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download pdfHistory of Latin America (HIST 409)

"Poor people inhabit rich lands"
- E. Bradford Burns

First Semester 2013, University of Ghana
JQB 14, Mon 9:30-11:20

Marc Becker

This course offers a survey of the history of Latin America from independence from European colonial powers at the beginning of the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century. It explores the aftermath of colonialism, slavery, liberalism, imperialism, nationalism, populism, socialism, and revolutions through the lens of racism, class structures, gender, ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and popular movements.


Meade, Teresa. A History of Modern Latin America. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Primary source analysis (30%).

Using your own words, explain what you think the primary sources reveal, what they conceal, and how the experiences and perspectives of the authors shaped their contents. In order to identify the main issues in the document, consider:

  • What does this source tell a reader about a historical event? What are its limits in explaining those events?
  • How does this source fit into a larger historical narrative? Does it challenge or conform to what the textbook says?

In order to analyze the documents, examine the following evidence:

  • What type of source is this?
  • What can you extrapolate about who created the source, when, and where?
  • Who did the author consider the audience to be?
  • Why was the document created?
  • What views and perspectives does the document present? Are other views silenced or challenged?

Final examination (70%).

Class Schedule

Week 1            Introduction and Geography
            Read: Meade, ch. 1

Week 2            Independence
            Read: Meade, ch. 2
            Primary source: Bastidas, Puyucahua, Micaela. "Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua." In Women in Latin American History, Their Lives and Views, ed. June Edith Hahner, 30-31. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, 1976.

Week 3            Slavery
            Read: Meade, ch. 3
            Primary source: Arnaiz de Espinosa, Felipe. "Felipe Edimboro Requests Manumission for Himself, His Wife, Filis, and Their Five-Month-Old Daughter." In Colonial Lives: Documents on Latin American history, 1550-1850, ed. Richard E Boyer and Geoffrey Spurling, 252-53. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Week 4            Caudillos
            Read: Meade, ch. 4
            Primary source: Tristan, Flora. “Pioneer Feminist and Socialist.” In Keen's Latin American Civilization: History and society, 1492 to the present, ed. Robert Buffington and Lila M Caimari, 9th ed., 319-20.

Week 5            Imperialism
            Read: Meade, chs. 5-6
            Primary source: Calvo, Carlos. “The Calvo Clause.” In Latin America and the United States: A Documentary History, ed. Robert H. Holden and Eric Zolov, 68-69. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Week 6            Mexican Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 7
            Primary source: Zapata, Emiliano. "Plan of Ayala." In The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics, ed. G. M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson, 339-43. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.

Week 7            Socialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 8
            Primary source: Mariátegui, José Carlos. "The New Peru." The Nation 128, no. 3315 (January 16, 1929): 78-79.

Week 8            Populism
            Read: Meade, chs. 9-10
            Primary source: Perón, Eva. "My Mission in Life." In Documenting Latin America: Gender, Race, and Empire, ed. Erin O'Connor and Leo Garofalo, ed., vol. 2, 178-82. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Education, 2011.

Week 9            Cuban Revolution
            Read: Meade, ch. 11
            Primary source: Dorticós Torrado, Osvaldo. "The Family Code." In Women and the Cuban Revolution: Speeches & Documents by Fidel Castro, Vima Espín & Others, ed. Elizabeth Stone, 140-51. New York: Pathfinder Press, 1981.

Week 10          Chilean Path to Socialism
            Read: Meade, ch. 12
            Primary source: Vaky, Viron P. “Memo to Henry A. Kissinger.” National Security Council, September 14, 1970,

Week 11          Central America
            Read: Meade, ch. 13
            Primary source: Rigoberta Menchú, I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala, edited and introduced by Elisabeth Burgos-Debray (London: Verso, 1984), 220-26.

Week 12          Pink Tide Governments
            Read: Meade, ch. 14
            Primary source: Chávez, Hugo. "Capitalism is Savagery." Z Magazine 18, no. 4 (April 2005): 53-54.

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