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Activism in Latin America Symposium

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Activism in Latin America Symposium


On April 1 to 3, 2013, the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma hosted its annual symposium. The theme was “Activism in Latin America” and its purpose was to highlight the successes and challenges of activists working on issues such as human rights, health, crime, education, and resource extraction.


On April 1, the symposium kicked off with a showing of the Peruvian film “The Milk of Sorrow,” featuring a discussion led by Harvard University anthropologist Kimberly Theidon, whose work with violence survivors from Peru’s Shining Path insurgency inspired the film. On April 2, Chilean education activist Mario Waissbluth gave the keynote address, “How to Build an Influential Civil Society Movement.” (powerpoint)

On April 3, five other activists from Latin America spoke about their own experiences. Mexican journalist Heriberto Paredes discussed community justice in fighting crime. Argentine lawyer María Alejandra Romero Niklison spoke of the struggle to hold accountable human rights violators during her country’s dictatorship. A lawyer from Peru, Raquel Yrigoyen, argued for the importance of indigenous rights in natural resource struggles. And from Brazil, Dr. Flavio Wittlin and Helena Bastos Wittlin introduced their community self-help efforts to tackle health problems in Brazilian favelas. Follow the links above to read a written version of their presentations and/or a PowerPoint presentation.

The symposium was an unqualified success for the OU community. Over 700 people attended the various events and reported learning a lot from being in direct contact with activists in 2013, the Year of Activism at the College of International Studies.

The symposium was sponsored by the Department of International and Area Studies; the College of International Studies’s Howell Fund; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Department of Communication; the Energy Institute of the Americas; the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics; the Women and Gender Studies Program; the Political Science Department, and the College of Law.

2013 Latin American Symposium Presenters