Welcome to Chicana/o and Central American Studies at UCLA!

Leisy Abrego

Since my first day in the classroom in 2010, I knew this department was the right place for me. As a professor, I get to teach, learn from, and be inspired by students who are not only brilliant, creative thinkers, but also deeply committed change agents intentionally seeking education to improve conditions for their families and communities. Our staff genuinely care about making students feel at home. Our faculty are nationally-renowned leaders in the study of Chicanas/os/xs, Latinas/os/xs, and Indigenous migrants from Latin America – uncovering inequalities, informing policy, and shining a light on these communities’ resistance, art, and history to inspire transformative change.

Together, the people who make up our department, under its new expanded name, continue to strive to fulfill its rich history and mission as originally rooted in the Chicano Movement. This means that we remain deeply committed to the wellbeing of our students and communities on campus and beyond. With over 400 undergraduate majors and minors, over 30 PhD students, three staff, and a faculty of 17, we are a fast-growing department in the Division of Social Sciences and a valuable resource on the UCLA campus. Our presence and our work also reflect the growing need for information, representation, and social justice for Chicanxs, Latinxs, and Indigenous people throughout Los Angeles, California, and the nation.

We are particularly proud of our interconnections with the vibrant city of Los Angeles. Indeed, our department was born of struggle spearheaded by a diverse group of students and community members, many of whom continue to lead the fight against inequalities that harm Chicanas/os/xs and more recently arrived immigrants and refugees. Los Angeles is home to the largest Latinx population of any city in the country. Moreover, it is home to the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico, the largest Salvadoran population outside of El Salvador, and the largest Guatemalan population outside of Guatemala. Importantly, the city is home to the largest population of Indigenous migrants from Mexico and Guatemala, as well. All of these groups and more are represented among our students, staff, and faculty, enriching our conversations and sharpening our analysis of what it will take to achieve social justice for our communities.

In all of these ways, the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies fulfills the true mission of the public university. Through our work in classrooms and in research, service, and creative activities, we connect UCLA’s resources to communities that have historically been left out of spaces of higher education. Our graduates take what we’ve accomplished together in our classrooms to infuse city leadership, courtrooms, community centers, and classrooms with the drive to achieve social justice for LGBTQ, Indigenous, working-class, and other marginalized communities. Increasingly, our PhD graduates are teaching at other universities, further expanding our mission in higher education. Please explore our website to learn more about our faculty and students, and how our department furthers the ideals of inclusive excellence at UCLA.


Leisy Abrego
Chair and Professor
César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies