Charles R. Hale, Director SRH 1.310, 2300 Red River Street D0800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512.471.5551
Priorities of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American StudiesEven at a university with a Latin American Studies faculty of our size, we cannot hope to cover all possible topics in the field. We have chosen three broad priority themes, which highlight areas of unusual faculty and programmatic strength across the university; these also are areas of pressing importance in the Latin American region. Although this latter criterion is oriented toward the present, we emphasize that each theme has a strong historical dimension, both for conceptual reasons, and in recognition of our outstanding Latin American history faculty.
Cultural Agency: How culture enriches the human condition. We understand culture in the broadest sense, how distinct groups of people assign meaning to the world around them. We are interested in specific forms of cultural production—from literature and film to performance and the arts—especially as they relate to broad social processes—identity formation, education, political relations, and even economic strategies. How have these diverse forms of cultural production given shape to the Latin America we know today, and how do they serve as a resource for social change in the common interest?
Social Inequalities: Roots and remedies. Latin America is widely known as the “most unequal continent,” in standard economic terms; inequalities of race/ethnicity and gender only sharpen this image. Yet, especially over the past two decades, the region is also known as an arena of widespread debate and action that seeks to remedy these conditions, to empower those who have been marginalized, and address the root causes of inequality. What are the root causes of social inequality in Latin America, in all its dimensions? What strategies yield progress toward the elimination of these enduring inequalities?
Sustainable Democracies: Governance for the common good. Latin America has a long history of authoritarianism, followed by fragile and incomplete processes of democratization. Today many parts of the region still suffer from a pervasive sense that institutions (both governmental and civil society) do not function efficiently or fairly, serving the interests of a few to the detriment of the common good. How can Latin Americans build durable, efficient, and just democratic institutions that enjoy widespread public legitimacy and confidence?