Dr Steven Rubenstein

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the sudden and unexpected death of Dr Steven Rubenstein, Reader in Latin American Studies at the University of Liverpool, UK.

A graduate student at Columbia University and a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities, Steve worked for eight years as an Assistant and then Associate Professor at Ohio University before joining us at the University of Liverpool in 2006. In Liverpool, Steve served as Director of the Research Institute of Latin American Studies, and was also programme director of our MA in Latin American Studies. He was instrumental in developing an interdisciplinary research network in Liverpool devoted to Children, Childhood and Communities. Steve will be remembered in particular for his passionate interest in the Shuar nation in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and for his commitment to the defence of the Shuar people’s rights to determine their own culture and identity. A Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2008/9, Steve was planning fieldwork later this year to complete his collection of life histories of Shuar women. He was developing a series of ambitious projects that would have continued to challenge prior notions of indigenous politics, culture and identity in the Amazon and beyond. Steve was a valued colleague and an exceptional interlocutor who will be greatly missed by all those whose lives he touched. I am sure that those who knew Steve will wish to join colleagues in Liverpool in remembering his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers at this very difficult time.

Please do not hesitate to direct any enquiries to Charles Forsdick, Head of the Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, University of Liverpool (craf@liv.ac.uk).

Statement from Lucy Taylor, SLAS President

It is with great sadness that I mark the passing of Steve Rubenstein. For me, he was a man of great warmth, kindness, passion and compassion, an idealist who believed in the power of education and the intellectual vocation to make a difference – for the better – in the world. I got to know Steve at a conference in Goldsmiths when he spoke about the Shuar and found his subtlety of mind, thinking and speaking immensely engaging. More recently I met Steve at a meeting of the Standing Conference of Centres of Latin American Studies.  The depth of his thinking and feeling made his comments, even on the vital yet bureaucratic matters of university life, not only profound but also profoundly political. Thinking about him now, I think it was his capacity to interweave these two elements – thought and emotion – which was for me the hallmark of his unique intellectual style. As SLAS President I would like to take this opportunity to mark Steve’s contribution to Latin American studies. Not only was he Director of RILAS at Liverpool and a committed member of the Standing Conference committee, he was instrumental in organising the SLAS Annual Conference at Liverpool in 2008 and was more generally a great supporter of the Society and especially those studying Latin America at Liverpool. It was through these everyday practices (as Steve might have said) that he enriched the world. On behalf of the Society, I send our heart-felt condolences to Steve’s family and friends. We will miss him.

Lucy Taylor, SLAS President,
Aberystwyth, 11 March 2012.