International Lecture Series #1 – Recent Women Presidents in the Southern Cone of Latin America

Foster older photo from AIA color.

Topic: Women Presidents in Latin America’s Southern Cone


Speaker: Dr. David Foster, Arizona State University


Cost: $15 CIR Members (or $36 for series of 3 lectures); $20 Non-members & Guests


Location: Santa Fe Woman’s Club, 1616 Old Pecos Trail


Women already have a certain record as presidents of Latin American societies. Currently, the two largest Latin American nations, Brazil and Argentina, have women presidents, has recently re-elected Michelle Batchelet to a second, noncontiguous term as president.  All three are dynamic and forceful individuals, yet represent diverse political options within the various political ideologies of their societies.

Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner governs with a strong majority and her aggressive and contentious personality provides for all sorts of conflicts.  Yet she has presided over some notable accomplishments. Very much in the tradition of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, she governs from the base of a strong opposition to U.S. policies in the world and in Latin America.

Brazil’s Dilma Roussefd, a political activist during the 1964-85 military dictatorship that led to her imprisonment and torture, is low-key in her style, but has shown herself to be forceful, such as in the matter of the alleged U.S. NSA spying in her country. A pragmatic politician, she has been an effective leader in the notable growth of the Brazilian economy an its enviable stability.

Michelle Bachelet was very much viewed, during her first presidency, as a maternal figure. As a single-mother, her life and career have been exemplary for the need to reconsider gender roles in ultra-conservative Chile. While her commitment to consensus politics has irritated many, she exemplifies how a very reasoned approach to politics as the art of what is possible is currently the most effective formula for her nation.

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.