Don's Diary

November 6, 1998


Must re-draft Latin American business environment paper - September deadline long passed. Success. Can I ask colleagues to re-read it? No. Thank goodness for email. Ignore unread messages. Any marked urgent? Hope not.


Plough through doctoral dissertations: three PhD students about to submit, pile of chapters grows daily. Return DPhil forms to Oxford. Why did I agree to examine? Promised for August, the thesis has not yet appeared. November next week: the candidate will be clamouring for an early examination, pleading that fixed-date flights for South America must be booked immediately.


A call comes through from radio journalist in Buenos Aires. Will I give an interview about forthcoming visit to Britain by President Menem? Of course, it is an important event, the first visit by an Argentinian president since 1961. Journalist says she will call back when the programme goes on air. Explain that I shall be lecturing. Please cancel lecture! Impossible. Perhaps we could record now. No. Must be live. Sorry. Journalist becomes abusive. Hasta luego.

After teaching I head for Institute of Historical Research: first meeting of global history seminar. Promises to be fun. My paper due early December - will it be ready on time? Dare not think about that now.


Early morning trip to Today studio. Why did General Pinochet conspire to be under arrest in London the same week as the Menem visit and the announcement of Brazilian austerity package? Receive as many media calls in one week as usually get in a year.

9:30am: Channel 4 confirms slot on presidential visit. Will I be returned to the school by 2pm for teaching? Guaranteed.

10:00pm: Channel 4 calls again. Poor Ron Davies has knocked Menem out of the news frame. Relief. More time to arrange tomorrow's lecture by Argentinian minister. But which minister are we getting?

Student demands Friday workshop papers - requests should have been in by October 16! Any spare copies?


Minister arrives. Respectable attendance. Informed questions. Everyone happy. Back to PhD chapters.


The educational highspot of President Menem's visit - bash at British Library. Argentinian government is funding scholarships for British students to work on the Argentine and Argentinian scholars to visit Britain. The London School of Economics will establish an Argentina programme consisting of a visiting professorship (Prebisch Fellow), a post-doctoral award and support for conferences.

Accords signed at library represent years of effort by the British Council in Buenos Aires and its Argentinian counterpart to promote collaborative research. The Argentine is Britain's fastest growing export market and Britain is the second largest investor in Latin America. New research must enhance understanding between the countries.

2 pm: scuttle across Euston Road for social policy workshop at Institute of Latin American Studies. Almost everyone is already there. The secretary gestures nervously. One of our speakers is trapped on a Virgin train. Re-jig programme. Session goes well: another item for the next RAE?


Where to start: Don's Diary, global history paper or PhD chapters?

Colin M. Lewis

Senior lecturer in Latin American economic history, London School of Economics.

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