CLACX is a new research center at Vanderbilt University, created in Fall 2021 to bring together the former Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and Program in Latino and Latina Studies (LATS). Our project is to stimulate research and teaching that examine the borders and intersections between Latinx, Latin American, and Caribbean Studies, enriching all through comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives. We are intent on building meaningful partnerships with the Latinx community in Nashville, as part of our broader goal of bridging scholarly and public-facing discussions; and as part of our efforts to highlight Latinx Studies in the South. CLACX is a designated a National Resource Center on Latin America by the US Department of Education. Alongside providing Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) grants for the study of Brazilian Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and K’iche’ Mayan, NRC funding supports professional development workshops, summer institutes, and cultural arts events to engage K-16 educators and community stakeholders. In a word, we are about engaging.
CLACX will continue a wide-array of collaborative initiatives across the Americas to strengthen existing areas of emphasis, and also develop new relationships with universities and community organizations. Ongoing trans-institutional partnerships at Vanderbilt and beyond are vital to CLACX’s success. We believe, for example, in the health and medicine projects active in Guatemala. We also work closely with the Jean and Alexander Heard Library, supporting acquisitions and digitization efforts. We maintain relationships with the schools of music, education, business, and law, and have partnered with Tuskegee University and Meharry Medical College, among other universities in the South, to further the teaching of Latin American cultures, languages, and histories.
CLACX supports research in areas of faculty interest, and will amplify the profile of Latinx Studies through new hires, and continuing the #SOMOSVU initiative on campus. The possibilities for pursuing new intersections are plentiful, given Vanderbilt’s existing and growing strengths in (listed alphabetically): Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico. We are fortunate to draw on the strong interests in Afro Latinx, Afro Latin American, and Mayan studies that CLAS and LATS previously cultivated. This research is essential to better addressing questions on migration, education, diasporas, democracy, and health—issues that are critical for the making of a more just society.