1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Cynthia Hewitt de Alcántara

Former Deputy Director

Cynthia Hewitt de Alcántara was Deputy Director and Research Co-ordinator at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). She retired in September 2002. Cynthia began her collaboration with UNRISD in 1971-1974, as a consultant, when she directed the Institute-sponsored research programme on the Socio-economic Implications of the Green Revolution in Mexico. The resulting book, La modernización de la agricultura mexicana (7th edition, 2000), has become a standard textbook in Mexican universities. During the early 1980s, Cynthia explored the sociology of knowledge about Mexican rural life. In 1984 she published a study of changing anthropological worldviews, called Anthropological Perspectives on Rural Mexico, which forms part of the Routledge International Library of Anthropology. Its Spanish translation, Imágenes del campo, is also used as a textbook in Mexican anthropology courses. Before joining UNRISD in 1986, she was associated with the Center for Sociological Studies of El Colegio de México, in Mexico City.
At UNRISD, Cynthia has directed a number of programmes, including food systems and food policy, and the social implications of structural adjustment in Latin America. At the time of the UN World Summit on Social Development (1995), she was responsible for the UNRISD programme on Rethinking Social Development. She wrote the UNRISD Briefing Papers for the Social Summit on Social Integration: Approaches and Issues, and on Structural Adjustment in a Changing World. And she has helped to develop UNRISD work on globalization, including its recent programme on Information Technologies and Social Development, which she co-ordinates.

Cynthia has served on the editorial boards of Current Anthropology, the Journal of International Affairs, and Development and Change. She has also been a member of the Advisory Board of the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame; the Doctoral Fellowship Committee of the Inter-American Foundation, in Washington D.C., and the Advisory Committee on Rural Development of the Ford Foundation, in Mexico City. She is an elected member of the Centro Tepoztlán.

Recent Selected Publications:
The Development Divide in a Digital Age, UNRISD Programme Paper on Technology and Society, No.2, 2001; Rights @ glob. net: Globalization and Human Rights, edited volume with Alberto Minujin, UNRISD/UNICEF, 2000. In Spanish, Derechos @ glob.net: Globalizacion y derechos humanos, Bogota, Editorial Santillana, 1999; “Uses and Abuses of the Concept of Governance”, International Social Science Journal, No.155, March 1998; Social Futures, Global Visions, edited volume, London Blackwell, 1996. Also published as a special issue of Development and Change, Vol.27, No.2, December 1992; Real Markets: Social and Political Issues of Food Policy Reform, edited volume, London, Frank Cass, 1993. Also published as a special issue of The European Journal of Development Research, Vol.4, No.2, December 1992; Economic Restructuring and Rural Subsistence in Mexico, edited volume, UNRISD/Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California at San Diego, 1994.