Projects, Processes, Politics
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Kris Olds, Roger Dale and Que Anh Dang
Chapter 13: Higher education and new Regionalism in Latin America: the UNILA project
In this chapter we analyse the project of the Federal University of Latin American Integration (UNILA), created in 2010, from the initiative led by President Lula (2003–2010). Its sui generis character, which distinguishes it from other Brazilian federal public universities (generally named after the host state, for example the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Federal University of Paraná, and so on), sets out its institutional mission: to contribute to the advancement of Latin American integration. Fully funded by the Brazilian government, UNILA is part of the network of federal public universities, established and maintained by the central government. What sets it apart is its transnational mission, and claims to it being the first Brazilian bilingual (Portuguese and Spanish) university. A further innovation is its openness to teachers, researchers and students from all of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. With this appeal, UNILA has attracted a great deal of interest in the Latin American academic community since its beginning. Inspired by the utopia of an integrated and united Latin America in its diversity and plurality, the establishment of UNILA took place in the wake of the recent efforts of Brazil, the region’s largest country and the only one colonized by Portugal, to reconcile with its neighbours in Spanish America after remaining apart throughout its history. In a regional context marked by broad political, economic and social change, Brazil took on a greater role by prioritizing the strengthening of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and regional integration in its foreign policy, and as a key strategy of integration into the global economy. UNILA can therefore be seen as an initiative driven by these two strategic aims of the Brazilian state.
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