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Keynote Speakers

Dr. Jelke Boesten, Kings College London

Jelke Boesten is a Reader in Gender and Development at Kings College London. Before joining King’s College London Jelke taught at the University of Leeds, held a Senior Research Fellowship at the US Institute of Peace, and held a research fellowship at the University of Bradford. She holds a PhD in Gender Studies and Latin American Studies from the University of Amsterdam. In 2012 she also worked briefly as a consultant with UN Women.

Jelke’s research focuses on issues regarding transformative gender justice in post conflict societies—the idea that interventions to address gendered injustice, such as violence against women and girls, should aim to transform the social, political and economic relations that underpin the possibility of violence. Jelke has published widely on gender justice in Peru in international journals and books, as well as on gender, HIV/AIDS and activism in East Africa.

Her latest book, 'Sexual Violence During War and Peace: Gender, Power and Post-conflict Justice in Peru' received the Flora Tristan Best Book Award of the Latin America Studies Association-Peru section. In 2016 the book came out in Spanish translation with the Bibliotéca Nacional del Perú. She sees the ‘post-conflict moment’ and the attention that conflict-related sexual violence receives in global policy, transnational transitional justice processes, and the Western media, as an opportunity to explore mechanisms for social transformation. In her book Jelke shows that the patterns of wartime rape tend to reflect peacetime violence against women, it is imaginable and possible because of existing and persisting configurations of inequality and injustice. Jelke seeks to explore the disconnection between wartime rape, which has been much discussed in recent years, and a preceding and continuing violence against women in homes and on streets, at workplaces and in schools, physical, sexual and psychological violence, that is much less reported on or intervened in.

Jelke’s current research explores how commemorative practices address gendered harms and unsettle - or confirm - stereotypes and gender roles in a range of post conflict countries, a project which can be viewed on genderjusticememory.com.

Other work by Jelke includes:
Jelke Boesten

Jelke Boesten

Dr. Sian Lazar, University of Cambridge

Sian Lazar is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Education for the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. Her work broadly covers Latin American social movements, especially labour movements, ethnography of the state, democracy and citizenship, gender, the city, and the anthropology of politics and development.

Her previous work includes an ethnography of citizenship in El Alto, which in the early 2000s became one of the most important centres of political radicalism in Bolivia. Sian’s research focussed on the processes and conflicts that lie behind this political power at the local level, considering in particular everyday practices and experiences of citizenship that structure the relationships between residents of El Alto and the Bolivian state.

Most recently, Sian has worked on labour movement activism, taking an ethnographic approach to show how labour politics is embedded in daily life and personal experience. In her book, The Social Life of Politics: Ethics, Kinship and Union Activism in Argentina (Stanford University Press, 2017) Sian explores the ways that unionists become activists, how that activism becomes a part of their personality and values, and how it is transmitted across generations. The book also outlines the collective ways that the union delegations come into being, care for their members, enact their political projects, solve problems, and negotiate or mobilise for better working conditions. All this social, ethical and political action takes place within a particular contemporary political-economic context and a history of labour mobilisation, informed by Peronism and anarchosyndicalism.

  Sian is the editor of Where are the Unions? Workers and Social Movements in Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe (Zed Books, 2017), a collection published from a 2014 multidisciplinary conference exploring the role of workers in moments of mass social upheaval in the Arab Spring of the Middle East and North Africa, in European anti-austerity movements, and in the ‘turn to the left’ in Latin America. Sian also convened the 2017 workshop, Labour Politics in an Age of Precarity, examining precarity as a condition of life and one of the bases for a collective politics of labour. The workshop included case studies of how labour is organised in different contexts across Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe.

Other work by Sian includes:

Sian Lazar

Sian Lazar

Professor Patience Schell, University of Aberdeen

Professor Patience Schell is Chair in Hispanic Studies in the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen. She describes herself as a historian of Latin America and her research has focused on nineteenth-century Chile and twentieth-century Mexico. Patience teaches on subjects including revolutionary creativity and American inspiration, women making history in Mexico and Chile in the twentieth century, and the history of science and medicine in Latin America, 1492-1950.

