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download pdfIndigenous Peoples in Latin America (HIST 365.02)

Spring 2014, Truman State University
MC208, MW 2:30-3:20
Office: MC 227 

Marc Becker
Office Hours: MW 1:30-2:20
Phone: x6036

This course will examine changes in Indigenous communities and ethnic identities in Latin America from the time of pre-conquest civilizations to the present. We will begin this course with a theoretical discussion of race and ethnicity, and then proceed to an evaluation of their creation in a Latin American context. We will discuss challenges to Indigenous survival, and how Indigenous peoples have confronted problems they face. Through a study of cultural, historical, and political dynamics, we will analyze themes such as the role of women, environmental concerns, economic development, the formation of Indigenous organizations, assimilation, ethno-nationalism, and demands for territorial autonomy. This class will emphasize the role Indigenous peoples have played in Latin American societies, and how their constructs of ethnicity have influenced cultural, economic, and political developments in the region. Finally, we will critique the emergence of new forms of ethnic consciousness and ethnic rights movements.

Our goal in this class 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. We need to be active constituents rather than mere recipients of our education. To accomplish those tasks, we should strive to create an open and supportive learning environment. Regular attendance and active participation are also necessary. Please drop me a note if you are unable to attend, or if you have any concerns or suggestions for improving the class.

Reading for each week's topic will be posted to Blackboard. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class. Please note that the readings listed below are preliminary and likely will change over the course of the semester.

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). Assignments are due at the beginning of class, and I do not accept “drop and run” papers or papers submitted without the physical presence of the student. 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.

Assignment                                                                                         Points
Response papers (14 x 20 pts ea)                                          280 pts
Presentation                                                                            200
Historiographic paper                                                             200
Post presentation writing                                                       20
Final exam                                                                               200
Participation                                                                           100

Response papers: Prepare a one-page written response to each week’s readings. Briefly state the authors’ main arguments and the evidence that they use. Examine the use of sources, methodology, and theory. Provide your own assessment or critique of the readings. The essays are due each Friday for that week's readings, and must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations.

Presentation and historiographic paper: Each student will write a ten-page historiographic paper on one week’s topic and lead a discussion of that topic. On Friday of that week, begin with a ten-minute presentation on the material to the class followed by a discussion of the readings. Prepare a list of discussion questions for the class to guide the discussion.
            Also on Friday of the week of your selected topic, submit a ten-page historiographic paper drawing on six scholarly sources (including at least one book) related to the topic for that week, comparing the approaches, use of sources, and arguments in each source. The essays must be typed, double spaced, and include citations and page numbers. The library has a guide for locating sources for this assignment at

Post presentation writing: On the Monday after your presentation, submit a one-page evaluation/critique of your presentation, indicating what went well and what could have been improved.

Participation: The participation grade is not based on attendance (although this is expected and required), but on an active engagement with the material and classroom discussions. If you are looking for a passive or “garb-garb” (garbage in, garbage out) learning experience, this is perhaps not the class for you. My hope is that all of us will be richly rewarded with an active engagement with the material and concepts.

Final exam:  The final exam is comprehensive and cumulative.

Class Schedule (Please note: We may change these topics and readings to better suit the needs of the class.)

Week 1 (Jan 13/15/17) Intro & Theory
            Read Peter Wade, “The Meaning of ‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity,’” Race and Ethnicity in Latin America, 2d ed., Anthropology, culture and society: Anthropology, culture, and society (London, New York, New York: Pluto Press, 2010), 4-23.
            Nancy Grey Postero and León Zamosc, “Indigenous Movements and the Indian Question in Latin America,” in The Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Latin America, ed. Nancy Grey Postero and León Zamosc (Brighton England, Portland, Or: Sussex Academic Press, 2004), 1-31.

Week 2 (Jan 22/24) Ancient America
            Read John E. Kicza, The peoples and civilizations of the Americas before contact, Essays on global and comparative history (Washington, D.C: American Historical Association, 1998).

Week 3 (Jan 27/19/31) Conquests
            Read Steve J. Stern, “Paradigms of Conquest: History, Historiography, and Politics,” Journal of Latin American Studies 24, Quincentenary Supplement (1992): 1-34.

Week 4 (Feb 3/5/7) Mapuche
            Read Stephen E. Lewis, “Myth and the history of Chile's Araucanians,” Radical History Review 58 (Winter 1994): 112-40.

Week 5 (Feb 10/12/14) Tupac Amaru
            Read Charles F. Walker, “Introduction,” in The Tupac Amaru and Catarista Rebellions: An anthology of sources, ed. Ward Stavig and Ella Schmidt (Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co, 2008), xxiii-xxxv.
            David Cahill, “Genocide from below: the great rebellion of 1780-82 in the southern Andes,” in Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History, ed. A. Dirk Moses, Studies on war and genocide: War and genocide, v. 12 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2008), 403-23.

Week 6 (Feb 17/19/21) Caste War of the Yucatán
            Read Terry Rugeley, “Rural political violence and the origins of the Caste War,” The Americas 53, no. 4 (April 1997): 469-96.

Week 7 (Feb 24/26/28) Mestizaje
            Read Florencia E. Mallon, “Indian Communities, Political Cultures, and the State in Latin America, 1780-1990,” Journal of Latin American Studies 24, Quincentenary Supplement (1992): 35-53.

Week 8 (March 3/5/7) Indigenismo
            Read Alan Knight, “Racism, Revolution, and Indigenismo: Mexico, 1910-1940,” in The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940, ed. Richard Graham, Critical Reflections on Latin America Series, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Texas at Austin (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 71-113.

Week 9 (March 17/19/21) La Matanza
            Read Jeffrey L. Gould and Aldo Lauri-Santiago, “'They Call Us Thieves and Steal Our Wage:' Toward a Reinterpretation of the Salvadoran Rural Mobilization, 1929-1931,” Hispanic American Historical Review 84, no. 2 (May 2004): 191-237.

Week 10 (March 24/26/29) Juchitán
            Read Jeffrey W. Rubin, “Women of Juchitán: Creating Culture at the Heart of Politics,” Hopscotch: A Cultural Review 4, no. 1 (1999): 56-77.

Week 11 (March 31/April 2/4) Autonomy
            Read Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, “Indigenous Rights and Regional Autonomy in Revolutionary Nicaragua,” Latin American Perspectives 14, no. 1 (52) (Winter 1987): 43-66.

Week 12 (April 7/9/11) Quincentennial
            Read Charles R. Hale, “Between Che Guevara and the Pachamama: Mestizos, Indians and Identity Politics in the Anti-Quincentenary Campaign,” Critique of Anthropology 14, no. 1 (1994): 9-39.

Week 13 (April 14/16/18) Pan-Indianism
            Read Alison Brysk, “Turning Weakness Into Strength: The Internationalization of Indian Rights,” Latin American Perspectives 23, no. 2 (89) (Spring 1996): 38-57.

Week 14 (April 23/25) Ethno-nationalism
            Read Xavier Albó, “Andean People in the Twentieth Century,” in The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, ed. Frank Salomon and Stuart B. Schwartz (Cambridge, England, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 765-871.

Week 15 (April 28/30/May 2)            Zapatistas
            Read Richard Stahler-Sholk, “The Zapatista Social Movement: Innovation and Sustainability,” Alternatives 35, no. 3 (July-September 2010): 269–90.

Final Exam: Thursday, May 8, 1:30-3:20

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