David Foster

Dilma-Christina-Michelle. Of Presidential Chairs and Women: Recent Women Presidents in the Latin American Southern Cone

Dr. David William Foster, Arizona State University

January 26, 2014 (Sun) 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
UNM Continuing Education Auditorium
1634 University Blvd. NE (at the intersection with Indian School Rd.)

Currently, the two largest Latin American nations, Brazil and Argentina, have women presidents, and Chile has just re-elected Michelle Batchelet to a second, noncontiguous term.

All three women are dynamic and forceful individuals. Yet all three have differing leadership styles and have adopted individual approaches to the established political forces and ideologies of their societies. Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is known for her aggressive personality, and her administration has made significant innovations including the recognition of same-sex marriages. Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, a long-time political activist, arrested and tortured under her country’s military dictatorship (1964-85), is low-key but effective in pushing Brazil’s economic growth. Chile’s Michelle Bachelet is a maternal figure, consensus politician who sees politics as the art of the possible and steers a course between the extremes of left and right.

How did these women come to power in Latin American countries traditionally considered to be “macho”? How do they govern? Is there a distinct “feminine style” different from that of male presidents? And what can we in the United States- learn from their experience?

David Foster is Regents’ Professor of Spanish and Women and Gender Studies at Arizona State University. He served as Chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures from 1997-2001. His research inter­ests focus on urban culture in Latin America, with an emphasis on issues of gender construction and sexual identity, as well as Jewish culture. He has held Fulbright teaching appointments in Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. He has also served as an Inter-American Development Bank Professor in Chile. Foster’s most recent books include São Paulo: Perspectives on the City and Cultural Production (2011).  He has also written extensively on Argentine narrative and theater. Foster has conducted summer seminars in Brazil in 2010 and 2013 on Brazilian Urban Fiction as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in 2007 he conducted a seminar in Argentina, on Jewish Buenos Aires; he will repeat the latter seminar in 2014.