Andres Rivarola
Andres Rivarola

Research, education, information and documentation

When the Institute of Latin American Studies was founded in the early 1950s, it seemed natural that it would be a part of the Stockholm School of Economics. The Swedish business community had long been interested in Latin America, which, unlike other continents, had not been claimed by the colonial powers.

Since 1977, the Institute is a part of Stockholm University. The growing operation rests on four pillars: research, education, information and documentation.

Library with more than 50,000 volumes on Latin America

Andres Rivarola welcomes us in the library, the heart of the Institute. With its more than 50,000 volumes, all of which deal with Latin America from a social science perspective in one way or another, it is the largest collection in the Nordic countries.

It is here, in an open space between the well-stocked bookshelves, that the Institute holds its regular open lectures on themes such as the peace process in Colombia, Cuba under and after Castro, Mexico vs. Trump, and the future of Haiti.

Today, the Institute has ten employees and 25 affiliated researchers, as well as numbers of collaboration partners from other European and Latin American universities.

Internationalisation efforts

Unlike most universities that offer Latin American studies, Stockholm University provides the opportunity to complete an entire programme, both at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. In 2001, there were about ten applicants to the master’s programme; this year, there are five times as many. Studies at the bachelor’s level follow the same upward trend, and an increasing proportion of students come from other countries.

“We have made efforts to internationalise in recent years. Among other things, we now have course information in English on the website,” says Andres Rivarola. “In the future, we hope to also have students from China, where interest in Latin America is rapidly increasing.”

Part of the internationalisation is the institutionalisation and deepening of an existing collaboration between Nordic universities, with Stockholm University as a base.

Such a link between the Nordic countries existed in the 1960s and 1970s, but was weakened over the next two decades.

“In the 1960s, the initiative came from the government; this time, it comes from the research community,” says Andres Rivarola. “Of course, we would like to attract both politicians and the business community to support our operations.”

If everything goes as planned, the Institute of Latin American Studies will shortly have an addition to its name: the Nordic Institute of Latin American Studies. International competitiveness will be even greater if the Institute, together with the University of Salamanca in Spain and Sorbonne Nouvelle in France, via an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master degree, will be able to offer students from around the world a unique and prestigious education.

“We are waiting anxiously for the EU Commission’s decision,” says Andres Rivarola. “Experience has taught me not to take anything for granted, but I believe we have a good chance.”

Research with focus on Latin America

Watch a film about research at Stockholm University which focusses on Latin America.