Welcome to the KU Latinx Studies Initiative. According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015, Latinxs1 are one of the most rapidly growing segments of the U.S. population, accounting for nearly half of total demographic growth and representing over 18 percent of all U.S. residents. Since 2008, Latinxs have been the largest and fastest growing “minority” group at the University of Kansas (KU) and in the state of Kansas. Latinxs are a critical component of our expanding and growing nation, and they represent significant social, economic, and political contributions. Latinxs’ physical, economic, and cultural well-being is critical to the well-being of the United States as a whole.
The KU Latinx Studies Initiative (LSI) embraces the heterogeneous identities, socioeconomic status, racial, national, and generational differences of Latinxs by building interdisciplinary relationships among departments, programs, and units on campus as well as community organizations that represent related interests. Latinx Studies brings together disciplines as diverse as Anthropology, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Spanish and Portuguese, Sociology, and Religious Studies, along with programs such as American Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, African and African American Studies, Indigenous Nations Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, among others.
In 2006-2007, when the number of KU Faculty with specialization in Latinx populations in the U.S. reached critical mass through several new hires, a group of these faculty came together to raise the profile of Latinx Studies at KU. At the time, KU offered majors or minors in African and African American Studies and Indigenous Nations Studies, but not in Latino/a Studies. These faculty successfully proposed a new U.S. Latina/o Studies minor, housed in American Studies.
In February 2008, we organized a national, interdisciplinary U.S. Latino/a Studies conference at KU: “Nuestra América in the U.S.?”. This conference, one of the earliest to focus exclusively on Latinx Studies at a national level, featured prominent, internationally known scholars and writers such as Juan Flores, Suzanne Oboler, Emma Pérez, Roberto Suro, and Helena María Viramontes, and brought over 200 people from across the nation to KU.
The Latinx Studies Initiative seeks to teach, research and serve the many manifestations of Latinx culture and identity and make visible the voluminous histories and experiences of Latinxs in celebration of their invaluable intellectual and cultural contributions. We welcome students, staff, colleagues, community members, and you to join us in our lectures, presentations, and symposia that strive to create an intellectual community on campus and in the region.
As you browse the material on this website, please do not hesitate to contact us directly with any questions.
1. "Latinx" is a gender-neutral term often used in lieu of "Latino" or "Latina" that refers to individuals with cultural ties to Latin America and individuals with Latin American descent. The "-x" replaces the standard "-o/a" ending and is intended to be more gender inclusive. The term has slowly gained popular recognition, encouraging an ongoing debate surrounding the usage of the term as well as the other proposed attempts at introducing gender neutrality to language.