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HP329 Aquatic Latin America

Module Code: HP329
Module Name: Aquatic Latin America
Module Coordinator: Dr Elizabeth Chant
Date and time Term 1
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

Latin America contains one-fifth of the world’s water resources, including some of the earth’s largest lakes and rivers. As the global climate emergency and increasing levels of pollution threaten their (and our) futures, this course looks predominantly to the past to consider the nature of human entanglements with water in Latin America. We will study examples of how Indigenous societies interact with and manage water, as well as how water systems and the creatures that inhabit them have been represented in European and Latin American sources. Students will explore representations of some of the region’s most emblematic aquatic locales across three thematic blocks: Lakes, Drainage and Dispossession in Mexico (Lake Texcoco and Lake Tláhuac-Xico, Mexico), The Cauca Valley, Fluvial Travel and National Natures (Colombia), and Patagonia, Pinnipeds, and Living Water (Cape Horn and the Strait of Magellan, Argentina/Chile). We will also hear from expert guest speakers on topics including water management and pollution.

This course will introduce students to environmental humanities scholarship on water, aquatic life and the ‘blue humanities’ in Latin America. We will work across a variety of primary sources including maps, an art installation, film, and literature, with students being encouraged to think laterally across disciplinary, temporal, and national boundaries in the Latin American context. This module will be of interest to any students who would like to learn more about environmental history, ecology, sustainable development, Latin American literature and visual culture, map history, and Indigenous studies.

For 2022-3, this course will be taught in a blended format with recorded lectures and in-person seminars.

Course structure:

Weeks 1 and 2: Thinking and Representing Latin American Waters

Theories and Concepts (Week 1)

Aquatic Latin America on the Map (Week 2)

Weeks 3 and 4: Lakes, Drainage and Dispossession in Mexico

The City on the Lake: The Conquest of Mexico and the Mapping of Tenochtitlan (Week 3)

El retorno de un lago (2014) (Week 4)

Weeks 5 and 7: The Cauca Valley, Fluvial Travel, and National Natures

María (1867) (Weeks 5 and 7)


Weeks 8 and 9: Patagonia, Pinnipeds and Living Water

Francisco Coloane and Fuegian Narratives of Water (Week 8)

El Botón de Nácar (2015) (Week 9)

Week 10: Revision, Queries, and Essay Guidance

Assessment Method:

3000-3500 word essay (80%)

15 minute presentation (20%)

Dr Elizabeth Chant