UCSB Latin American and Iberian Studies Program


The Latin American and Iberian Studies (LAIS) Program is the oldest interdisciplinary program on campus. Drawing on a multitude of disciplines and perspectives from across our UC Santa Barbara, LAIS faculty and students examine the people and cultures of Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries and territories around the world — from Europe and Latin America to Africa and East Asia — as well as Chicanx, Latinx, and Puerto Rican communities in the US.


Your gift to the LAIS Program will help provide fellowships, awards, and funding to our talented graduate students, and to ensure high standards of excellence in our academic events and programming.


Please, give to the LAIS program today via this link

You may also make a gift by phone or mail. Please make your check payable to “UC Regents.” On the memo section of the check, or in an enclosed letter (or email), indicate that the gift is for “The Latin American and Iberian Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara.”

Mail to:
Tristin Sherman 
Associate Director of Development
Office of Development
University of California
Santa Barbra, CA 93106-2013
If you would like to make a gift by phone, please contact Tristin Sherman, Associate Director of Development, Humanities and Fine Arts at (805) 893-3136 or tristinsherman@ucsb.edu.

Meet some of the graduate students your generous donations will support!

Jennifer Amador

The motivation for my research topic and really to pursue a master’s degree, came from my own experiences and observations as a Spanish heritage speaker studying in Spain (2015). As recent Census and college enrollment reports have found, the Chicanx/Latinx community is growing and their presence in higher education also reflects that. My own cohort was made up with a majority of Latinx students however other cohorts didn’t have similar representation. My research topic is based on motivations of Spanish heritage speakers to study abroad. Initial survey responses show that of my 158 participants 62% identify as Chicanx or Latino. Additionally, popular country destinations are Spain, Mexico and Chile- I was really surprised by this country!  A curious observation is that only 23 participants were male – the topic of gender disparity and study abroad is a topic for future research. I am excited to move onto the interview phase and talk to the participants to gain deeper insight to their motivations. Did they have similar thoughts as me? Were there other reasons I hadn’t considered? And hopefully, how can we help heritage speakers or Latinx students go abroad. I’m especially interested to see what they are looking for in a program so staff and universities can help them pursue their goals. Too often the research focuses on why students don’t go and I wanted to focus on those who did. 


Aside from reading articles and data this year, I’ve had the opportunity to teach Elementary Spanish as a foreign language. Initially I was uncertain that I would be able to teach so early on in addition to only speaking Spanish to novice learners on the first day. Teaching and sharing my language with students has been very joyful. To see how second language acquisition happens and to see the student’s progress is so cool. Teaching has definitely expanded my initial thoughts I had about myself as an educator and my potential. 

Carol Lizeth Marchante

Entering a program with an interdisciplinary approach such as the Latin American Iberian studies program has helped develop my interests and research. My research looks at the Historiography of the Conquest of the Americas, specifically at the region that came to be known as the Kingdom of Guatemala, by analyzing and comparing the writings of the Dominican friars, Bartolomé de las Casas and Antonio de Remesal. While this episode in History has been discussed my research intends to look at how the two historical figures write and describe the conquest of Guatemala years apart, their intentions, and how they use the writings of their sources for their efforts. Coming into the program, I knew that I wanted to delve into the Catholic Church’s involvement in colonial Latin America, looking at the formation and adaptation of the indigenous identity and religious ritual into the developing colonies. Having this in mind, I registered into Latin courses. While my research is different from what I thought it would be when I started, the last year and a half that I spent taking Latin have helped find primary sources such as those written by Bartolomé de las Casas. 
In addition to reading the primary sources of Las Casa and Remesal amongst the many other writings of Latin Americanist, I have had the opportunity to work with both the LAIS programs and the Spanish department. Working with Students in the introduction of Latin America and Iberian Studies allowed me to indulge and work in an area where I aim to be.  It was an exciting experience from the start. On the other hand, in the beginning, the thought of teaching Spanish was intimidating for me. Although I grew up speaking and writing Spanish, it had never been in an academic setting. But, the three quarters in the Spanish department have helped me grow as a person. Teaching Spanish has given me the experience and tools needed for working as an educator with college students. These opportunities have helped me embrace my potential as a person, student and TA.

Rosa Elvira Rodríguez

Currently I am in the middle of writing my thesis, which focuses on contextualizing two characters throughout their variations, the two being performed by comedian Jorge Benavides. The two characters are El Negro Mama and La Paisana Jacinta, both cariactures of an Idigenous woman (Jacinta) and an Afro-Peruvian man (Mama). My emphasis is comparing the two based on their trajectories as characters throughout the decades and how racialized mis-representations are treated based on the groups that they harm in their presentation. I also place focus on the activist, legal, and community efforts towards retiring the two characters, focusing on an incident in 2010 centering Monica Carrillo of LUNDU and the current retirement of Jacinta through the judicial system. As of right now, I am conducting research and writing the second chapter of my thesis, which is a textual and video analysis of El Negro Mama and his specific trajectory as a character. I am using NVIVO to transcribe and code my findings which are categorized into the following coding stripes: Degradation, Class, Humor, Stupidity, Sexuality, Violence/Conflict and Deviancy. I am finding that there are a lot of instances of class based around the sketches El Negro Mama in placed in, and how ultimately this extends into his resulting actions (such as Deviancy).