Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Explore the field of Latin American and Caribbean Studies—an academic discipline which focuses on the politics, culture, economies, history, and international relations of the countries in Central America, South America, and the islands of the Caribbean as well as the country of Mexico. This area of university-level scholarship differs from that of Latino Studies, which primarily focuses on the experience of Latin Americans in the United States. Latin American and Caribbean Studies is part of a much broader category of academia known more specifically as area studies, which focuses on any one of several geographic, political, or cultural regions.
Within this discipline, researchers may choose to study a specific country, such as Haiti; a group of countries, such as the countries that are part of the economic bloc known as Mercosur; or a specific topic across the region as a whole, such as the impact of colonialism. The field of Latin American and Caribbean Studies is considered interdisciplinary, with researchers typically examining a wide range of topics, including the literature, economics, political science, language, religion, indigenous cultures, revolutions, food, social sciences, and geography of the region.
Any serious study of the region of Latin America and the Caribbean must necessarily take into account its incredible diversity. While the countries share a common language origin in Latin and similar histories involving early colonization by Western powers, they are significantly different in terms of political structure, ethnic composition, and economic development. For this reason, some academic programs, centers, libraries, and associations separate Latin American and Caribbean Studies into two unique fields of research: one focused on Latin American studies and another on that of Caribbean history.