In her research on Mexico, Patience examined how the changes brought about by the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) were experienced at the grassroots level, focussing on Church and State educational programmes in Mexico City. This research produced a single-authored monograph (Arizona, 2003) and two co-edited volumes, The Women’s Revolution in Mexico (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007) and New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico (Duke, 2012).

Patience’s Chilean research focuses on the history of science, museums and friendship in the nineteenth-century. In The Sociable Sciences (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) she argues that friendships has played a crucial role in the practice of the natural sciences; the transnational networks that this natural science community forged in and around Chile provided the mechanism through which a highly collaborative and sociable work dynamic emerged, in a period before naturalists had significant governmental or institutional support.

Patience also supervises postgraduate research on topics concerned with the cultural and social history of Latin America, particularly topics related to themes of gender, including women’s history and masculinity; history of science, eugenics, exploration and museums; history of education and the history of friendship and other ties that bind.

Work by Patience includes:

  • Schell, P (2015) 'Idols, Altars, Slippers, and Stockings: Heritage Debates and Displays in Nineteenth-Century Chile', Past & Present 226(1) 326-348
  • Schell, P (2015) ’Eugenics in the Americas’ in Wright, J. D (2015) International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 8, Oxford: Elsevier, 2015.
  • Schell, P (2013) The Sociable Sciences: Darwin and His Contemporaries in Chile. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Schell, P (2012) ’Gender, Resistance and Mexico’s Church-State Conflict'. in Gledhill, J., Schell, P (eds.) (2012) New Approaches to Resistance in Brazil and Mexico. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
  • Schell P (2010) ’Beauty and Bounty in Che's Chile’ in Drinot, P (2012) Che's Travels: The Making of a Revolutionary in 1950s Latin America. Durham and London: Duke University Press
  • Schell, P (2009) ‘Museos, exposiciones y la muestra de lo chileno en el siglo XIX’ in Rodríguez, G. C and San Francisco, A (eds.) (2009) Nación y nacionalismo en Chile. Siglo XIX. Santiago de Chile: Centro de Estudios Bicentenario
  • 'Social Catholicism, Modern Consumption and the Culture Wars in Postrevolutionary Mexico City', History Compass 5 (July 2007)
  • Mitchell, S., Schell P (eds.) (2007) The Women's Revolution in Mexico, 1910-1953. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007
  • Schell, P (2003) Church and State Education in Revolutionary Mexico City. Tucson: University of Arizona Press
  • 'Gender and Anxiety at the Gabriela Mistral Vocational School, in Revolutionary Mexico City'. In Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico, Jocelyn Olcott, Mary Kay Vaughan and Gabriela Cano (eds.). Durham: Duke University Press, 2006.
  • 'Nationalizing Children through Schools and Hygiene: Porfirian and Revolutionary Mexico City', The Americas 60:4 (April 2004): 559-87
Patience has also appeared on BBC Radio 4 on numbers occasions in relation to her work on Mexican culture:

  • BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service (2015) 'Frida Kahlo' In Our Time, 9 July 2015
  • BBC Radio 4 (2011) 'Women in the Mexican Revolution' Woman's Hour, 11 February 2011
  • BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service (2011) 'The Mexican Revolution of 1910' In Our Time, 20 January 2011
Patience Schell

Patience Schell

Roundtable participants

Chair: Professor Cathy McIlwaine, Kings College London

Cathy McIlwaine is Professor of Development Geography at King’s College London. Her work explores the intersections between gender, poverty and transnational migration, with a particular focus on Latin America. Her work looks issues of gender, poverty and violence in cities of the global South, especially in Latin America, but also in South East Asia and southern Africa. Her work focusses on on transnational livelihoods, citizenship and political participation among migrants and from a gendered perspective. Cathy’s research has explored Latin American migration to the UK (and to Spain) as well as the nature of migrant labour within London’s low-pay economy. Her current research focuses on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) among Brazilian migrants in London and among those living in a marginal urban community in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Cathy describes her teaching work as “particularly focused on linking the theory and practice of international development and North-South linkages through analysing what happens at the grassroots, to the work of institutions and to more theoretical research. This is closely linked to my research which has involved working with the urban poor in many regions of the Global South and international migrants in cities of the Global North as well as my continual engagement with Non-Governmental Organisations and international donor agencies where I have worked in various guises over the years”.

