Program Statement on Anti-Racism, Inclusion and Diversity

The Latin American and Latino Studies Program is committed to an inclusive and diverse definition of Latin@, Latinx and other identities. We encourage students and professionals to explore and discuss the history and meanings of the terms Latin America, Latino and Latinx in the Americas, including Brazil, the Caribbean and diasporic communities in the United States.

Watch a thoughtful discussion led by the New York Times.

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In its curriculum and co-curricular and research foci, the LALS program includes histories and peoples in Latin America and the Caribbean--including areas formerly colonized by Spain, Portugal, England, France, and the Netherlands--and in communities of Latin American and Caribbean origin in the United States (Latinx). In our research, courses, programming and support for student research and other activities, we are deeply engaged with understanding the legacies and ongoing effects of colonization and related processes (such as genocide, land dispossession, extractivism, enslavement and other forms of coerced labor, revolutions, etc). We recognize that these legacies and ongoing effects also operate within the fields of Latin American and Latinx studies, and in the various disciplines in which we are trained, and that we ourselves also at times continue, unknowingly, to reproduce these. That is, our research, programmatic and pedagogical practices are not external to, but deeply intertwined with, colonization and race-making. 

We commit to ongoing critical examination of the ways in which socially, linguistically and racially constituted groups continue to be marginalized and erased within our fields, and to concrete efforts to counteract these processes in our courses and syllabi, teaching practice, public-facing materials, programming, grants and prizes, and hiring. We recognize that these projects need to go beyond discussions of racialization to the active centering of Blackness and Indigeneity within the program. We also commit to listening actively to critiques and challenges from our students and others and to implementing changes to make our work more just, inclusive and equitable. We have benefitted from open conversations among each other and with LALS and Brandeis students, particularly BIPOC students, about the ways in which the program could better center Black and Indigenous scholars, topics and perspectives. We do not expect we will always see eye-to-eye, but we regard these conversations as part of a dynamic, sustained engagement. 

Race, color, language, ethnicity and other categories of identity have immensely complex histories within the Americas. These categories vary across space and time, and they also intersect with each other and with other axes of difference such as class, gender, sexuality, immigration status, language, ability/disability, religion, and so on. Recognizing that complexity is critical to understanding the region and its diasporas and to combating racism and other modes of exclusion and dehumanization where they occur. At the same time, anti-Blackness and the ongoing genocide and slow violence of settler colonialism are hemispheric (and global) phenomena that need to be named and confronted as such. Balancing these different dimensions of social difference and inequality is not easy. However, doing so is critical to a full understanding of the Americas from our various perspectives and to the constitution of an inclusive and just hemispheric community.