Bienvenidos, Bem-vindos, Benvinguts

Spanish & Portuguese at the University of California, Berkeley

Welcome to the web resource of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Berkeley. Our department is a medium-sized one, big enough to offer a wide variety of approaches to teaching and research yet small enough to afford students at both the graduate and undergraduate level personal attention and mentoring. We offer an abundance of opportunities to learn and achieve mastery of the languages and cultures we study, which include Catalan, Nahuatl, Portuguese, Romance Studies and Spanish. Our programs are specially designed for highly motivated students with a passion for other languages, literatures and cultures, for imaginative approaches to these and for careful crossing of traditionally defined geographic, linguistic and disciplinary borders.

Several of our faculty are formally involved with or are active in other departments or academic units on campus—for example, Comparative Literature, Digital Humanities, Film and Media, Gender & Women’s Studies, Linguistics, Near Eastern Studies, Rhetoric, the Portuguese Studies Program, the Spanish Studies Program, the Catalan and Occitan Studies Program, the Center for Latin American Studies and Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.


Department Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Around us, on campus and off campus, we witness unbridled examples of constitutive and structural racism in action. While some can casually go about their day, others have to worry that they might be killed by those who should protect them. While some populations—privileged by their nationality, race and class—have open borders wherever they go; others have to face cages, racial profiling, sexual violence, linguistic prejudice and insidious aggressions even in places supposedly welcoming to them.

At the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at U.C. Berkeley, we recognize the violence and unjust encounters at the origin of our field. We are also aware of the relative position of the Spanish language to English in the United States. Most marginalized immigrants in the U.S. are from Latin America and speak Spanish, among other languages. With this in mind, we stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other people of color, in the United States and throughout the world, against all forms of racism, white supremacy, and injustice.

Our department recommits to inclusive and equitable opportunities for all. We deeply value multilingualism (indeed, there is no official language of the United States), nonconformity to binary gender, and peoples and
groups whose ethnic, racial and class backgrounds, as well as citizenship status, have been marginalized. We stand alongside the writers, thinkers and artists, who have struggled for justice. They can be an example to better understand ourselves as a department of language, literature & linguistics that is part of a public institution in the United States, and thus how we are part of the system we live in and want to change.

Upcoming Events


Prof. Davidson awarded UC Multicampus Research Initiative Grant

Felicidades are in order for Professor Justin Davidson, who was just awarded a UC Multicampus Research Initiative Grant. The project, entitled “An interdisciplinary approach to the study of Spanish-English bilingualism in California,” lasts for at least two years and expands Professor Davidson’s Corpus of Bay Area Spanish to now include Spanish-English bilinguals in the Los Angeles and Santa Cruz areas of California.

The grant provides funding for the paid employment of several undergraduate and graduate research assistants at UC Berkeley, UCLA, and UC Santa Cruz, so stay tuned for calls for participation in the project this Spring 2023! By documenting and linguistically analyzing Spanish-English bilingualism in California, this project serves to legitimize the speech practices of diverse types of Spanish speakers in the United States, whose linguistic norms are unjustly scrutinized by prescriptive academies and often ignored in Hispanic Linguistics.

The sociolinguistic products of this research will be made available as a publicly accessible repository of Spanish-English bilingual speech, positioning the University of California as a leader in bilingualism research and attracting future scholars at all levels to carry out Spanish-English bilingualism research at UC-Berkeley.

A new book of poetry by Yairamarén Maldonado

Our alumni Yairamarén Maldonado has recently published a terrific book of poetry, Ciencia ficción en el mirador. Sci-fi at the mirador, a bilingual edition of 169 pages edited by Ediciones Del Flamboyan (San Juan, PR) with drawings by Lorraine Rodríguez. According to the Dominican poet Frank Báez, “In the face of colonial, historical, and heteropatriarchal traumas, Yairamaren’s verses embrace and connect us.”.

Yairamarén is also the author of the collection of poems Interfaces (Editora Educación Emergente, 2017), and her doctoral dissertation at UC Berkeley is entitled “Indebted Pasts, Alternative Futures: Caribbean Digital Imaginations in Twenty-First Century Literature” (2020). Congratulations, Yaira!

Gabriel Lesser awarded the FULLBRIGHT-HEYS Fellowship

Our Ph.D. Candidate Gabriel Lesser received a Fulbright-Hays grant to conduct research abroad for his dissertation. With affiliations to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and Mario de Andrade Library, in Brazil, Gabriel will spend his Spring 2023 semester collecting

Mario de Andrade Library’s façade, in São Paulo

archival data for his comparative project about racial satire and caricatures in nineteenth-century Mexico and Brazil. In this work, Lesser argues that, in both countries, humoristic texts and images were a key aspect of lettered elite projects to educate urban populations on emerging scientific and political discourses about race. 

Congratulations, Gabriel !!