In addition to working at the interface of policy and academic research through a wide range of collaborations with international organisation and local civil society groups organisations in London and elsewhere, Cathy has increasingly begun to work with arts and theatre organisations such as the People’s Palace Projects and CASA Latin American Theatre Festival in developing and enhancing the impact of her research. Cathy has served as a trustee for the following organisations: Carila Latin American Welfare Group (2006-9), Children Change Colombia (2010-17) and Latin Elephant (2014-present). She is also an advisory board member of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (2017- present) and the Instituto Maria e Joao Aleixo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) (2017-present) and is an Advisory Council Member, for the Institute of Latin American Studies, London (2013- present).

Recent work by Cathy includes:
Cathy McIlwaine

Cathy McIlwaine

Participant organisations

Indomerican Refugee Migrant Organisation (IRMO)

IRMO is a community-led organisation that provides Latin Americans with tools and information in an empowering process to build fulfilled, independent and integrated lives in the UK using a rights-based approach. Through a flexible and comprehensive approach addressing a wide range of needs at a number of levels, IRMO’s work with the community spans three main pillars:
  • Education, training and employment
  • Advice and case-work
  • Wellbeing
In addition, IRMO campaign for the rights of all migrant communities. Building on over three decades experience, we aim to build a stronger and more resilient community.

For more information visit the website: http://irmo.org.uk
IRMO logo


Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)

LAWRS is a user-led, feminist and human rights organisation that has been working with Latin American women in the UK since 1983. Its aim is to facilitate the tools for Latin American women to assert their human rights and pursue personal empowerment and social change. The organisation provides culturally and linguistic specialist advice, information, counselling and psychotherapy, advocacy, development programmes, workshops, wellbeing groups and targeted support to Latin American women. LAWRS directly support more than 4,500 women per year and also do policy and campaigning work on BME and migrant women’s rights, and recognition of Latin Americans as an ethnic group.

For more information visit the website: http://www.lawrs.org.uk
LAWRS logo


Latin American House

LAH was established in 1983 and is a registered charity that aims to provide space and support for Latin Americans and Spanish and Portuguese speakers in London, as well as for other communities in the local area of Kilburn. LAH offers legal and social advice as well as opportunities to acquire skills and a place to meet people, share ideas and enjoy the rich culture of Latin America. The staff at Latin America House are supported by a voluntary Management Committee and an extensive team of dedicated volunteers. The Legal and Social Advice Service (LESAS) at LAH provides free legal advice in relation to immigration, benefits, family and employment law matters. The immigration law advice and casework service is currently funded by Trust for London. All other advice services are provided by pro-bono solicitors, barristers and advisors.

For more information, visit the website: https://www.casalatina.org.uk/en/
LAH logo

Latin American House

Drinks reception

Sue Branford discusses Amazon Besieged — by dams, soya, agribusiness and land-grabbing

At the drinks reception on Monday 4th June, Sue will give a short talk about her forthcoming book, written with Mauricio Torres, Amazon Besieged — by dams, soya, agribusiness and land-grabbing. In the book Sue and Mauricio tell the story of the assault on the Tapajós basin and its tributary river, the Teles Pires, by Brazil’s vast soya megafarms as they attempt to create road, rail and river highways to ship their product to the sea. There will be an opportunity to pre-order copies of the book during the drinks reception.

Sue Branford is a freelance journalist, regularly writing for the Guardian, the BBC, the New Scientist and Latin America Bureau, having previously worked in Brazil as a foreign correspondent for The Financial Times, The Times and also for The Guardian, and as Latin American analyst for the BBC World Service.

Latin American Bureau has been reporting and publishing on Latin America since the 1970s. LAB brings an alternative, critical awareness and understanding of Latin America to readers across the English-speaking world, whether activists, academics, researchers or the business community. For more information visit the LAB website.
Sue Branford

Sue Branford