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Center for Latin American & Latino Studies

The Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) is a multidisciplinary center harnessing expertise from throughout the American University community and with counterparts around the world to serve as a catalyst for excellence in the cultivation and dissemination of knowledge about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino communities in the United States. Its work reflects enduring commitment to social inclusion, good governance, human security, equitable international relations,and understanding of country and regional issues and a mission to generate analyses that foster balanced, long-term solutions to societal challenges. 

The Center’s goals are to:

  • Empower changemakers throughout the hemisphere by giving them high quality data and analysis about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino communities.
  • Raise the quality of debate and policy on and in Latin America and the Caribbean by generating and disseminating sophisticated academic inputs.
  • Deepen understanding of the dynamics within and around Latino communities as integral participants in national political, social, and economic life in the United States.
  • Promote community and inclusion among people of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and interests throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States through the open, transparent exchange of knowledge.

Message from Director Eric Hershberg

Focus Areas

The Center produces research projects that address Inclusion, Governance, Security, International Relations, Environment, and Regional and Country Studies. Learn more about these six key focus areas of our research below. 


Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2020-21 William M. LeoGrande Award & Prize

Associate Professor Juliana Martínez, of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, is the recipient of the Award for best book or peer-reviewed article in Latin American or Latino Studies published by a member of the American University community for her extraordinary book, "Haunting Without Ghosts: Spectral Realism in Colombian Literature, Film, and Art" (University of Texas Press 2020).

Gordon Levin Associate Professor of History at Amherst College, Vanessa Walker, is the recipient of the Prize for best international scholarly work on U.S.-Latin American relations for her deeply researched book, “Principles of Power: Latin America and the Politics of U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy” (Cornell University Press 2020).

The Center Announces a Research Project in Collaboration with FLACSO-Costa Rica

The Center has been awarded a contract to partner with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales - Costa Rica in efforts to disseminate findings of Vidas Sitiadas II, a multi-year, six-country research program focused on populations of vulnerable women in Latin America. With particular emphases on gender, youth, violence, and employment, the project's case studies on Costa Rica, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina offer fresh insights into dynamics of social and economic inclusion, and the sorts of policies and practices that might broaden opportunities for women across the region, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Center Has Published Two Working Papers as Part of Recent Research Projects

CLALS published a new Working Paper in Spanish and English examining the diversity, scale, and impacts of efforts by the U.S. government and civil society over the last two decades to boost prosperity in Uruguay through investment, trade, and assistance programs, as well as flows of knowledge and expertise, technological diffusion, and training. The report highlights U.S. efforts in such sectors as education, defense, the arts, and health, among others, including assistance to combat Covid-19. This Working Paper is an outcome of the Center’s project, “Assessing the Cumulative Effects of U.S. Engagement in Uruguay and Chile,” sponsored by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting with the support of the U.S. Department of State. As part of this project, a comparable study on U.S. contributions to Chile is soon forthcoming.

CLALS published another Working Paper that describes China’s efforts to shape perceptions of its growing role in the region among Latin America and Caribbean publics. It examines the diversifying delivery of Chinese media content, and expansion of China’s Digital Silk Road, along with impacts of its pandemic assistance and public diplomacy efforts, including the activities of Confucius Institutes. This study is an outcome of the Center’s project, “Communicating Influence: China’s Messaging in Latin America and the Caribbean,” also sponsored by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting with the support of the U.S. Department of State.

Past News

Funder & Partner Highlights

CLALS Receives Grant to Study Illegal Fishing in Latin America

The Center has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State as part of its one-year “Western Hemisphere Regional Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Assessment” initiative. Led by CLALS faculty affiliate and SIS Associate Professor Matt Taylor and CLALS Research Fellow Steven Dudley, this project assesses and maps fishing legislation; law enforcement capacity to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing); scope of crimes associated with IUU fishing; and the adverse economic and environmental impacts of IUU fishing across Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Funders & Partners