Our Programs: Latin American Studies

Latin America — two continents on two oceans, where speakers of Spanish, Portuguese and French have their counterparts in dozens of indigenous languages — and where the conflicted histories of the literary and the political have been evolving since 1492.

For more information about the requirements for the major in Latin American Studies, please consult the General Announcements or contact the Program Advisor, José Aranda.

Rice’s Program in Latin American Studies offers a range of interdisciplinary courses designed to examine the cultures, histories and politics of Latin America. We look at Latin America from both regional and global perspectives. Courses and faculty are drawn from a wide range of departments and programs, including anthropology, architecture, art history, English, French studies, history, Spanish and Portuguese, political science, and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender & Sexuality. Latin American studies provides a challenging context for students to develop core skills in a truly interdisciplinary setting with a focus on language; communication (oral and written); literary, cultural and political theory; research methodologies; the visual arts; and geography. The major in Latin American studies allows students the flexibility to study how knowledge and cultural technologies traverse social groups across Latin and Central America and the United States.

We study how knowledge is produced from sites that are local (e.g., grassroots responses to anti-immigration sentiment and legislation in Houston), or regional in character (e.g., women’s leadership in labor organizing in the U.S.-Mexico border region) or hemispheric in influence (indigenous movements that seek to create more native forms of democracy and polity). We explore the many connections that exist between the cultures and histories of the regions and nations that compose the contested geographies of what we call Latin America, and we examine how the literature and art in these regions simultaneously reflect processes of national building and shared transnational experiences.

Students graduating with the major in Latin American studies will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to speak and read fluently and conduct research in a foreign language.
  • Be able to interpret the historic, cultural and political dynamics that comprise a specific region selected by the student for in-depth study.
  • Be able to apply critical perspectives on legacies and ongoing forces that are local and global in scope from the field of Latin American studies.
  • Be able to define a research problem and analyze it from several different disciplinary fields, including appropriate theory, methodology and concepts for the topic.

Students majoring in Latin American studies will take courses with appropriate Latin American content at Rice or at an approved program abroad for a total of 10 courses (30 semester hours). No fewer than six courses (18 semester hours) have to be taken at Rice.