Evolution of the Programme
Although Latin American Studies as a full-fledged programme was introduced in 1971 in the School of International Studies (SIS), academic interest in the area and preparatory work towards this end began as far back as 1955 when the Department of American History and Institutions was established. Intended to stimulate interest in the North American affairs, in time, the study of 'special' historic relations that the US had with its neighbouring countries inevitably prompted some forward-looking faculty members of the Department to underline the special need for training in Latin American Studies too and emphasise the favourable expertise that the Department enjoyed to provide such training.
Under the Fulbright Exchange Programme of Scholars, eminent Latin American historian, late Harold E. Davis from the American University, Washington, D.C was invited to offer courses and seminars for one academic year during 1965-66. At the same time useful discussions were held with the visiting scholars with a view to organising eventually a modest programme of Latin American Studies.
In the year 1966, with the appointment of lecturer in Latin American Studies, a small programme consisting of two courses-A Survey of Latin American History; and Government and Politics of Major Latin American Countries was offered to students in the Department of American History and Institutions. Some modest funds were allocated to build library resources.
While the idea and efforts toward promoting Latin American Studies were an out-growth of North American Studies, the interest in Latin America was not merely confined to the 'special' US-Latin American relations. The historical fact that South American countries shared in many respects the socio-economic and colonial experiences of India, and amongst them some continental-sized countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico experiencing parallel processes in economic development and international outlook led the School to initiate efforts to focus attention on major South American countries than on the region as a whole. With the active cooperation of two Brazilian scholars, efforts were made to promote studies on Brazil focusing attention especially on contemporary political and economic developments as well as on the foreign policy of Brazil.
Teaching and Research Programme in Latin American Studies
Two elective courses each consisting of four credits are offered by the two year Masters programme of the School of International Studies as well as the School of Social Sciences.
The titles of the courses are:
For reasons of limited resources and career opportunities only a few scholars are admitted to M.Phil and Ph.D programmes on the basis of qualifying examinations and competition. On an average, no more than three scholars are admitted each year for M.Phil (a four-semester, 24 credits programme of course work and dissertation) and Ph.D (eight-semester of research and doctoral thesis after M.Phil work or 18 credits of pre-Ph.D course work).
The course work in M.Phil or pre-Ph.D in Latin American Studies, amongst other requirements such as training in Research Methodology and intensive training in Language – Spanish or Portuguese - includes five core courses from the following:
AW605 Contemporary Economic Problems of Latin America
AW645 US Economic Policy Towards Latin America
AW630 Mexico Since 1910
Other Course Offerings
AW618 Portuguese Language
AW621 Latin American Society and Politics
AW622 Social Political Structure of Latin America
AW625 Seminar on Latin America
AW629 Contemporary History of Chile
AW642 History of Argentina-(1516-1994)
The special interest of the research scholars admitted to the programme so far has been in areas such as:
Economic integration processes in Latin America importantly Mercosur and NAFTA; structural adjustment programmes; external debt: its management and consequences; structural adjustment and the changing 'capacity' of state in Latin America; role, direction, and sectoral distribution of foreign investments; operations of multinational corporations; trade relations of select Latin American countries; Latin America and the WTO.
Objectives of the Programme
One of the principal objectives of the Latin American Studies programme is to develop eventually an independent Indian/Third World perspective on political, economic and foreign policy aspects of contemporary Latin America. Accordingly, the programme emphasises in particular on those aspects/issues which have relevance for India's own developmental and democratic experiences. Issues/themes which are of interest to scholars and policy planners in Latin American countries are discussed at length in weekly seminars of the programme before identifying and working out themes/areas of research interest. The themes identified above are broad; depending upon the availability of the source material and relevance of the subject, suitable themes are worked out for study and research.
Future plans of the Latin American Studies programme of the School also include collaborative study and research with research institutions/ universities in India and in Latin American-Caribbean countries involving comparative study in areas of mutual interests that would cover major Latin American countries, India and possibly select countries of Asia and Africa.
The present holdings of the University Library consist of some 5,000 titles on Latin America relating to diverse aspects of the area. This collection is supplemented by the holdings of the Indian Council of World Affairs and the Indian Council of Social Science Research available on inter-Library loan arrangement. Approximately two-third of the holdings is in English and the rest in Spanish and Portuguese languages. In addition, the University holdings include back files (though incomplete} of some leading research journals dealing with Latin America such as Hispanic American Historical Review, Inter-American Economic Affairs, Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs, Latin American Research Review, Journal of Latin American Studies, CEPAL Review, Foro Internacional, Pensamiento Politico, and Conjuntura Economica. Present holdings of the Handbook of Latin America include volumes 9 to 40. The Library's newspaper clipping has files of major Indian newspapers as well as British and American international editions. The central library also has access to many online search engines and resources.