History Graduate Student, Pilar Ramírez presents at LAIS Tertulia, 'Protests and Politics in Latin America: What is new in Chile and Colombia?' March 3rd, 2020. 

LAIS welcomed their new cohort of graduate students at the Fall 2019 Welcome Lunch. Pictured are Rosa Rodriguez, Liz Marchante, Cecilia Méndez (LAIS Director), Katia Rodriguez and Jennifer Amador. To learn more about our students: https://www.lais.ucsb.edu/people/student.

LAIS End of the Year Picnic. Program Vice-Director Juan Cobo with LAIS Undergraduates at Goleta Beach, May 2019.

Dean of Social Sciences and Anthropology Professor giving the inaugural words at the LAIS International Graduate Conference 2018

Professor of Global Studies, Javiera Barandarian, presents via Zoom at LAIS Tertulia 'Protests and Politics in Latin America; What is new in Chile and Colombia?' March 3rd, 2020. 

Dr. Terry Lynn Karl delivers keynote address at LAIS Undergraduate Conference 4/10/2019

 Diego Astorga de Ita at LAIS Graduate Conference 2018

Professor Juan & Natalie Cobo's Book Launch. Panel Discussion with Prof. Cecilia Méndez, Prof. Juan Pablo Lupi, and Visiting Faculty Juan Carlos Estenssoro. McCune Conference Room. Spring 2019


A few days ago, the world witnessed an horrific scene. A white police officer, undaunted, tortured an unarmed African American man while he was handcuffed, face down to the floor, pleading for his life, until he stopped breathing.  All this happened in daylight and in public, under the gaze of other police officers who not only did nothing to stop the crime but were complicit. George Floyd’s death is just the last in a succession of racist crimes against Black people, which have remained unaccounted for. 
The Program in Latin American and Iberian Studies (LAIS) at UCSB stands in outrage and solidarity with the family of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all other African Americans killed by police officers and white supremacists. Most of these crimes were possible because police officers knew they were unlikely to be held accountable for them; because a century and a half after the abolition of slavery, Black lives continue not to matter.
LAIS stands in support of street protestors, because street protest is the only way left for citizens to express their demands for justice, having been failed by the institutions that are supposed to provide it. Floyd’s last words  — “I can’t breathe”, “let me breathe” — which were the same as those uttered by other African Americans who met similar deaths in the hands of the police, such as Eric Garner, resound now in street protests. These words lay bare the extent to which the right that Black people are demanding is the most basic one: the right to exist. And they expose the clamorous failure of U.S. democracy to guarantee this basic right. This fact contaminates our entire society, not just a part of it. In the larger scope of history — because Black Lives Matter is now a global movement — five centuries of disregard for the life, rights, and dignity of African-descended people is more than enough.  
These crimes occurred at a moment in which a pandemic is also disproportionately taking the lives of African American and Latinx communities, who happen to be both “essential workers,” and, along with Native Americans, are the ones most exposed to falling sick due to structural inequalities in the access to health and public services. This is not a mere coincidence, rather it lays bare yet another truth: the extent to which structural racism is in itself  “a public health emergency,” as the Goleta City Council put it. 
I encourage all the members of our LAIS community, faculty affiliates, students and staff, and the larger campus, to take this moment of grief and outrage as an opportunity to strengthen our  commitment to build a society in which every life matters, a society in which each and every person has the same opportunities to enjoy good health, education, and dignity.  More than ever, we must put our research and teaching to the service of this end.
Finally, I encourage everyone to read the eloquent statement prepared by our colleagues from the Department of Black Studies, several of whom are among our dearest LAIS faculty affiliates: HERE
Cecilia Méndez Gastelumendi
LAIS Program Director
June 10, 2020

Welcome to Latin American and Iberian Studies

Latin American and Iberian Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara examines the people and cultures of Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries throughout the world. Such study encompasses not only Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, but also Angola, Mozambique, the Philippines, Macao, and the Chicano and Puerto Rican populations in the U.S. However, most students center their studies on Latin America.

Latin American and Iberian Studies examines the whole culture or civilization, not only throughout the humanities and fine arts, but also throughout the social sciences and history. This allows students to explore a variety of topics - in addition to Spanish and Portuguese language and literature - such as Latin American anthropology, the history of Spain and Portugal, and the political life of Latino communities.



The LAIS February 2021 Tertulia, Race and Caste in Latin America, India, and the USA: A Global Conversation, is featured in Humanities and Fine Arts news!

The recording of the December 2020 Tertulia, Social Movements, Identity, and Resistance in Contemporary Nicaragua, is available now. And, this porweful tertulia was featured in the Humanities and Fine Arts news. 

LAIS affilaited faculty Dr. Jaime Alves (Black Studies) joined us to talk about his current project and how his work shines light on Latin American and Iberian studies. 

Ms. Flores is the Student Service Manager of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs for the Phelps Administrative Support Center. 

  1. Interview

Professor Juan Cobo Betancourt (History and LAIS Program Vice Director) interviewed by the Ecuadorian radio  Radio Voz Andina Internacional of the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar about  his work digitizing historical documents in and non profit Fundación Neogranadina

Upcoming Events

LAIS is pleased to co-sponsor the Art History Graduate Student Association's 45th annual symposium!

  1. April 23, 2021 - 9:00am to 5:00pm