Since its founding in 1956, the Center for Latin American Studies has been Berkeley’s home for public events, fascinating visitors, and groundbreaking research on and in the region. For 67 years, CLAS has served as a bridge between the Bay Area and Latin America.
In that time, there have always been questions about the boundaries of the Center’s work. Are migrant communities from the region in the United States part of its purview? What about relations between Latin America and other areas of the world? Most fundamentally, which countries constitute Latin America? Do they include territories subjected to colonization by England, the Netherlands, and France as well as Spain and Portugal?
In the past year, CLAS Chair Natalia Brizuela has undertaken a number of initiatives at the Center, reorienting its work to emphasize the diversity of the region. CLAS has centered decolonizing research in its program and supported new courses in Indigenous languages and cultures.
To start the 2023–2024 academic year, the Center is making another fundamental change, this time to reflect the lands it covers. In the past, the Caribbean has been treated as a liminal geography in studies of Latin America. That changes for CLAS and its community going forward.
In fall 2023, the Center for Latin American Studies will become the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS). With this change in name, the Center commits to providing intellectual space to analyze cultures, histories, politics, and languages of the entire region.
CLAS anticipated this growth last spring, with a talk by Lorgia García Peña as part of our New Vocabularies, New Grammars: Imagining Other Worlds series, covered in this issue of the Review by franchesca araújo (p. 7).
The CLAS team is looking forward to an enhanced focus on the Caribbean in future events.
— CLAS Staff