“In this part of the world the possibility is almost totally gone
This course presents a critical comparative analysis of twentieth-century revolutionary theories and movements in Latin America. We will examine the socio-political conditions that led to a revolutionary situation and the differing responses to those conditions. We will interrogate what those revolutions sought to accomplish and what were the outcomes of those revolutionary changes. We will examine those events through the lens of those who participated in them. In addressing these issues, we will emphasize the themes of nationalism, state formation, imperialism, agrarian reform, leadership strategies, and citizenship. A goal of this class is to acquire a more complex understanding of the nature of exploitation, oppression, and exclusion in Latin America and of continuing struggles for a more equal and just society.
This semester we will study Latin American revolutions through the lens of CIA and other US government documents, not to critique the tendency of US government officials to undermine liberal democratic forms of governance and replace them with rightwing military dictatorships but rather to see what unique insights they might shed on the revolutions themselves.
See the syllabus addendums on Blackboard for additional class policies.
This will be a discussion-based course based on the daily assigned readings and will assume knowledge of the information contained in the text Twentieth-Century Latin American Revolutions.
Becker, Marc. Twentieth-Century Latin American Revolutions. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017. ISBN: 9781442265875
Cullather, Nick. Secret History: The CIA's classified account of its operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. 2nd ed. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780804754682
Assignments and grades
The CIA. Select and read one book on the CIA (see the list at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pRWW5YYf1RQsZBng_ZGTpi6-O1LQfBGScs9wR3Au-Mw/edit?usp=sharing). Write a 3-page essay summarizing the book’s contents and critiquing the author’s assumptions. The essay must be typed, double-spaced, and include citations and page numbers. Add a short annotation of that book to the bibliography (listed above) that briefly outlines the perspectives, strengthens, and shortcomings of the book for an uninitiated reader. The essays are due in class on January 23 where we will discuss the readings (be sure to bring the book you read to class that day). 200pts.
Discussion posts: By 9a.m. for each daily reading, post one question or discussion topic related to the readings to the discussion board on Blackboard. 10pts each, 250pts total.
Participation: By midnight on Friday of every week of the semester, post a short essay to the discussion board on Blackboard that outlines what contribution you have made to the classroom, either by speaking up in class discussions, participating in small group activities, or thinking about and applying something we have talked about in class to another part of your life. 10pts each week, 150pts total.
Research paper: Write a research paper that primarily uses CIA or other government or primary source documents to examine an event or topic related to a Latin American revolution. Summarize what light those sources shed on that event or topic, and analyze its relative strengths and limitations in lending a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of Latin American revolutions. The paper should be about 10 pages long, typed, double-spaced, and include citations, a bibliography, and page numbers. While logically and appropriately these papers will build on assigned readings in this class, logically the research should extend significantly beyond them. The format should follow Mary Lynn Rampolla, A pocket guide to writing in history. Due April 30. 220pts.
Some of the best sources for this assignment can be found at:
Final exam: The final exam is comprehensive and cumulative. May 4, 180pts.
Extra Credit! Everybody loves extra credit, right? For extra credit, provide suggestions, corrections, revisions, or ideas for a revised edition of Becker, Twentieth-Century Latin American Revolutions.
Jan 21: Was the Mexican Revolution a Revolution?
Jan 23: What is the CIA?
Jan 30 Read: Cullather, ch. 2
Feb 4 Read: Cullather, ch. 3
Feb 11 Why did the US intervene in Guatemala but support the MNR in Bolivia?
Feb 18 Read: Kornbluh, Bay of Pigs Declassified, Part I
Feb 25 Read: Kornbluh, Bay of Pigs Declassified, Part III-V
Feb 27 Guerrilla Warfare
Chilean Road to Socialism
March 17 Read: Kornbluh, The Pinochet File, chs. 5-6
March 31 Read: Randall, chs. 6-9
April 14 Work on research papers
April 21 Read: Kovalik, chs. 5-7
Final exam: Monday, May 4, 9:30-11:20