welcome to the Congress of Americanists and its participants, in hopes that this 53rd edition results in significant contributions to the betterment and integral development for all people throughout the Americas.
Truth Will Make Us Free
Dr. José Morales Orozco, S.J.
Rector of Universidad Iberoamericana Ciudad de México