2020-21 Working Groups

View of volcanos and farmland

Working Groups bring together faculty and graduate students from various fields and departments with shared research interests. In the 2020-21 academic year, CLAS provided funding and support to the following groups:

Amanecer Working Group

The Amanecer working group is an undergraduate and graduate student organization that publishes in a Spanish and Portuguese journal dedicated to the study of language, literature, and cultures with a section for creative writing. We will provide a safe place for students to explore different creative techniques and outlets, and gain experience in proofreading, editing, and publishing. We will be researching topics related to Latin America, such as the process of dubbing and subbing foreign-language content into Spanish, the pronunciations of varying Spanish phonemes, and different grammatical structures and motifs in literary works. We welcome all research ideas! This working group aims to encourage curiosity and research, and we welcome everyone!


Julie Ha <julieha3@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>

Andean Studies Working Group

The Andean Studies: Language and Culture working group provides a space for students, faculty, and community members interested in the multifaceted Andes region and its cultures, particularly through the study of Quechua/Kichwa, the most widely spoken native language in the Americas.


Ana Tello <altello@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>

Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean (BLAC)

The Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean (BLAC) working group envisages an interdisciplinary close reading of the Afro-diasporic experience across the region and its interpretive manifestations in the humanities and social sciences. While open to all graduate students, this group is comprised principally of doctoral students in the qualifying or thesis/dissertation-writing stage who are working through a distinct set of questions including but not limited to everyday cultural production, identity, performance, ecology, policy, inequality, and state violence, followed by an even vaster array of methodological approaches.


John Mundell <jmundell@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>
Nicole Ramsey: <nramsey@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>

Guatemala Scholar-Activists Working Group

The Guatemala Scholar-Activists Working Group aims to bring together scholar-activists and community organizers in the US and Guatemala to raise awareness about the social and political context of Guatemala and to take actionable steps that promote global justice and equity. Leveraging the collective expertise of UC Berkeley researchers, community-based organizations working on the ground in Guatemala, and international solidarity organizations, the group aims to pay particular attention to the role of US international policy and economic policy, and how these policies come to bear in the lives of marginalized communities in Guatemala. These issues will be studied in global and local perspective in an effort to determine how such policies might be improved and how communities struggling with violations of their rights might be supported. Issues of focus will include: Indigenous rights; rights to land, water, and natural resources; and gender equity; migration; mining injustice; climate change and health disparities. The group is open to anyone and everyone who is interested in activist work in Guatemala, and especially aims to bring together various generations of scholars and activists, including undergraduate and graduate students, as well as UC Berkeley faculty and staff.


Cristina Mendez <csmendez@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>
Michael Bakal <michaelbakal@gmail.com(link sends e-mail)>
Kelsey Alford-Jones <kalfordjones@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>

Language Revitalization Working Group

The Language Revitalization Working Group (LRWG) focuses on discussing theories, methodologies, and applications of language revitalization (LR) in a variety of world contexts, including a special focus this year on Latin America. Our principal goal for the LRWG is to provide a centralized venue for conversation and collaboration between the interdisciplinary researchers and practitioners of language revitalization at UC Berkeley. In LRWG we discuss, critically examine, and build upon activities related to the promotion of indigenous, endangered, minority, and non-dominant languages through linguistic work, language classes, language camps, pedagogical materials, curricula, and strategies for community building. Some of the meetings are devoted to discussing papers on theories and methods of endangered language revitalization, while others feature presentations by people within and outside UC Berkeley who are currently engaged in LR activities. LRWG provides a space to share experiences and practices, benefitting the development of these LR projects.


Julia Nee <jnee@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>

Latin American Politics Working Group

The Latin American Politics Working Group (LAPWG) provides graduate students, faculty, and other invited speakers an interdisciplinary forum to present research on issues related to Latin American politics, broadly construed. Currently, our focus revolves around two central themes: urban politics and public security. The first category focuses on the provision of public goods, infrastructure, and governance in Latin American cities while the second focuses on drug trafficking violence and post-conflict control/state capacity. On occasion, we invite both academic and non-academic speakers such as graduate students and professors as well as politicians, bureaucrats, and other civic organization leaders who have real world experience in the region. On the whole, this working group strives to advance serious scholarship related to the politics of Latin America.


Juan Campos <juan_campos@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)>
Adan Martinez <adansteve1394@berkeley.edu(link sends e-mail)

Past Working Groups at CLAS

In the past, CLAS has supported working groups on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the Afro-Latino diaspora to Globalization in Literacy and Language Development to Social Movements and Neoliberalism in Latin America.