South America region | University of Oxford
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Colorful houses in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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South America region

Study of South America

Latin American Centre

The Latin American Centre (LAC) at St Antony’s College was founded in 1964 and is now one of the six constituent units of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies. The main aims of the Centre are: to educate graduate students in a range of disciplines applied to Latin America; to promote research on Latin America; to support a research library; to bring students and academics from Latin America to the University; and to organize seminars, lectures, workshops and conferences on the region. The LAC works to promote a greater understanding of modern Latin America through teaching, research, and through a range of events open to the public. It has a long tradition of research in history, democratisation and political economy. The LAC operates multidisciplinary MPhil and MSc programmes in Latin American Studies and also supports DPhil students across the university.

Oxford University is home to a strong community of Latin American specialists, with particular strengths in Brazilian and Colombian studies. It operates a dynamic Brazilian Studies Programme with a focus on the politics and global emergence of Brazil as well as Brazilian history, finance, international relations, literature and environmental policy. In addition, the University is currently raising funds for a permanent University Lectureship in Colombian Studies.

Latin America Centre Partnerships

In 2012, the Latin American Centre announced the establishment of a strategic partnership with the CAF Development Bank of Latin America.

Through research, training and public outreach, CAF and LAC will work together toward their shared goal of building policy expertise on the challenges facing the region.  The partners are working together on several exciting projects including the creation of a new CAF-Development Bank of Latin America Visiting Fellowship in Economics based at the Latin American Centre from Michaelmas Term 2012. The partnership will also host joint seminars to discuss the latest research from CAF Development Bank, an annual conference as well as supporting a new research project focusing on inequality in Latin America.

In November 2007, Oxford joined the Santander Universities Network. Santander supports a variety of programmes that enhance Oxford’s relationship with Santander countries – nine countries in Iberia and Latin America. Santander scholarships help Oxford to attract outstanding students from Santander countries; each year 12 Santander Graduate Awards are available to support candidates applying for a full-time one-year Master’s degree.

In addition to the Santander Graduate Awards, Santander also funds academic travel grants. It provides up to £1,000 for Oxford graduate students to visit Santander countries for academic work (fieldwork, archival research, etc.). Oxford students who have been awarded this opportunity frequently report back on the tremendous value of their visits to Latin America which allows them to advance their research significantly.

Individual Country Links

In addition to region wide links, Oxford also enjoys a number of research and collaborative links with individual countries in the region.

Amazon Basin - The Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology is running a teaching and research programme into Amazonian anthropology focusing mainly on the original inhabitants of the Amazon - indigenous peoples and their life cycle. Current research aims to shed light on the interrelatedness of people and their environments; the constitution of persons and social identities; and relations between the material and social world.

Argentina - Oxford’s Department of Materials has had a long standing collaborative relationship with the Universidad de Buenos Aires on aluminium alloys for the automotive and aerospace industries. This collaboration has included joint research work and opportunities for academic visiting posts at each institution, and co-supervision of each other’s graduate students. Collaborations are also taking place in chemical engineering.

Bolivia and Peru - Working with regional botanists, recent fieldwork by Oxford University scientists in the Andes, one of the world’s hottest regions of plant diversity, has uncovered over 100 plants new to science during the last decade. These include an entirely new genus named Maraniona, related to the familiar peas and beans, lurking in the Marañon Valley in Peru; and the Charango tree, Aspidosperma resonans used to make traditional musical instruments in Bolivia.

Peru - Vietnam is one of the study countries of the Young Lives project, a long term international study of childhood poverty following the lives of 12,000 children over 15 years in 4 countries. Commencing in 2001, the project has already published extensively on findings from Peru.

Uruguay - The Latin American Centre and the Department for International Development are working in partnership with the Economic and Social History Programme (PHES) of the Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay on the Montevideo-Oxford Latin American Economic History Data Base (MOxLAD.) This is a database containing extensive data on a wide range of social indicators for 20 countries from 1870 – 2010. It acts as a rich resource for social and economic historians all over the world and a single on-line source for inter country comparison.


The University houses extensive resources from South America in its museums, libraries and gardens.

The Botanic Garden of the University contains a number of geographical beds, and the South American collection at the northern border includes Acca sellowiana, a beautiful flowering and fruit bearing plant, sometimes known as the Pineapple guava, which is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, and Colombia.

Latin American Visitors

Many leading writers, academics and politicians from Latin America have visited Oxford to lecture or to receive honours. Some of the most distinguished of the former have been Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, Manuel Puig, Mario Vargas Llosa and the Nobel Prize winner, Octavio Paz.  Honorary doctorates were conferred on Pablo Neruda in 1965 and on Jorge Luis Borges in 1971.

Famous South American Alumni

The first Colombian to be awarded an Oxford degree was Rafael Parga Cortés who went on to play a prominent role in Colombian public life, particularly in the Department of Tolima where he was Minister, Governor and founder of Universidad del Tolima.

Other famous Colombian alumni include:

  • Jaime Bermúdez, the former Foreign Minister of Colombia from 2008 to 2010 and former Ambassador of Colombia to Argentina
  • Gustavo Bell, Vice-President of Colombia from 1998 to 2002 and current Ambassador of Colombia to Cuba
  • Álvaro Uribe, President of Colombia from 2002 to 2010
  • Francisco José Lloreda Mera, a Colombian lawyer, politician, writer, editor and newspaper director.

Oxford also educated Carlos Andrés Escudé Carvajal, an Argentine political scientist and author, who during the 1990s served as special advisor to one of Argentina's most distinguished Foreign Ministers - Guido di Tella.

A well-known Oxford alumnus from Peru is Pedro Pablo Kuczynski who was Prime Minister of Peru from 2005 to 2006

Alumni in South America have access to 3 alumni societies – OUS Uruguay, OUS Brazil, and the Oxford and Cambridge Dining Society of Buenos Aires in Argentina - and one alumni area contact in Peru.

The Oxford and Cambridge Dining Society of Argentina has met at least once a year since 1918 for a dinner which is usually held at the Buenos Aires Residence of the British Ambassador.