Thematic Initiatives

Our faculty and students have broad research interests and strengths. However, we have identified four areas in which LACS offerings are especially strong:

  • Art, Literature, and Music

UW has a robust group of faculty and students who work on a variety of projects related to Latin America’s art and literature. From teaching courses on the history of Latin American film to researching performance in the Caribbean, our program offers a wealth of resources for students and community partners interested in the art and literature of the region as well as their connection to broader political and social issues.


  • Health and Human Rights

Among the prescient issues confronting Latin American in the 20th and 21st century are issues related to public health and human rights. LACS affiliated faculty and programs are at the forefront of these fields, researching and engaging with on-the-ground projects that practically address concerns about public health and human rights violations in the region. Faculty at UW are also engaged in significant research on two related sub-themes, the Environment and Development. LACS partners with the following two programs, led by LACS associated faculty, to engage the UW and at-large community in this important work:

PERLA (Program for Education and Research in Latin America)

The Program for Education and Research in Latin America at the UW Department of Global Health promotes interdisciplinary training exchange and research projects in infectious and chronic diseases and maternal and reproductive health in Peru and Mexico, with plans to expand to other countries in the region. Please visit the program website here.

UW Center for Human Rights

The University of Washington Center for Human Rights at the Jackson School of International Studies was established by an initiative of the WA legislature in 2009. The Center spans departments, schools, and UW’s three campuses to bring together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines whose work focuses on human rights issues. Currently the Center’s director is an associated faculty member of the LACS program and several of the ongoing projects are in Latin America. For more information about UW CHR please visit their website.


  • Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity

Colonial legacies loom large in the Americas.  These are perhaps most evident in the ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples.  Issues of indigeneity, race, and ethnicity are necessary considerations in any conceptualization of political, cultural, economic, or social structures within Latin America and the Caribbean. Recognizing the importance of exploring these and related questions, scholars at UW focus teaching and research on this important theme.  Many of our affiliated faculty members participate in the Simpson Center-supported Indigenous Encounters Research Cluster and collaborate closely with others or teach in the American Indian Studies Department, the American Ethnic Studies Department, and the University of Washington ‘s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality.


  • Borderlands

Associated faculty and students involved in the study of Borderlands at UW complicate the notion of Borderlands to include cognitive, biophysical, and geographic spaces. Gender, ethnicity, social movements, the environment, and violence are just a few of the ways in which we study the internal and external borders across the Latin American and Caribbean Diaspora.