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Latin America During the National Period (HIST 140):
Social Movements

“Poor people inhabit rich lands”
– E. Bradford Burns

Spring 2006, Truman State University
MC 209, TR 3:00-4:20
Office: KB 225A

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

            This course emphasizes the history of recent social movements in Latin America.  We will examine a variety of issues including economics, democracy, racism, class structures, gender, ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and popular movements.  Rather than analyzing Latin America from a North American point of view, we will examine how Latin Americans view themselves and how their culture, economics, and politics have developed in different directions than the United States and Europe.
            This course fulfills the History mode of inquiry in the Liberal Studies Program.  In this mode, students will study a broad topic or major geographic area over an extended period of time and will demonstrate competence in one or more of the following areas, which characterize the work of historians:

  1. thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  2. the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  3. analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and
  4. understanding the social and aesthetic richness of different cultures.

            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.  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.  Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class.  Lectures and discussions 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.

Gott, Richard. Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution. London: Verso, 2005. ISBN: 1-84467-533-5

Molano, Alfredo. The Dispossessed: Chronicles of the Desterrados of Colombia. Chicago, Ill: Haymarket Books, 2005. ISBN: 1-931859-17-5

Collier, George Allen with Elizabeth Lowery Quaratiello. Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas, 3d ed. Oakland, Calif: Food First Books, 2005. ISBN: 0-935028-97-8

Olivera, Oscar and Tom Lewis. Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia. Cambridge, Mass: South End Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-89608-702-6

Wright, Angus Lindsay and Wendy Wolford. To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil Oakland, Calif: Food First Books, 2003. ISBN: 0-935028-90-0

Assignments and grades
            Course grades will be based on the following assignments.  You can check your grade progress on the class Blackboard web page (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 percent for each day that they are late.  Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Reaction papers (125 pts x 5 = 625 pts): Critique each of the books that we are reading in this class.  The essays should be three to five pages, long, typed, double spaced, follow good essay form (have an intro, thesis, conclusion, etc.) and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers.

Newspaper reports (25 pts x 5 = 125 pts): For each topic, write a short essay (no more than one page) and present to class a current newspaper article related to that topic from one of the three daily newspapers distributed on campus (New York Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, or USA Today).  Briefly describe the content of the article and then analyze its historical, social, and political significance related to the material that we are covering in class.  Attach a copy of the article to your essay, and be sure to include the the name of the newspaper, and the date it was published, and the section/page numbers.  Once an article has been used, no one else can use that same article (unless it is presented the same day).

Final exam (250 pts): Select one document from one of the following microfilm sources related to one of the topics we have discussed in class this semester (guides available at

Yale University Collection of Latin American Manuscripts
Princeton University Libraries Latin American microfilm collection
Princeton University Latin American pamphlet collection
North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) archive of Latin Americana

 Research the author, background, and context of the document.  Write a paper analyzing the document and its historical significance for Latin American history.  Present your findings to the class at the final exam.  The essay must be typed, double-spaced, presented in good essay forum (including page numbers, citations, and a bibliography), and probably about five to seven pages long.  Attach a copy of the document to the essay.  Assigned readings from the class must be used in the writing of the essay.  Use additional resources as appropriate and necessary.  Good places to look for other sources include:

HAPI Online (Hispanic American Periodicals Index,
HLAS Online (Handbook of Latin American Studies,
Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture – REF F1406 E53 1996 (5 vols)

Grades will be based on both the paper and class presentation, and on the quality and appropriateness of the selected document, and the ability to interpret its significance and its relationship to broader themes we have covered in class.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Jan 17/19)     Introduction
Read: Jan Knippers Black, "Introduction: Understanding the Persistence of Inequity"; Peter Bakewell, "Colonial Latin America"; and Michael Conniff, "Latin America Since Independence: An Overview," in Latin America, its Problems and its Promise a Multidisciplinary Introduction, 4th ed., ed. Jan Knippers Black (Boulder Colo.: Westview Press, 2005), 1-20, 78-100 (on the course web page).

Weeks 2-4 (Jan 24 - Feb 9)     Venezuela
Read: Gott, Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Weeks 5-7 (Feb 14 - March 2) Colombia
Read: Molano, The Dispossessed: Chronicles of the Desterrados of Colombia.

Weeks 8-10 (March 7 - 30      Mexico
Read: Collier, Basta! Land and the Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas.

Weeks 11-12 (April 4-13)       Bolivia
Read: Olivera, Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia.

Weeks 13-15 (April 18 - May 4) Brazil
Read: Wright/Wolford, To Inherit the Earth: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for a New Brazil.

Final Exam       Thursday, May 11, 11:30-1:20

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