Afro-Latin American Studies

Year Awarded: 2016

This initiative is actively conducting research.

Afro-Latin American studies is a nascent field, and it has already changed course rather dramatically in recent years. Whereas researchers used to study the effects of slavery in Latin America, over the past few decades mounting research has shifted focus toward documenting inequality, discrimination, and mobilization for racial justice. Scholars began debating the ideologies of racial democracy, with some blaming these ideologies for perpetuating racial discrimination and others arguing just the opposite. Meanwhile, the study of the colonial period has also moved in novel directions, like the study of black-indigenous relations.

Money from the Weatherhead Initiative supports this interdisciplinary and collaborative set of visitors, local scholars, and students. The researchers invite visiting scholars, activists, and policy makers for lectures and special projects. They organize a variety of activities and events: an annual Mark Claster Dissertation Workshop for a selected group of doctoral students on Afro-Latin American Studies; support for the book series Afro-Latin America, published by Cambridge University Press; and several conferences and research workshops both at Harvard and abroad, with activists, governmental actors, and policy makers, as well as academics, within the framework of the Afrodescendientes/Afrodescendants Initiative

The initiative’s collaborators host events and conduct research over three years that focus on race rights and justice in Latin America. Together with the founding of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute at Harvard—the first academic unit in the Americas devoted specifically to promote and sponsor research on Afro-Latin Americans—Harvard is poised to become a leader in this growing field.

Principal Investigators