The regional seminar series scheme at the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) has made an important contribution to enhancing and strengthening the sharing of research and developing of national networks outside of London.

While many research seminars are held in London across different universities, it is not always possible for researchers across the UK to go to them, and regular attendance is very difficult. Scholars of Latin America and the Caribbean are also widely dispersed geographically, so the Institute’s scheme provides support for conveners in regional universities to organise a seminar series around a particular theme
in order that they can meet and attend more regularly than would otherwise be possible.

A key aim of the scheme has been to encourage inter-institutional collaborations between regional universities in the UK. Instead of showcasing the research of one institution or department, organisers of the seminar series are asked to hold events across two or more universities.

The funding we received from ILAS could not have come at a more opportune moment. [It]… enabled us to work together in order to increase the visibility of American and Latin American Studies [and…] to demonstrate to our respective institutions the significant potential for growth and future cooperation in
this area. [We] hope to be able to work together in the supervision and training of new doctoral students in the future.

– Dr Sarah Bowskill, Newcastle University. In March 2014, Newcastle University approved the establishment of a Research Centre in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

By encouraging an interdisciplinary approach and facilitating networking, the series will have an impact on the regional Latin American scholarly communities beyond the events themselves. In Wales, for example, the seminars have led to a research group being formed to focus on connections between Cuba and Venezuela, the establishment of a database of Latin Americanist scholars working in Wales, and the creation of a website and monthly blog.

These outcomes are laying the basis for longer term collaborations, including a conference and the production of publications strengthening Latin American studies within Wales.

This blog post was originally published in the School of Advanced Study Annual Report and Review 2014 which is available from the School in hard copy or from the SAS website (click here). Click here for more information about the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS).

Image: ‘Cultural uses of caves in the Americas’ is just one example of the conference and regional seminar series schemes. Ancient cave paintings in Patagonia, © Eduardo Rivero/Shutterstock