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.



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

Catch up on LAIS events and affilaites' activities from 2020!

The recording of this well attended and timely tertulia is now available!

We are pleased to announce our inaugural Latin American and Iberian Studies Undergraduate Essay Competition! 

Words from Cecilia Méndez (LAIS Director) about last year and our plans for the 2020-2021 year!

Upcoming Events

A global discussion of Caste: The origins of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson, with Cecilia Méndez, Utathya Chattopadhyaya, and Terrance Wooten.
  1. February 2, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
  1. Tertulia
Join us for a LAIS Tertulia in the Time of COVID, 2020-2021, and learn about social movements, identity and resistance in contemporary Nicaragua!
  1. December 1, 2020 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm
  1. Tertulia

This academic conference aims to bring together graduate students from across the world for a discussion on Borders, power and transgression in Latin America and the Iberian World.

  1. April 30, 2020 - 8:30am to May 1, 2020 - 7:00pm
  1. Conference


  1. April 25, 2021 - 9:00am to 5:00pm
  1. Conference

A roundtable with Javiera Barandiarán, María Galindo, and Tathagatan Ravindran.

  1. November 17, 2020 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm
  1. Tertulia

Join us to hear from LAIS students about their study abroad experiences!

  1. October 30, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
  1. social
A talk with Dr. Eva M. Wheeler  (Ph.D. UCSB, 2015) from the Spanish Deparment at Oakwood University. Event co-sponsored by LAIS. 
  1. October 27, 2020 - 11:00am to 11:30am

Join us to hear from Dr. Giovanni Batz (UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow, UC Davis) about "Ixil Maya Resistance against Megaprojects in Cotzal, Guatemala"


  1. October 13, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:30pm

The Latin American & Iberian Studies Program, at UC Santa Barbara, invites faculty, students, staff and alumni to join us to meet our new members and connect with LAIS.


  1. September 28, 2020 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
  • Kai Thaler

Professor Kai Thaler (Global Studies), and colleague, will talk about Nicaragua and COVID-19 as part of the "Populism and the Pandemic- A Comparative Perspective" series by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Universidade de Brasília.

  1. September 8, 2020 - 9:00am to 10:00am
  • Invitation

Join LAIS Friday, May 29, 2020, via Zoom to celebrate LAIS students and faculty. Family and friends welcome.

  1. May 29, 2020 - 4:30pm to 5:00pm
  1. Award Ceremony

Join us for a Zoom talk and Q&A with Marcos Cueto on the coronavirus and historical patterns of epidemics in Latin America on May 22, 2020 at 12PM (PST).

Sign up here: https://bit.ly/LAISTertuliaMay2020

  1. May 22, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
  1. Tertulia