History of Latin America: An Introduction

History of Latin America: An Introduction (PDF)

HIST 1305:001 CRN 31055

MWF, 10:00 am – 11:00 am

LART 322


Instructor: RaeAnn Swanson-Evans

Office Hours: LART 320, MW 11:00 am – 2:00 pm or by appointment


915-747-5508 ext. 320


Course Description & Objectives:

This class is an introduction to the history of Latin America. Thirty-three countries make up Latin America and each contain diverse demographic populations and environments. This course covers precolonial, colonial, and modern time periods and provides a basic overview of the issues and events that have shaped history and society including conquest, colonialism, slavery, independence, revolution, politics, economics, and migration among others. A number of case studies in the course take a deeper look at events or topics of importance such as the Haitian Revolution or the Mexican Revolution. Additionally, each in class activity will focus on one topic or event. In-class activities will feature the analysis of primary or secondary sources in order to understand the historical context of the event/topic. At the end of the course, students will have explored the vast changes that occurred in Latin America and come away with historical skills such as critical thinking, interpreting primary sources, and essay writing.


Required Readings:

 Chasteen, John. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. 4thedition. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2016.

Various Articles and primary sources as assigned


Course Requirements:

General Classroom Rules: Attendance is required. Missing class will result in missing assignments and in-class activities. Readings and assignments need to be completed by the beginning of class as noted in the Readings and Assignments section. Late assignments will be docked ten points for each late day. Participation is expected of all students and is an important aspect of this class. Makeup exams will only be available to those who have valid documentation for missing a regular exam. Please speak with the instructor prior to planned events where you may miss an exam or in-class activity. Student conduct in this class should be fitting to a university classroom.

In Class Activities and Quizzes: In class activities will take place in class on the day they are listed in the Readings and Assignments section. An absence will result in all points lost unless prior arrangements have been made. Quizzes will be administered through Blackboard and students are required to submit their quizzes by midnight of the date it is listed in the Readings and Assignments section. No make ups will be given for quizzes.

Academic Honesty: Plagiarism will not be tolerated in this classroom. Using any work that is not your own without proper citation qualifies as plagiarism. If you are found to be cheating or plagiarizing, you will be subject to disciplinary action.According to sections 1.3.1 of the UT Regents’ Rules and Regulations, “It is the official policy of the University that all suspected cases or acts of alleged scholastic dishonesty must be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and appropriate disposition. It is contrary to University policy for a faculty member to assign a disciplinary grade such as an “F” or a zero to an assignment, test, examination, or other course work as a sanction for admitted or suspected scholastic dishonesty…” In short, anyone caught cheating will be reported to the Dean of Students.

Students with Disabilities: Accommodations are available for students with special needs. Please see me personally before or after classes during the first week to discuss any accommodations that you may need. Students need to contact the Center for Accommodations and Support Services (CASS) in the East Union Building, Room 106 within the first two weeks of classes. The CASS can also be reached by phone: (915) 747-5148 voice or via email: cass@utep.edu or via its website: http://sa.utep.edu/cass/


Grading:                                                                 Grade Scale:


Latin America Geography Quiz- 50                     900-1000         A

Midterm- 200                                                            800-899           B

In Class Activities (6)- 300                                      700-799           C

Weekly Quizzes (5)- 250                                          600-699           D

Final Exam- 200                                                        Below 599       F


Extra Credit Opportunities: Students can complete up to two extra credit assignments on different topics. The professor will provide a list of movies based on historical events in Latin American history. Students can earn up to 25 points per extra credit assignment by watching a movie from the provided list and writing a two-page essay that summarizes the movie and describes how accurate or inaccurate the depiction of the historical event/period was by using specific examples from textbook readings and lectures. The format of the assignment must be double spaced, times new roman 12-point font with one-inch margins or points will be deducted. The final day to turn in extra credit will be Wednesday, December 4th(the last day of class) at the beginning of class.


Apocalypto- 2006- A Maya hunter is taken captive near the time of contact

The Other Conquest- 2000- The aftermath of conquest of the Aztecs

The Liberator- 2013- Life of Símon Bolívar

The Frontier-1991- Chilean schoolteacher exiled by a military dictatorship to the geographically remote and rugged Chilean south

The Official Story- 1985- An upper-middle class family in Argentina illegally adopts a child during the dirty war

El Norte- 1983- The film follows the journey of a brother and sister who flee the civil war in Guatemala to the United States

Romero- 1989- The life of Archbishop Óscar Romero who led peaceful protests during violent military rule in El Salvador in the late 1970s

Innocent Voices/Voces inocentes- 2004- The story of a young boy growing up in El Salvador during the Civil War in the late 1980s

The Golden Dream/La jaula de oro- 2013- Teenage migrants traveling to the United States


Readings and Assignments:

Week One, August 26th-30th: Introduction and Life and Culture in the Americas

Monday: Reading: Ch. 1, p. 1-16.

