Saira looks into the LACC’s closure and the future of the Latin American and Caribbean research community at LSE

By Saira Afzal

Following the closure of the Latin American and Caribbean Centre (LACC) in October 2023, Dr Anna Cant, Dr Tanya Harmer and Professor Jenny Pearce organised a workshop on Thursday, 18 January to discuss the future of the Latin American and Caribbean research community at LSE. 

The workshop gathered professors, research fellows and postdoctoral students whose research areas focus on the Latin American and Caribbean region, with the aim of addressing challenges faced by the research community.

Participants brainstormed ways to increase visibility of the community, such as disseminating new LSE research on the region via research seminars, roundtables and PhD student seminars. One participant suggested organising events focused on current affairs to offer intellectual interpretations of recent events in Latin America. Another participant suggested formalising the research community into a network for easier collaboration.

Many participants agreed that engaging with the culture and arts scene at LSE would encourage interest in the Latin American and Caribbean region, for example through film screenings or inviting Latin American artists to discuss their work. Attendees also agreed that collaboration with Latin American student societies on cultural events could increase student awareness. It would also provide an opportunity to network with the wider Latin American and Caribbean community on campus.

Before its closure, the LACC was a “focal point” for research covering the region, increasing public awareness of LSE’s research specifically. It promoted LSE’s research via seminars, public events and debates with scholars to encourage lively discussion on topics relevant to the region. 

Many workshop attendees were involved with the LACC before it closed, and they expressed difficulties trying to create networks within the research community without the centre’s support. One participant felt the LACC had provided valuable connections that could not be fostered elsewhere, whilst another said the LACC was a “magnet” for scholars outside of LSE.

One key concern raised at the workshop was technical barriers in setting up communication channels, such as the labour and time required to manage a fortnightly newsletter. Some participants suggested a mailing list or a WhatsApp group to tackle this issue. Another concern raised was sourcing funds for events without formal department support.

Professor Jenny Pearce, Visiting Professor at the International Institute of Inequalities told The Beaver the Latin American and Caribbean region is often left out of the intellectual, academic and policy map because people do not appreciate the unique insights the region can give on global challenges. 

She added that every country in the region can provide a valuable interdisciplinary perspective to global challenges, such as inequality, migration and climate change. LSE attracts many Latin American students every year who want to see their region recognised in the intellectual sphere, thus the research community at LSE is invaluable to students from the region.

An LSE spokesperson said: “We empower and trust our departments to organise their research and teaching for the best possible outcomes with the resources available to them and via any additional funding secured through philanthropy or partnership opportunities. While on occasion this will mean that research centres housed within departments are not permanent entities, our School-wide commitment to world-leading research and policy impact across regions – in this case, Latin America and the Caribbean – is enduring.”

If students are interested in helping the Latin American and Caribbean research community, please email the convenors of the workshop: a.cant1@lse.ac.uk, t.harmer@lse.ac.uk, j.pearce3@lse.ac.uk / please contact the Beaver.

Saira looks into the LACC's closure and the future of the Latin American and Caribbean research community at LSE

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