Lilah Drafts-Johnson.
Program Overview

Latin American Studies

Explore a continent and its peoples.

Lilah Drafts-Johnson ’18, a Latin American Studies major, spent a semester studying in Santiago, Chile, taking a range of courses including “Political Economy of Development” and “Sports Management.”
Photo credit: Courtesy of Lilah Drafts-Johnson

A Region of Over 30 Countries and 650 Million People

Like the region itself, Latin American studies is a dynamic program that encompasses Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Latinx community in North America. Grounded in socially engaged scholarship, our program brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding the region’s peoples, cultures, languages, literatures, and traditions, along with its economy, environment, history, and relations with other regions. Students graduating with a major in Latin American studies have chosen a wide range of career paths in fields that include bilingual education, business, government, human rights advocacy, immigration law, journalism, and nongovernmental organizations. Our program also creates a strong foundation for students to pursue graduate education in Latin American studies or its related disciplines.

Explore Latin American Studies, Design Your Own Pathway

Students majoring in Latin American studies explore the region from different disciplinary perspectives, from art history to dance, literature to politics. Our gateway course for the major, What is Latin America? is team-taught each year by eight professors from different disciplines, introducing students to the idea of area studies and debates in the field of Latin American studies. Together, we critically explore how the region has been studied and how developments within the region have influenced ideas and practices across the Americas and the world. In this and other courses, our faculty mentors work with students as they explore their interests and role as Latin Americanists.

The Latin American Studies major lets students choose from more than 60 courses offered in 10 departments

Oberlin’s Latinx Resources

The Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) is pleased to cosponsor and provide support for Latinx Heritage Series each year. LHS is a year-long series of speakers, screenings, performances, and gatherings organized by the community of Latinx students, in collaboration with the MRC as well as other faculty and staff at Oberlin College.

A large group of Latinx students, faculty and staff gathered outside for a picture.
Interested in studying the wider Spanish-speaking world? Oberlin has four academic programs you can major in - and you can choose more than one: Hispanic studies, Latin American studies, comparative American studies, and comparative literature.

La Casa Hispánica

La Casa Hispánica, officially known as Harvey House or Spanish House, is a theme-based residence hall for students interested in learning and speaking Spanish. The Hispanic studies and Latin American studies departments often sponsor functions at the Casa for students eager to practice and improve their Spanish-speaking skills.

A mural of silhouettes of three people on a yellow and blue background.

Featured Courses

LATS 100

What is Latin America? Issues in Latin American Studies

What is Latin America and why does Latin American studies exist as an academic field of study? What does it mean to study Latin America from the outside, particularly from the United States? This multidisciplinary, team-taught course lays the groundwork for an intentional and self-reflective trajectory through Oberlin’s interdisciplinary LATS program. In addition to the history of Latin American studies, it addresses questions that are central to any scholarly engagement with the region.

Taught by
Matthew Rarey
ANTH 210

Indigenous Peoples of Latin America

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to modern historical, ethnohistorical and anthropological approaches to the indigenous populations of Latin America. The course will focus on the ongoing process of conflict and accommodation that has characterized the relationship between the native peoples of the New World and those of the Old World. We will study indigenous social movements dealing with issues such as land claims, natural resources, economic development, cultural recognition and human rights.

Taught by
Baron Pineda
HIST 347

The African Diaspora in Contemporary Latin America

This course explores the contributions of Africans and their descendants in the shaping of national identity, political culture, economic development, and cultural expression in contemporary Latin America. With an emphasis on social justice issues and gender, the course engages with rich primary and secondary sources, including documentaries, material culture, and musical artifacts, to offer a dynamic history of the African Diaspora in Brazil and Colombia but also in lesser-studied areas, such as Mexico and Argentina.

Taught by
Danielle Terrazas Williams
CAST 427


The U.S.-Mexico border region is a political, economic, and cultural crossroads. The course investigates interactions between Native Americans and Spanish colonists beginning in the 16th century, emerging United States economic and political control during the 19th century, and immigration, community building, and civil rights movements in the 20th century. We also discuss la frontera as a literary and symbolic concept.

Taught by
Pablo Mitchell

Student Profiles

Teaching in Guatemala

At Oberlin, Nina Harris ’20, a Latin American studies and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies major, worked in the Oberlin Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES) Program and with El Centro Volunteer Initiative. After graduating, she was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to Guatemala.

Nina Harris.

Advocacy Work in Lorain County

At Oberlin, Alyssa Phelps ’15, a Bonner scholar and Latin American studies major, cofounded Project Unbound, a student group working to raise awareness about human trafficking in and around Lorain County, and to raise funds for the Human Trafficking Collaborative of Lorain County. After many educational experiences abroad, she was awarded a Fulbright to Mexico.

Alyssa Phelps.

Fulbright Fellow to Mexico

Julia Pearlstein-Levy ’15, a Latin American studies major and environmental studies minor, spent a summer teaching computer skills in Ecuador, as well as a semester and subsequent winter term in Costa Rica, where she conducted research on conservation and sustainability. After graduation, she was awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach in Mexico.

Julia Pearlstein-Levy

What does Latin American Studies at Oberlin look like?

Kristina Mani, Sebastiaan Faber and Renee Romano.

Professors Kristina Mani, Sebastiaan Faber and Renee Romano collaborated on the “Forms of Justice” StudiOC Learning Community.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna
Students gather in the lounge of La Casa Hispánica.

A presentation on Afro-Latinidad, one of the many events at La Casa Hispánica.

Photo credit: Pang Fei Chiang ’19
OSSGUA members in Guatemala.

OSSGUA, the Oberlin student group for solidarity with Guatemala, on a trip to the country during Winter Term.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Ave Poen ’20 and Eleanor Waterhouse ’20
Jorge Heine and two Oberlin students.

Students speak with Jorge Heine, former ambassador of Chile to China, after his lecture on Latin America-Asia relations.

Photo credit: Yvonne Gay

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.

The Memorial Arch on Tappan Square.
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna