HistoryThe LAII's history is closely entwined with The University of New Mexico's broader institutional commitment to furthering scholarship, teaching, and research related to Latin America. From the 1930s to the present, UNM has long demonstrated its dedication to promoting a greater understanding between the US and Latin America. The timeline below illustrates this history with selected highlights.
1939 Latin American Studies
is established by President Zimmerman, signaling an increasing strength in UNM's connections to Latin America.
1941: Inter-American Affairs
UNM School of Inter-American Affairs is established under the guidance of Professor Joaquín Ortega. The founding of the School of Inter-American Affairs represents the culmination of an expanding concern for international affairs at UNM, and particularly an interest in Latin America. It also marks the formal institutional beginnings of an integrated area studies program.
1956: Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies
is established at UNM under the leadership of founding member Theo Crevenna, a diplomat of the Organization of American States (OAS) and deputy directory of the Latin American Institute (LAI).
1962: Peace Corps
establishes office on the UNM campus, leading New Mexico to become the first regular training center for Peace Corps projects in Latin America.
1968: Andean Center and Research Institute
is established by Professor Sabine Ulibarrí, facilitating outstanding Ecuadorian faculty teaching for-credit courses to UNM students. It provides a unique study abroad experience for many UNM students and faculty.
1979: Latin American Institute
is established under the leadership of Professor Gilbert Merkx, centralizing and consolidating Latin American programs across campus.
1979: Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS)
is established as the UNM organization for students in all disciplines who are interested in Latin America, and serves as a forum for discussion within the university and broader community.
1980: Field Research Grants
are awarded by the LAII with support from the Tinker Foundation, providing budding scholars with firsthand experiences in their region of study.
1980: LAI Research Paper Series
is established to provide US and international scholars with a forum for academic research in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
1982: Latin American Studies Association (LASA)
secretariat is assumed by UNM and the Latin American Research Review (LARR) is published on campus.
1984: Brazilian Studies
is developed at UNM under the guidance of Professor Jon M. Tolmen.
1985: LASA Conference
the Latin American Studies Association annual congress is hosted by UNM.
1985: Inter-American Congress on Indians
is held at UNM, convening representatives from seventeen nations in the western hemisphere, with LaDonna Harris serving as US representative and approximately 500 official delegates, observers, and other dignitaries attending.
1985: Las Noticias Estudiantiles
the Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS) begins its newsletter.
1985: Encuentro: A Columbian Quincentenary Newsletter
is published with funding from the NEA and NEH, and is meant to collect information about the Columbus Quincentenary history, events, and activities.
1985: Latin American Jewish Studies Association (LAJSA)
holds third annual LAJSA conference at UNM, following closely on its founding in 1982.
1985: Office of International Technical Cooperation (OITEC)
is created to foster and facilitate the efforts of UNM colleges and schools in planning and implementing technical/academic programs for Latin American students and professionals.
1986: Latin America Data Base (LADB)
is established as a premier English-language, electronic news service database.
1987: Mexico: River of History, Garden of Flames
is a historical documentary produced by the LAII in collaboration with the Annenberg Foundation on behalf of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
1988: Travessa Textbook + Materials
is developed by Prof. Tolmen as an innovative means of using multimedia to teach the Portuguese language in the Luso-Brazilian context. 1939.
1990: Summer Law Institute of Guanajuato, Mexico
is founded as UNM joins institutional consortium to allow students from across the country to study international law and Mexican culture as part of a six-week program.
1990: Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS)
secretariat is assumed by UNM under leadership of Theo Crevenna.
1990: Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials (SALALM)
secretariat is assumed by UNM.
1990: Hecho en México
is produced by LAI as a series of one-hour programs of international, award-winning Mexican television and documentary films intended to highlight all aspects of Mexican life and culture.
1991: Hodgin Hall Gazebo
is facilitated by the LAII. It is designed by Mexican architects, constructed with materials supplied by the Mexican government, and gifted to UNM on its centennial in 1989. Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Javier Barros, presents the gazebo to UNM President Richard E. Peck. 1939
1992: El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Project
is established under the guidance of Dr. Gabrielle Palmer, with support from the NEH and NM State Highway and Transportation Department. The project preserves and uncovers the Camino Real from Santa Fe to Ciudad Chihuahua.
1993: A History of Crypto Jews in New Mexico
is a historical investigation which explores the socio-cultural fabric of Jews in New Mexico and brings to light the activities of the earliest Jewish communities in the US Results in publication by Dr. Stanley Hordes. 1939.
1994: Brazilian Studies Association (BRASA)
first secretariat is established at UNM under the leadership of Prof. Tolmen. Initially numbering 300, to data BRASA has more than 600 members in the US, Brazil, Europe, and other countries in Latin America.
1994: Encuentros: Newsletter of the LAII
is published as the official newsletter of the institute.
1994: Organization of American States (OAS)
signs general agreement with UNM, under which UNM staff and faculty assist counterparts in the general secretariat of the OAS with development of educational, scientific, and cultural programs.
1994: Ibero-American Science & Technology Education Consortium (ISTEC)
is founded at UNM, and then serves as the secretariat for 28 science and engineering programs in Latin America and 3 in Spain, with the principal intention of providing cost-effective technology transfer.
1998: El Taller de Gráfica Popular
prints, posters, and illustrated ephemera are acquired by UNM in the hundreds from the landmark Mexican printmaking cooperative.
1998: Herzstein Latin American Reading Room
is unveiled in Zimmerman Library as a 3,000-square-foot-space dedicated to Latin American resources, and inaugurated with an exhibition displaying the recently acquired Fernando Gamboa Collection of Mexican Population Prints by José Guadalupe Posada.
2005: Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA)
grants are awarded by the US Department of Education to the LAII to support two innovative projects: the Latin American Knowledge Harvester and La-Energaia.
2009: Symposium on Modern-Day Slavery
takes place at UNM as LAII leads effort to develop awareness and research related to human trafficking in the Americas. Partners include the Mexican Consulate and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. Results in publication by Professor Susan Tiano, director of the LAII.
2012: Annual Greenleaf Symposium on Latin America
is established at the LAII upon the passing of Dr. Greenleaf, a distinguished scholar and dear friend, who provides an endowment to the LAII to support an annual symposium on Latin America. The first symposium considers "Africans and their Descendants in the Early Modern Ibero-American World."
2013: OFAC People-to-People License
for travel to Cuba is approved, thereby allowing the LAII to organize educational exchange programs to promote people-to-people contact.
2015: Multicultural Education and Advocacy
focus of annual conference at the LAII, with invited speakers from Rethinking Schools addressing topics of multicultural education, advocacy, critical pedagogy, and anti-bias in K-12 classrooms.
2016: Conference on Conducting Fieldwork under Complicated Circumstances
brings together faculty, graduate students, and invited scholars to discuss approaches to fieldwork involving vulnerable populations, violence or state fragility, or any setting in which ethical and moral considerations are heightened.
2017: Conference on Latin American Asylum
focuses on expert witness testimony in Latin American asylum cases, fostering effort to create nationwide network of trained practitioners to work with asylum seekers.