Crossing the borders of knowledge

Wednesday 4 May 2016

A new international research network is employing pioneering research on Latin America to ensure that our understanding and teaching of history of knowledge is truly global.

Supported by the Leverhulme Trust with a £124,000 grant, ‘Border Crossings: Latin America and the Global History of Knowledge (LAGLOBAL)’ is led by the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) at the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Directed by Dr Mark Thurner, LAGLOBAL will build upon a growing body of research that has moved beyond national and/or imperial traditions and approaches to the history of science and philosophy. Its brief is to investigate the history of border-crossing ‘knowledge practices’ where Latin America has been a pioneer, and to apply this knowledge to generate a model for a border-crossing academic practice fit for the 21st century.

‘Too often, researchers at UK universities claim originality for their interdisciplinary knowledge practices, when in fact those practices have a long history elsewhere’, notes Dr Thurner, professor of Latin American history at ILAS.

‘This is particularly true of Latin America, whose contributions to the history of knowledge have been largely ignored. LAGLOBAL intends to remedy the situation by forming four transatlantic working groups composed of leading scholars in the fields of Latin American studies and the history of knowledge, and drawn from seven prestigious partner institutions in Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US, respectively.’ 

Professor Linda Newson, director of ILAS, says: ‘The Institute of Latin American Studies is delighted to be able to lead this innovative programme of research which will enable eminent scholars from Europe and the Americas to work closely together to demonstrate Latin America’s overlooked contribution to the global development of knowledge.

Collaborating universities are the Centre of Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies(University of St Andrews), the Departamento de Historia de la Ciencia (Instituto de Historia, Madrid, the Centro de Estudios Históricos of El Colegio de México(Mexico), the Departamento de Antropología, Historia e Humanidades (Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales, Ecuador), O Programa em História das Ciências e da Saúde (Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro), the John Carter Brown Library (Brown University, Providence, US) and the Institute of Historical Research (University of Texas at Austin, US).

‘The School of Advanced Study has already pioneered some groundbreaking ‘cross-border’ research,’ says Professor Roger Kain, CBE, FBA, dean and chief executive of SAS. ‘Our challenge is to establish frameworks so that these approaches can be clearly analysed and understood and embedded in our everyday practices.’


Notes for editors:

1. For further information please contact Maureen McTaggart at the School of Advanced Study, University of London at / 020 7862 8653. Images available on request.

2. The Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) was founded in 1965. Between 2004 and 2013 it formed part of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and occupies a unique position at the core of academic study of the region in the UK. Internationally recognised as a centre of excellence for research facilitation, it serves the wider community through organising academic events, providing online research resources, publishing scholarly writings and hosting visiting fellows. It possesses a world-class library dedicated to the study of Latin America and is the administrative home of the highly respected Journal of Latin American Studies. The Institute supports scholarship across a wide range of subject fields in the humanities and cognate social sciences and actively maintains and builds ties with cultural, diplomatic and business organisations with interests in Latin America.

3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London  is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2014-15, SAS had 805 individuals in its research community; held 2,073 research dissemination events; received 23.1 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 213,456 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews

4. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. Its members are 18 self-governing institutions of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at

5. The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year. For more information: @LeverhulmeTrust