26 years of Studies of The Americas

© SpringerTitles in the Studies of the Americas Series include cross-disciplinary and comparative research on the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, in multiple areas of study. The series publishes edited collections, which allow exploration of a topic from several different disciplinary angles by eminent scholars; book-length studies providing a deeper focus on a single topic; and readers on specific themes. This series is published in conjunction with UCL’s Institute of the Americas under the editorship of Prof. Maxine Molyneux.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your ongoing personal and research interest in the Americas.

I have been Managing Editor of the Americas Series since 2008 but I have had a long-standing association with editing and publishing which pre-dates my academic career by a few years. I was a free- lance journalist before entering university and have been involved in founding and working as editor of two independent publishing ventures – a UK- based photo-news weekly called 7 Days which we established in 1971, for which I was the Arts and Culture Editor. And later, in 1979 I was a founder- member of the editorial collective of Feminist Review, which is still going today and has become a peer-reviewed journal.  As an academic I have also edited numerous special issues of journals, and edited collections, and I do editorial work as a member of the Economy and Society Editorial Board.  So editorial responsibilities have always overlapped with academic ones, but that is fairly normal for any academic I would say.

Are your research interests represented in the Series?

Yes indeed, they are. The Institute of the Americas at University College London (UCLIA) where I work covers the entire Americas North and South - as of course does our Series. The Institute has the largest teaching programme in the UK on the Americas, with some 80-90 students on our six Masters programmes. While I am interested in transcontinental themes such as migration, liberalism and populism, I am a specialist on Latin America and a political sociologist with a lifelong involvement in the field of development both as an academic and policy advisor.  A great part of my academic research has been to apply a gender analysis to social, political and historical phenomena which have included revolutions, transitions from authoritarian rule, globalisation, human rights, citizenship, and social policy. These comparative interests led me in the past to write on the former Soviet bloc, South Arabia and the Horn of Africa. My recent research has been on social protection policies, and my latest edited collection titled The Social and Political Potential of  Cash Transfers  appeared this May (2017). 

What was the main impetus for launching the Studies of the Americas series and how has it changed since? 

The Series was established twenty-one years ago in 1996 by the then Director of the original Institute of Latin American Studies, Victor Bulmer Thomas, who is now an Honorary Professor at the UCL Institute of the Americas. The Series was published by Palgrave Macmillan and its first title was The New Economic Model in Latin America and its Impact on Income Distribution and Poverty edited by Victor. That volume became something of a landmark collection and was a promising start to the Series.

Why was the Series set up?

It was originally established to ensure that there was a UK- based specialist list on the Latin American and Caribbean regions so that the high quality of scholarship on this area could receive wider recognition. Victor served as General Editor of the Series throughout his time as Director, and when his six year term ended the historian Professor James Dunkerley succeeded him and took over the Series. Likewise when I was appointed Director of the Institute in 2008 I then became Series Editor.

Has the Series changed? 

Yes, in one crucial respect – that is, the Series coverage has broadened.  The first volumes were published under the old Institute of Latin American Studies and focused on the Latin American and Caribbean regions. But we have since extended its coverage to include the US and Canada. This reflects changes in the Institute itself which in 2004 extended its brief to cover the whole of the Western Hemisphere and was renamed as the Institute for the Study of the Americas. Both Institute and Series became ‘hemispheric’ adding to our list books on Canada and the US, (most recently the edited collection of Obama)….  When, in 2012 I left the University of London to found the Institute of the Americas at UCL, this wider coverage continued to reflect the Institute’s Americas-wide character and the Series editorship moved with me to UCL.

What are your fondest memories in relation to the series?

Special authors/launches/conferences.

There are many good memories of course! There is the satisfaction of seeing a book through its different stages from proposal to publication and getting to know new authors and keep in touch with earlier ones, some of whom come back to us again. It’s also great when books do really well, get paperbacked quickly or translated and become essential reading like Rachel Sieder’s Justicialisation of Politics or…. Dan Ozarow’s collection on Argentina (now also in Spanish).  There are too many favourites to name them but a special pleasure is visiting the stall where Palgave books are on display at the LASA conference, meeting the team that takes care of the series, and bumping into many former authors. We had a booklaunch at LASA for Georgina Waylen’s edited book in 2015 and that was a lot of fun, and if our authors happen to be in London at the time when their books are published we usually organise a panel discussion and book launch for them too. Just a few weeks ago we held two very successful events for new books in the series -  Gisela Zaremberg of FLACSO Mexico happened to be in London to join her co-editor Valeria  Guarneros-Meza  for the launch of 'Intermediation and Representation in Latin America: Actors and Roles beyond Elections', and David Lehman launched his book The Crisis of Multiculturalism, with a  panel of his authors and a lively debate afterwards.  The main satisfaction is making a contribution to the study of the Americas by getting good work out there – the first and last aim of the Series!