Introduction to the course

Wednesday:Reading:Cortes Describes Tenochtitlan, https://bit.ly/2ksQZE8and Pedro de Cieza de Léon- Chronicles of the Incas, 1540 https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/1540cieza.asp

Indigenous peoples

Friday: Latin American Civilizations Documentary, Quiz 1 due Sunday at midnight


Week Two, September 2nd– 6th: The Consequences of Contact

Monday: No Class, Labor Day

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 2, p. 17-54

Conquest and Colombian Exchange

Friday: Reading:“Alfred W. Crosby on the Colombian Exchange,” https://bit.ly/2tXOgWS

In-Class Activity 1: Thesis Writing- The Colombian Exchange


Week Three, September 9th-13th: Colonial Society

Monday: Reading:Ch. 3, p. 55-74

Religion and Economics

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 3, p. 75-94

Slavery, Social Order, and Race

Friday: PBS, Black In Latin America: Episode 3, Brazil: A Racial Paradise?


Week Four, September 16th– 20th: Independence Movements

Monday:Latin America Geography Quiz

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 4, p. 95-111

Independence, Nationalism and Liberalism

Friday: Reading:Ch. 4, p. 112- 126, “A Warning to Rebels,” https://bit.ly/2kwry4z

Case study: Haitian Revolution

Quiz 2 due Sunday at midnight


Week Five, September 23rd– 27th: Postcolonial Society

Monday: In-Class Activity 2: Reading Primary Sources

Independence and Postcolonial Plans

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 5, p. 127-155

Postcolonial Society

Friday: Reading:Ch. 5, p. 156-160, Explore the website “The Norie Marine Atlas & The Guano Trade”Read the pages about the Guano Tradehttps://americanhistory.si.edu/norie-atlas Case Study: The Guano Trade


Week Six, September 30th– October 4th: Changes and Continuities

Monday: Reading:Ch. 6, p. 161- 173

Liberalism v. Conservatism

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 6 p. 174-188

Women in Latin America

Friday: Documentary- Brazil: An Inconvenient History

Slavery and Freedom in Brazil

Quiz 3 due Sunday at midnight


Week Seven- October 7th– 11th

Monday:Reading:Ch. 6, p. 189-192

International Wars

Wednesday: In-Class Activity 3: Thesis Writing Two

Friday: Mid-term exam Review


Week Eight, October 14th– 18th: Neocolonialism

Monday: Mid-term exam

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 7, p. 193-212

Export Economies and Politics

Friday: Reading:Ch. 7, p. 213-232

Interventions and Immigration


Week Nine, October 21st– 25th: Neocolonialism Continued

Monday: Reading:“United Fruit Company” Pablo Neruda https://bit.ly/2wyB21S

Case Study: Banana Boom

Wednesday: In-Class Activity 4: Reading Primary Sources

Friday: Film- Crisis in Central America: Part I- The Yankee Years


Week Ten, October 28th– November 1st: Nationalism

Monday: Reading:Ch. 8, p. 233- 248

Rise of Nationalist Governments

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 8, p. 249-262

Effects of the Great Depression and WWII

Friday: Reading:“The Mexican Revolution and the United States in the Collections of the Library of Congress” https://bit.ly/2kN6qadInstructions: Read all the sections, and read these subsections- Prelude to the Mexican Revolution: Mexico During the Porfiriato, Women in the Revolution: Viewpoints on Women in the Revolution and Individual Women During the Revolution, and The End of the Revolution and Its Consequences:

The Constitution of 1917

Case Study: The Mexican Revolution

Quiz 4 due Sunday at midnight


Week Eleven, November 4th– 8th: The Cold War

Monday: Reading:Ch. 8, p. 263-264 and Ch. 9, p. 267-264


Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 9, p. 265-292

Cold War

Friday: Reading:Ch. 9, p. 293-296

In-Class Activity 5: Liberation Theology


Week Twelve, November 11th– 15th: Cold War Continued

Monday: Reading:Ch. 10, p. 297-308

Wednesday: Reading:Ch. 10, p. 309-328

Friday: Reading:W. George Lovell, “The Archive that Never Was: State Terror and Historical Memory in Guatemala,” The Geographical Review103, 2 (April 2013): 199-209. Available through JStore

Case Study: Guatemala’s Civil War

Quiz 5 due Sunday at midnight


Week Thirteen, November 18th– 22nd

Monday: Film, El oro o la vida: ReColonización y Resistencia en Centro América/Life for Gold: ReColonization and Resistance in Central America

Wednesday: No Class, Fall Holiday

Friday: No Class, Fall Holiday


Week Fourteen, November 25th-29th: Latin America Today

Monday: Reading:Ch. 11

Neoliberalism and Beyond

Wednesday: Reading:Charlotte Mitchell “Latin America in 2019: Stories to Watch” https://bit.ly/2lSPDTs

Latin America in 2019

Friday: Reading:Explore the website “The Wall” https://www.usatoday.com/border-wall/and read the page “Forward or Back: Migrants and the Wall that Won’t Stop Them” https://bit.ly/2xe6oMT

In-Class Activity 6: Modern Migration


Week Fifteen, December 2nd– 6th: Latin America Today Continued

Monday: Film, Which Way Home

Wednesday: Review for Final Exam

Friday: Dead Day, No Class


Final Exam: Monday, December 9th10:00am