Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies
Dr. Cristina Herrera, Chair
Social Science Building, Room 211
Chicano and Latin American Studies (CLAS) is an interdisciplinary department that has been successful in presenting a highly informed, active, and challenging view of the Chicanx/Latinx experience in the United States, Latin America, and U.S./Latin American relations. Chicano and Latin American Studies provides an opportunity for a pluralistic exchange of ideas in an interdisciplinary academic setting, where faculty, students, and visiting scholars can share experiences and create a dynamic, intellectual environment.
The Chicano and Latin American Studies Department is designed to meet the following objectives:
- to promote an awareness of the historical and cultural roots of Chicanx/Latinx people in the United States
- to enhance an understanding of Latin America
- to cultivate an appreciation of ethnic and national differences among all people
- to critically analyze the Chicanx and the Latin American experience in terms of significant issues, theories, current problems, and solutions, and
- to provide students with a set of important professional skills to be utilized as they interact creatively and constructively with Chicanx/Latinx communities and multicultural society at large.
The department emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of family life, history, politics, culture, and the arts of Chicano and Latin American communities. The courses reflect an integrated approach in providing students with greater knowledge and understanding of the social reality and diversity of Chicanxs and Latin Americans.
Los Danzantes de Aztlán. Los Danzantes de Aztlán is the premier Mexican Dance group founded in the department in 1970 by Professor Ernesto Martinez, a pioneer in Mexican folkloric dance in the Central Valley. The troupe has captivated audiences with its beautiful, authentic costumes and precise dance execution. Under the current direction of Dr. Victor M. Torres, the troupe has consistently earned top awards in national and international competitions. It is the only Mexican dance group in the entire San Joaquin Valley (Stockton to Bakersfield), and the only University organization in California to be invited to perform at the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival on three occasions. The group also plays an important role in student recruitment as it inspires young dancers to attend Fresno State and participate with Los Danzantes de Aztlán. The troupe achieves this via its many events, such as the High School Folklorico Summit and the Cal State University Folklorico Show. Due to its professionalism, its exemplary role as a cultural bridge between the University and the community, and its vital artistic and educational contributions to the university and to the region, Los Danzantes de Aztlán has been designated as an official ambassador of the University. Los Danzantes de Aztlán is the only organization of its kind in the entire CSU system to have this distinction.