PILAS President, Sarah Parry, gives a brief run-down of last week’s SLAS conference in Manchester
I’m just back from a fascinating and engaging two days at the SLAS conference, and want to convey my congratulations to the organisers on such a fantastic meeting. The SLAS conference is one which I hadn’t attended before, but I’ll definitely be attending again! The conference took place at the University of Manchester, on 11-12th April and was attended by over a hundred academics in Latin American Studies, a large proportion of whom are also PILAS members. In fact, there were so many PILAS members in attendance that I didn’t get a chance to speak to everybody! As has become customary, PILAS held their annual Lunch at the very beginning of the conference, where Rachael Boothroyd and I led a brief workshop on conference planning. We tried to pass on some advice from our own experience so far in organising the PILAS conference, and many PILAS members passed on advice from their experiences. We then switched rooms to enjoy the PILAS lunch, and were joined by the committee members. After having the chance to meet and to get to know one another a little better, we split up and attended some of the 42 panels which took place across the two day meeting.
The choice at SLAS was fantastic, although often I just didn’t know which panel to attend, as I wanted to see papers at three or four of them simultaneously. Eventually, I made my decisions, first of all attending a session on publishing, led by journal editors. It was very informative and gave a great insight into the dos and don’ts of submitting articles for publication, and easing some of my concerns in this area. I then spent time working on my own paper, which was presented as part of the ‘machismo and mariansimo’ double session the following day. As always, presenting was a strange combination of nerve wracking and thoroughly enjoyable, and it was good to get some constructive feedback from other academics. I spent the rest of the conference at the ‘violence and affective states’ sessions, which were packed full of dynamic research, so different to my own, but so intriguing, sometimes upsetting and at other times positive. It was in these closing sessions that I realised how much diversity of research there is at SLAS – I come from a cultural studies background, and studying films and texts. But at SLAS I was able to engage with so many scholars from social science backgrounds, those who go into the field for months at a time. Finally, the conference dinner at Bem Brasil was a lovely way to round off the encuentro, with lots of chatter, food and dancing. A great two days and thanks again to the organisers. My attention is now turned to our two workshops with the conference’s keynote, Walter Mignolo.