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Race, Class and Gender in Latin America (JINS 338)

Spring 2005, Truman State University
MC209, W 6:30-9:20
Office: KB 225A

Marc Becker
Office Hours: W 1:30-3:30
Phone: x6036


How have Latin Americans constructed and interpreted racial, ethnic, class and gender identities and ideologies? We will begin this course with a theoretical discussion of race, class, and gender, and then proceed to an evaluation of how they intersect and influence each other in a Latin American context. How do these identities help us understand Latin American history and culture? What functions have these identities played in Latin American societies, and how have they influenced cultural, economic, and political developments? How have the intersections of these identities contributed to the emergence of new forms of identity that contribute to the rich diversity that is Latin America? Throughout this entire process we will constantly critique our assumptions of these categories in order to understand better the purposes they play in society.

Junior Interdisciplinary Writing Enhanced Seminar

This course focuses on intersections between disciplines, and interrogates their assumptions on race, class, and gender. We will emphasize the political and social roles that race, class and gender have played in Latin America, examine how various disciplines have interpreted these political and social changes, and then use this critique in order to reflect on the roles of race, class and gender in our own societies. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of how content from several disciplines interacts through classroom discussion, written reactions to the readings, and other assignments. Our goal is to transcend dichotomies that pit disciplines against each other and instead move toward an integrated synthesis which reflects the benefits of utilizing the tools of various disciplines to understand a problem.

Writing Enhanced

This is a writing-enhanced course, which means that writing is central to the seminar, and that we will emphasize cognition, process, and product. Cognition is not an isolated process, but rather an integral, active part of our activities. This class will emphasize writing as a process and will encourage both deep reflection on and deep revision of student writings. Written assignments in this class require you to write for a variety of audiences including private reflective essays on identity, collaborate essays to inform classmates, and analytical essays that portray higher levels of thought.


You are expected and required to attend every class session, and you are responsible for the material covered in the lectures, readings and films, and for any announcements made in class. Unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade. Due to the fact that this is an evening class, missing one class period is equivalent to missing a week of class which is something you cannot afford to do. Please drop me an email note if you are sick or otherwise unable to attend class. If you have a disability or any conflicts which may affect your class performance, please bring this to my attention immediately so that we can make arrangements for this to be a positive learning experience for you. Please let me know if you have suggestions for improving the class. I do not treat students as empty vessels waiting to be filled with knowledge; we need to be constituents rather than simply recipients of our education. Our goal is to challenge existing assumptions, engage alternative viewpoints, and encourage critical thinking. Through the study of history, we seek to empower ourselves to be better citizens and to provide ourselves with the skills necessary to play a positive and educated role in society.


Following are the required books for this class. There will also be several additional articles on reserve. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class. Lectures will complement the readings and assume the base level of knowledge which they present, so it is critically important that you keep up with the readings. Do not wait until the last minute to buy these books since about half-way through the semester the bookstore will return unsold copies to the publisher.

Andrews, George Reid. Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-19-515233-6

Craske, Nikki. Women and Politics in Latin America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0-81352693-0

Galeano, Eduardo. Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998. ISBN: 0-85345-991-6

Wade, Peter. Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. London. Chicago, Ill: Pluto Press, 1997. ISBN: 0-7453-0987-9

Wearne, Phillip. Return of the Indian: Conquest and Revival in the Americas. Philadelphia [Pa.]: Temple University Press, 1996. ISBN: 1-56639-501-1

Assignments and grades

Course grades will be based on the following assignments. You can check your grade progress in CourseInfo (there is a total of 1000 possible points in the class). More detailed information on the written assignments will be posted to the web page. I do not accept "drop and run" papers. Grades on late assignments will be penalized 10% for each day that they are late. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Race/class/gender essay
Home discipline essay
Identity self-awareness study
Review essays (5 x 100 points)

200 pts

Race/class/gender essay: The first day of class you will write in class a short essay summarizing what you know about race, class, and gender. When you hear these words what comes to your mind? I will collect these papers and return them to you at the end of the semester. You will then write an essay on how your views have changed throughout this course. How has what you learned in this class helped you understand how race, class, and gender interact and continue to be a persistent force in society? This final essay should be typed, double-spaced, probably about 10 pages long, and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.

Home discipline essay. We will break the class into groups according to discipline. Discuss what holds a discipline together (subject matter, methodology, shared assumptions, theories, concepts, ideas), who do practitioners of that discipline do or study, and what topics or issues related to race, class and gender in Latin America might one study using that discipline. Present this discussion to the class. Based on feedback and suggestions from the class, write up a handout for the rest of the class and how your discipline views these issues.

Identity self-awareness study: This essay asks you to reflect on the construction of identities through an examination of your own identity. See below for more information on this assignment.

Review essays. Critically evaluate the readings from each of the five sections of the class in terms of what disciplinary assumptions and perspectives the authors bring to the subject, and how effectively they engage interactions between issues of race, class and gender. How do the authors present Latin America? What interpretative framework do they employ, and what are the implications of those decisions? These essays should be typed, double-spaced, probably about 3 to 5 pages long, and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.

Class Schedule

Weeks 1-3: Theory

Wade, Peter. Race and Ethnicity in Latin America. London. Chicago, Ill: Pluto Press, 1997.

Portes, Alejandro and Kelly Hoffman. "Latin American Class Structures: Their Composition and Change during the Neoliberal Era." Latin American Research Review 38, no. 1 (February 2003): 41-82.

* still need a theoretical intro piece on gender

Michael Seipel, Interdisciplinarity: An Introduction,

Weeks 4-6: Class

Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.

Weeks 7-9: Gender

Craske, Women and Politics in Latin America.

Weeks 10-12: Race

Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000.

Weeks 13-15: Ethnicity

Wearne, Return of the Indian: Conquest and Revival in the Americas.

Final Exam: Friday, May 13, 6:30-9:20

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