CLAS Working Groups

Latin American Art and Literature Working Group members meet with an expert on historical documents.
The Latin American Art & Literature Working Group members meet with José Adrián Barragán-Álvarez,
Curator of Latin Americana at the Bancroft Library. 

Every academic year CLAS sponsors several working groups comprised of UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and students who gather regularly to discuss and share research on topics of mutual interest. CLAS provides funds to support costs related to group meetings, speaker series and small conferences. Groups can be formed based on any given country, topic, or discipline related to Latin America, and have covered a wide range of subject matter.

Propose a Working Group for 2020-21

CLAS provides funding for students, scholars, to convene working groups to explore themes relating to Latin America. This program is intended to foster scholarly dialogue, exchange of ideas, and seed research initiatives around a broad range of topics.

Groups are awarded $500-$750 for the academic year. Funds provide support for discussion groups, small conferences, guest lectures, library resources, conference travel, and other activities. Please note that due to our funder’s guidelines, funds cannot be used for food or drink, or international travel. 

CLAS also offers the following support to working groups:

  • Convening space (meeting rooms, gathering space and work spaces)
  • Limited event support (venues, logistics, planning)
  • Support for virtual meetings and conferences
  • Outreach to our community at Berkeley in the broader Bay Area. 

Proposals for new working groups should include the following information:

1. Name of group leader(s)
2. Names and information of potential members (email, department, research interests, expected graduate date)
3. Name and contact information of a faculty advisor
4. A brief description of the mission of the group
5. Proposed activities planned for 2019-20 academic year
6. Itemized budget for proposed activities.

Groups that are applying for renewed support from CLAS should submit an application that includes all of the above components, plus:
1. A description of the activities you have carried out in the past year (for renewal requests only)
2. If your group has received funding from CLAS before, please state the challenges from previous years and what the group would do differently this year.

The deadline for proposals for 2020-21 is SEPTEMBER 14, 2020. Proposals should be submitted via email to Julia Byrd (julia.byrd (at)

If you have questions, please contact:
Julia Byrd (julia.byrd (at), Vice Chair, Center for Latin American Studies

Working Groups for 2019-20

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. 

Emily Fjaellen Thompson:

Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean

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:
Nicole Ramsey:

Colombian Working Group

The Colombian Working Group brings together Colombians students at UC Berkeley, as well as scholars working on Colombia, in an academic space to share their research. The group's main activities include talks given by professors, visiting scholars, and Ph.D., masters, and undergraduate students who currently work on Colombia. In addition, the Working Group also promotes cultural activities.

Daniel Payares Montoya:
Juan Camilo Buitrago Casas:

Latin American Art & Literature Working Group

The goal of the Latin American Art and Literature Working Group is to encourage conversation and create community between graduate students, faculty, and other scholars of Latin American Art and Literature, emphasizing the intersections of visual culture/artistic production and textual/literary production. The group welcomes scholars working from all academic disciplines, focusing on all time periods and geographic locations within Latin America. Programming includes bringing guest speakers to campus, attending cultural events as a group, workshopping research projects, and hosting indigenous language revitalization workshops. The working group aims to help students contextualize their research questions within non-canonical, interdisciplinary concerns of Latin American studies in order to conduct research and produce scholarship that integrates methodological approaches and primary source material across temporal periods and disciplines.

Alejandra Decker:
Lesdi Goussen Robleto:

Latin American Cities 

The Latin America Cities Working group examines the complex processes through which Latin American cities have been constructed and imagined. It also explores the respective challenges cities face in the current age. Participants do this through an interdisciplinary approach that takes into account first, the various policies and infrastructures, and their effects on these urban spaces, and second, the literary and film archives that have helped shape the imaginaries surrounding the cities in the region. The group seeks to create an environment in which multiple perspectives come together to deepen our understanding of urban spaces throughout Latin America. Furthermore, the working group hopes to broaden the dialogue that exists between Latin America and the other regions in the Global South.

The Latin American Cities Working Group website:

Francisco Trejo Morales:

Mexican Association of Students at Berkeley

MEXASB serves the community of Mexican students completing studies at UC Berkeley, which community is composed mostly graduate students. MEXASB takes no specific position as to what the “Mexican community at UC Berkeley” means, since as it happens being “Mexican” is far from a clear-cut distinction in the context of long waves of immigration, deep professional, commercial and intellectual ties between Mexico and California, and complex transnational family structures. We welcome anyone who identifies with the group’s interests and mission. Our aims are threefold: (1) provide a safe space to welcome and support new arrivals, as well as for the establishment of intellectual and professional ties, (2) supply a platform for student engagement with academic topics related to Mexico, (3) furnish opportunities for the expression and exploration of our joint heritage, traditions and collective culture, including the possibility of sharing that heritage with the broader university community.

Bruno Anaya Ortiz:


The deadline for proposals for 2019-20 has passed.

If you have questions, please contact:
Julia Byrd (julia.byrd (at), Vice Chair, Center for Latin American Studies

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.