Posts Tagged Latin America
I first came to Essex in 2004 to pursue a MA in Sociology of Development and ended completing my PhD in Sociology in 2010. I chose to pursue my postgraduate studies at Essex’s Department of Sociology due to its past and present, its commitment to social change and equal opportunities for all and the excellence of its work.
Life in Essex, and Colchester in particular, confronted me in many ways with preconceived ideas of development and was often a challenging experience. Intercultural exchange was a significant gain of this period, as well as affections that will endure for life. In professional terms, Essex marked me deeply. Writing and research skills, ethnography, econometrics, political economy, development, were all tools I gained and that prepared me to perform in diverse platforms, including the academia, international organizations and politics.
In 2009, I joined the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and since 2012, I have worked as a social policy specialist for UNICEF El Salvador. Writing background documents for policy-making might seem distant from traditional sociological practice. However, I see sociology as immanent in these tasks imprinting a perspective to approach social reality, an eager interest for seeking explanations, not conforming to facts in the surface.
I think of the future of sociology from a land where this is uncertain. After enduring 12 years of civil war in the recent past, today it has become a post-conflict society and a low middle-income country. Yet, 5800 children and adolescents were killed by gang activity in El Salvador between 2008 and 2012. 50% of children and adolescents live in monetary poverty. Most of them will only occasionally relate to the state, mostly through public education that they will likely abandon at the age of 14 or by receiving a cash transfer that will partly alleviate their more acute needs. In such a context, citizenship and any form of social cohesion finds several obstacle to develop, becoming a matter of policy attention.
For periods, sociology was banned in the country. Today, while researchers are scarce, society has few observers and remains rather blind to understand how social ties have deteriorated to such a point. The national and international academia says little in probably one of the most interesting countries to do sociology in the world.
Yet, I never imagined the importance of sociological thinking until I came to this country. With few tools to examine society, there are few hints to start improving things from the deep. Such a change goes beyond institutional or policy transformations; it requires citizenry wanting to live or act together, convinced that this is still worthy. Digging into people’s motivations, drives, collective frustrations, fears and dreams might provide a starting point to build a new future.
Do I think there is a future for sociology in 50 years? I certainly do, as long as we decide that social forms of organization are still necessary. Bear in mind that this is not granted. Do I think it is relevant? More than ever, as I have witnessed its capacity to lead change in people’s everyday lives. What do I expect from sociological practice in the future? I envisage an academia interacting with other actors beyond its physical and symbolic walls; I see sociologists submerged in different arenas, hunger for understanding, conducting organized practices to uncover factors explaining social facts, empowered by their research’s impacts, humble before the immensity of the never ending task.
This is an entry from the book: Imaginations- 50 Years of Essex Sociology.
Diane Elson has been a prominent member of the department since 2000. She has now officially retired but will be keeping her links with the department.
‘It is within gender and development… that Elson’s pioneering and enduring contribution to scholarship is most apparent. No student of gender and development in any part of the world today completes a course at undergraduate or postgraduate level without some exposure to Elson. Given Elson’s on-going ventures into cutting-edge issues in the GAD field … and with their hallmark rigour and vision, this situation is unlikely to change for a long time to come. In turn, there is absolute certainty that Elson will be present as one of GAD’s outstanding scholars and ambassadors in any retrospective review of gender and development that may be compiled in the future’
Sylvia Chant (2005) ‘Diane Elson’
A retirement conference for was held on Friday July 26th 2013 at the University. Many of the participants are pictured above. This was the programme:
Feminism, Economy and Human Rights
10.50 Brief Introduction by Professor Mark Harvey
11.00-12.30 Political Economy
Professor Sue Himmelweit, Open University: ‘Follow the money: Diane’s Elson’s contribution to gender budgeting’
Professor Tracey Warren, Nottingham University: ‘Gender and the economic crisis: Elson’s 3 Sphere Framework’
Professor Georgina Waylen, Manchester University: ‘Feminist Political Economy: Taking Stock and Future Directions?’
12.30 – 1.15 Buffet Lunch
1.15 – 2.45 Development studies
Professor Sylvia Chant, London School of Economics: ‘Diane Elson: A tribute to her early and on-going contributions to ‘en-gendering’ the ‘development agenda’’
Professor Shirin Rai, University of Warwick: ‘Depletion: the cost of social reproduction’
3 – 4.30 Human Rights
Professor Maxine Molyneux, University College London: ‘Who remembers Beijing? Women’s rights in a cold climate’
Professor Lydia Morris, University of Essex: Sociology and Human Rights
4.45 – 6.15 Final Panel: Reflections and Future Directions
Professor Diane Elson
Professor Ruth Pearson, Leeds University
Dr Jasmine Gideon, Birkbeck
Dr Marzia Fontana, Sussex University
Followed by a wine reception, and dinner