Ventana is a conference generated from the inner contradictions of its organisers, who as Latin American studying abroad, perceived in their studies and in themselves a conflict between our own perception of our identity, our ways to produce and access to knowledge, and the approaches from the European academia. We noticed something odd in being Latin Americans studying Latin America from a European, colonising perspective. Ventana is a response to that contradiction, and the instance created to discuss and reflect about it.
Getting close to our fifth version, Ventana is becoming a instance more and more oriented to the postcolonial and decolonial discussion, expanding ourselves beyond the Latin American experience, understanding that decolonialism involves many and diverse societies and communities around the globe.
Ventana is a project driven by postgraduate students and, today, early-career scholars who not long ago were also working in their PhDs.
In our intention to challenge colonial structures, we seek to propose more horizontal and inclusive ways of participating and discussing our experiences and methods to generate and share knowledge. We are constantly looking for strategies to materialize this in our conference, for which we are opening our platform to workshops, artistic presentations, and other manifestations that might help us to produce a more horizontal and dynamic academic experience.
Ventana was born in November 2016 as a small, one-afternoon PG symposium among Latin American students in the University of York. It was organised by Katherina Walper, then a PhD researcher at York, and called "A Window on Latin America", aiming to have PGs sharing their own research projects with each other. It was the first time that the event took place in the Humanities Research Centre in the University of York, which has been the venue ever since.
Three years later, in November 2019, the event evolved into a one-day conference. The "2nd Conference A Window on Latin America: A 21st Century Re-signification of a Never-ending Conquest" was inspired by the history of "York Minster", "Jemmy Button", and "Fuegia Basket", three Yaghan from the South American patagonia, kidnapped by the HMS Beagle in the late XIX century and taken to England to be "reeducated", "civilised", and were given different names, only to then be brought back to their land and left traumatized and unable to readapt. This obscure piece of history inspired to reflect on the experience of otherness and on observing one's culture from a "reeducated" perspective.
This version was the first one to welcome international participants, and counted with Professor Julie Cupples from the University of Edinburgh as a keynote speaker, and the live performance of the organ piece Cuatro Momentos para Órgano, by Chilean composer Carlos Zamora. It was also when we started collaborating with the journal Tensões Mundiais, from the Universidade Estadual do Ceará UECE, which published two of our speakers in their 16th issue.
Being postponed because of the global pandemic, the third version of the conference took place in June 2021, when it also acquired its more coloquial name, as it is known today. "Ventana III: Glocal Reactions and Responses" was an online event, hosted in a virtual venue that allowed the participation from people connected from both sides of the Atlantic ocean. The conference was extended to three half-days - to cope with the different time-zones - and welcomed more than thirty panels, two workshops, 150 participants, and three stellar keynotes: Professor Jean Grugel and Dr Phil Roberts, both from the IGDC, University of York, and Dr Alethia Fernández de la Reguera, from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM.
This version also allowed us to consolidate our partnerships with the Interdisciplinary Global Development Centre IGDC in York, the Programa de Posgrado de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales in UNAM, the Observatório das Nacionalidades in UECE in Brazil, and the journal Tensões Mundiais, which again allowed three of our speakers to publish the papers they shared in Ventana.
The fourth version of Ventana, titled Decolonial Dialogues from within and beyond the Global Margins, jumped into the post-pandemic world aiming to take advantage of the lessons learned during the previous version. The online modality allowed us to reach a wider audience of scholars in Latin America with often limited access to Europe. Realising this, Ventana 4 took place on a hybrid modality to expand its accessibility. Moreover, the conference expanded its reach beyond Latin America and "invited" Africa to join the conversation about decolonisation. The high participation coming from this continent has been the seed to allow us to keep growing, heading into the fifth version and maintaining the aspiration to include peoples from all over the world in the discussion about decolonisation.