Latin American Studies

Academic Program Introduction

Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary program. Over 20 faculty in 14 departments teach courses and conduct research on Latin America and its diaspora. With a faculty advisor, students can design a major or minor that draws upon courses from across the social sciences and the humanities. The major equips students with a breadth of knowledge about the region—including one of its major languages—and develops their abilities to evaluate Latin American topics from more than one disciplinary perspective.

Learning goals

  • Comprehend and speak either Spanish or Portuguese at an advanced level, as detailed in the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

  • Demonstrate foundational knowledge of Latin America’s history, cultures, economies, and literatures.

  • Demonstrate specialized knowledge in at least one discipline of the social sciences and one discipline of the humanities.

  • Compare and critique the modes of inquiry—including theories, methods, and/or data—used by Latin Americanists in at least three disciplines of the social sciences and humanities.

  • In at least two disciplines, apply modes of inquiry to evaluate existing research, synthesize its findings, and carry out new research on Latin American topics.

Programs of Study

Latin American studies major and minor

Students explore Latin America’s history, cultures, economies, and literature.

Course highlights

  • This course explores contemporary issues in Latin America from an anthropological perspective. We will discuss legacies of colonialism and Cold War power struggles, as well as the central role social movements are playing in crafting Latin American futures. We will trace the ways the region is enmeshed in transnational processes and migrations and analyze the intersection of culture, race, gender, and class in shaping urban centers, rural hinterlands, and livelihood strategies within them. In particular, we will discuss how ethnographic research – the long-term fieldwork conducted by anthropologists – can enrich our understanding of hotly debated issues such as statecraft, borders, and shifting meanings of citizenship; in/security, human rights, and democratization; and, illicit economies, extractive industries, and critical approaches to development. (ANTH 245 and LAST 245 are cross-listed courses.)
  • An examination of the principal characteristics of the search for identity and independence of the emerging Latin American nations as expressed in literary, historical, and anthropological writing. We will examine the experience of each of four distinct regions: Mexico and Central America, the Caribbean, the Andean countries, and the Southern Cone. Readings will include the works of contemporary Latin American writers, filmmakers, and historians. Special attention will be given to the relationship between social issues and the evolution of literary form. (LAST 275 and SPAN 275 are cross-listed courses.)

Research highlights

  • Evelina Gužauskytė sits at a table with five other students as they have a discussion session.

    Professor Evelina Gužauskytė’s second book (working title: Imperial Gaze, Local Narratives: The Politics of Female Fashion in Eighteenth-century New Spain casta Paintings) studies the depictions of women’s garments and bodies in 18th-century casta paintings of New Spain. The book explores female clothing and body as a juncture between the lived experience, the artist’s mind, and the politics and the rhetoric of fashion.

  • Professor Goldschmitt plays on their keyboard while reading notes off of a monitor.

    Professor Kaleb Goldschmitt’s research focuses on the role music plays in audiovisual media such as film, television, advertising, video games, and TikTok. Goldschmitt’s publications have explored Brazilian music in a Nike ad for the 2006 World Cup, mobile music distribution in the Brazilian music industry, and samba and funk in Brazilian gangster films.


  • Wellesley-in-Chile

    In Wellesley-in-Chile, students enroll in one of seven Chilean universities in either Santiago or Valparaíso. They live and study with Chileans and involve themselves in the community through volunteer work, internships, and extracurricular activities. They can choose to follow certain tracks offered at specific universities, including human rights, social movements, and applied studies in health.

  • Study abroad

    Students can apply to other Wellesley-approved study abroad programs. These include 22 programs in which the language of instruction is either Spanish or Portuguese.

  • Internships

    Students learning Portuguese can apply to study and complete internships in Brazil, Portugal, and Cabo Verde.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

Many of our graduates pursue careers in nonprofit organizations, law, higher education, and environmental goods and services. Recent employers include Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile, Amigos de las Americas, and Munger, Tolles & and Olson.

Latin American Studies Program

Green Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
António Igrejas
Program Director
Karen Cronin
Academic Administrator