Latin American studies (LAS) is an academic and research field associated with the study of Latin America. The interdisciplinary study is a subfield of area studies, and can be composed of numerous disciplines such as economics, sociology, history, international relations, political science, geography, cultural studies, gender studies, and literature.


Latin American studies critically examines the history, culture, international relations, and politics of Latin America. It is not to be confused with Latino studies, an academic discipline which studies the experience of people of Latin American ancestry in the United States. The emergence of a Latin American scholarly focus departed to a degree from Spain-centric views of regions that had been part of the Spanish Empire. As Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera describes in Decolonizing American Spanish, the rise of Latin American Studies decentralized the Eurocentric nature of scholarship across several fields: "At once a radical and democratizing thrust, the move localized a hemispheric shift in intellectual focus and had profound influences on the central tenets of the disciplines, on the institutions involved (departments, universities, publications, professional associations, and so on), on the structural presumptions that organize knowledge-production, and on the latitude of subjectivities that may be conceptualized and institutionalized. While many of the pre–Latin American studies methodologies remain (including the centrality of literature, foregrounding the national/transnational as a meaningful container of culture, and periodization exigencies), the move toward Latin America localized the themes and subjects that appeared in US classrooms, deconstructing some of the Eurocentric supremacy of the traditional model."[1]

Latin Americanists consider a variety of perspectives and employ diverse research tools in their work. The interdisciplinary disciplines of study varies, depending on the school, association, and academic program. For example, the Latin American Centre of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies (SIAS) at the University of Oxford heavily focuses on the social sciences, such as the economics, politics, and development of the region.[2] The Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona also focuses on social sciences with faculty from Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, and History an places emphasis on issues related to anti-racism, human rights, security, environment and health. On the other hand, schools like Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) at The University of Texas at Austin, focus on the humanities; with the language, culture, and history of Latin America as a central component.[3] Others include the study of environment and ecology of the region.

Latin American studies is usually quite open and often includes or is closely associated with, for instance, Development studies, Geography, Anthropology, Caribbean studies, and Transatlantic studies.


Latin America has been studied in one way or another ever since Columbus's voyage of 1492. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientist explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt published extensively about the region. Toward the end of the nineteenth century and at the turn of the twentieth, within the region itself writers such as José Martí and José Enrique Rodó encouraged a consciousness of regional identity.

In 1875, the International Congress of Americanists held its first meeting in Nancy, France, and has met regularly ever since, alternating between venues in Europe and in the Western hemisphere. However, unlike the scholarly organizations of the twentieth century, the ICA does not have an ongoing organization, nor is there a journal of the ICA. The creation of formal and ongoing scholarly organizations focusing on Latin America is a product of the twentieth century.

In the United States, historians with an interest in Latin American history within the American Historical Association created a group focusing on Latin America. In 1918, they founded The Hispanic American Historical Review, which has published quarterly since that time and has built a reputation as one of the premier scholarly journals.[4] The Latin Americanists within the AHA created the Conference on Latin American History in 1926, which is now separately incorporated (since 1964), but continues to coordinate its annual meetings with the American Historical Association. In 1936, Latin Americanists in the United States also founded the Handbook of Latin American Studies, with editorial offices in the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress. In a pre-digital era, the compilation of annotated bibliographic references in the humanities and social science organized by subject and country was a vital tool for scholars in the field.[5][6] In 1954 was founded in Paris the Institute of Latin American Studies (IHEAL), by the geographer Pierre Monbeig.[7]

With the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the US government began seriously focusing on Latin America as Cuba and the hemisphere was seen to be an integral element of Cold War politics. The Latin American historian who wrote the early history of the founding of the Latin American Studies Association wryly suggested in 1966 that at some future date Latin Americanists should erect a statue to Fidel Castro, the "remote godfather" of the field, who instigated a renewed US interest in the region.[8]

Interest in Latin American studies increased starting in the 1950s. In the United States, Latin American studies (like other area studies) was boosted by the passing of Title VI of the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958, which provided resources for Centers of Area and International Studies.International Education Programs Service - The History of Title VI and Fulbright-Hays: An Impressive International Timeline In the UK, the 1965 "Parry Report"[citation needed] provided similar impetus for the establishment of Institutes and Centres of Latin American Studies at Oxford, London, Cambridge, and Liverpool.[9] In Canada, York University in Toronto established the first Latin American center, "in part thanks to the inflow of exiled intellectuals from South America."[10] Germany's Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut in Berlin had been founded in 1930, but not until the 1970s did it experience expansion.[11]


