Duke's global centers & initiatives

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Mission Statement

The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) mission is: 1) to foster a supportive, intellectually stimulating and interdisciplinary environment for students, faculty and community members interested in the study of Latin America and the Caribbean; 2) to bring together members of our local and worldwide community (K-16 schools, universities, scholars, artists, activists, civic organizations, etc.) in order to promote new ideas, research, and cultural awareness about Latin America and the Caribbean; and 3) to prepare better educated citizens and future leaders who may work in fields related to Latin America and the Caribbean in academics, business, arts, government and many other careers. We fulfill this mission through: 1) educational activities (guest speakers; course development; visiting artists; outreach to local schools; service-learning opportunities; certificate programs; etc.); 2) research support (research/travel grants; conference awards; publications; conferences); and 3) creating social networks and building community (collaborations with other universities, student organizations and alumni; visiting professors; social events).  CLACS also serves as the Duke office of the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University.

Summary of 2020-2021 Programs

During 2020-2021 we organized, co-organized and co-sponsored at least 65 events.  Due to covid restrictions all programs were virtual events via Zoom (with rebroadcast via YouTube and Facebook in particular instances) which enabled us to attract guest speakers and audiences from within Duke and the Triangle, as well as from all over the US and Latin America.  Zoom also allowed us to collaborate with Latin Americanist colleagues at Duke Kunshan University, including a series of collaborative events broadcast from both Durham and Kunshan in April 2021.  We also collaborated with Duke’s Center for International and Global Studies (DUCIGS) on a new series of “Conversations with Ambassadors”, including the Ambassador of Mexico to the US and the Ambassador of the US to Mexico, and with Duke Development on a new series of “Conversations with Leaders” including Enrique Peñalosa, Luis Alberto Moreno, and Paul Farmer.

Other highlights of the year included the 35th anniversary of the NC Latin American Film Festival which paid homage to the best Latin American films produced in the past 35 years and for the first time was presented as a virtual event.  Each year the festival celebrates the power and artistry of Latin America’s film and audiovisual production.  The 2020 festival also included a series of Conversations with scholars of Latin American film as well as a special course on Latin American and Caribbean Film in the Era of Neoliberalism (1985-2020).

Duke CLACS also served as the host institution for the 2021 state-wide NC Conference on Latin American Studies (NCCLAS) which was also presented virtually.  NCCLAS 2021 featured the Keynote Address by Argentine feminist scholar and activist Verónica Gago, “Feminist struggles in Latin America: temporalities of revolt,” as well as a special plenary event with the Chilean author and journalist Pascale Bonnefoy whose Cazar al Cazador: Detectives Tras Criminales de Lesa Humanidad was chosen for the Latin America in Translation Series. Joining her for the conversation was Peter Kornbluh, National Security Archive, George Washington University, and editor Elaine Maisner, University of North Carolina Press.  The conference also included 10 panels and a workshop for K-12 teachers.  During 2020-2021 the UNC-Duke Consortium supported 3 active interdisciplinary research and training working groups:  Environment in Latin America; Gender and Sexuality in the Americas; and Latin American Politics.

CLACS awarded 10 certificates in Latin American Studies (5 undergraduate and 5 graduate) in May 2021.  We honored this year’s certificate recipients with a special web page.  We held 9 competitions for fellowships, research awards and conference grants in support of Duke undergraduate and graduate students and Duke faculty.  We also supported fellowships to faculty from four-year colleges and minority serving institutions.

We are also proud of Duke Latin Americanist faculty and graduate students who won prestigious university-wide and external awards and prizes.  Professor Christine Folch (Cultural Anthropology) who was selected as one of the winners of Duke’s first Global Service Award   was also named a 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellow from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and was awarded a Fulbright US Scholar Teaching-Research Grant, all in support of her work in Paraguay.  Professor John French (History and African & African American Studies) won the 2021 Sergio Buarque de Hollanda Prize for Best Book in the Social Sciences (Latin American Studies Association – Brazil section) for his new book, Lula and his Politics of Cunning.  Four graduating Latin Americanist graduate students won Duke Alumni Association’s 2021 Forever Duke Student Leadership Awards:  Courtney Crumpler (MFA, Dance), Gray Kidd (Ph.D., History), Lucas Rocha-Melogno (Ph.D., Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Edgar Virgüez (Ph.D., Environmental Sciences and Policy).  In addition, the undergraduate student group Duke Desarrolla was selected by Duke International House as the Student Group of the Year, and Edgar Virgüez (Ph.D., Environmental Sciences and Policy) won the category Academic Engagement: Graduate/Professional Academic Wizard.

Enthusiasm and interest in studying Latin America and the Caribbean continues to run high as we have actively recruited new Latin Americanist students and are seeing our highest enrollment figures in our certificate programs.

2020-2021 Notable Programs


Certificates & Degrees

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