Latin American studies

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Latin American studies (LAS) is an academic field dealing with the study of Latin America and Latin Americans.


Latin American studies critically examines the history, culture, politics, and experiences of Latin Americans in Latin America and often also elsewhere (such as Latinos/Hispanics in the United States).

Latin American studies is interdisciplinary from numerous disciplines such as sociology, history, literature, political science, geography, gender studies, and economics; Latin Americanists consider a variety of perspectives and employ diverse analytical tools in their work.

Though Latin America is a fluid (and sometimes contested) concept, with no fixed definition, Latin American studies is usually quite open and often includes or is closely associated with, for instance, Latino studies, Caribbean studies, and transatlantic studies. The Latin American Studies Association, for instance, has sections dealing with Europe and Latin America, Haiti, and Latino studies (among many others).[1]


Latin America has been studied in one way or another ever since Columbus's voyage of 1492, and even before. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scientist explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt published extensively about the region. Towards 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 US, 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.[1] 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, US Latin Americanists 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.[2][3]

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.[4]

Interest in Latin American studies increased starting in the 1950s. In the US, 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.[2] 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.[5] In Canada, York University in Toronto established the first Latin American center, "in part thanks to the inflow of exiled intellectuals from South America."[6] Germany's Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut in Berlin had been founded in 1930, but not until the 1970s did it experience expansion.[7]


Bibliographic resources[edit]



Research Libraries and Archives outside Latin America[edit]

Some notable Latin Americanists[edit]

See also Category:Latin Americanists

See also[edit]


  1. ^ see homepage
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ accessed 13 August 2016.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ José C. Moya,ed. The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, New York: Oxford University Press 2011, p. viii.
  6. ^ Moya, The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, p. viii
  7. ^ Moya, The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History, p. viii.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ JPLA - open access homepage
  16. ^
  17. ^ Donald L. Gibbs, "The development of the literary holdings of the Benson Latin American Collection" Library Chronicle (1992) 22#3 pp 10-21
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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[edit]

  • 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.
  • Delpar, Helen. Looking South: The Evolution of Latin Americanist Scholarship in the United States, 1850-1975 (2008) online review
  • Victor Bulmer-Thomas, ed. Thirty Years of Latin American Studies in the United Kingdom 1965-1995. London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 1997.

External links[edit]

Library Guides for Latin American Studies[edit]