Learning About Latin America: Six of the Most Valuable Websites

Learning About Latin America: Six of the Most Valuable Websites
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This brief article will present six online resources for teaching or learning about Latin America. Each of the six consists of websites

that are major portals to vast amounts and varieties of information, including (in one case) syllabi that can be used by a wide variety of learners, from K-12 teachers and students through professional researchers and scholars.

The first site is that of the official site of the Latin American Studies Association, or LASA, whose mission is “to foster intellectual discussion, research, and teaching on Latin America, the Caribbean, and its people throughout the Americas, promote the interests of its diverse membership, and encourage civic engagement through network building and public debate.”

The second site is that of the Latin American News and Information Center, or LANIC of the University of Texas, Austin, a university at the forefront of the field of Latin American Studies. The utility of this site lies in the fact that its vast storehouses of information may be searched either by topic or by country and in three languages: Spanish, Portuguese or English. In either mode, searchers will discover dozens upon dozens of links to newspapers, schools, government agencies, cultural and artistic resources, historical, political, economic, commercial and social data may also be found. By selecting the user-interface language, the same screen can be seen in any of the three main languages of our hemisphere.

The third site is simply called Latin American Studies and is organized either by country (a click on a country flag will take you there), or topical, through hypertext links, listing the topics, running in lists down the middle of the screen. By clicking on the main headings for each topic, you can find a syllabus that presents what is to be learned from each section, making this a ready-made course for teachers. There is something here even for K-12 teachers, such as a section on pirates in the Caribbean. The site includes dates for people, events, cultural phenomena and political movements, wars, US-Latin American relations and much more. This is a valuable site for anyone searching for a focused subject, such as the Day of the Dead, Pancho Villa or Ernesto Che Guevara.

The fourth site is offered as one example among many of a distinguished university program and is that of Stanford University’s forty-year-old Center for Latin American Studies, or CLAS. This program “offers academic programs for students, coordinates a range of academic conferences and lectures that span varied geographic regions and diverse academic disciplines, and fosters interdisciplinary research for students and faculty by providing fellowships and funding opportunities. Since its founding more than 40 years ago, the Center has regularly hosted eminent scholars, noted public figures, and internationally-prominent policy makers.”

The fifth resource is the website of a yearly, academic publication produced by the US Library of Congress, the Handbook of Latin American Studies, or HLAS. Like LANIC, the HLAS is also searchable in the three principal languages of our hemisphere. According to its website, HLAS “is a bibliography on Latin America consisting of works selected and annotated by scholars. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, the multidisciplinary Handbook alternates annually between the social sciences and the humanities. Each year, more than 130 academics from around the world choose over 5,000 works for inclusion in the Handbook. Continuously published since 1936, the Handbook offers Latin Americanists an essential guide to available resources. More information on the history of the Handbook can be found in a paper written for the Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM) annual meeting in 1996.”

Last but not least by any means is the Political Database of the Americas, created by Georgetown University. It is searchable in Spanish, Portuguese, English and French, and, as its name declares, is of most value to political scientists, sociologists and economists.

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