Michael Baptista winning essay examines law and street harassment in Mexico

Sharon Baptista, Lisane Thirsk, Carlota McAllister, CERLAC deputy director

Graduate student Lisane Thirsk has won the 2012 Michael Baptista Essay Prize for her essay which one contest evaluator called a “finely nuanced understanding of why law is both a necessary and yet unreliable resource in mobilizing for social change in Mexico”.

The Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean (CERLAC) recently announced the winner for the graduate level, as well as two honorable mentions for the undergraduate level – no prize was awarded at the Sharon Baptista, Lisane Thirsk, Carlota McAllister, CERLAC deputy directorundergraduate level this year. However,Katia Hoyos Saleme‘s “The Pawns in the Globalization Game” and Allan Jacobson Spessoto‘s “Recuperated Workplaces” both received honorable mentions.

From left, Sharon Baptista, Lisane Thirsk, Carlota McAllister, CERLAC deputy director

The competing essays were nominated by York faculty members and evaluated by two committees of CERLAC Fellows, with a separate committee for each of the two prizes.

A student in socio-legal studies Thirsk won $500 and her paper, “Law and the Discursive Construction of Street Harassment as Violence in Mexico City,” will be considered for publication by CERLAC.

According to one of the evaluators, Thirsk’s essay “demonstrates thorough knowledge of the Mexican legal system’s current realities and practices and places these insights squarely in the service of its line of argument. Its nuances and intelligent discussion of the topic informs and critically engages with the subject.”

Another evaluator noted that Thirsk ” did an excellent job of contextualizing the role of the new anti-harassment law within the contemporary realities of Mexico. What placed this essay above the others was its specific focus on a group, Atrévete D.F., and its interaction with the new law. It is the real experience of real activists that gives the spark to this paper.”

The other graduate-level nominees were: Aaron Cain’s “Extractives versus Indigenous Peoples: Is Welcoming Mining a Path to Decolonization?”; Angele Charette’s “The Structural Dimensions of Canadian Mining Practices Abroad: The Case of El Salvador vs. PacRim Cayman”; and Janice Flavien’s “Carnival As Translation: A Case Study.”

The prize-winning paper is available online as part of CERLAC’s Baptista Prize-Winning Essays Series.

The Michael Baptista Essay Prize was established by the friends of Michael Baptista and the Royal Bank of Canada. This $500 Prize is awarded annually to both a graduate and an undergraduate student at York University in recognition of an outstanding scholarly essay of relevance to the area of Latin American and Caribbean studies, from the humanities, social science, business or legal perspective.

The Michael Baptista Essay Prize and Lecture are named in honour of Michael Baptista in recognition of the areas central to his spirit and success: the importance of his Guyanese/Caribbean roots, his dedication to and outstanding achievement at the Royal Bank of Canada, and his continued and unqualified drive and love of learning.

For more information on the essay prize, visit the CERLAC website. For the call for nominations for the 2013 prize, click here.

If you are a York faculty member and wish to nominate a student’s essay for this prize, contact CERLAC at cerlac@yorku.ca.