Political Science Professor Pierre Ostiguy has just won a highly prestigious
fellowshipin fact, hes the first Quebecer and only the second
Canadian to do so.
Ostiguy, an expert in Latin American politics, has been awarded a fellowship
at the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, at Notre Dame
University, near Chicago.
A PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, Ostiguy is a Montrealer
born and bred, and has been teaching at Concordia for two and a half years.
He did his undergraduate degree at McGill and his MA at the University
of Toronto, where he won the Governor-Generals Gold Medal for being
the outstanding graduate student of his year in the social sciences.
Spending a term at the Kellogg Institute would give him the opportunity
to garner feedback on his research from leading scholars in his field,
while turning his 1998 Berkeley dissertation into a book. As he says in
his successful proposal, My first year and a half as a faculty member
has proven very intensive on the teaching front. I have prepared five
new courses over [that] period. (The course load for new professors
has since been modified.)
Ostiguys field of interest is the intense politics of Argentina.
The countrys political landscape is still dominated by the spirit
of Juan Domingo Peron, president from 1946 to 1955 and in 1973-74. It
is Ostiguys contention that for Argentine voters, class culture
and identity, often expressed as Peronism and anti-Peronism, create a
second political axis that rivals and intersects the traditional one of
left and right.
Ostiguy calls the poles of this axis high and low,
or even cooked and raw. High means refined, educated,
concerned with formal rules; low means popular and pragmatic.
One of the paradoxes of Argentine politics is that Carlos Menem, a Peronist
who was elected president in 1989, reversed the traditional Peronist policy
(protectionist, pro-labour, interventionist) to neo-liberal (pro-free-market
and privatization, favouring a reduced role for the state in the economy)
without losing any of his popular appeal among the working class.
Ostiguys fascination with South America started early, through involvement
in Amnesty International. In 1982, when he was only 18, he travelled to
Ecuador with Canada World Youth, and stayed on afterwards to backpack
through Peru and Bolivia. At 20, he became interested in the popular church
movement and the civil wars of Central America, living with a Honduran
peasant family, working in the fields and assisting Salvadoran refugees.
After his BA at McGill, he went to Argentina and Nicaragua for a year
as a research assistant. When he did his Masters at the University
of Toronto, he got a SSHRC grant to return to Argentina.
I was fascinated by the high quality of Argentine academic culture,
which is very cosmopolitan and closer to that of Europe, he said.
In fact, Ostiguy wrote two academic books in Spanish that were published
in Argentina. Altogether, he has lived in the country for seven years,
doing extensive research for his doctoral dissertation, to the extent
of riding through the poor districts of Greater Buenos Aires in the Menemobil
during Menems re-election campaign of 1995.
As Canada slowly discovers that it lies on this side of the Atlantic,
with projects of pan-American integration, Ostiguy remarked,
the timing of my fellowship is quite relevant.