The Latin American Cold War

History 103E.001

Fall 2018
3205 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
T 2-4
Class Number: 

When did the Latin American Cold War begin and end? Is the label “Cold War” even appropriate for a “hot” era of violent revolution and counterrevolution in Latin America? Using these questions as entry points, we examine recent scholarship on the origins, struggles, and legacies of the Latin American Cold War. Weekly readings include primary and secondary sources, as well as music, memoir, and film. Through diverse media, we analyze how the politics of daily life in twentieth-century Latin America at times intersected with, and at other times disregarded, geopolitical contests over communism and anticommunism.

We move forward chronologically to examine connections between the Mexican and Russian Revolutions in the 1910s, communism and labor movements in the 1920s and 1930s, Latin American antifascism during World War II, revolution and counterrevolution in the 1950s through the 1980s, and ongoing memory struggles (and violence) in the 1980s through the present. Assigned texts cover case studies from Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, Guatemala, Cuba, Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Throughout, we think broadly about how to write political histories about hegemony, violence, revolution, counterrevolution, and memory in twentieth-century Latin America. We also weigh in on debates about the Latin American Cold War as a construct that informs understandings of the region’s past and present.

Elizabeth Schwall earned her Ph.D. in Latin American and Caribbean History from Columbia University (2016) and held a Mellon Dance Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University (2016-2018). Her book manuscript examines dance and politics in twentieth-century Cuba, and her larger research interests include Cold War Brazil. She values students as co-creators of knowledge and looks forward to learning with them.