Salem State University Professor Avi Chomsky has been awarded the Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) and Oxfam America. The lecture was delivered on May 7, 2022, and it is available at this link.
LASA is the world’s largest professional organization for Latin America experts, and Oxfam is a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice. The two organizations award the Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship annually to an individual who embodies Professor Diskin’s commitment to both activism and scholarship.
Chomsky was selected for her work as an activist and academic who has written extensively about Latin America, labor, migration, economic development, and revolutionary movements. She has worked in collaboration with international organizations against mining and has collaborated with Indigenous and Afro-Colombian local organizations that are struggling against displacement.
Chomsky is a professor of history and coordinator of the Latin American Studies minor at Salem State University. Her professional interests focus on the Cuban Revolution, northern Colombia's coal industry, and immigration and undocumentedness in the United States. She incorporates the issues of colonialism, economic development, migration, race, labor, environment and global inequality.
“My academic and activist work have been so intertwined over the past 40 years that it’s impossible to disentangle them,” said Chomsky. “Teaching at a regional state university has also helped me to transcend the gap between academics and activism. Almost all of my students are first-generation college students, and many are immigrants or the children of immigrants from Latin America. Teaching them about Latin America creates a cross between college and popular education.”
Chomsky has authored more than a dozen books, including Central America’s Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration (Beacon Press, 2021); Is Science Enough? Forty Critical Questions about Climate Justice (Beacon Press, 2022); and They Take Our Jobs! And Twenty Other Myths about Immigration (Beacon Press, 2007; Second expanded edition, 2018).
The Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship was created to honor its namesake, who LASA describes as “a vital member of the Latin American Studies Association and of Oxfam America” with a passion for human rights. Upon his passing in 1997, the New York Times described Diskin, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology anthropology professor, as “an authority on agrarian economies in Latin America.”