Amelia Barili

Dr. Amelia Barili holds a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Spanish and Portuguese Department and taught previously at the Spanish Department at UC Davis. She has been distinguished with many awards and honors such as the UCB Chancellor’s Award for Public Service, a Fulbright Scholarship, the East Bay Sanctuary Distinguished Partnership award, the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Grant, three UC Berkeley Language Center Fellowships, several Teaching Lecturer Fellowships and Professional Development Grants, a Global Urban Humanities Fellowship and, most recently, a Creative Discovery Grant. Barili is often a presenter at pedagogical conferences and at the Teaching Innovation and Reinvention Showcase Day organized by the UCB Center for Teaching and Learning, where she shares with UCB colleagues the results of the pedagogical research she has done with her fellowships and grants and through the engaged scholarship and practice she and her students do with the Latino community of the Bay Area.

Barili is well known for her innovative interdisciplinary courses. A few examples follow.

“Spanish 102C Cities as Texts: from Buenos Aires to San Juan de Puerto Rico and Berkeley” is part of the new minor and certificate on Global Urban Humanities. In this course students analyze the ways in which Buenos Aires at the beginning of XX century is present in the essays, poems and short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, and the ways in which today’s San Juan de Puerto Rico is depicted in the multimedia works of Eduardo Lalo. They study the social context in which these works where produced and analyze the textual, visual and auditory strategies these two authors use to convey the subject of inclusion and exclusion of immigrants and of local inhabitants along socio-economic divides. Students then research continuities and ruptures from the social movements in the Berkeley of the sixties and the city/campus of today, and reflect about their own experience as inhabitants and flaneurs in Berkeley. Students use an array of multimedia expressions to present their research about each of the cities. Here is a link to one of the e-portfolios from that course:

“Volunteering, Global Education and Good Writing” is a fundamental course for the new minor with specialization in Latin America offered by the Global Poverty and Practice Minor Program. This course has a strong component of engaged scholarship and service. Students volunteer for a minimum of twenty-five hours per semester at one of these sites: (1) the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant–an NGO across from campus that assists Immigrants, refugees, DACA students and political asylum seekers in their path to citizenship, and that has the highest approval asylum rating of any such NGO in the USA–or (2) at Oakland International High School, a school that serves refugee youth and unaccompanied minors, mainly from Center America. Besides reading and discussing in class studies about engaged scholarship, volunteering and experiential learning, our undergraduate students investigate an NGO of their choice in a Latin American country in the field of education, housing, human rights, or legal assistance to immigrants. They also compare and contrast approaches and services being offered at the site they are volunteering at in the East Bay and at the site they are researching in Latin America. Students interview in Spanish in class through Skype, Face Time, Zoom and other cloud-based video platforms representatives from the NGOs in Latin America. They also create a web page to make better known the work of their chosen organization and their interest in international volunteers. Students present their work to various programs and departments at Cal, such as the Global Poverty and Practice Minor, the Education Abroad Program, the Berkeley Language Center, the Global Urban Humanities, and our Department, to set the basis for opportunities in further research with these NGOs.

Although it is not a requirement for this course, most of the students follow up their experience in the course with volunteering abroad in Latin America, and many continue to volunteer locally or in the places their careers take them.  Please click here to see course website:

  “Borges, Buddhism and Cognitive Science” course is another popular interdisciplinary active learning course designed and taught by Barili. This course offers a new approach to understanding Borges’ artistic and philosophical enquiries about the workings of the mind, and is a practical example of applied cognitive science by including in its methodology contemplative practices across disciplines. Students explore Borges’ interest in Buddhism from his childhood in Argentina to his adolescence in Europe during the First World War and discuss how that interest continues to be expressed in his famous short stories of Ficciones and in his book ¿Qué es el budismo? They also study the basic tenets of Buddhism to which Borges refers in his work, and discuss their deep connection with Cognitive Science principles. Please follow the link for more in depth information about this course offering:

We invite you to visit the websites created about this course:

