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Trent Welcomes Dr. Carlos Escudé - 2003/04 Ashley Fellow

Trent University is pleased to welcome Dr. Carlos Escudé to Otonabee College as the 2003/2004 Ashley Fellow. Dr. Escudé, who will begin his tenure with Trent on February 2, is likely the most distinguished political theorist in Latin America.

The Ashley Fellowship is funded by a bequest from the late Professor C.A. Ashley, longtime friend of Trent University and an enthusiastic proponent of the role that the informal contacts of College life can play in the academic pursuits of the University.

Dr. Escudé is likely the most distinguished political theorist in Latin America. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale in Politics, though most of his work is historical (including books on Argentine foreign relations during the 1940s and the history of nationalism in Argentine education). A distinguished theorist, Dr. Escudé is the originator of the concept of "realismo periferico" in Argentine foreign relations -- a term that most middle class Argentines recognize. He has held, among many important distinctions, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has published 12 books, including a novel that was widely read in Argentina. In addition, he was the director and principal author of a recently published fourteen-volume history of Argentine foreign relations. Dr. Escudé is not only fluent in English, but speaks without the trace of an accent.

Dr. Escudé is also the architect of Argentina's most important series of foreign policy shifts in the twentieth century. Appointed advisor to the Foreign Minister in 1991, Dr. Escudé coined the popularly used phrase "relaciones carnales" to describe Argentina's dealings with the US, but also led Argentina's withdrawal from the non-aligned movement and spearheaded the shift toward military and economic cooperation with the US, a first for Argentina. He was dismissed from his Foreign Ministry post in 1992 because like all good free thinkers, he won't "shut up" when told to do so. Dr. Escudé is the only prominent Argentine thinker who has argued against the strongly nationalist Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands/Malvinas. He also maintains that Argentina will never win back the islands until it is a fully-functioning democracy in which island residents, the Kelpers, can have full confidence. Dr. Escudé argues that the islands should become an international protectorate. All of this runs counter to longstanding Argentine claims to the islands. As senior Foreign Ministry functionary, he refused to alter this position or to keep quiet about it, so was sacked. Dr. Escudé contends that the Argentine claim to the Falklands/Malvinas is a historical fantasy based on nationalist myths (and has written extensively on all aspects of this problem -- geopolitical, historical, nationalist, and theoretical).

In a country that still reflects many disturbing legacies of authoritarian rule, Dr. Escudé is an extremely important and prominent defender of civil liberties and free speech. His disdain for the irrational in his public position on the Falklands/Malvinas has brought him many death threats. After the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community centre (the AMIA building) that killed dozens, Dr. Escudé was invited to serve as Vice-President of the Jewish community-sponsored Argentine Council Against Ethnic and Religious Discrimination. Once again, Dr. Escudé would not keep quiet -- this time about corruption among some at the highest ranks of Jewish community leadership. In disgust for their disdain for the Jewish community and the memory of those killed in the bombing, Dr. Escudé publicly denounced a small handful of Jewish leaders for complicity with the government in a cover-up of the bombing. The accusation was explosive, and Dr. Escudé was dismissed from the Council. But he was right, as others subsequently helped to demonstrate. The AMIA bombing remains unsolved, but thanks in part to Dr. Escudé's whistle-blowing, much information about the bombing and the cover-up subsequently came to light, including the corruption and anti-semitism of police investigators.

Dr. Escudé is a skilled and innovative teacher. His most recent project is what he calls an "Opera" on globalization. Asked to develop a new course on the history of globalization (starting with Ancient Greece), Dr. Escudé decided he would prepare a multi-media computer-based course. Working on his own with a Sony laptop, a video camera, and some good software he prepared a 30-hour course. He has taught the course twice. He starts each session with a 50-minute computer presentation that includes video clips of him speaking. He is then present for a class discussion that follows. One of many notable features of the course is that Dr. Escudé, who dresses quite formally and "looks the part" of a nineteenth century Oxford academic, uses his appearance to pedagogic advantage. He wrote two "parts" for the camera. One is the part "he" (or his character) presents to students on camera. The other part is played by a young actress who irreverently refers to Dr. Escudé on camera as "Charly" and challenges the "professor's" understanding of globalization.

Otonabee College is pleased to be hosting Dr. Escudé, as part of its 30th anniversary celebration.

Posted January 30, 2004

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