NZCLAS is New Zealand’s only interdisciplinary research centre with a focus on Latin America.
The New Zealand Centre for Latin American Studies (NZCLAS) is a Research Centre in the Faculty of Arts established by the Council of the University of Auckland in September 2002. It was funded initially by a Vice-Chancellor’s Emerging Research Areas Support Fund grant from the University and subsequently by a series of donations, fellowships and grants, such as the Hood Fellowship and the Seelye Charitable Trust Fellowship.
The Centre evolved out of the Latin American Studies Programme, which has offered an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree since 1996. It was officially launched on 21 May 2004 by the Hon. Phil Goff, then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Since 2007, the Centre has focused principally on consolidating research on Latin America in the social sciences and humanities by strengthening an international academic network and supervising postgraduate students in order to exchange and disseminate knowledge on Latin America in the greater Australasian region.
NZCLAS is the only national research centre with staff expertise in the interdisciplinary study of Latin America. Our mission is to lead Latin American research carried out in New Zealand by collaborating with academics from different disciplines, institutions and regions nationally and internationally. Our overall objective is to ensure that Latin America receives the attention it merits when discussing new research initiatives and developments at regional and global levels.
The aims of the Centre are:
- to be a leading Asia-Pacific Centre for Latin American research and teaching;
- to provide an academic forum for discussion of the major transformations taking place in Latin America emerging from democratisation processes, indigenous leadership in securing sovereignty, citizens’ responses to climate change and ecological degradation, and other consequences of globalisation;
- to assess Aotearoa New Zealand’s position as a crossroad between Latin America and Australasia as part of what is referred to as the Global South;
- to attract scholars, postgraduate students, diplomats and community leaders from Latin America and the Asia Pacific to share knowledge and experiences to better respond to current challenges.
Since its inception in 2002, the Centre has co-sponsored conferences, seminars and workshops in New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Chile and other Latin American countries, and the results have been published. The Centre also has an active role in supporting initiatives to build educational links with the Latin American region.
NZCLAS has been involved with the government and diplomatic community through meetings held with officials of the Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs and Trade, with New Zealand Ambassadors in Latin America and with Ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, and Mexico to discuss projects and initiatives of common interest.
NZCLAS regularly collaborates with the Latin American New Zealand Business Council (LANZBC), the Cuban Friendship Society, and ALAC (Auckland Latin American Community), through their cultural initiatives. Furthermore, the Centre has worked in collaboration with the Latin American embassies to organise film festivals as part of their commitment to promote and extend the relationships between New Zealand and the Latin American countries.