“Biographical and Autobiographical Writing: Telling the Stories of the Undocumented” is a course that focuses on the experiences of that undocumented population who live in shadows of the United States, and on how they are represented or represent themselves by writing. The purpose of this course is to help students to develop a critical literary approach to the biographical and autobiographical genre, as well as to acquire tools to claim their own story. We analyze and write biographical and autobiographical poems and short stories by or about immigrants and undocumented students. Currently, many UCB students are in the process of obtaining legal papers that will allow them to study and work in the US. This course is part of the concerted effort of UCB to assist those students and raise awareness about their lives and those of their loved ones; as such it is open to all students, documented and undocumented alike. There is a Service Learning requirement–for a minimum total of 20 hours per semester–of volunteering at East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and at Oakland International High School. Both NGOs assist unaccompanied minors, undocumented students and immigrants in their path to citizenship. A bilingual anthology with stories written in this course was published in April 2015:

For her work of over a decade, in 2009 Barili received The Chancellor’s award for Public Service. Her undergraduate and older adult students have volunteered more than 15,000 hours during the years she has worked with Santuario, Oakland International High School, Refugee Transitions, English in Action, I-Host program of I-House, and Casa Mora.

Barili also teaches at the UCB Osher Life Long-Learning Institute courses on Volunteering, Meditation and Neuroplasticity, and teaches contemplative practices at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and other institutions.

For more information about courses, please visit

RESEARCH (selected publications)


 Jorge Luis Borges y Alfonso Reyes: la cuestión de la identidad del escritor latinoamericano. Prologue by Elena Poniatowska. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999 (reprinted 2000).

Historias de Indocumentados/Stories of the Undocumented. Bilingual Anthology (2015)

Book Chapters:

“Borges, Reyes y las encrucijadas del latinoamericanismo.” In Borges, políticas de la literatura, ed. Juan Pablo Dabove, 175-189. Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, 2008.

“Marginalidad y Chamanismo en Jorge Luis Borges y José María Arguedas.” In In Memoriam Jorge Luis Borges, ed. Rafael Olea Franco, 343-87. Mexico City: Colegio de México. Centro de Estudios Linguísticos y Literarios, 2008.

“La inteligencia americana de Alfonso Reyes: de Visión de Anáhuac a ‘Moctezuma y la ‘Eneida mexicana’.” In Alfonso Reyes y los estudios latinoamericanos, ed. Adela Pineda Franco and Ignacio Sánchez Prado, 131-54. Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, 2004.

Interviews/Dialogues Reprinted in Collections:

“Borges, un tejedor de sueños” dialogue with Jorge Luis Borges published in La Prensa (Argentina’s foremost newspaper), August 1986, reprinted in Jorge Luis Borges. Obras Completas. Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores (2003).

“Borges on Life and Death” interview with Jorge Luis Borges published in The New York Times, July 13, 1986, reprinted in Borges in Jorge Luis Borges: Conversations. Ed. Richard Burgin. University Press of Mississippi (1998).

“Borges, un tejedor de sueños” dialogue with Jorge Luis Borges published in La Prensa (Argentina’s foremost newspaper), August 1986, reprinted in Borges. ed Nicolas Cócaro. Buenos Aires: Fundación Banco de Boston (1987).

Articles in Refereed Journals:

Borges, Buddhism and Cognitive Science. A New Approach to Applied Cognitive Science and Contemplative Studies Across Disciplines.” Religion East and West. Journal of the Institute for World Religions No. 9 (October 2009): 47-58. Berkeley: Institute for World Religions

“De brújulas y nepantlas: identidad y fronteras en Borges y Anzaldúa.” Itinerarios.Revista de Estudios Lingüísticos, Literarios, Históricos y Antropológicos 9 (2009): 9-21. Department of Hispanic and Hispano- American Studies. Faculty of Modern Languages and Literatures. University of Warsaw.

“Shamanic Dreams and Experiences in Borges and Arguedas.” Elixir: Consciousness, Conscience and Culture. (Autumn 2006): 99-108.

Pedagogy Publications:

“Learning to Learn: Neurobiology and Cognitive Science as Basis of Autonomous Learning. Principles and applications.” Berkeley Language Center Fellows’ Report. UC Berkeley Language Center Newsletter (Fall 2008): 8-11.

“Teaching Grammar and Composition to advanced Spanish Students: A Method that Works.” Berkeley Language Center Fellows’ Report. UC Berkeley Language Center Newsletter (Spring 2002): 11-12