CUSLAI promotes research and educational initiatives in Latin American studies, and works to strengthen the intellectual and cultural connections between students and faculty at UT-Dallas and their Latin American counterparts.

Last year marked a transitional period for the Center when I accepted my appointment as director with a commitment to build upon the solid foundation that had been established through CUSLAI’s past activities. Originally created in 1995 as the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies, CUSLAI has recently expanded its scope to include all of Latin America. This evolution reflects the expanding interconnectedness between the Latin American region and the UT-Dallas community.

The 2015-16 academic year offers opportunities for further developing the Center’s existing programs and expanding into new areas. CUSLAI represents the truly interdisciplinary spirit of the university as a whole, drawing faculty associates from each of UT-Dallas’s eight separate schools. The Center will continue to sponsor faculty research through a competitive grant program. The 2015 awards went to Dr. Danieli Rodrigues (Chemical Engineering) for research in Brazil and to Dr. Jennifer Holmes (Political Economy) and Alvaro Cardenas (Computer Science) for a collaborative research project in Colombia. The strength of CUSLAI’s excellent faculty associates helps to ensure the Center’s long-term success.

As our featured event of the academic year, CUSLAI has invited Dr. Kevin Casas-Zamora, former Vice President of Costa Rica, to give a public lecture on “Prospects for Democracy in Latin America.” Other lectures will continue to feature the winners of the 2015 faculty research grants along with other distinguished scholars.

I am enormously grateful for the support and enthusiasm of the entire UT-Dallas community as CUSLAI makes this transition and takes on new endeavors. For regular announcements and updates, please sign up for our email notifications at CUSLAI Discussion Listor follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CUSLAITwitter at @cuslaiutd and on Instagram at @cuslaiutd.


Dr. Monica Rankin

Current Event

Faculty from the School of Arts & Humanities (including CUSLAI Director Monica Rankin) and the School of Arts & Technology have teamed up to create an animated short that tells the story of the 1941 Peruvian invasion of the El Oro province of Ecuador and the U.S. effort to rebuild the remote coastal province under the auspices of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA). U.S. leaders hoped to use the El Oro emergency mission to make an immediately practical and valuable contribution not just to the situation in Ecuador, but also more broadly to hemispheric unity.

Informed by a variety of sources—reports, photographs, literature, and video—the animation provides a historical narrative and also communicates the underlying scholarly arguments in the project. It focuses in particular on themes of modernization and cultural understanding. It also offers a platform for discussing the intersection of technology and culture both through the content of the study and through the use of digital media in the presentation. 

Following a showing of the animation, the authors will provide some additional insight into the scholarship behind the project and the intellectual implications of the digital format. The authors of the project hope to stimulate a lively Q & A exchange as part of the session.

The session will take place Friday, April 22nd, from 10 am to 12 pm in CN 1.112. (Clark Conference Center)