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Center for Latin American & Latino Studies

The Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) is a multidisciplinary center harnessing expertise from throughout the American University community and with counterparts around the world to serve as a catalyst for creation of knowledge about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino communities in the United States. Its work reflects enduring commitment to social inclusion, good governance, human security, equitable international relations, and understanding of societal challenges in the region. 

The Center’s goals are to:

  • Empower changemakers throughout the hemisphere by giving them high quality data and analysis about Latin America, the Caribbean, and Latino communities.
  • Raise the quality of debate, policy, and advocacy on and in Latin America and the Caribbean by generating and disseminating cutting-edge research.
  • Deepen understanding of the dynamics within and around Latino communities as integral participants in national political, social, and economic life in the United States.
  • Promote community and inclusion among people of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and interests throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States through the open exchange of knowledge.

Message from Director Ernesto Castañeda

Focus Areas

Center projects address Inclusion, Governance, Security, International Relations, Environment, and Regional and Country Studies. Learn more about these six key focus areas of our research below. 


The Center Announced the Recipients of the 2022 William M. LeoGrande Award and Prize

Congratulations to William Michael Schmidli, recipient of the William M. LeoGrande Prize, and Marcelo Bohrt, recipient of the William M. LeoGrande Award. Read more about the William M. LeoGrande Prize and Award here.

Mr. Schmidli is currently an Assistant Professor in the Institute for History at Leiden University. His book, Freedom on the Offensive: Human Rights, Democracy Promotion, and US Interventionism in the Late Cold War (Cornell University Press, 2022), is a well-researched account of how neoconservatives and the Reagan administration came to adopt a human rights narrative after they were initially allied to right wing authoritarian governments across Latin America and the Global South. Marcelo Bohrt is Associate Professor at the School of International Service. His excellent article, "Race and Diplomatic Bureaucracy: State-Building in Nineteenth-Century Bolivia as a Response to Transnational Racialization Threats," published in 2021 in the journal Global Historical Sociology of Race and Racism, displays significant originality in the ways it connects processes of state-making in Latin America to questions of race, but also to the often-overlooked question of external image management.

The Center Has Published Two Recent Working Papers

CLALS recently published a Working Paper that analyzes demographic and qualitative data obtained via a partnership with SAMU First Response, one of the leading local DC organizations providing aid to immigrants. The paper also reflects on the decisions of Former Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and current Texas Governor Greg Abbott to pay to bus new Latino immigrants from the border to Washington, DC. 

CLALS has also published a Working Paper that focuses on comparative internal migration patterns and population changes in the United States and China, two of the world's largest economies, using data from the last decade to compare the nations in terms of internal migration, urbanization, housing, social mobility, and economic growth. 

Past News

Funder & Partner Highlights

The Center Announces a Research Project in Collaboration with FLACSO Costa Rica

The Center has been awarded a contract to partner with the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales - Costa Rica in efforts to disseminate findings of Vidas Sitiadas II, a multi-year, six-country research program focused on populations of vulnerable women in Latin America. With particular emphases on gender, youth, violence, and employment, the project's case studies on Costa Rica, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina offer fresh insights into dynamics of social and economic inclusion, and the sorts of policies and practices that might broaden opportunities for women across the region, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CLALS Receives a Grant to Study Illegal Fishing in Latin America

The Center has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State for its “Western Hemisphere Regional Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Assessment” initiative. Led by CLALS faculty affiliate and SIS Associate Professor Matt Taylor and CLALS Research Fellow Steven Dudley, this project assesses and maps fishing legislation; law enforcement capacity to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing); scope of crimes associated with IUU fishing; and the adverse economic and environmental impacts of IUU fishing across Latin America and the Caribbean.  

Funders & Partners