Saturday, October 02, 2004

Where I've been

Just finished my first week at the new Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA). It’s a merger of the old US Studies Institute and ILAS, which focuses on Latin American politics. Little surprise to those who have grasped what this blog is about that I should be doing the latter.

It’s mainly been a case of introduction sessions in the classes, organising presentations for the coming term and finding out how to use the library. At the moment it looks like I’m going to be in classes on Comparative Politics, International Politics and a choice between Society and Development or Trans National Corporations. The attraction with the latter is that it’s the first time it’s being run; but unlike the former is more limited in scope.

So no useful insights to present from these preparatory classes at present. However, we have had lectures on Mexico – is regionalism a new focus in the study of its politics? No, actually, it never went away – and a government confidence index being conducted in Argentina. Must confess to being a bit of an anorak and finding the methodology attached to the use of the questionnaire most interesting even if colleagues didn’t.

Other questions to ponder and consider this week (and not emanating from the readings I’ve so far – and far from exhaustively – done): is overt American militarism in the region no longer feasible? Are there alternative models of development, given that all advocates will have to work within the context of market economies? And will Mexican President Fox’s legacy only be his victory three years ago, thereby ending PRI rule?

I haven’t a clue. But one thing’s for sure: it’s been seven years since I did a course on Latin American politics. And most of what I learned then is now out of date.

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