The Master of Arts in Latin American Studies (MALAS) specialization in Religion and Society trains students in the interdisciplinary study of religion in Latin America. The specialization focuses on the development of religious world-views, practices, and institutions, and on the interactions between religion and socio-political transformations (including mestizaje, transitions from colonial to post-colonial settings, democratization, migration, globalization, and economic restructuring.)


MALAS students must complete 30 credit hours, including a thesis, internship, or capstone project  related to the specialization, and demonstrate advanced proficiency in Spanish, Portuguese or Haitian Creole.

The course requirements are distributed as follows:

  • 6 hours of gateway seminars:
    • LAS 6220 Issues and Perspectives in Latin American Studies
    • LAS 6292/3 Research Design and Methods in Latin American Studies
  • 12-15 hours of courses in the specialization (see below)
  • 3-6 hours of courses with Latin American content outside the specialization, selected in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator.

Thesis students must register for LAS 6971, Master’s Research, in the semester of graduation—at least 3 credit hours in fall or spring, or 2 credit hours in summer.

Courses in the Specialization

Religion (two of the following)

  • REL 5195 Religion and Social Change
  • REL 5937 Religions of Brazil
  • REL 5937 Protestantism in Latin America
  • REL 5937 Indigenous Religions or Indigenous Cosmologies
  • REL 5937 Religion and the African Diaspora in the Americas
  • REL 5937 Religion and Nature in Latin America
  • REL 6125 Religion and Politics in the Americas
  • REL 6139 Religion in the Americas
  • REL 6196 Globalizing the Sacred
  • REL 6384 Religion and Nature in Latin America
  • REL 6385 Native Religions of the Americas
  • REL 6386 Religion and the Latin American Diaspora
  • REL 6387 Religions in Latin America

Social Sciences and the Humanities (one of the following)

  • ANG 6930 Ecology of Religion (Shamanism, Priestly Societies, and/or Imperialism)
  • ANG 6905 Anthropology of Religion (independent study)
  • CPO 4306 Contemporary Problems in Latin American Politics
  • CPO 6077 Comparative Social Movements
  • CPO 6307 Latin American Politics
  • PHI 5905 Latin American Social Thought (independent study)
  • SYO 4200 Sociology of Religion
  • SYD 6635 Latin American Societies
  • LAS 6938 Latin American Seminar (consult with Coordinator regarding appropriate topics)
  • POS 6292 Religion and Politics

Methods (one of the following)

  • ANG 6388 Ethnographic Field Methods
  • PHM 6520 Seminar in the Philosophy of Culture
  • POL 6736 Conduct of Inquiry
  • REL 6035 Methods and Theory I
  • REL 6036 Methods and Theory II
  • SYA 6305 Methods in Social Research
  • SYA 6315 Qualitative Research Methods
  • SYA 6348 Survey Research


  • Jeffrey Needell (History; Brazil)
  • Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo (Anthropology; Colombia, Peru, and Brazil)
  • Milagros Peña (Sociology; Andes and U.S. Latinos)
  • Anna Peterson (Religion; Central America)
  • Mark Thurner (History; Andes)
  • Manuel Vásquez (Religion; Central America, Brazil, and U.S. Latinos)
  • Philip Williams (Political Science; Central America and Peru)
  • Robin Wright (Religion and Anthropology; Brazil)

Contact Information

319 Grinter Hall
P.O. Box 115530
Gainesville, FL 32611-5530
Tel: (352) 392-0375
Fax: (352) 392-7682

Graduate Advisor
Susan Paulson

Specialization Coordinator
Manuel Vásquez