History of the Institute

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The Institute was established at UCL in July 2012, in a newly refurbished building (once Lytton Stratchey’s house), at 51 Gordon Square, in the heart of historic Bloomsbury.

The Institute’s origins and links to UCL go back to the mid- 1960s when two specialist Institutes, the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) and the Institute of US Studies (USS) were set up in adjacent Tavistock Square. This was in response to the recommendations of the Parry Report that the UK should strengthen its commitment to remedying the relative lack of specialist knowledge of certain areas of the world, including the Americas.

Both Institutes had Directors drawn from the UCL History department. In the first decades Harold Blakemore, John Lynch, Leslie Bethell– all distinguished Latin Americanists were UCL appointees who served part-time with ILAS. At IUSS a similar arrangement prevailed with regard to its first director, Professor Harry Allen.

In 1994 the two Americas Institutes joined the newly established entity the School of Advanced Studies, part of the central University of London. Ten years later, in order to save the Institute of US studies from closure, the two Institutes were merged into the Institute of the Americas (ISA) and in 2009 the merged Institute was moved into Senate House and the Latin American collection was merged with the Senate House Library.

In 2012 the entire staff of the then -ISA moved to UCL to set up the new Institute in order to expand its teaching and research programme, and ISA, remaining at SAS took up the name of ILAS and closed its teaching programme. We are happy to maintain our collaborative links with SAS.