The burgeoning presence of Latino communities is transforming the landscape of cultural production and consumption throughout much of the United States, and this is especially evident in metropolitan Washington, DC. To date there has been little systematic effort to catalogue these shifts or to analyze their ramifications for the broader cultural landscape of contemporary American society. At the same time, in Latin America, we are in the midst of an impressive phase of innovation in film and digital media production, artistic expression and performance. The products of this innovation are expanding the influence of Latin America in the global cultural arena.
Working in collaboration with partners in Washington and beyond, the Center brings to bear insights from researchers and practitioners concerned with these dynamics and produces research-based findings to illuminate the shifting contours of cultural production throughout the Americas.
Mexican Culture and Arts
In partnership with the Mexican National Council for Culture and the Arts (El Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes-CONACULTA), CLALS is raising the profile of Mexican cultural production in Washington, DC and beyond. Through this collaborative arts-based initiative, Mexico's leading cultural figures come to AU to share their work with the university community and the broader public. (Learn more)
With support from the Mexican Cultural Institute, CLALS and the AU Center for Social Media host film screenings with Ambulante, an organization founded in 2005 by Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Pablo Cruz to brings cutting-edge documentary film to audiences around the globe. On November 1, 2012 a public event was held at AU, tracing the evolution of Ambulante and the Mexican film festival through screenings of two short films, Nicolás Pereda's "Entrevista con la Tierra" and Ambulante Beyond's "Campo 9."
The Creative and Cultural Industries and the Future of Latin America’s Economy
A collaboration between the Inter-American Development Bank and American University, the primary question for this project is: What is the potential relevance of Latin America’s creative and cultural industries to its overall economy? While the economic impact of the creative and cultural industries is increasing in Latin America, we still lack adequate metrics and indicators to understand the economic value of this sector, in particular, the diversity, productivity, consumption of, and growing investment in cultural goods and services. (Learn more)
Free Online Repository of Latin American Visuals
CLALS is collaborating with the AU Library and the Department of World Languages and Cultures to launch the Latin American Visuals Online Repository. Housed in a searchable, open-access database, the project will gather and digitize collections of photographs, drawings, paintings and media such as postage stamps to make them freely available to students, teachers, and researchers. (Learn More)
Imagining American Cities through 21st Century Performance
This project explores the ways diverse performative practices imagine and reconfigure specific 21st-century cities in the Americas, in turn generating new spaces of resistance to the atomizing effects of neoliberal processes and fostering solidarities that transcend traditional boundaries of place. (Learn More)
Latin Pulse is a weekly podcast that offers in-depth analysis of current topics in Latin America, drawing on coverage by Latin American news media as well as expert commentary. (Learn more)
From the Fields: An American Journey
AU School of Communication Professor Carolyn Brown has produced and directed a 30-minute documentary aimed at deconstructing popular Latino stereotypes. Distributed nationwide to NBC affiliates in the fall of 2012, From the Fields: An American Journey follows the life of Damian Trujillo, from farmworker in the Salinas Valley to reporter in the NBC newsroom. The film goes beyond the often hateful rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate and into a deeper exploration of what it means to work, support a family, and contribute to American society. (Learn more)
The Salinas Project: Dreams and Migration, Life and Stories From Inside an Immigrant Community
About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley sits the agricultural, immigrant town of Salinas. On the east side of Salinas, in a neighborhood known as Alisal, deploring housing conditions and gang violence are a part of daily life. But there is a sense of renewal accompanying big changes taking place in the community. This documentary profiles several children of migrant farm workers living in the Salinas Valley, specifically in Alisal. Without resources, and sometimes undocumented, their future is often uncertain; but their hope and resilience are abundant. This film helps viewers understand this immigrant community that is often misrepresented in the media. Furthermore, the film brings to light the systemic causes of the problems in East Salinas and highlights the successes and hopes of this community, despite adversity. (Learn more)
Lost in Detention
As part of the “Lost in Detention” project coordinated by the AU Investigative Reporting Workshop and PBS Frontline, Professors Carolyn Brown and Larry Engel produced seven short videos, investigating immigrant life at the US-Mexico border in Arizona. In addition to the videos, Carolyn Brown authored an article, Saving Lives on the Border, exploring the role of humanitarian organizations on the border and a multimedia Reporter's Notebook on the Minutemen.
Voices from the Border
More than eleven million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, three times as many as in 1990. The stories of the 11.8 million people who live in the border region and the hundreds of thousands who pass through or come to settle there each year often go unheard. Voices From the Border is a video-based multimedia web project that profiles the Arizona border town of Naco, through video interviews and still pictures to create an archive of oral histories, giving voice to the individuals from the border region. (Learn more)