Race and Nation in Modern Latin America

History 280E.001

Fall 2008
Day & Time: 
Tues 10-12

This course is a graduate introduction to race and nation in modern Latin America. We will cover topics from the Conquest to the present (although primarily post-independence), from colonial African slavery to contemporary indigenous activism, and from mass immigration to radical anti-colonial insurrection. Our primary focus is on peoples of African and Indian descent â€_Ä"the majority of Latin Americansâ€_Ä" and this will lead us to examine closely questions of racial mixture, cultural exchange, and national identity. Set within the comparative context of the Atlantic World, this course will trace familiar themes â€_Ä"freedom and slavery, autonomy and integration, race and nation, citizenship and inequalityâ€_Ä" across the often-unfamiliar terrain of colonial and modern Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Peru.

We will trace dramatic differences and surprising parallels between the histories of these nations, developing both a comparative approach to thinking about race and, perhaps, a critique of the limits of comparison. While this seminar is intended primarily for students working on Latin America, and assumes some grounding in the basic historiography of the region, those working on other areas or in other disciplines are very welcome.

The fundamental questions of this course are about the relationship between race, identity and power over several centuries in diverse national contexts. We will be reading classic analyses and cutting-edge scholarship to assess how these questions have been answered, and to try to develop some answers ourselves. Grading will be based on class participation and three short (5-7 page) papers.

A tentative reading list will be available in May. Feel free to direct any questions to