Department Chair: Michael Handelsman
Latin America encompasses many different cultures, languages, and traditions. In fact, a comprehensive understanding of the region necessarily leads to a diversity of lifestyles and behaviors that defies the many stereotypes frequently used to categorize Latin Americans. From Mexico to Argentina and throughout Brazil and the Caribbean one can observe the interactions that link the pre-modern, the modern, and the postmodern. For example, many Amazonian Indians continue to practice ancient rituals while using advanced information technologies to defend their land rights against multinational pharmaceutical and oil companies. Syncretism and plurality are indeed the bedrock of Latin American societies which, in turn, have become models for dealing with the many challenges of globalization, be they economic, political, or cultural.
The Latin American Studies program at UTK offers students a broad sampling of courses from numerous academic disciplines which focus on the region's complexities. A major and minor are sponsored by the joint efforts of professors from such departments as Anthropology, Geography, History, Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, Political Science, and Sociology. Study abroad opportunities are strongly encouraged, especially UTK's summer programs in Puebla, Mexico and Fortaleza, Brazil.