CERLAC History

Directors Past and Present

Contributions to the Academy

Institutional Linkages with Latin America and the Caribbean




CERLAC History 


The history of CERLAC begins with that of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS) program itself. LACS was founded in 1972, the result of York's pioneering efforts to draw upon interdisciplinary resources available in the faculty of Arts to develop an area studies concentration. The early growth of LACS coincided with the influx of immigrants to Toronto from Latin America and the Caribbean, including intellectual refugees from the oppressive military regimes of South America. In close collaboration with LACS faculty, a dynamic group of exiles, registered as undergraduate and graduate students, became the core of the Latin American Research Unit (LARU), one of Canada's first independent research units on Latin America. Among the Latin American exiles active in developing LARU and its ties to LACS was Herbert "Betinho" de Souza, a Brazilian who was given an honorary doctorate from York University in 1996 for his lifetime contribution as a social scientist and social activist. (For more on Betinho, see CERLAC's 1997 Annual Newsletter).


The LACS/LARU core group were the movers behind what became York's first organized research unit, CERLAC, established in November of 1978.


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CERLAC Directors


Carlota McAllister - July 2013 to present

Andrea Davis - July 2012 - July 2013

Eduardo Canel - July 2007 - June 2012

Viviana Patroni - July 2004 - June 2007

Ricardo Grinspun - (Acting Director) July 2003 - June 2004

Viviana Patroni - July 2000 - June 2003

Alan B. Simmons (Acting); Tom Legler (Assistant) - Sept. 1999 - June 2000

Ricardo Grinspun - January 1995 - August 1999 

Joanna Rummens - (Acting Director) July 1994 - December 1994 

Meyer Brownstone - July 1991 - June 1994 

Liisa L. North - July 1989 - June 1991 

Alan B. Simmons - January 1985 - June 1989 

Louis Lefeber - (founding director) July 1978 - December 1984


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CERLAC's Contributions to the Academy 


The Fellows of CERLAC have set themselves two major goals. One has been to create proper conditions for the pursuit of high quality and disinterested research as well as other academic activities. The other has been to provide advanced interdisciplinary education for York University students, and for the Canadian academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations at large. The programs and activities organized by CERLAC to achieve these goals have been mutually reinforcing.


CERLAC has forged a remarkable breadth of institutional linkages in Latin America and the Caribbean. Its work has also been recognized by international institutions, such as various United Nations agencies, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, and the Interamerican Development Bank. Furthermore, the CERLAC-organized national and international conferences, the Fellows' individual and team-research projects, participation in international conferences, and the wide range of publications resulting from all these activities, have enhanced York University's academic reputation for interdisciplinary studies not only in Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean, but also in Europe, Asia and Australia.


CERLAC has made important contributions to teaching and other educational functions. Its Graduate Diploma Program in Latin American and Caribbean Studies--started soon after the establishment of the Centre--has attracted students from almost all units and departments of York University, ranging from the Faculty of Arts to Fine Arts, Environmental Studies and Law. It has served as a prototype for the diploma programs of some of the other interdisciplinary and organized research units. But CERLAC's most important contribution is attested by the careers of its associated students. Even though it is not a degree-granting unit, the Fellows as thesis advisors have intensively participated in graduate training both at the masters and doctoral levels. In the process, CERLAC has provided graduate students with institutional bases and academic linkages in Latin America and the Caribbean for thesis-related fieldwork and other work experience. Many of them received their first exposures to research and publication as participants in projects initiated by Fellows with Latin American and Caribbean institutional partners. Several have written prize-winning dissertations, and quite a few of have obtained faculty positions at Canadian and other universities. And many of them have continued to maintain a distinguished publication record.


The academic and institutional reputation of CERLAC has brought many students from Canada and from abroad to various graduate programs at York. Advanced scholars and post-doctoral fellows from Canadian and foreign institutions have also been attracted to CERLAC. Furthermore, CERLAC has also had a good share of SSHRC Canada Scholars. The seminars and lectures given by them and by the constant flow of distinguished visiting Canadian and foreign academics and other professionals--combined with CERLAC's open door policy that gives students access to everything it has to offer--have contributed immeasurably to interdisciplinary graduate education at York University.



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CERLAC'S Institutional Linkages with Latin America and the Caribbean


The following list includes many of the organizations within the Latin American and Caribbean Region with which CERLAC researchers have, over the years, established institutional ties of varying types and duration. Not all linkages may be currently active, while other linkages, active or otherwise, may have been overlooked. The list was compiled from researcher input and documentation pertaining to CERLAC projects, past and present.



Centro de Estudios de Población (CENEP), Buenos Aires FLACSO - Buenos Aires, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences National University of Cuyo, Mendoza National University of San Juan, San Juan



 University of West Indies (UWI)



University of West Indies (UWI)



Centro de Estudios de la Realidad Económica y Social (CERES), La Paz & Cochabamba Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Centro de Estudios Superiores (CESU), Cochabamba



Instituto Brazileiro de Analisis Socias e Economicas (IBASE), Rio de Janeiro



 Academia de Humanismo Cristiano (AHC), Santiago 

Centro Asesor y Planificador de Investigación y Desarollo (CAPIDE) 

Centro de Estudios de la Mujer (CEM), Santiago 

Centro de Investigación y Planificación del Medio Ambiente, Santiago

Federación de Cooperativas Campesinas (FECOSUR) FLACSO - Chile, Santiago 

Grupo de Investigaciones Agrarias (GIA), Santiago 

Latin American Consortium on Development and Sustainable Agro-ecology (CLADES), Santiago 

Programa de Economía del trabajo (PET) Vicaría de Solidaridad, Santiago



Centro de Investigación y Educación Popular (CINEP), Bogotá


Costa Rica 

Centro de Estudios para la Acción Social (CEPAS), San José



Casa del Caribe, Santiago de Cuba Universidad de Oriente, Santiago de Cuba 

Centro de Estudios sobre Africa y el Medio Oriente (CEAMO), Havana

 Centro de Estudios sobre América (CEA), Havana 

Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnologia y Medio-Ambiente (CITMA), Ciego de Avila


Dominican Republic 

Centro de Investigación para la Acción Femenina (CIPAF), Santo Domingo



Acción Ecológica (AE), Quito Centro de Planificación y Estudios Sociales, Quito FLACSO - Ecuador, Quito 

Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales (IDIS), Universidad de Cuenca


El Salvador 

FLACSO - El Salvador, San Salvador



Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer (OSTROM) emala The Association for the Advancement of the Social Sciences (AVANCSO) FLACSO - 



 Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Guatemala City



Centre de Recherche Social et de Difusion Populaire (CRSDP), Port-au-Prince



University of the West Indies (UWI), including its Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), Mona



Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos Civic Alliance Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana 

El Colegio de México, Mexico City Universidad Autónoma de México (UAM), Mexico City Universidad Nacional Aut\noma de México (UNAM), Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Mexico City 

Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Económica (CIDE) Universidad de Las Américas



Coordinadora Regional de Investigaciones Economicas y Sociales (CRIES), Managua 

University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua (URACCAN)



 Pontifica Universidad Católica del Peru (PUCP), Lima Centro de Estudios y Promoción de Desarollo (DESCO) Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP)



University of West Indies (UWI)



University of Merida, Dept. of Political Science


Regional Organizations

 Centro Latinoamericano de Demografía (CELADE), headquarters in Santiago, Chile 


Sistema de Integración Centroamericano (SICA), headquarters in San Salvador, El Salvador 


United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL), Santiago, Chile Institute des Etudes Andines, headquarters in Lima, Peru



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