Presentation by Mr. John Ackerman and Irma Erendira Sandoval, two prominent scholars from National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
Description: The dominant external view of Mexican politics and political culture is of a backwards, “underdeveloped” country which desperately needs to “modernize” by imitating the political system of the United States and Canada. Mexico is presented as a chaotic and corrupt narco-wasteland held back by its colonial history and authoritarian politics. The apparent solution is therefore to free the country from its past by “liberalizing” both politics and markets, developing the “middle class” and instilling a new “culture of legality” among its people. This talk exposes the neo-colonial nature of such an approach and proposes turning the tables entirely. The United States and Canada have much more to learn from Mexico than the other way around. Indeed, Mexico’s long history of political struggle is poised today to become a key inspiration in the struggle to reconnect democracy and social change throughout the globe.
John M. Ackerman is one of Mexico´s leading public intellectuals, writing bi-weekly columns at both the daily La Jornada and at Proceso magazine. He also writes frequently on Latin American politics for the international press, including Los Angeles Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Suddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Nation andThe Atlantic. He is a Professor at the Institute for Legal Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and has published numerous books and scholarly articles in English, Spanish and French on the Mexican political system. Ackerman is also Editor-in-Chief of the Mexican Law Review, Vice President of the International Association of Administrative Law and has served as a Visiting Scholar atAmerican University in Washington, D.C and at Sorbonne (Paris III) and Sciences Po in Paris, France. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz as well as a Ph.D. in Law from UNAM and a B.A. in Philosophy from Swarthmore College. In 2012, the UNAM awarded him the prize for the university’s leading young scholar in the social sciences. His most recent book is entitled “El mito de la transición democrática: nuevas coordenadas para la transformación del régimen mexicano” (Planeta, 2015).
Irma Eréndira Sandoval Ballesteros is Professor at the Institute for Social Research of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and an international expert in public administration, political economy, transparency and corruption control. Director of the Laboratory for the Documentation and Analysis of Corruption and Transparency of the UNAM. She has served as a Fellow at the Edmund J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Visiting Professor at Sciences Po., Sorbonne Nouvelle, the American University in Washington D.C., and at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Mrs. Sandoval is a member of Mexico’s National System of Researchers Level 3 and in 2009 was the recipient of the prestigious Manuel Espinosa Yglesias award for her academic work in political economy. She presently occupies the Chaire “Alfonso Reyes" at the I'nstitute des Hautes Études de l'Amérique Latine (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3). She holds an MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz as well as an MA in Latin American Studies from the UNAM. She has two BAs, one in Economics from the School of Economics at the UNAM and the other in Sociology from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico City. She has also worked as a senior consultant to the World Bank, UNDP, Global Integrity, the Open Society Institute and the Budget Accountability Project. Her most recent books are: Contemporary Debates on Corruption & Transparency: Rethinking State, Market & Society, IIS-UNAM/World Bank, Mexico City/Washington, DC. 2011 and Crisis, Rentismo e Intervencionismo Neoliberal en la Banca: México (1982-1999), Centro de Estudios Espinosa Yglesias, Mexico City, 2011. She has published over two dozen book chapters and journal articles in peer-reviewed journals, including theInternational Law Review, the Administrative Law Review, Revista Mexicana de Sociología, Revista Mexicana de Ciencia Polítca, Revista Argumentos, Perfiles Latinoamericanos, Edward Elgar, and Fondo de Cultura Económica. She also frequently publishes opinion pieces in leading newspapers both in Mexico and the United States, including Los Angeles Times, Chicago Times, La Jornada, Proceso, and Reforma.