Silvia Martinez ’19

Silvia Martinez

I found that by majoring in Latin America Studies, I was able to study my own history as well as understand the political climate of Latin America today. The major is built on an interdisciplinary framework which allows me to study the historical, social, and cultural climates of Latin America as a whole. What I like most about the major, however, is the faculty. They encourage extracurricular endeavors as well as advocate for important causes that affect families across Latin America and in the U.S. For example, I am currently working on the Collegiate Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIR) Conference and Professor Miguel Tinker-Salas has been incredibly supportive of this project.

My involvement in both CAIR and Latin American Studies has allowed me to further understand my own background. With each new Latin American studies class I take, I feel like I am understanding a bit more about my family diaspora as well understanding the complex colonial histories of each Latin American country.

Moreover, as a Latin American studies major, I am able to choose a track to help narrow my research. I've chosen to study Latin America through a political lens, though the other major tracks are all integrated within the general scope of the field. I feel that with the Latin American politics track, I am able to gain a better understanding of the effect that Latin America has on the world and how globalization impacted Latin America.

Finally, while there are a lot of readings and essays, one of best parts of the interdisciplinary nature of Latin American studies is that I am given the chance to explore the ways that the social, political, cultural, and historical aspects of society build on each other to create the Latin American we see today.

Joseph Chafkin ’18

Joseph Chafkin

I started out my college experience deciding between English and Spanish as a major, for I've always had a passion for language. But taking upper-level Spanish classes made me realize that I loved more than the language itself, but the literature and culture associated -- how it all culminates in an ever-growing body of knowledge that you get to engage with and participate in. That’s how I got interested in the historical and political aspects: reading and analyzing great Latin American canonical works required ample knowledge of historical context to fully appreciate significance. Through LAS, I realized my interest in the humanities beyond just literature, and have had the chance to greatly develop my skills as a critical writer.

My sophomore year, I wrote an essay about Federico García Lorca’s La casa de Bernarda Alba that was nominated for the Howard T. Young Prize in Hispanic literature; while I did not win, being nominated gave me the opportunity to research the life of FGL extensively. That same semester, I wrote a research paper investigating US/USSR Cold War rhetoric and CIA involvement in Latin American coups. Since then, I have been working with Professor Grace Dávila López on an independent study, researching cultural reactions to the Puerto Rican debt crisis: this subject I hope to further engage as my thesis project.

You’ll never get bored researching something in which you’re genuinely interested. Also, be ready to write a lot!

My favorite part of this department is its interdisciplinary approach — I have been pushed to work across mediums, utilizing sociology, anthropology and economics in my analyses along with history and literature. Having a well-rounded understanding of the humanities and social sciences is incredibly useful, because these fields always inform one another. Have fun, and pursue what you love.