The Question of Progress in Latin American History

History 103E.003

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
F 10-12P
Progress has always been a puzzle in Latin America’s history: a challenge for intellectual and political elites, an elusive dream for ordinary Latin Americans, and the cause of new challenges and problems wherever it did take place. For historians, progress used to represent the very sense of universal history, a narrative that sneaked into current visions of “Western modernity” and “globalization.” What has “progress” meant particularly for Latin Americans? What is, for instance, the meaning of “progress” in the Brazilian flag? In political terms, what ideas of “progress” animated oligarchic, liberal, populist, military, revolutionary, and democratic projects? Because progress involves planning and envisioning the outcome of present actions, the history of progress is, in certain way, a history of the future.
The goal of the seminar is to help students situate a problem of their choice—from public policy to political ideologies, from religion to economics, from the arts to the sciences—and trace its history in terms of the political debates that pursued the goal of progress (or to stop it) in that specific realm. Students in history and humanities, as well as both the hard and social sciences, will be able to intervene in today’s debates about the future—economic regimes, environmental policies, institutions, technology, and culture—informed by an explicit idea of progress instead of an implicit or ideological one. 

Course Books

Seeds of freedom : liberating education in Guatemala by Taylor, Clark Paradigm Publishers. ISBN: 978-1612052489 Required
Dependency and development in Latin America by Cardoso, Fernando Henrique and Faletto, Enzo University of California Press. ISBN: 978-0520035270 Required
Dignifying Argentina by Elena, Eduardo University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN: 978-0-8229-6170-3 Required
Barbaros. Spaniards and Their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment by Weber, David Yale University Press. ISBN: 978-0300119916 Required
Measuring Up by Lopez-Alonso, Moramay Stanford University Press. ISBN: 978-0804773164 Required
In search of an Inca by Flores Galindo, Alberto Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 978-0-52159861-3 Required