Distinguished international scholars of Mexican history gather to discuss past and future

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

About 300 international scholars will meet in Chicago over the next few days for the largest and most important academic gathering of historians of Mexico anywhere in the world. The theme for the conference, which runs through Sept. 21, is “Mexico in the World, the World in Mexico.”

“It’s a great honor for the University of Chicago to host this conference and a wonderful opportunity to showcase the intellectual research conducted at the UChicago Katz Center for Mexican Studies,” said Emilio Kouri, professor of history, romance languages and literatures, and the College. Kouri, the director of the Katz Center, noted that it is marking its 10th anniversary this year. The interdisciplinary center was named for the late UChicago Professor Friedrich Katz, whom Kouri called a towering figure in scholarship on the history of Mexico and in training scholars.

The XIV Reunión Internacional de Historiadores de México inauguration ceremonies were held at the Oriental Institute on Sept. 18. The ceremony included the induction of the honorary president for this conference, John Coatsworth, provost of Columbia University and a former UChicago professor of history from 1969 until 1992. The conference continues from Sept. 19 – 21 with sessions conducted mostly in Spanish at the UChicago Gleacher Center.

“We will be discussing the role of Mexico in the larger world in terms of culture, politics and the economy,” said Kouri. “We’ll have sessions on the integration of Mexico into the world after the 16th century, when the Spaniards conquered Mexico, up to the current relationship between the United States and Mexico, which is undergoing dynamic changes.”

Kouri added that the Chicago metro area has more than one million residents of Mexican origin, making the region’s Mexican population one of the largest in the world and bigger than most cities in Mexico. The University of Chicago has a rich tradition of studying Mexican history and is home to some of the world’s leading scholars in Mexican studies. Kouri is encouraging conference participants to visit the exhibition at UChicago’s Special Collections Research Center, “Researching Mexico,” which traces the century-long tradition of research and exploration in Mexico by UChicago scholars in history, social sciences, biological sciences, public health, anthropology and linguistics.

“This conference is a great opportunity to do what UChicago does best, which is to facilitate exchanges among scholars and to promote the advancement of knowledge as a collaborative venture internationally,” Kouri added. “And in the case of Mexico, we’ve been doing it a long time.”