Programs & Research

Program on Religion and Latin American Studies

The Program on Religion and Latin American Studies (PRLAS) approaches the complexities of Latin American Religion phenomena from a transdisciplinary perspective and through a commitment to dialogue with Latin American scholarship. 

PRLAS is linked to Baylor in Latin America initiative and is inspired by the University motto “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana.” Our research does not merely have Latin America as an object of study but sees Latin America as a multidimensional world of richness and opportunities to learn from and grow withLatin America needs Baylor as a Christian institution committed to open dialogue and sensitive to human problems. PRLAS identity is not defined by intellectual colonialism but by an honest and humble disposition, rooted in the gospel, which acknowledges Latin American scholars as equal partners who have not been sufficiently listened to. Together we hope to generate creative ways to better understand complex problems. 

Because of this, PRLAS shares Joaquín Torres García’s moto “Nuestro norte es el sur” (our north is the south). In 1943 he drew South America with the south at the top1 to advocate an autonomous Latin American art movement, but his reorientation has developed a broader meaning. 

Why “nuestro norte”? The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defines norte including meanings as “guía, punto de referencia” and meta, objetivo (guide, reference point & goal, objective); and the Portuguese dictionary Michaelis lists the figurative meaning of norte as “direção conhecida; guia, orientação, rumo” (known direction, guide, orientation, course). In similar way the Larousse French dictionary explains that perdre le nord” means “être désorienté, perdre la tête” (losing the north is being disoriented, losing one’s head). Neither the Oxford, Cambridge, nor Merriam-Webster dictionaries have similar definitions, although a close English metaphor is the “North Star”. 

Our perspective wishes to use el sur as guide, orientation, and reference point. It extends the map to include the whole Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the Latinx in the US. Such a broad context spurs PRLAS not merely to embrace Latin America areas of inquiry but to acknowledge that specific research problems will be dialectically discovered through sensitivity to context and remaining in dialogue with Latin American and Latinx scholarship. 

These are some tasks in which PRLAS is currently engaged as part of this effort: 

 2019 PRLAS Project on Faith in Migration. 

 2019  PRLAS dialogue with the Red de Investigadores del Fenómeno Religioso en México (RIFREM: Mexican Research Network of Religious Phenomenon).  

 2020  Priority research problems: discussion seminar for Latin American specialists and Baylor scholars. 

 2022  Baylor hosting the XIX Congreso Latinoamericano de Religión y Etnicidad of the Asociación Latinoamericana para el Estudio de las Religiones A.C. (ALER: Latin American Association for the Study of Religions).