Inside the Area: Student Research in Caribbean and Latin American Studies at St. Lawrence University is an electronic publication that highlights some of the best work produced in recent years by students taking classes that fulfill the CLAS minor at this institution. Founded in 1991, Caribbean and Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed to introduce students to the richness and diversity of the cultures, societies and ecologies of Central and South America, Mesoamerica and the Caribbean. Its overall goals coincide with the university's stated aims and objectives with regard to a liberal education that "requires breadth, depth and integration in learning."
The concept of Area Studies has been a subject of ongoing debate. The history of these academic programs in the United States, for example, is clearly a post-World War II phenomenon designed to produce Cold War warriors with a specialization in a world divided and sub-divided into ever smaller pieces for geopolitical reasons. More recently, as it has become increasingly evident that globalization has erased the idea of discrete and hermetic national and regional boundaries, the efficacy of area studies also has been questioned.
These arguments notwithstanding, Inside the Area affirms the importance of working towards an informed and critically-thinking insider's view of an area (Latin America and the Caribbean) as a point of departure, with the knowledge that recognizing the fluidity and connectivity between regions is a worthy larger goal of academic study. St. Lawrence University, with its emphasis on international education and its strong programs in African Studies, Asian Studies, Canadian Studies, Caribbean and Latin American Studies, European Studies, United States Cultural and Ethnic Studies as well as, of course, Global Studies, is well-positioned to undertake this kind of comparative work.
Inside the Area includes research from many different disciplines, carried out by students from their first year at St. Lawrence to their last, both on campus and abroad. These contributions, in both English and Spanish, highlight the kind of excellence that can result from student-faculty collaborations, and we hope that they will serve future students as models for conducting investigative projects. This publication's electronic format also has the distinct advantage of giving it the flexibility to grow in dynamic, innovative ways over the years to come.