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Latin American Studies

The 25th Annual Latin American Studies Symposium, April 7, 2017

Registration Form

Registration deadline: : March 10, 2017 
Registration fee: 50.00 for each participant, payable upon arrival, cash or check only

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Birmingham-Southern College's Annual Latin American Studies Symposium is a multi- and inter-disciplinary undergraduate research conference showcasing original research and creative projects conducted during the preceding year by undergraduate students from approximately 30 colleges and universities, including the Birmingham Area Consortium of Higher Education (BACHE) and the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).

Established at BSC in 1992 to foster undergraduate research, the symposium increases public awareness of Latin America and provides a forum for students and faculty to share their interests and to establish contacts with colleagues in other disciplines.

Undergraduate papers on any topic relevant to Latin American Studies may be accepted: politics and culture, the global economy, literature, the environment, public health, gender, and art, for example. The symposium will run from Friday April 7 through Saturday, April 8.

This year's keynote address "Anticipating Trump's Taco Bowl of Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs in Latin America" will be delivered by Vincent T. Gawronski, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at Birmingham-Southern College.

Trump's Taco Bowl

Anticipating Trump's Taco Bowl of Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs in Latin America

For Latin Americans, it has always mattered who the U.S. president was because U.S. policies have rarely been coherent, consistent, predictable, or mutually beneficial. Historically, U.S. presidents, driven by national interests, geopolitics, and ideology, have backed overt and covert interventions, U.S. multinational corporations and resource exploitation, brutal dictatorships – but sometimes democracy and human rights – inconsistent immigration and development policies, drug trafficking interdictions, and complicated trade agreements.

This analysis establishes a "baseline" of how President Donald J. Trump's administration will affect U.S.-Latin American relations and how U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Latin America may give us some indication of an incipient-amorphous "Trump Doctrine." Although no ideologically coherent policy agenda has yet emerged to provide any predictability to Trump's professed policy actions, several international relations (IR) theoretical perspectives – realism/neorealism, liberalism/institutionalism, neoliberalism, constructivism, and feminism – may provide us with some initial guidance.

Of course, no single IR theory can help us anticipate Trump's future opus of policies and policy outcomes. Nonetheless, the Trump administration will confront Latin America-U.S. issues related to trade, security, immigration, crime, violence, stability, human rights, and the environment (including climate change and disasters).

However, what will be the Trump administration's guiding philosophy? What is the Trump worldview? How will Latin America react to Trump and his policies, and what will be the consequences of those reactions? How will the Trump administration manage relations with Cuba, Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil?

Ultimately, Trump's track record in business and a micro-level analysis of his personality may be the most revealing. Trump's disdain for facts, knowledge, and expert analysis may indicate much unpredictability and hubris. However, Trump's authoritarian demeanor, cut-throat business strategies, populist politics, and thin-skinned narcissism might mean that U.S. policy in Latin America will hinge on personal relationships.

If Trump intends to manage U.S. foreign policy like his businesses, then he will delegate responsibilities to his team when things do not affect him directly. A hybrid form of economic nationalism and selective, selfish pragmatism may emerge as the best way to characterize the Trump administration's foreign policy actions, and Trump's personal and business interests could become U.S. national interests.

Papers may be presented in Spanish, English, or Portuguese. Please submit an abstract proposal of no more than 250 words by February 28, onlinevia the form below, or send to:

Dr. Barbara Domcekova
Latin American Studies Symposium, Director
Birmingham-Southern College
900 Arkadelphia Road, Birmingham, AL 35254
Phone: (205) 226-4975

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Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau