Seminars 2013-14

Thursday 22nd May 2014: 4.00 pm
Venue:  Arts and Humanities Conference Room, Basement Floor, Callaghan Building

‘Political and social engagement in Latin America: The rise of the Brazilian middle class

Salma El Hankouri

Recently, many countries in Latin America have seen their middle classes grow both in number and political will. There is very little research on the people who make up this particular social class, as the middle class is losing pre-eminence in the Western World. But is this the case in Latin America, and especially Brazil ? Now more than ever, the middle class is at the forefront of the political scene in the most powerful social movements and protests across the region, and astonishes the world with its potential for organisation and influence in the political and social directions governments adopt. This presentation will focus on these potentialities, and seek to address patterns of participation of the Brazilian middle class in political life. This presentation will thus attempt to trace the evolution of political representation in the country since the 2000s and the new forms of protest and mobilisation that have emerged.

Personal background
Salma has a Bachelor degree in International Relations from Swansea University and is currently studying for a Master in Development and Human Rights. She has been part of a group project that analysed the impacts of the Millennium Goals on poverty alleviation in indigenous communities of Bolivia, Mexico and Guatemala. She also participated in a project analysing immigration policy on ethnic women minorities in Britain. Her research interests centre on the politics of Latin America and state-society relations. Currently, she is very interested in investigating social movements in South America, particularly Brazil, Argentina and Chile and their relationships with the evolution of political representation and democracy.

All welcome.


Thursday 12 December 2013: 4.00 pm
Venue: Arts and Humanities Conference Room, Basement Floor, Callaghan Building

‘The effects of transnational motherhood on the health of women migrants from Ecuador in the Basque Country’

Dr Claire H. Firth

This short talk draws attention to the seriousness of a situation that has developed in the Basque Country in connection with the prolonged separation of Ecuadorian women migrants from their children. Transnational motherhood, by necessity, brings with it the pain of separation, alternative child-rearing arrangements, and difficulties in reunification, involving great emotional cost to both mother and child. It is a situation found in the context of migration worldwide, and it has meant that the meaning of motherhood has undergone a subtle process of transformation 

The effect of transnational motherhood on the health of these women can be quite serious. Some important research is currently being carried out on the Chronic and Multiple Stress Syndrome in Migrants, now termed “The Ulysses Syndrome”. Some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of this syndrome can be seen in transnational mothers. Not only do the effects of ill health impact the work habits of these migrant women, and the health services in the host country, but affect the way integration into the host society takes place. 

This talk recommends ways in which policy-makers, particularly people providing services in health and education, can help these women with the difficulties of separation and reunification. 

Dr Claire H. Firth taught English and American Literature at the University of Deusto in the Basque Country from 1982-2011. During that time she was a Visiting Scholar at the Pembroke Centre for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University in Rhode Island for several years running. She is now a Research Associate in the Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University

She is currently working on a book entitled Landscapes of exile, dislocation and loss. This book examines the way a geographical place often becomes a “space of being” which fosters a sense of belonging, a geographical and social insidedness. However, for people who are in a constant state of dislocation, “place identity” is a fragile and questionable concept. The sense of transitioning itself may actually become a state of mind which not only shapes the perception of the landscape but can also shape notions of place-identity, of place memory, and the concept of “home” in subtle and complex ways.

All welcome. 


Friday 8 October 2013 between 2:00 pm and 5:30 pm
Venue: SURF Seminar Room, Fulton House

The first of the Research Seminars of the Centre for the Comparative Study of the Americas for 2013/14 will feature Professor Catherine Davies from the University of Nottingham as guest speaker, followed by a Hispanic musical afternoon hosted by Professor Gareth Walters and Dr Flavio Sanza, both from Swansea University.

Prof. Davies will speak on ‘Contemporary Historical Fiction on Spanish-American Independence: Writing Women into History’. She specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish and Spanish American literature and cultural history, and her research includes studies of the literary and cultural production of Spanish, Cuban and Spanish American women authors. She has also published on abolitionism in Cuba and Spain. 
Dr Sanza will speak on the influence of Spanish and Latin-American music in world music and Prof. Walters will play a selection of Spanish classical music pieces on the piano. Dr Sanza is a great fan of Spanish flamenco music and an amateur player of the Spanish guitar. Prof. Walters has published on various aspects of Spanish music, notably on Manuel de Falla and Lorca.