Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs


Fall 2018 LACA Courses 

LACA 0100 Introduction to Latin American Studies (Taught by Associate Visiting Professor Erica Durante) 

This course will provide an introduction to the complex and diverse region of Latin America highlighting its geographical, historical, cultural and ethnic characteristics. It will present an overview of critical junctures, paradigms, and individuals that across the centuries have defined Latin America as a unique, transnational and multilingual subcontinent. The course will be structured around three themes (Diversity, Nature and Habitats, and Instability) that will be explored from an interdisciplinary perspective. The course will be particularly valuable for students who would like to familiarize themselves with this region as well as for those who will eventually concentrate in Latin American Studies.

LACA 1503L History of Central America from the 16th Century to the Present (Taught by Cogut Visiting Professor Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj) 

This seminar examines the history and cultures, from the 16th century to the present, of Central America, a region ethnically diverse but with economic and political elements in common. We will center on the resistance, contradictions, and history of the region and its people. We begin with an overview of the appreciation of rich cultural diversity of Central America starting with the time before the Spanish Conquest, moving on to the impact of Spanish colonialism, the independence movements, and the obstacles of the twentieth century.

LACA 1503K Mosquito: Performing Epidemics in Latin America and the Caribbean (Taught by Cogut Visiting Professor Jean Segata) 

This course offers an anthropological overview of the Aedes aegypti mosquito and its epidemics in Latin America and the Caribbean. Yellow fever, dengue, Zika and chikungunya fever are the mosquito-borne diseases. For almost two centuries, they have been the focus of scientific controversies and state health department actions for the control, prevention or surveillance of humans, animals, artifacts, and environment. Moreover, this course examines how epidemics, biosurveillance and their health public policies have been performed from the global infrastructures of science, technology, and their international corporations involving local and ecological entanglements. Class is taught 80% in Portuguese and 20% in English.

LACA 1504E Latinx Music in the U.S. (Taught by Sawyer Seminar Proctor Violet Cavicchi)

This course considers U.S. Latinx experiences by examining diverse musical genres associated with Latinx peoples, including salsa, corrido, rock, and reggaeton. We will take a critical lens to understanding the transformations of Latinx musics, investigating the processes by which they became central to Latinx identity. Over the course of the semester, we will explore the connections between music and cultural, social, and political forces including the entertainment industry, race, migration, and language. The course focuses on ethnographic and historical approaches as a context for understanding current trends. Prior coursework in music, Latin American studies, American studies, or cultural anthropology preferred.

LACA 1900 Honors and Capstone Project on Latin American and Caribbean Topics (Taught by Associate Visiting Professor Erica Durante)

This workshop is designed for junior and seniors in any concentration who are researching and writing about Latin America and the Caribbean. It will help students to enhance their research and organization skills, refine their research or creative projects, and develop or complete a Capstone Project (e.g. honors thesis, honors project, substantial research paper).

Fall 2018 Courses Related to Latin American and Caribbean Studies

AFRI 0210 Afro Latin Americans and Blackness in the Americas

This course focuses on the position of Blacks in the national histories and societies of Latin America from slavery to the present-day. Emphasis is on a multidisciplinary engagement with issues and the exposure of students to the critical discussion of national images and realities about blackness and Africa-descended institutions and practices. The role of racial issues in national and transnational encounters and the consequences of migration of people and ideas within the hemisphere are explored.

AFRI 1210 Afro-Brazilians and the Brazilian Polity 

Explores the history and present-day conditions of Afro-Brazilians, looking specifically at the uses of Africana in contemporary Brazil, political and cultural movements among Afro-Brazilians, domestic politics and its external dimensions, and Brazilian race relations within a global comparative framework. Texts from a variety of disciplines. A reading knowledge of Portuguese is not required but students so advantaged should inform the instructor.

AMST 1900I Latina/o Cultural Theory

Advanced seminar designed to familiarize students with past and present debates in Latina/o Studies. Knowledge of these critical conversations will aid students in making their own contributions to the field as they write their theses and dissertations. We will read such folks as Jose Limon, Mary Pat Brady, Frances Aparicio, and Gustavo Perez Firmat, to name but a few. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.

DEVL 1560 Economic Development in Latin America

This course covers some of the unique events and characteristics that have shaped the economic development landscape of Latin America since colonial times until the present. Topics include: the historical legacy, why Latin America fell behind, import substitution industrialization, the debt crisis, poverty and income inequality, inflation, trade and financial liberalization and competitiveness. The class exposes students to a number of concepts and tools that can be broadly applied to the understanding of development in other geographic areas.

ECON 1570 The Economics of Latin Americans

This course introduces students to the economic study of Latin Americans (both in the US and abroad). Topics include the determinants of economic development, institutions and growth, imperialism, conflict, immigration and discrimination.

HISP 0730 Encounters: Latin America in Its Literature and Culture

An introduction to major authors, movements, and themes of Spanish American literature from the Discovery to the present. This course also aims to develop students' oral and written expression in Spanish. Students are expected to engage in close reading and discussion of texts, as well as to revise their papers. 

