Modern Latin America: Histories and Historiographies Healey

History 275E.001

Fall 2010
Day & Time: 
W 4-6P

This seminar is an introduction to the major issues in the history of modern Latin America. It is intended both as a broad survey and as a solid beginning for future reading, thinking, and research. Organized broadly around the intertwined transformations of citizens, markets and states from 1800 to the present, this class will explore a range of works, from classics to recent landmarks. Our focus will be on how social history has changed our ways of thinking about Latin Americaâ€_Äôs past and modernity, revisiting older questions and exploring new frameworks. It is worth noting at the outset that we are taking a very inclusive definition of social history here, in keeping with the trajectory of the field in Latin America, where â€_Äúthe socialâ€_ÄÃ_ has included work that could also be classed as political, economic, labor, urban, intellectual, and more recently cultural and environmental history. Social history in Latin America has also been deeply engaged with politics from the beginning, perhaps in contrast with social history elsewhere -- ­although the terms and tools of that engagement have changed dramatically over time.

Some themes addressed will include: the contested, erratic, surprising, and perhaps dependent history of Latin American capitalism; the contours and lineages of those frail Leviathans, Latin American states; the varied expressions of cultural nationalism; the central and shifting place of race in the making of citizens and nations; the environment as a key site, constraint, and even event in shaping historical outcomes; the theoretical challenge and empirical frustrations of gender as a category of analysis; and the promise and limits of transnational approaches to history. We will be particularly interested in current trends, the rise and fall of particular approaches, and a broad sense of where the most interesting recent work is being done.

Assignments include two 5 page papers, one 10 page paper, and two sets of discussion questions.