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Latin American and Latino Studies

Department Overview

Swarthmore's Latin American and Latino Studies Program introduces students to the shared history and the rich diversity of Latin American societies, cultures and nation-states, as well as with the transnational dynamics that shape Latino, Latina and Latinx experiences in the United States. Students in the program draw on a variety of disciplines for a fuller understanding of how to conceptualize “Latin America” and “latinidad” in all their complexity.  Spoken language, literature and visual culture; pre-colonial, colonial, and modern history; indigenous, immigrant, and diasporic experiences; political and economic systems and social movements; religion, spirituality and other forms of devotion; and socioeconomic conditions and cultural identities all figure into this far-ranging and broadly inclusive course of study. Courses in anthropology, sociology, educational studies, history, Spanish, religion, political science, art history, and peace and conflict studies contribute to this exciting interdisciplinary program.

Students may pursue a minor, a special major or an Honors minor in Latin American and Latino Studies.  Studying beyond the traditional classroom walls provides students with invaluable opportunities for enriching intellectual experiences and personal growth.  Most students spend at least one semester abroad in Latin America. For students who are unable to study abroad for whatever reason, faculty-guided off-campus involvement in a local immigrant or Latinx community offers another way to pursue comparable opportunities. ​


A Highlight of Spring 2022 Courses

Course Flyer for SPAN 103

This seminar studies contemporary Central American literature and culture with a focus on theories of trauma to discuss cultural representations of human suffering, empathy, and pain. Read more

Course Flyer HIST 004

Drawing on literature, cinema, newspapers, cartoons, music, official documents, and historical essays, this survey course examines the colonial incorporation of the region into the Atlantic economy; the neo-colonial regimes of the 19th and 20th centuries and their diverse and convergent historical paths; and the challenges and opportunities of earlier and current globalization trends. Read more

Course Flyer HIST 067

Focusing on 1970s Latin American dictatorships, this course’s aims are twofold: firstly, a critical examination of the available scholarship on the so-called “Dirty Wars” that produced the disappearance of thousands of citizens-particularly young people-in the context of state terrorism; secondly, an exploration of the relations between those Latin American dictatorships and the United States through a rigorous research exercise using the National Security Archive and other primary sources. Read more

Course Flyer SPAN 051

This course will focus on Cuban literature and culture produced during the historical period of the Cuban Revolution. Read more

This seminar studies contemporary Central American literature and culture with a focus on theories of trauma to discuss cultural representations of human suffering, empathy, and pain. Read more

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WOLA Internship, Carman Testimony '21

With the support of the Lang Center’s Social Impact Summer Scholarships, Louisa Carman ’21, Political Science major, was able to work at WOLA (remotely due to COVID-19), and contribute to their efforts of promoting human rights, social justice, and democracy in Latin America.

Read Louisa’s reflection of her experience

Isabella Smull '16

Congratulations to Isabella Smull ’16, Latin American and Latino studies honors minor, who was selected as a Boren Scholar this year which supports a federal initiative to deepen the pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. 

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), the Boren award provides funding and encouragement to develop language skills and experiences in countries critical to the stability of the U.S., and to help the federal sector address and respond to global issues.

“I was ecstatic and very thankful to find out that I’ve been given the opportunity to take the next step — to move beyond my studies and toward taking action,” says Smull, an Honors political science major from Kensington, California.

Smull will spend the next academic year at The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, becoming fluent in Portuguese while studying international and regional security issues. She will also research emerging security and development issues at Igarapé Institute.

Smull also received the 2016 Janice Bond Senior Award  from the Pan American Association of Philadelphia for her outstanding excellence in Latin American Studies.