HISP 0740 Intensive Survey of Spanish Literature 

This course provides students an overview of the major authors and movements in Spain’s literature from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. It teaches students to close-read and engage critically with individual texts and their literary, historical, and social conditions of production. Throughout, we will interrogate canon formation, examine the literary construction of the self and the nation, and analyze the reflection – and creation – of culture in literature. Conducted in Spanish.

HISP 0750R Mexico: An Introduction to Its History and Culture

This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to studying the rich history of Mexico and its diverse populations. We will examine both how Mexico has constructed its own identity from within (for example, the 20th century explorations of "lo mexicano"). In addition, we will study how Mexico has been constructed from without, especially from the English-speaking world (for instance, American diplomat Joel Poinsett's 19th century views). Course materials will range from both Mexican and European chronicles of conquest to modern reflections and representations by historians, philosophers, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and artists, among others. Class is taught in English.

HISP 1330V Gender Trouble in Spanish America

This course will explore the construction of gendered identities in Spanish American literature and film after 1960. Questioning normative constructions of gender roles, we will see how masculinities and femininities are represented and respond to changing politics and power, often redefining earlier “gender contracts.” Works studied will include novels by Angeles Mastretta, José Donoso, Mario Bellatín and Diamela Eltit, short stories, theater, poetry, and 2-3 films, as well as pertinent theoretical and critical approaches to the study of gender in Latin America. Class is taught in Spanish.

HISP 1331C Fake News, Half Truths: The Precariat

This course, with readings in English and Spanish, analyzes the representation of the precarious in Hispanic social experience. We'll cover such current issues as representations of climate change and environmental catastrophes in Mexico, Peru and Puerto Rico; political nationalism as well as ethnic rebellions (e.g., by the Chilean Mapuche and the indigenous communities of Chiapas); women's rights (Ni Una Menos); as well as migration and "bad hombres". Some specialists in communication and border issues will be invited to share their research. Students from Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba will discuss their experiences, as well as writers and colleagues working on these issues.

HIST 0232 Clash of Empires in Latin America

Examines Latin America as the scene of international rivalry from the 16th to the 19th century. Topics include comparative colonization, the transatlantic slave trade, privateering and piracy in the Caribbean, and the creation of an "Atlantic world."

HIST 1381 Latin American History and Film: Memory, Narrative and Nation

This course provides an introduction to cinematic interpretations of Latin American history. Together we will explore how (and why) filmmakers have used motion pictures to tell particular narratives about the Latin American past. We will critically examine a broad range of films dealing with historical questions, and explore what these films have to say about how gender and sexuality, imperialism, slavery, the church, revolution and repression shaped the history of the region. In order to explore these topics we will examine films in relation to academic, autobiographical, and popular texts, all of which provide different ways of representing the past.

HIST 1947A 1968 in Latin America and Worldwide

How can we understand the worldwide revolt of youth in 1968 that shook political regimes from Brazil and Mexico to Paris and Prague? This seminar will examine different national and international histories of a year that has become synonymous with rebellion and revolution. We will consider texts that offer global analyses of the reasons and results of the upsurges that took place during this iconic year, as well as specific case studies of countries that focus on political, social, economic, and cultural reasons for social unrest.

HIST 2970T Caribbean History

For generations, scholars of the Caribbean have argued that the islands surrounded by that sea witnessed the “birth of modernity.” This assertion bears closer examination. How could a small archipelago, whose population today is roughly equivalent to California’s, make such grand claims on the historiography?Does the Caribbean exist only in the “mind” of the outside world, or is there a regional resonance of the concept? What unites the Caribbean across barriers of language, political status, and race? What divides it? How does studying the history of the Caribbean change our understanding of American, Atlantic, hemispheric, and world history?

MUSC 0021F Popular Music and Society in Latin America

This course examines the way that popular music shapes, and is shaped by, its social environment, with a special focus on twentieth-century Cuban and Brazilian styles. It introduces students to sociomusical analysis, by exploring the way that selected styles connect with the lived experiences of local audiences, the artistic and political goals that have motivated key performers, and the effect of their actions on broader regional debates. Issues covered include the way that musical styles become national symbols; music as a medium for social politics; and the roles of industrialization, migration, urbanization, and media dissemination in driving musical change. Enrollment limited to 19 first year students.

POLS 1285 Quality of Democracy in Latin America

Focus on democratic quality in modern Latin America, its failures as well as its successes. Topics include police violence, the rule of law, indigenous movements, gender and gay rights, anti-poverty policy, and direct democracy. Will draw on material from across the Spanish and Portuguese speaking democracies in the region. We will engage with different theories of what makes democracies representative and accountable to their citizens. Not open to first years.

*If you are interested in taking a different course and would like to know if it can be used towards the concentration in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, please contact LACA Director of Undergraduate Studies Erica Durante at erica_durante@brown.edu.