CLAS Working Groups


Latin American Music Working Group members perform at a CLAS event.Latin American Music Working Group members perform at a CLAS event.

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.

2018-19 Working Groups at CLAS

Amazon Forest 

Amazon Forest is a working group devoted to studying and discussing a wide range of topics related to the Amazon Forest. The group understands the Amazon in an extensive way: 1. As a multilingual and multicultural place. 2. As a socially and ecologically complex zone 3. As an area historically marked by colonial and modern violence and 4. As a biologically and geographically intricate region. Under this general definition –which is open to all possible ways to understand the Amazon Forest- the aim of the group is to join different academic and scientific visions, as well as humanistic and ecological approaches, to the understanding of the forest. The broad challenge of the group is to share and connect ideas, to link notions and experiences, and to comprehend –as far as possible- the complexity of the social, biological, and political processes in the Amazon Forest. The group assumes that the best way to achieve this objective is through an open and wide dialogue that helps members think from diverse perspectives about how they can relate to this complex and strategic place in South America in an academic context.

CONTACT: Diego Arevalo Viveros <>

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. 

CONTACT: Nicole Denise Ramsey <> or John Mundell <>

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.

CONTACT: Daniel Payares Montoya <> or Jorge Archbold Monterrosa <>

Latin American Art and Literature 

The goal of the Latin American Art and Literature Working Group is to encourage conversation between graduate students, faculty, and other scholars of Latin American Art and Literature, with specific emphasis on 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. 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.

CONTACT: Yessica Porras <> or Victor Quiroz Ciriaco <>

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.

Link to the Latin American Cities Working Group website:

CONTACT: Priscila Coli Rocha <> or Francisco Trejo Morales <>

Latin America Energy and Environmental Focus 

LEEF seeks to be community of UC Berkeley students, alumni and faculty members of different departments that, together with experts and advisers, connect on their shared interest in energy development and environmental protection in Latin America. The group works to build a multidisciplinary network and platform that promotes discussion towards achieving a cleaner and sustainable future within the Latin American region.

CONTACT: Renato Piazzon <> or Blanca Lopez Bassa <>

Mexican Association of Students at Berkeley (MEXASB)

The main purpose of this working group is to create communication spaces, for MEXASB scholars and other people interested in Mexico at UC Berkeley, with the goal of fostering the exchange of views and ideas that address issues of interest surrounding the current development of the country. We expect that the discussions spurred from the proposed events will promote cohesiveness among its participants, trigger social awareness and motivate their joint collaboration towards the improvement of Mexico along with their careers.

CONTACT: Roberto Ascencio Rojas <> or Alfredo Rivera <>


Brazil Working Group

Through events that bridge academic and activist spaces, the goal of the Brazil Working Group is to support a thriving community, raise awareness, and act in solidarity with Brazil during a time of political and social turmoil. Actions of the group encompass the following themes: Social, cultural, and political dynamics; Historical and contemporary violence, experiences, and resistance marked by race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and territory; Production of knowledge, articulation, and collective actions between the local and the transnational, between the street and the state/institution; (De) constructions of democracy and citizenship; Audible and visible political articulations in music, film, and the arts.

CONTACT: Alice Taylor <> or Nicole Rosner <>

Peace and Justice in Wallmapu Working Group

One year ago, a group of Chilean and Argentinian graduate students from UC Berkeley, concerned about the complex and increasingly tense relationship between the Mapuche people and the institutions of the Chilean and Argentinian State, created the Peace and Justice in Wallmapu Working Group. The group's activities, including student meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and documentary screenings, have aroused great interest in the UC Berkeley community. The information about what is happening in the Mapuche communities is scarce and hard to find, even in Chile and Argentine. The group's intention is to continue having discussion meetings and organizing events and exhibitions that can create more awareness about an increasingly tense conflict. 

CONTACT: Antonia Mardones Marshall <> or Elisa Duran Micco <>

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.

Working Group Proposals

Each year, CLAS accepts working group proposals for students, scholars, and faculty to encourage continued research and dialogue about the region.  Funds provide support for discussion groups, small conferences, guest lectures, and other activities. The maximum awarded per group is $750 for one year. Proposals for new working groups or renewed support should include the following information:

  • Brief description of the project, including:
    • Activities planned for 2019-20 academic year
    • A description of the activities you have carried out in the past year (for renewal requests only)
    • Names and background information of potential members (department, research interests, expected graduate date)
  • Name of group leader (s)
  • Name of the group's faculty advisor (student groups only)
  • Itemized budget for proposed activities.
  • 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 2019-20 is SEPTEMBER 27, 2019.

CLAS provides meeting space for groups who wish to meet in our conference room during business hours.

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