Latin American Studies

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It has been said that Brazil is the country of the futur­­e--and always will be. Although some observers might say the same thing about Latin America as a whole, the region has in fact turned a page... the future is now.

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In recent decades, Latin America has advanced greatly in economic, social and political terms. Many countries have experienced sustained economic growth since the early 2000s, and the region as a whole weathered the 2008-09 international financial crisis better than many developed countries. Economic advances have brought social successes; middle classes are expanding, and poverty rates have declined. Democratic governance is now well-institutionalised almost everywhere in the region, and indigenous peoples hold a much more prominent political position than at any time in the past. Many Latin American nations are now playing a much more assertive role in international economic and political affairs, and some countries are in the vanguard of progressive developments in international human rights law. Furthermore, as issues related to climate change and biodiversity loss continue to draw international attention, South America’s status as the most densely forested continent on the planet and Brazil’s world-leading expertise in the production of green energy have established the region as an important player in global environmental governance.


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Despite these successes, Latin America continues to suffer from many of the problems that have chequered its history since colonisation. The region is marked by deep class, ethnic/racial, and gender inequalities, and political corruption and impunity are major problems. Drug-fueled violence and human rights violations afflict many countries, from sections of Mexico and Central America to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and the villas miserias of Buenos Aires. Tensions between transnational mining corporations and indigenous communities sometimes erupt in violence. Throughout the region, the capacity of national governments to address these challenges is often weak.

Making sense of Latin America’s complex history, current challenges in the region and the changing terms of its international engagement is a challenging task. The UCL Institute of the Americas meets this challenge by drawing on the internationally acknowledged expertise of its academic staff, affiliated researchers and visiting fellows, constituting one of the world’s foremost centres of excellence on Latin America.

In addition to three Masters programmes (MA in Latin American Studies, MSc in Latin American Politics, and MSc in Globalisation and Latin American Development), the UCL Institute of the Americas offers a world-leading PhD programme that attracts students of Latin America from around the globe.


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With particular staff expertise in democratisation and human rights (Engstrom, Middlebrook)environmental issues and agroecology (Woodgate), history (Drinot, Quinn) and social policy and gender rights (Molyneux), the UCL Institute of the Americas operates as a hub for interdisciplinary research and comparative analysis of Latin America.

Its prestigious fellowship programmes, its international research networks and its extensive links with a wide range of actors in the United Kingdom (UK government agencies, Latin American embassies, non-governmental organisations, and business and media groups), as well as its extensive events programme, make the UCL Institute of the Americas a major point of reference for research and teaching on Latin America in the United Kingdom, Europe, and indeed the world.