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Latin America During the National Period (HIST 140)

"Poor people inhabit rich lands"
- E. Bradford Burns

Fall 2004, Truman State University
MC209, TR 1:30-2:50
Office: KB 225A

Marc Becker
Office Hours: W 1:30-3:30
Phone: x6036


This course surveys the history of Latin America from the arrival of the first peoples on the American continents to the present. We will examine a variety of issues including economics, democracy, racism, class structures, gender, ethnicity, human rights, globalization, and popular movements. Rather than analyzing Latin America from a North American point of view, we will examine how Latin Americans view themselves and how their culture, economics, and politics have developed in different directions than the United States and Europe.

This course fulfills the History mode of inquiry in the Liberal Studies Program. In this mode, students will study a broad topic or major geographic area over an extended period of time and will demonstrate competence in one or more of the following areas, which characterize the work of historians:

  1. thinking in terms of causation, change over time, contingency, context, and chronological frameworks;
  2. the content and methodologies of humanistic and social-scientific disciplines to study and interpret the past;
  3. analyzing the interplay between choices individuals have made and developments societies have undergone; and
  4. understanding the social and aesthetic richness of different cultures.


You are expected and required to attend every class session, and you are responsible for the material covered in the lectures, readings and films, and for any announcements made in class. Unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade. Please drop me an email note if you are sick or otherwise unable to attend class. If you have a disability or any conflicts which may affect your class performance, please bring this to my attention immediately so that we can make arrangements for this to be a positive learning experience for you. Please let me know if you have suggestions for improving the class.

My primary means of communication with you outside of class will be via the CourseInfo ( web page. To logon, enter your email id as the user name, and your social security number as your password (unless you have already changed this password for another class). Once you are logged on, click on "student tools" and then "change your information" to change your password. If you forget your password, email the administrator ( to reset it for you. Be sure the email address under "student tools" is set to an account that you regularly read. Please let me know if you need assistance in using these resources.


Following are the required books for this class. Read the assignments before class so that you are prepared to carry on an intelligent discussion of the material in class. Lectures will complement the readings and assume the base level of knowledge which they present, so it is critically important that you keep up with the readings. Do not wait until the last minute to buy these books since about half-way through the semester the bookstore will return unsold copies to the publisher.

Burbach, Roger. The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice. London, New York: Zed Books, 2003.
Burns, E. Bradford and Julie A. Charlip. Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History, 7th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2002.
James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins; Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, 2d rev ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1963.
McCaughan, Michael. The Battle of Venezuela. London: Latin American Bureau, 2004.
Rampolla, Mary Lynn. A Pocket Guide to Writing in History. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003.

Assignments and grades

Course grades will be based on the following assignments. You can check your grade progress in CourseInfo (there is a total of 1000 possible points in the class). More detailed information on the written assignments will be posted to the web page. I do not accept "drop and run" papers. Grades on late assignments will be penalized 10% for each day that they are late. Successful completion of all assignments is required to receive credit for this class.

Map quiz (Sept 7)
Haiti essay (Sept 30)
Midterm exam (Oct 7)
Venezuela/Chile essay (Dec 7)
Final exam (Dec 14)
Daily identification terms (5 pts ea.)
12 Newspaper article analyses (5 pts ea.)

40 pts.

The map quiz will require identification of 20 Latin American countries and their capitals, and will be taken on the Cinfo web page. The Haiti and Venezuela/Chile essays are to be three-pages long, typed, double spaced, include citations and a bibliography, and follow good essay form. Later I will post more elaborate descriptions of the questions you should address in the essays to the Cinfo page. We will decide on the exact format of the midterm exam later, but it may include objective (multiple choice, matching, true/false, etc.) as well as identification or essay questions. The final exam is comprehensive and will include everything we have covered this semester. We will begin each class period with identifying and giving the significance of one identification term drawn from a list posted to the Cinfo web page for each of the assigned readings in the Chasteen textbook. These will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5 points. One point means that you are present, 2 points indicate that something was fundamentally wrong with your response, 3 points indicate a rote response from the text, 4 points represent analytical thought, and 5 points are for responses that reveal critical thought that extends significantly beyond the text and places the term in a broad historical context. Each week by noon on Thursday (except for weeks 1 and 6), post an analysis of a newspaper article from the previous week on Latin America from one of the 3 daily newspapers distributed on campus (New York Times, St. Louis Post Dispatch, or USA Today) to the discussion board on the Cinfo webpage. Briefly describe the content of the article and then analyze its historical, social, and political significance. Be sure to include the title and author (if given) of the article, the name of the newspaper, and the date it was published. The critiques will be graded on a scale similar to the daily identification terms.

Class Schedule

Week 1 (Aug 31-Sept 2) Introduction & Geography
Read: Burns/Charlip, preface and pp. 1-5
Jan Knippers Black, "Introduction: The Evolution of Latin American Studies," in Jan Knippers Black, ed., Latin America, Its Problems and Its Promise: A Multidisciplinary Introduction, 3rd ed. (Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1998), 1-17 (on reserve in the library or on the Cinfo page).
Assignment: Map quiz (due Tuesday, Sept 7)

Week 2 (Sept 7-9) Encounter
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 1 "The Origins of a Multiracial Society"

Week 3 (Sept 14-16) Colonial
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 2 "The Institutions of Empire"

Week 4 (Sept 21-23) Haiti
Read: James, The Black Jacobins
Rampolla, Pocket Guide to Writing in History
Assignment: Haiti essay (due Sept 30)

Week 5 (Sept 28-30) Independence
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 3 "Independence"

Week 6 (Oct 5-7) Midterm review & exam

Week 7 (Oct 12-14) 19th-Century Latin America
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 4 "New Nations"

Week 8 (Oct 19-21) Nationalism
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 5 "The Emergence of the Modern State"

Week 9 (Oct 26-28) Imperialism
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 6 "New Actors on an Old Stage"

Week 10 (Nov 2-4) Mexican Revolution
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 7 "The Past Challenged"
Burns/Charlip, ch. 8 "From World Wars to Cold War"

Week 11 (Nov 9-11) Cuban Revolution
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 9 "The Revolutionary Option"

Week 12 (Nov 16-23) Chile
Read: Burbach, The Pinochet Affair

Week 13 (Nov 30-Dec 2) Venezuela
Read: McCaughan, The Battle of Venezuela
Assignment: Venezuela/Chile essay (due Tuesday, Dec 7)

Week 14 (Dec 7-9) Neoliberalism
Read: Burns/Charlip, ch. 9 "Modern Problems"
Burns/Charlip, ch. 8 "The Enigma Remains"

Final Exam Tuesday, December 14, 11:30-1:20

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