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.

How to propose a working group

Current Working Groups at CLAS

Argentina Political Economy
Contextos: Chilean Education Working Group
Latin American Cities
Latin American Theater & Performance

Science and Technology Studies

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.


Argentina Political Economy

The aim of this working group is to understand and explain Argentina’s current political events and long-term processes through a comparative political economy approach, analyzing the strategic interactions between the most relevant actors in the policy making process, and their social and economic impact. By comparing the Argentine processes with those in other Latin American countries we will be able to gain a broader understanding of the factors triggering social and political events not just in Argentina but also within and outside of Latin America. This group will carry out primarily two types of activities: first, the organization of discussion seminars where its participants can present the results of their ongoing research related to Argentina’s political economy. Secondly, we will organize discussion forums centered on the October 2011 Presidential elections. Our long term objective is to serve as the starting point for future collaborative projects on Argentina, creating an interdepartmental academic community within the UC Berkeley campus that shares this comparative interest and establishing links with potential partners who share this research interest from outside the UC Berkeley campus as well. 

Contact: Hernán Flom <hernan.flom (at)>

Chilean Education Working Group

Contextos was born out of our interest in creating a critical mass of “educational thinkers” in the context of an intense debate in Chile regarding the future of the educational system. During 2011 this debate confronted the current Chilean government against a massive coalition of students that voiced uninterruptedly for five months, and today, continues to exercise a strong pressure for structural changes.

Our current system, established in 1981 under the promise of further efficiency, introduced competition and free choice to the educational system. This change, implemented nationwide, produced the reorganization of the educational system through free-market dynamics including funding based on demand subsidies, decentralization of public education, the incorporation of charter schools, the liberalization of the labor market of teachers, and the creation of a national system of evaluation (SIMCE).

After more than twenty years of operation and many 'tweaks', it seems clear that the education system has failed to meet the expected results in terms of quality and equity. It is in light of this apparent need for reform that Contextos was created. As a working group, we seeks to foster research and discussion on education policy, opening oportunities to re-think and improve Chile's education system.

Contact: Mayra Feddersen Martinez <feddersen.mayra (at)>


For the past six years, the Cuba Working Group has brought together faculty, staff and graduate students from across campus whose research includes a focus on Cuba. Its objectives are to provide a forum in which UC Berkeley researchers can share their findings and to facilitate collaborative research with Cuba scholars elsewhere. In 2010-11, it helped organize a one-day conference entitled “In Sickness and in Health: Encountering Wellness in Cuba and the U.S.” and hosted Roberto Pérez of the Cuban Foundation for Nature and Humanity, who gave a talk on Cuban agriculture since the “Special Period.” Topics for planned events in 2011-12 range from film to economic reform to agroecology.

Contact: Laura Enriquez (enriquez (at)

Latin American Cities

The aim of this working group is to investigate theories and methods used to study cities in Latin America. As an interdisciplinary group with scholars from anthropology, architecture, city planning, history and sociology, we intend to explore cities in the Latin American context to interrogate contemporary studies on urbanism. A major question that this group intends to examine is the role of factors such as cultural reproduction, citizenship, financial capital and violence in the management of space in cities in North, South and Central America. Through studying such themes, this working group seeks to understand the process and nature of Latin American urbanism in the 21st century. One of our goals is to review and analyze literature produced by scholars in North and South American academies. Other objectives include exploring methodologies for fieldwork in Latin American cities, presenting our own work, providing a space for stimulating discussion and inviting other academics to speak on their current scholarship.

Contact: Julie Gamble <jcgamble (at)>

Latin American Theater and Performance

This working group focuses on theater and performance in the Americas from the colonial to the contemporary period. Its goals include: furthering awareness of approaches to theater and performance studies across disciplines, improving the scholarship of group members though critical review of current writing, increasing the exposure of Latin American theater and performance on the UCB campus and creating a wider circle of interaction between the campus and other Bay Area arts initiatives around Latin American and Latino performance. Issues of particular concern to our group are: popular theater and dance; the intersection of performance and politics; crossovers in U.S. Latino and Latin American theater; and performance and the relationship between film, dance and theater in Latin America. 

Contact: Stephanie Sherma <stephanie_sherma (at)>

Science and Technology Studies

The Science and Technology Studies (STS) working group focuses on knowledge production, expertise, scientific practice, and technologies to study questions around democracy, environmental management and sustainability, innovation and the economy, and the life sciences and society. The group holds biweekly meetings to work on syllabus development and discuss STS research methods and new articles in the field. This spring, the STS working group will be organizing the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, and Society’s annual symposium, to be held April 5-6, 2012. The topic this year is “A New Development? The Promise and Politics of Provincializing Experts, Models, and Knowledge in the 21st Century."

Contacts: Freyja Knapp freyja(at)
Javiera Barandiaran jba(at)

Working Group Proposals

CLAS considers working group proposals for students, scholars, and faculty. The maximum awarded per group is $375 per semester, $750 for one year. Proposals for new working groups or renewed support should include the following information:

  • One-page description of the project
  • A one page description of the activities you have carried out in the past year (for renewal requests only)
  • Activities planned for 2012-13 academic year
  • Names and background information for potential members (department, research interests, expected graduate date)
  • The name of a faculty advisor.
  • Proposed itemized budget
  • Contact information for the group leader and potential members

Please note that no more than $250 of the total calender year budget can be used for food/entertainment expenses. The working group funds should provide support for research and discussion groups. CLAS provides meeting space for groups who wish to meet in our conference room.

Please send completed applications to:
Mariana González Insua , Program Coordinator, Center for Latin American Studies.

Research and Resources

© 2012, The Regents of the University of California, Last Updated - July 17, 2013