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Introduction to Latin America Themes and Problems

Lecture part 1; lecture part 2; lecture part 3

Slides part 1; slides part 2; slides part 3

Please contact me if you would like a transcript of these. (You do not need to disclose any disability issues, although you're welcome to discuss these with me if you like to.)

Required Seminar Reading:

John Chasteen, Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America (any edition) (Introduction.)

Moya, Jose C., and Jose C. Moya. "Introduction: Latin America—The Limitations and Meaning of A Historical Category." The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History. : Oxford University Press, September 18, 2012.

Seminar Preparation:

Discussion questions:

  • What do you think of when you think of “Latin America”?
  • Is “Latin America” a useful term? What definitions - and problems with the definitions - do historians John Chasteen and Jose Moya offer?
  • Pull up a map of the Americas on Google maps or similar. Look at it together (one person can share their screen using the button on the top right; or you can all individually pull up a map of your own). What do you know about the different countries? What similarities/ differences do you see in terms of climate, culture, language, politics?
  • How might you use any of the below online databases listed for this week’s discussion to help with your presentations and essays?

Early Americas Digital Archive

Vistas: Spanish American Visual Culture, 1520-1820

LANIC data base 

Transatlantic Slave Trade Database 

Slavery Images: A Visual Record

Further Reading:

Carmagnani, Marcello. The Other West: Latin America from Invasion to Globalization, University of California Press, 2011.

Walter D. Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America (Blackwell, 2005), “Preface: Uncoupling the Name and the Reference,” and Chapter 1, “The Americas, Christian Expansion and the Modern/ Colonial Foundation of Racism,” pp. 1-50. [e-book at Library]

Edmundo O’Gorman The Invention of America, 1961. (Part 1)

Galeano, Eduardo. Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina : Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, Monthly Review Press, 1997. (Preface, Introduction and Chapter 1)