Ana Maria Bejarano

Political Science Professor Ana Maria BejaranoThere is quite the distance between Bogotá, Colombia and the GTA (over 4300 kilometers, to be more precise); however Professor Ana Maria Bejarano has found herself on faculty at U of T Mississauga for several years, all the while staying true to her roots and very much connected to the Andean region of Latin America through her teaching and research.

After obtaining her BA in Political Science at the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city, she went on to complete her graduate studies, including an MA, MPhil and PhD, at Columbia University in New York. Bejarano returned to her alma mater, where she taught Political Science at the University of Los Andes for a decade. Before coming to teach at UTM in 2003 she moved to the U.S. for a brief period during which she was a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame first and then at Princeton University.

Attending the International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), which was held in Toronto for the first time this past October, allowed Bejarano to focus on one of her topics of choice with her colleagues without having to travel a great distance. At the event put on by LASA, a U.S.-based organization that is comprised of approximately 5,000 international scholars studying the region of Latin America, Bejarano delivered a paper on Andean constitutions and participated in a workshop on democratic representation and participation in the Andes. Taking part in the Congress was a rewarding experience since it brings together scholars who are committed to studying Latin America and the issues affecting it, says Bejarano.

After the congress wrapped up, Bejarano set off for the University of Notre Dame in Indiana to deliver a lecture that presented the theoretical framework of a book she is working on about constitutional change in the Andes. This book, which is being co-authored with her U.S.-based collaborator Renata Segura, the Associate Director with the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum at the Social Science Research Council, will cover five Andean countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Bejarano and Segura are examining constitution-making via constituent assemblies, and are investigating whether the writing of new constitutions is leading to better democracies. They hope to have the book completed by next summer.

By Karen Akhtar