The Early Years
The origin of The Midwest Association for Latin American Studies is found in the decade of the 1950s, at which time the Pan American Union fostered the establishment of five regional councils for Latin American Studies.
The region included in the Midwest Association includes the states of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Elizabeth Fox Hartmann from Texas Tech was a long-standing secretary-treasurer of MALAS, probably from the 1960s into the 1980s.
Phil Kelly attended his first MALAS meeting, in St. Louis, Missouri around 1975 when Ken Johnson picked him up at the airport. Phil was MALAS president in 1991 and served as secretary-treasurer until 2008.
The 50th annual conference was held November 18 – 20 in Huatusco, Veracruz, Mexico. It was hosted by Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo under the following theme: New Directions in Latin America in the Context of Globalization.
A new corporation named Midwest Association for Latin American Studies was formed as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Missouri. This occurred on August 29, 2008 with the initiative of Jaime Torres and Guillermo A. Rodríguez.
Phil Kelly stepped down as secretary-treasurer of MALAS after serving in that capacity for almost 20 years. Guillermo A. Rodríguez was elected secretary and Thomas Shannon Stiles as treasurer. It took two people to substitute on special person.
The annual conference was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico during these dates: November 20 – 22. The conference theme: “Latin America: Dealing with the Heritage of the Past, Building Bridges to the Future”. The Senate and House of Representatives of Puerto Rico sponsored the conference at the capitol building.
The members approved the creation of the Dr. Richard (Dick) Millett Scholarship. An endowment is being funded to provide the prizes for student papers at each conference.
The 60th annual conference was held in St. Louis, Missouri during November 4 – 6, and jointly with ISA-Midwest. The MALAS theme was: 60th Annual Conference in the Gateway City: Gateways to the Americas. A special logo was created to celebrate the 60th anniversary.
The annual meeting was chaired by Jennifer Holmes, MALAS president. At the end of the year MALAS was in excellent financial condition with about $15,000 on hand.
Orlando J. Pérez conducted the elections of the board of directors. After the directors were elected, the following were elected officers: Martin Edwin Andersen as president, Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres as vice president, Guillermo A. Rodríguez as secretary, and Jaime Torres as treasurer.