Word from the Director
As the Director of our Latin American and Latino Studies Program I offer a warm welcome to all visitors. We invite you to look around and learn more about our students, faculty and alumni, as well as our program’s mission, scholarship, curriculum and community involvement. Our main objective in this Program is to provide students a unique, in-depth and interdisciplinary education that combines the study of Latin America and Latino communities. Students work directly with faculty who engage in research that studies pressing cultural, social, economic and political issues and processes that shape and are shaped by the lives Latin Americans and Latin@s and the US.
Our faculty’s research interests are broad, ranging from the representation of nation, race, gender and labor in film, colonial political discourse and social resistance, social structures and religious rituals among the Maya, and rural development and ecology in Mexico, to Latina reproductive rights, youth activism, transnational Cuban migration, globalization and labor strategies of women in Brazil, Mexican hometown associations, and local, national and global immigrant rights struggles. Our curriculum brings together scholarship from the humanities and social sciences to provide students with a broad exposure to cutting-edge questions of race, nationality, gender, migration, social movements, civic engagement, globalization, precarity and inequality.
I would like to thank former director Nena Torres for her arduous work in developing LALS in new directions. Among her initiatives are the creation and implementation of our Master’s Program (now in its third year); the spearheading of our graduate internship program; the affiliation with the Inter-University Program for Latino Research and the subsequent Siglo XXI Conference at UIC; and the support and sponsorship of a wide and rich range of programs, research initiatives and events in transnational, music, migration, civic engagement, and human rights among others.
In the years ahead I hope to help our program expand opportunities for students through new initiatives. These include creating a LALS study-abroad summer program in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico; developing a scholarship fund to help fund tuition, books, study abroad, and research-related travel; and working with other campus units to help UIC become a Hispanic-serving institution and apply for federal development grants. We also plan to reconnect with LALS alumni and host our 40th anniversary event next year, strengthening connections among faculty, students, alumni and friends of LALS. Additionally, we are conducting an extensive curriculum revision and recruiting more majors. Finally, we have initiated two programming initiatives: graduate student brown bag lectures, and Spring semester themes. In Spring 2014 our theme was Precarity. Throughout the term we explored the connections between precarity and labor, migration, gender and sexuality, and environmental issues. In 2015 we supported the work of Joel Palka and Rosa Cabrera on Chocolate in a series of events and activities exploring the culture of and surrounding this quintessential American product.
Amalia Pallares, Director