Graduate Program

The Ph.D. program in Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz offers an innovative transnational and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the peoples, cultures, societies and institutions of the Américas. The program is designed to educate students in this new field of study and train them to develop the conceptual and analytical skills necessary for understanding the dynamics of hemispheric change. This is the first doctoral program in Latin American and Latino Studies. In preparing students for research and teaching at the university level, the department offers four thematic clusters in the emerging field of Latin American and Latino studies: 1) transnational migrations within the Américas; 2) social inequalities; 3) cultural politics and cultural flows; and 4) collective action and social movements. Doctoral students specialize in one of these four substantive themes, as well as a focus area of their own design.

  1. Transnationalisms, Migrations, and Displacement. While transnational migrations are the subject of research in multiple disciplines, this program analyzes these transformative processes through an interdisciplinary lens. A transnational approach examines links between regions in the Américas, analyzing the social and historical foundations of economic dynamics such as remittances from the United States or the dollarization of Latin American countries. A transnational approach to the study of migratory processes explores the dynamics of bi-national communities, bilingualism and multilingualism, immigrant integration into host societies, and North-South exchanges of ideas and cultures.
  2. Intersectionality, Identities, and Inequalities. This program’s research in the Américas foregrounds the study of transnational social inequalities formed by power relations based on race, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, class, territory, gender and/or sexuality. These social hierarchies are analyzed as institutions, historical processes, discourses, or symbols with multiple meanings, and are examined in terms of how they have been mobilized to build, transform, or challenge identities, communities, and social movements in local, national, and global contexts over time.
  3. Cultural, Power, and Knowledge. Another distinctive area of inquiry in the Américas is the study of cultural politics and cultural flows that shape everyday life, institutions, social identities, discourses, meanings, and cultural forms and practices, in global, regional, and local contexts in an increasingly interconnected and integrated world. The transnational analysis of culture focuses on the ways in which cultural forces and cross-cultural communication and media are contributing to the formation of new transnational imaginaries, as well as how these cultural processes are transforming and redefining national and local cultures.
  4. Collective Action, Social Movements, and Social Change. This area of research addresses collective action and social movements at local, national and international levels viewed through transnational lenses. As migrants engage in public life, both in their communities of residence and in their communities of origin, they construct diverse practices of political participation, including "civic bi-nationality.” These processes are crucial for understanding the largest wave of immigration in a century, including how migrants relate to U.S. society. 

The doctoral program provides rigorous training in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of transnational processes that link the Americas. The program educates doctoral students in the theories and research methods based in disciplines of the social sciences and the humanities.