Updates From Our Director

Updates From Our Director:

We will remember 2020 as the first year of COVID that has cut short many lives and has drastically transformed all remaining ones. It has taken away our togetherness in classrooms, meetings, lectures, and performances, forcing the LACIS community to regroup online. It has also been a year of thinking about the tragedies caused by police violence against African Americans. We in LACIS have reflected together that this violence has its roots in the institutional and structural racism, and in the discourses and representations that surround us, and that it is our task as educators to identify and to dismantle them.

Variations of these reflections surface in our Migration Webinar Series which was held September 23-November 18, 2020. In this series, we presented panels comprised of renowned scholars and activists. These panels commented on the harm and struggles of those who have been forced to abandon their homes south of the US border to search for a safe place to live.

In addition to the Migration Webinar Series, our Lunchtime Lecture Series continues to be held on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30, Featured in the series for fall 2020 were gender, indigenous struggles, health, environment, and energy in Latin America.

Beginning last summer, LACIS staff also began collecting short stories on COVID  written by LACIS collaborators in Latin America and Spain. Read what these collaborators in Latin America had to say about the challenges facing their societies during the pandemic. These stories are scrolling on the LACIS homepage. Please scroll to the bottom of the page to find short articles from a variety of voices.

We have also introduced affiliation for graduate students whose research focuses on Latin America in order to widen our LACIS community and make it easier to build graduate student collaborations. Affiliated Graduate student profiles are available on our website listed by department.

This fall, LACIS’ Interdepartmental Graduate Seminar on Latin America (LACIS 982), focused on collaborative inter/transdisciplinary methodologies on topics such as COVID, inequality, development, education, energy, violence, gender, environment, and others. The course benefits from dialogues with LACIS affiliated faculty and invited scholars from off-campus. Thank you to those of you who shared your research and participation.

Earlier in 2020, LACIS established a cohort of K-12 educators with a strong interest in the LACIS region, and area studies in general. This group, the Latin American-Area Studies Educator’s Network (LAAS-EN), plans to meet in January for its second workshop. Through these collaborations, local educators are sharing classroom resources, and lessons plans, we keeping LACIS’ outreach staff abreast of the resources educators need and want to know about our region of the world.

In addition, this fall our center collaborated with three other Title VI Resources Centers at UW-Madison, as well as Madison College and Harper College (IL), to offer a five-week virtual workshop entitled, “The Growing Crisis of Refugees and Statelessness” which was designed specifically for community college educators.

Similar to last year, in September 2020, I invited our affiliates to share their recent publications with us. Please find updated summaries of the LACIS affiliates’ current (2019 and 2020) research, below. I take this opportunity to congratulate all LACIS faculty and staff for their publications, grants, fellowships, and awards! Please continue to send these to us throughout the year and we will continue to update this page accordingly.


Dr. Kata Beilin

LAAS-EN teachers tour Memorial Library Special Collections in February 2020 with Interim Librarian for Ibero-American Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures, Laura Martin.