- By Institute for Global Dialogue
Unisa Centre for Latin American Studies
1. About theUnisa Centre for Latin American Studies (UCLAS)
UCLAS was established in the 1980s and became defunct in the late 2000s and Unisa has decided to revive it in response to the growing importance of understanding the Latin America and the Caribbean region in a changing global south and how this impacts on Africa. The IGD is mandated to lead the process of revitalizing the UCLAS in partnership with other stakeholders inside and outside Unisa.
UCLAS is an transdisciplinary centre of research, information and community engagementon political, economic and social/cultural dynamics inLatin America and the Caribbean in the context of the changing global south and how these impact South Africa and Africa. Its mandate is to promote scholarly research and exchanges, policy engagement, business interactions and cultural contact between South Africa/ Africa and the region.
2. Vision and Mission
UCLAS envisions itself as a sought-after repository of knowledge, insights and information on dynamics in Latin America and the Caribbean in the context of the changing global south broadly as well as how these have a bearing on relations with Africa, thus contributing to the university commitment to serving humanity.
UCLAS aims to excel in producing knowledge and information on dynamics in Latin America and the Caribbeanas well as relations with Africa through the conduct of research, colloquia and other forms of community engagement, arts and culture activities, and academic collaborations.
UCLAS conducts its activities and responsibilities on the basis of the following values:
- Excellence with integrity
- Credibility and diligence
- Fairness and justice
3. Strategic Objectives
The following are the strategic objectives of the UCLAS:
- To enhance scholarly knowledge and basic understanding of global south countries and regions through studies on Latin America and the Caribbean’s relations with Africa;
- To establish with research networks with counterparts in the Latin American and the Caribbeanregion in order to leverage research and discussion for better engagement between Africa and the rest of the global South;
- To promote a better informed interest and greater awareness of Latin America and the Caribbean region, and its relations with Africa.
- To become a platform for cultural and other exchanges between Africa and the region.
4. The UCLAS’ Core Activities
The centre’s core activities are divided into the following:
- Research into various themes relating to multilateral, regional and country issues in the Latin America and the Caribbean across and beyond disciplinary boundaries. This will include research mentoring of young researchers and scholars registered for Masters and Doctoral Studies in global south studies. Research will include fieldwork-based and commissioned research in country, comparative and multilateral research subjects; both thematic and regional studies. Some research will be contract-based and funded by clients.While a detailed research agenda will be developed over time, it would be inclusive spanning the following areas of analysis:
- Political dynamics concerning relations with Africa/African countries including security questions, state systems, foreign policies, state-society relations, personalities, regional integration and oceans and so forth.
- Economic dynamicsrelating to relations with Africa including economic development, economic models, energy and environment, trade and investment issues, ocean and economy, natural resources governance etc.
- Social dynamics relating to people to people relations including dynamics on civil society formations, arts and culture, language, education, health, diaspora linkages, the legacyof slavery and so forth.
- Publications(academic and non-academic) providing insights and ideas on the changing dynamics of peoples, communities and the region.Publications will be done both by internal experts and others in the UCLAS’ network throughout the world. The UCLAS journal, Unisa Latin American Studies Report,is the main portal for research alongside books, while briefings, seminars and conferences also produce publications.
- Community Engagementin the form of relationships and purposeful interactions with the diplomatic corps and other communities of the global south, bringing the university closer to them and them closer to the university. This includes exchanges and cultural events.Through these relationships and networks, we also hope to generate support for research activities and events.
5. The Journal
UCLAS uses various kinds of publications to disseminate its knowledge and information including e-publications for reflection on topical developments in this broad region from time to time.
The editorial policy of the journal lies with the editorial and advisory committees made up of experts on Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, Unisa and other stakeholders. The Head of UCLAS is the editor-in-chief of the journal guiding the substantive editor and guest editors.
The governance oversight of UCLASis vested in a board constituted in line with Unisa policies, which meets at least twice a year. It establishes sub-committees as and when necessary.
UCLAS operate on the basis of UNISA allocated seed capital, membership fees, and externally funded research.
Dr Siphamandla Zondi, Dr Philani Mthembu and Mr Sikhumbuzo Zondi
9. Key Stakeholders
The key stakeholders for the centre are as follows:
- NGOs and Civil Society
- Diplomatic corps
- Government especially the DIRCO
- Regional organisations and cross-Atlantic networks