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“Our North is The South!”

 

At UC San Diego, Latin American Studies (LAS) is a matter of perspective. Scholars in our field set out to turn the world upside down by centering the various ways that Latin American artists, political militants, writers, intellectuals, and everyday people think about, represent, and reinvent themselves, their communities, and the world.

While the (Cold War) formation of Latin American Studies as a discipline focused on an area studies approach to understanding the region in the service of expanding US political and market interests, LAS scholars and teachers today produce knowledge alongside and in the service of social justice movements, community advocacy, and developing alternatives to the dark side of globalization. Insurgent scholars throughout Latin America have been an important source of inspiration and commitment to knowledge that seeks liberation from the colonial legacies that continue to manifest throughout the region; and UCSD LAS faculty embrace the opportunities to provide space for their ideas in US academia.

The curriculum of the LAS program at UCSD provides a critical lens to examine the relationship between the US and the region. But it does so by centering the experiences of people “from below.” On the one hand, LAS provides tools for understanding and engaging with the modern world in this current moment of crisis in US global hegemony. On the other, LAS builds upon a long tradition of dialogue and innovation amongst Global South peoples throughout the Western Hemisphere: nuestramericanismo, tercermundismo, indianismo, and subaltern studies. Students who enter professions that demand a knowledge of Latin America and Latin American peoples benefit from developing a preparedness for a globalized world, where the US remains only one of many contested and contesting powers in world politics, culture, art and technology.

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