Oxford to Freeze Chair in the History of Latin America

From H-LatAm:

Dear colleagues,

As you may know, Oxford University has decided to ‘freeze’ the Chair
in the History of Latin America when Alan Knight retires at the end of
2013, which means that it will not be advertised and the post will in
effect remain vacant for the foreseeable future and possibly be
eliminated. I have drafted a letter of protest, copied below. If you
would like to support this protest, please email me with your name and
affiliation, and I will add them to the letter. I hope to forward the
letter, with as many signatures as possible, in a couple of weeks time
to the Oxford VC, the head of the Humanities Division, and the head of
History Faculty. Possibly also to the THES and Guardian.

Please feel free to forward this email and letter to colleagues in the
UK and elsewhere.

Best wishes,

Paulo
……………

VC, Oxford
Head, Division of Humanities
Head, Faculty of History

Dear Sirs,

It is with great concern that we learn that the Chair in the History
of Latin America at the University of Oxford will not be advertised
when Professor Alan Knight retires in 2013 and will be effectively
frozen and possibly eliminated.

As you know, the Chair, by virtue both of its history, its previous
holders, which include some of the world’s leading twentieth-century
historians, such as Sir Raymond Carr and Professor Tulio Halperin
Donghi, and the outstanding and greatly influential contributions of
its incumbent to the history of Mexico and Latin America more
generally, is the foremost post in the history of Latin America in the
UK.

The loss of this post will impair the ability of Oxford to cover a key
region of the world in the History Faculty, at a time when global
history has become an important new priority, as well as the ability
of the Latin American Centre at St Antony’s to maintain the central
importance of history in its flourishing masters programmes in Latin
American studies. More generally, it will impact negatively on Latin
American history and Latin American studies in the UK.
It is difficult to understand this decision in light of the growing
importance that the UK government is placing on UK-Latin American
relations, both commercial and otherwise, and the growth in Latin
American students choosing to undertake both undergraduate and
graduate studies in the UK. The loss of this Chair sends very negative
signals about how Oxford views and values Latin America, at a time
when the region’s global profile is increasingly prominent.
Just as important, it is difficult to understand how a history
department in one of the world’s leading universities could, by
freezing this Chair, abandon the history of a region that is home to
600 million people, that contains some of the world’s most dynamic
economies, and that boasts a rich history and culture. Again, the loss
of this Chair sends very negative signals about how Oxford University,
and its History Faculty in particular, view the discipline and the
region.

We hope that you will reconsider this decision and that the Chair in
the History of Latin America will be advertised when Professor Knight
retires so that a new Chair can continue to play the key role that
past holders have played in giving the history of Latin America the
prominence that it deserves in Oxford but also within UK and world
academia.

Sincerely,

Paulo Drinot

Senior Lecturer in Latin American History

Institute of the Americas

University College London

Personal website: http://paulodrinot.wordpress.com/

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