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.