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10 March 2023 @ 12:45 - 21:00 CET

Photo by sharyn morrow, Flickr.
Photo by sharyn morrow, Flickr.


10 March 2023
12:45 - 21:00 CET


The Global Research Programme on Inequality
The Center for Legal and Social Studies
The Interdisciplinary School of Advanced Social Studies


Campus Miguelete, UNSAM
Av. 25 de mayo 1021, San Martín, Pcia. de Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina
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Indebtedness From Below


The Global Research Programme on Inequality (GRIP) in collaboration with the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) and the Interdisciplinary School of Advanced Social Studies (EIDAES) of the National University of San Martín (UNSAM) is organizing a workshop “Indebtedness from Below. Sovereign Debt, Human Rights and Day-to-Day Life in Argentina”.

Global debt and flows of credit are a key driver, as well as a stark expression, of global inequalities. This workshop will mark the opening of GRIP’s engagement with sovereign debt, human rights, and global/local inequality as Argentina is an interesting case for sharpening our eyes on the legal and political anthropology of sovereign debt, imposed austerity and the associated domestic politics of inequality and human rights.

The workshop  will take place at the Campus Miguelete, UNSAM, Buenos Aires on Friday 10th of March 08:45 – 17:00. For more information on the event, please visit UNSAM´s website.

Sovereign Debt, Human Rights and Day-to Day Life in Argentina:

Among the group of countries affected by the dynamics of international credit and the political programs that are subject to these loans, Argentina stands out as an emblematic case due to its extreme macroeconomic characteristics and the weight that the external debt has on its economy, political culture and system. It is well known that in 2018 Argentina accessed the greatest credit in the history of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The external debt to GDP ratio increased from 52% up to 90% from 2015 to 2019 as a result. The payment of this debt –the amounts, terms and modalities– implies long term constraints on those who make decisions relating to the economic model, to the social protection system and to the regulation of labor relationships, among other critical issues.

The negative remarks on the IMF and about the illegitimacy of the debt have been a recurring trope of critical political and social discourses over the last decades, as has been expressed in slogans such as “Get the IMF out of Latin America” or “The debt must be paid by the powerful”. Variations of this type of demands have been part of political, union and social programs and proposals with varied intensity throughout the 40 years since the return to democracy in 1983. More recently, in a highly organized and mobilized society, social activism have started to analyze from different perspectives and with renewed precision the effects of the indebtedness processes and the constraints deriving therefrom.

Due to the effects that Structural Adjustment Programs and budget cuts in general have on access to fundamental rights such as health, education and care policies in general, international Human Rights protection mechanisms have paid attention and defined principles regarding what States can and cannot do to meet their debt payment obligations. The sovereign indebtedness does not suspend Human Rights obligations or, in other words, the debt can not be paid with social rights.

Academic reflection on the links between sovereign indebtedness and Human Rights has been carried out fundamentally from the fields of economics, economic and legal sociology, and International Human Rights Law. In Argentina, various approaches to political and economic history reconstruct the external debt process in different periods.

Between 2021 and 2022, CELS and EIDAES articulated academic and activist knowledge with respect to the constraints imposed by the IMF on social, economic, and environmental public policies. This collaborative workshop with GRIP aims to develop further global knowledge on national debt, inequalities, and human rights based on the Argentinian case.

Workshop Program:

8.45 Welcome and general presentation by Don Kalb and Ariel Wilkis.

9.00-11.00 First Panel

  • Indebtedness from below. Perspectives about Sovereign debt, Human Rights and day-to day life in Argentina by Ariel Wilkis and Marcela Perelman.
  • Argentina and the IMF from the prism of debt cycles and social rights by  Pablo Nemiña and Alejandro Gaggero.

11.00 – 13.00 Second Panel

  • Ecological Debt and Development. Discursive coalitions and dispute fronts in Argentina by Gabriela Merlinsky and Facundo Martín.
  •  Effects of sovereign debt on the right to adequate housing and a healthy environment. An analysis of the role of the Judiciary in the Matanza-Riachuelo case by Julieta Rossi and Leonel Bazán.

13.00 – 14.00 Break

14.00 – 16.00 Third Panel

  • From default crisis to eviction risk: daily life and housing under the lenses of sovereign debt and private debt in Buenos Aires tenant households by Ma. Florencia Labiano, Luna Miguens and Leandro Vera Belli.
  • Beware the debt: the impact of adjustment on public care and social protection policies in Argentina by Corina Enriquez, Florencia Partenio, Vanina Escales, Daiana Aizenberg and Michelle Cañas.

16.00 – 17.00 Discussion


Don Kalb: Academic Director of GRIP, University of Bergen/International Science Council. Editor at large, Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.

Ariel Wilkis: Researcher at the National Scientific and Technical
Research Council in Argentina, professor at Universidad de San Martin, Argentina and Dean in Escuela the Interdisciplinary School of Advanced Social Studies.

Marcela Perelman: Director of the Research Area at the Center for the Legal and Social Studies, Argentina and Professor for the Urban Sociology lectureship and Human Rights of the University of Lanús.

Pablo Nemiña: Adjunct Researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research, Argentina and Associate Researcher of the Department of International Relations at FLACSO, Argentina.

Alejandro Gaggero: Adjunct Researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research and Undergraduate and graduate professor at the National University of San Martín, the University of Buenos Aires and the National University of Quilmes.

Gabriela Merlinsky: Full Professor at University of Buenos Aires, and Researcher for the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research, Argentina.

Facundo Martín: Associate Professor at the Department of Geography, National University of Cuyo and Researcher for the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research, Argentina.

Julieta Rossi: Lawyer, Director and professor at the Human Rights Master’s Program at the National University of Lanus and professor at the School of Law and the Human Right´s Masters Program at the University of Buenos Aires and at the National University of General San Martín.

Leonel Bazán: Lawyer, Magister (in process) at the Master’s Program, National University of Lanus Director, member of the social organization Centro para una Justicia Igualitaria y Popular – CEJIP.

Ma. Florencia Labiano: Sociologist and PhD candidate at the National University of San Martín (Argentina) and since 2018, scholarship holder by the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research.

Luna Miguens: Political scientist and Coordinator of “Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” area at the Center for Legal and Social Studies. She is particularly interested in the problem of housing and land access in the city and the countryside.

Leandro Vera Belli: Sociologist at the University of Buenos Aires and researcher in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Center for Legal and Social Studies, Argentina.

Corina Rodríguez Enríquez: Feminist economist and Researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research at the Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Public Policy.

Florencia Partenio: Member of the Executive Committee of the Global South Feminist Network DAWN. Teacher-researcher at EIDAES-UNSAM.

Vanina Escales: Journalist and essayist, she coordinates the transversal work of CELS for the intersectional feminist approach to human rights.

Daiana Aizenberg: Works at CELS on the intersectional feminist approach to human rights, researcher in urban studies and gender studies (ICO-UNGS and FADU-UBA). PhD candidate in Social Anthropology (IDAES-UNSAM).

Michelle Cañas Comas: Has a degree in International Studies from Torcuato Di Tella University and is a researcher at CELS in the area of Economic and Social Rights.

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