The New School, New York · February 19th, 2010

Academic representatives from the 8 institutions participating in the 2nd International Call “Bicentennials in Action: Commemoration, Economic Crisis and Political Mobilization in Latin America”, were present at The New School, on February 19th, in order to carry out a dialogue about the commemorations of the 200 years since Independence in the region. The role of young people in Latin America, many of whom are immigrants, was a topic and source of reflection by members of the audience.

Margarita Gutman, representing OLA and The New School, gave the introduction and underlined the social, political, and cultural importance of the Bicentennial commemorations for the region in the current global context. Prof. Gutman reminded the audience that Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Venezuela are all celebrating their Independence Bicentennials this year. In response, Virgina Guedea, investigator for the Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma, Mexico, affirmed that up until now, “commercial interests and marketing have made the commemoration look banal”.

Besides highlighting the need to rescue values such as tolerance, inclusion, democracy, and respect for identities, Eliana Israel, Dean of the Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Paisaje of the Universidad Central, Chile, spoke about the implementation of cultural projects and festivities to strengthen the popular identity of the countries. In addition, Gabriela Sorda, from the Programa Bicentenarios of the Facultad de Arquitectura y Diseño, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, assured that, as opposed to last year, in 2010, the number of popular and international activities related to the Bicentennials is expected to increase.

After reminding the audience of the important lessons that Centennials left with us, Gerardo Caetano, Academic Coordinator of the Observatorio Político of the Universidad de la República, Uruguay, emphasized that “history and memory are not the same, both are the background of a dispute by the permanent power”, something that will generate discussion in the wake of the Bicentennials.

Olga Paterlini, Director of the Instituto de Historia y Patrimonio de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo of the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina, discussed the historic interrelationship between the territories and the population of the Republic of Bolivia and of Argentina. She referred to it as an example of how the integration between the countries of the region can be rescued. “Liberation was carried out to get rid of colonization, but the current dependence is still too deep”, she said.

Related to the subject of youth participation, Adriana Clemente, Vice Dean of the Facultad de Ciencias Sociales of the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, said that discussion among youth is very important, and today there exist “double processes of exclusion: young and poor people”. She also expressed concern about the subject of inequality in the continent. “The problem is still inequality, it is not about diversity”, she added.

Also addressing the topic of Latin American youth was Alberto Croce, Director, Fundacion SES, Argentina, an NGO dedicated to the social, educational, and professional inclusion of young people. After mentioning that roughly 70% of the young population in the region lives in poverty and violent conditions, and that many of them do not feel part of any nation, he commented that part of the importance of the Bicentennials is, and will be, to create projects that motivate this sector.

Moreover, Louis Noelle Grass, Investigator at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Mexico, marked a difference between the material and the intellectual activities that are being achieved in order to commemorate the Bicentennials in the region. She also criticized the fact that federal activities are not making an effort to give space for intellectual debate.

In other respects, Fernando Carrión, Director, Organización Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Centros Históricos, Ecuador, specified three important elements to think about with regards to what happened in the past: the process of redefinition of the state, the significant transformation of society, and the reconstruction of territories. Under this context, he continued, it is worthy to recognize those changes that occurred in a global and diverse society, in order to reflect on the Bicentennials.

The event was finalized with a round of questions from the Graduate Program of International Affairs students who were present in the audience. The issues faced by Latin American youth and children of Latin American immigrants when in the process of emigrating or in returning to their home country, was of predominant interest to the panel and audience. Carrión called them “the children of Globalization”, and highlighted that this new reality, in which technology plays a crucial role, means that these people now have one home and two houses. This and other issues, the presenters concluded, are essential in order to study the commemorations of Independence in many Latin American countries.

Meetings took place at the campus of The New School on February 17th, 18th, and 19th, and it is for this series of meetings that these Latin American academics were invited and were able to take part in this roundtable. At these meetings, the group talked about the advances and implementation of the 2nd International Call for essays and audiovisual presentations, which was launched in the fall of 2010 and continues through November 2011. At this opportunity, meetings were held with authorities from the university: Timothy Marshall, Provost for The New School; Lisa J. Servon, Dean for The New School for General Studies and Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy; Julia Foulkes Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs; Almaz Zelleke, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; and Suzanne Dvells, Director for Academic Partnerships, The New School.


3:00 pm Introduction: Margarita Gutman, Director, Building Latin American Bicentennials Program, Observatory on Latin America, OLA/The New School.

3:10 pm Country Presentations:

Moderator: Virginia Guedea, Investigadora, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM, México


Fernando Carrión, Director, Organización Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Centros Históricos, OLACCHI, Ecuador

Alberto Croce, Director, Fundación SES, Argentina, debajo de Fernando Carrión

Virginia Guedea, Investigadora, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, UNAM, México

Eliana Israel, Decana, Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Paisaje, Universidad Central, UCEN, Chile

Gerardo Caetano, Coordinador Académico, Observatorio Político, Instituto de Ciencias Políticas, Universidad de la Republica, UDELAR, Uruguay

Olga Paterlini, Directora, Instituto de Historia y Patrimonio de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, UNT, Argentina

Gabriela Sorda, Programa Bicentenarios, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo, Universidad de Buenos Aires, FADU-UBA, Argentina

4:10 pm Discussants: Louise Noelle Gras, Investigadora, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, and Adriana Clemente, Vice Decana, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, SOC-UBA, Argentina

4:30 pm Questions and Answers

4:50 pm Conclusions: Margarita Gutman, Director, Building Latin American Bicentennials Program, OLA/The New School

This event took place within the framework of the Regional Coordination and Dialogue Meeting of the 2nd International Call for Papers and Audiovisual Presentations “Bicentennials in Action: Commemoration, Economic Crisis, and Political Mobilization in Latin America”.

OLA / The New School
66 West 12th Street, Room 510 New York, NY
February 19th, 3:00 · 5:00 pm


Read more about the Building Bicentennials Program

This program is supported by the JULIEN J.STUDLEY FOUNDATION