Bibliographic resources

Reference works



Research Libraries and Archives outside Latin America

Some notable Latin Americanists

See also Category:Latin Americanists

See also


  1. ^ Herlihy-Mera, Jeffrey (2022). Decolonizing American Spanish. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780822988984.
  2. ^ "MSc Latin American Studies (MSc LAS)". Latin American Centre. Archived from the original on 27 June 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  3. ^ "LLILAS Graduate Program". UT College of Liberal Arts. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  4. ^ see homepage
  5. ^ Howard F. Cline, "The Latin American Studies Association: A Summary Survey with Appendix," Latin American Research Review, Vol 2 No. 1, (Autumn, 1966) pp. 57-79.
  6. ^ Panel 11-The Hispanic Division and the Handbook of Latin American Studies: highlighting Luso-Hispanic Collections in the Library of Congress Archived 2016-09-20 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  7. ^ About IHEAL, accessed 15 November 2019.
  8. ^ Howard F. Cline, "The Latin American Studies Association: A Summary Survey with Appendix," Latin American Research Review, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Autumn 1966), p. 64.
  9. ^ José C. Moya,ed. The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, New York: Oxford University Press 2011, p. viii.
  10. ^ Moya, The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, p. viii
  11. ^ Moya, The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, p. viii.
  12. ^ "CLAH". Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  13. ^ Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies website
  14. ^ "Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies". 31 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies". Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies. 1 October 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  16. ^ "Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials".
  17. ^ "ABOUT".
  18. ^ "The Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies". 5 March 2018.
  19. ^ "HAHR – Hispanic American Historical Review Online". Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  20. ^ "Journal of Politics in Latin America: Sage Journals". Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  21. ^ "UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program – Latin American and Iberian Studies Program, UC Santa Barbara". Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  22. ^ Donald L. Gibbs, "The development of the literary holdings of the Benson Latin American Collection" Library Chronicle (1992) 22#3 pp 10-21
  23. ^ Mary Wilke, Patricia J. Finney, and James Simon. "Colonial Latin American Resources at the Center for Research Libraries." Colonial Latin American Review 11.2 (2002): 317-323.
  24. ^ Roger Macdonald, "Library Resources for Latin American Studies in the United Kingdom 25 Years after the Parry Report." Bulletin of Latin American Research 9.2 (1990): 265-269. in JSTOR

Further reading

  • Alvarez, Sonia, Arturo Arias, and Charles R. Hale. "Re-Visioning Latin American Studies." Cultural Anthropology 26, no. 2 (2011): 225-46.
  • Berger,Mark R. Under Northern Eyes: Latin American Studies and U.S. Hegemony in the Americas, 1898-1990. Bloomington: Indiana University Press 1995.
  • Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, ed. Thirty Years of Latin American Studies in the United Kingdom 1965-1995. London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 1997.
  • Cline, Howard F. ed. Latin American History: Essays on its Study and Teaching, 1898-1965. 2 vols. Published for the Conference on Latin American History by University of Texas Press 1967.
  • Cline, Howard F. "The Latin American Studies Association: A Summary Survey with Appendix," Latin American Research Review, Vol 2 No. 1, (Autumn, 1966) pp. 57-79.
  • Crahan, Margaret E. "Lest We Forget: Women's Contribution to Making LASA an Organization for All Its Members by One of the First Women to Serve on the Executive Council, (1973-1975)," LASA Forum 37 (Spring 2006): 11-14.
  • Delpar, Helen. Looking South: The Evolution of Latin Americanist Scholarship in the United States, 1850-1975 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press 2008) online review
  • Dent, David W., ed. Handbook of Political Science Research on Latin America: Trends from the 1960s to the 1990s. Westport CT: Greenwood Press 1990.
  • Diégues Júnior, Manuel and Bryce Wood, eds. Social Science in Latin America. New York: Columbia University Press 1967.
  • Eakin, Marshall C. "Latin American History in the United States: From Gentleman Scholars to Academic Specialists," History Teacher 31 (August 1998) 539-61.
  • Hanke, Lewis, "The Development of Latin American Studies in the United States, 1939-1945," The Americas 4 (1947) 32-64.
  • Hilbink, Lisa and Paul Drake, “The Joint Committee on Latin American Studies,” pp. 17-36, en Paul Drake et al., International Scholarly Collaboration: Lessons From the Past. A Report of the Social Science Research Council Inter-regional Working Group on International Scholarly Collaboration. Nueva York, NY: SSRC Working Paper Series on Building Intellectual Capacity for the 21st Century, 2000.
  • Kagan, Richard L., ed. Spain in America: The Origins of Hispanism in the United States. Urbana: University of Illinois Press 2002.
  • Mitchell, Christopher,ed. Changing Perspectives in Latin American Studies: Insights from Six Disciplines. Stanford: Stanford University Press 1988.
  • Sable, Martin, ed. Guide to the Writings of Pioneer Latinamericanists in the United States. New York: Haworth Press 1989.
  • Salvatore, Ricardo D. Disciplinary Conquest: U.S. Scholars in South America, 1900–1945. Durham: Duke University Press, 2016.
  • Tenorio-Trillo, Mauricio. Latin America: The Allure and Power of an Idea. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2017. ISBN 978-0-226-44306-5

Library Guides for Latin American Studies