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Program Overview

The Seminario en Latinoamérica de Teoría Constitucional y Política – the Seminar in Latin America on Constitutional and Political Theory, or SELA, as it has come to be known by its Spanish acronym – is an annual academic gathering which brings together scholars from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States. Each year participants discuss a selection of papers written for the seminar that reflect a certain theme or themes. The papers are distributed and read before the meeting so that the seminar is reserved for in-depth discussion and debate of the papers which, after which authors are given the chance to make modifications, are published in a Spanish-language book.

SELA is concerned with both substance and process. Its founders agreed that it should seek to deepen understanding of complex theoretical issues, model a more discussion-oriented form of intellectual discourse than is the norm in Latin America, and create a venue for the formation of a professional community. SELA reaches out to the current generation of scholars and public intellectuals.

In just a few years, SELA has become an intellectual center of gravity in Latin America. What was once a gathering of individuals with diverse interests and agendas has, in the words of one participant, “taken on the flavor of a family reunion.” Other participants tend to echo one another as they reach for words to describe what the seminar has come to mean to them. They speak of developing a common language over time, one that allows for the communal exploration of new ideas across geographic, disciplinary, and ideological boundaries.