The Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies has its origins at Rutgers University as a Program in Puerto Rican Studies established in the fall of 1970 in response to demands initiated by 16 Livingston Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) students. It became a Department of Puerto Rican Studies in 1973 and its first Chair was Dr. María Canino. Central to its mission was the understanding and critical analysis of colonial relations in the history of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States; the rigorous inter and trans-disciplinary study and creative elaboration of the art, history, and knowledges of Puerto Ricans in the island and in diaspora; and the understanding of the social and material conditions as well as the cultural expressions of Puerto Ricans, and by extension, other “minoritized” populations, in the United States.
Responding to the evolving nature of Latina/o and Caribbean migration and the fields of Latina/o and Caribbean Studies, the Department was renamed Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies in the mid-1980’s, Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies in 2005-06, and Latino and Caribbean Studies as of January 2016. Today, the Department counts with specialists in various linguistic and geopolitical regions of the Caribbean and of Latina/o communities in the U.S.
The department seeks to promote interdisciplinary, hemispheric, and transnational approaches that adequately consider the ways in which, U.S. Latino and Caribbean populations, as well as their intellectual, cultural, and artistic productions, have been and continue to be shaped by the legacies of colonialism, slavery, globalization, and social, artistic, and intellectual mobilization, among other considerations, while maintaininglocalized historical legacies. Students are exposed to a wide range of perspectives drawn from multiple fields. We offer a major and a minor that can serve students to continue graduate studies in various areas in the humanities and social sciences or in professional schools. We also offer a Departmental Certificate in Multicultural Competence to all students who take 9 credits offered by the Department. The Certificate is meant to help students demonstrate competency in one of the most important areas of change in the United States in the 21st century: the formation of an increasingly multicultural society.
The Department has a close relation to other units such as the Rutgers Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Center for Latino Arts and Culture. It also works closely with student organizations such as the Latin American Student Organization, the Latino Student Council, the Unión Estudiantil Puertorriqueña, the Haitian Association at Rutgers (HARU), and West Indian Student Organization at Rutgers, among others.