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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 Fall 2022 Courses

Course flyer for Spanish 063

This course focuses on the audiovisual representation of Latinx in the United States and the politics behind those representations. From Carmen Miranda to Selena and Jennifer Lopez, from the films of Robert Rodríguez to the productions of Lin Manuel Miranda, including works by contemporary visual and performance artists, the course discusses the representation of the Latinx identities and sociopolitical issues by both Hollywood and independent Latinx filmmakers and visual artists.

Course flyer for History 066

From malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS to polio, Zika, tobacco-related cancer and COVID, this course aims to explore the interplay between culture, society, politics and biomedicine in the historical construction of diseases in the modern world. Emphasis will be placed on Latin America, but the course will also include the examination of European, African, Asian, and North American cases.

Course flyer for Spanish 088

This course focuses on contemporary Central American literature. It begins with the revolutionary poetry, narrative of resistance, and testimony that emerged out of the sociopolitical turmoil of the isthmus during the decades of war, resolutions, and genocide. 

Course flyer for Peace and Conflict Studies 038

This course focuses on the sociopolitical turmoil that devastated Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador as a wave of revolutionary wars swept across the region from the 1960s to the early 1990s and sought to end decades of oppressive military dictatorships.

This course focuses on the audiovisual representation of Latinx in the United States and the politics behind those representations. From Carmen Miranda to Selena and Jennifer Lopez, from the films of Robert Rodríguez to the productions of Lin Manuel Miranda, including works by contemporary visual and performance artists, the course discusses the representation of the Latinx identities and sociopolitical issues by both Hollywood and independent Latinx filmmakers and visual artists.

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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.