Effective Fall 2021, following unanimous and enthusiastic support from colleagues both within our program and across campus, our program name will be changing from Latin American Studies to Latin American and Latinx Studies (LALS) to reflect our current and future curriculum. This name change is designed to highlight the importance of the study of Latinx people and cultures at Bates College while decentering the United States from this endeavor. Our name change is designed to reflect our belief that Latin America cannot be fully understood without considering its linkages to its diaspora and populations with historic ties to present day U.S. territory. Furthermore, Latinx communities are to be studied within the colonial experience and connections they share with Latin America, whether they be language, culture, history, religion or politics. We believe that we have a moral imperative to center the study of Latinx people as a historical collectivity that has been shaping the United States since the colonization of North America began. As the program in Latin American and Latinx Studies, we hope to expand opportunities for Bates students seeking to deepen connections with their own Latin American and Latinx heritage.
Latin American Studies (LAS, soon to be LALS) is an interdisciplinary program that integrates courses in the social sciences and the humanities. LALS brings together different methods of inquiry to better understand the cultures, societies and environments of Latin America, and explores the continuing importance of Latin America in a global context. Faculty members from several disciplines including anthropology, environmental studies, history, politics, and literary and cultural studies contribute to the major. Courses focus on Latin America from initial European encounters to the present and examine various countries in this diverse area of the world that includes Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Students in the program also consider the ongoing relevance of the interactions of the region’s indigenous population with people coming from Europe, Africa, and Asia for more than half a millennium.
The program in Latin American Studies has the following goals and objectives:
- Foster in students a love for Latin America by increasing their knowledge of the complexity of the region and an understanding of their positioning in relation to it.
- Broaden students’ worldviews and challenge ethnocentric attitudes by expanding their understanding of diversity and difference in today’s world.
- Promote students’ global fluency by cultivating empathy and by teaching the tools necessary to communicate across cultures.
- Develop both a broad appreciation and fine-grained understanding of the region’s historical and contemporary dimensions, including but not limited to: encounter, conquest, colonization, enslavement, resistance, negotiation, revolution, state-building, and globalization.
- Encourage sustained exploration of race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and religion in the shaping of historical and contemporary Latin America.
- Foster interdisciplinary inquiry through different methodologies associated with such inquiry.
- Teach critical thinking skills and strong oral, written and visual communication.
With a degree in Latin American Studies, Bates graduates work in many fields, such as US, Latin American or international government work, international business, education, international development, the non-profit sector (e.g., environment, human rights, health), journalism, the arts, and scientific research.